HBF Study into 2018 Starting Price Overrounds by Course

In February 2018, HBF published the findings of a study relating to the Starting Price (SP) overrounds by racecourse. Those findings can be viewed here.

We have now completed work on a similar exercise looking at SP overrounds throughout 2018.

The over round is a measure of how much shorter the offered odds are than if the odds were equally fair to the bettor and bookmaker. On course bookmakers have a living to make and have to pay fees to racecourses for allowing them to bet there so clearly they need to make a profit in order to continue their business; thus they will offer odds that include a profit consideration, or mark up, as will all businesses in all walks of life.

While it is perfectly possible, and indeed very common, to attain a better price than starting price both on and off course, a majority of off course wagers are still settled at SP, either because no price was taken or because of a Best Odds Guarantee combined with the SP returned being bigger than the price taken.

More information on the mechanics of overround can be found on this wikipedia page.

During our research we conducted two distinct reviews, one using overround per horse (i.e. the race overround divided by the number of runners), and one using a field size ‘factor’ to acknowledge that overround per runner is affected in a non-linear way by the size of the field. Specifically, smaller fields are likely to have larger overrounds per runner.

We discovered that, generally speaking, there was a correlation between the two approaches.

Looking first at the ‘field size factored’ research, which allows for direct comparison with last year’s study, the following are some conclusions:

  • In 2018, there were 33 courses above the value ‘par’, two at par, and 25 below the value par.
  • The best value courses in 2018, as measured by ‘field size factored’ overround per runner, were Catterick, Cheltenham and Southwell.
  • Catterick and Southwell, as well as Musselburgh, Wetherby and Newbury, repeated their ‘top ten’ performer status in terms of starting price value from last year’s survey; and Catterick deserves special praise for being best value this year and second best value last year from the sixty racecourses analysed.
  • The poorest value courses in 2018, as measured by ‘field size factored’ overround per runner, were Ffos Las, Newton Abbot, Chelmsford and Lingfield.
  • Ffos Las retains its number one position as the poorest performer on the metric, and again by some margin. However, it should be added that there was a moderate improvement in the year-on-year value offering of that course’s starting price overrounds. Chelmsford, Lingfield, Cartmel and Taunton are also consistent under-performers.

The full list of ‘field factored’ overrounds and ranks can be found in Table 1 below, where a negative adjusted score implies value above what might be expected – in other words, courses offering good value to bettors.

Alongside this work, we also reviewed a larger sample of years (2015-2018) based on the slightly more simplistic measure of overround per runner. That is, in a ten horse race where the overround is 120%, the overround per runner is 20% divided by ten runners, which equals 2%.

From all UK races run in 2018, we have removed those where a horse was withdrawn thus incurring a Rule 4 deduction; and we have further removed races where there was an odds on favourite, such events tending to higher overrounds.

Tables 2 and 3 below show the best and worst performing courses, in terms of value as measured by overround per runner. The right hand column is the average overround per runner. Click this link for the full methodology and findings.

TABLE 1: ‘Field Size Factored’ Performance, by 2018 Rank (poorest value ranked #1, best value ranked #60)

CourseAve of
Diff
Adjusted2018
Rank
20172017
Rank
FFOS LAS5.94.416.41
NEWTON ABBOT4.02.521.89
CHELMSFORD CITY3.82.334.32
LINGFIELD PARK3.62.142.46
CARTMEL3.31.853.14
BEVERLEY3.21.760.333
EPSOM DOWNS3.11.671.317
TAUNTON2.91.482.18
LUDLOW2.71.291.122
BATH2.71.2102.45
CHESTER2.51.0111.413
EXETER2.51.0122.17
SALISBURY2.51.0131.415
CHEPSTOW2.51.0141.316
YORK2.41.0151.512
FAKENHAM2.40.9161.120
BRIGHTON2.20.7171.219
AINTREE2.20.7181.610
FONTWELL PARK2.20.7191.121
ASCOT2.20.7200.925
MARKET RASEN2.10.6211.611
PLUMPTON2.00.5221.414
WINDSOR1.90.4230.138
PERTH1.70.224-0.453
WARWICK                  1.60.125043
PONTEFRACT1.50.0260.728
HEXHAM1.50.027-0.247
GOODWOOD1.4-0.128124
HAYDOCK PARK1.4-0.1290.431
BANGOR-ON-DEE1.4-0.1301.218
SEDGEFIELD1.4-0.131-0.250
UTTOXETER1.3-0.2321.123
HEREFORD1.3-0.2330.335
KEMPTON PARK1.2-0.3340.629
DONCASTER1.1-0.4350.530
TOWCESTER1.0-0.5363.33
NOTTINGHAM1.0-0.537-1.760
WINCANTON0.9-0.6380.827
NEWCASTLE0.9-0.639041
RIPON0.9-0.6400.432
SANDOWN PARK0.9-0.641042
KELSO0.8-0.742-0.144
LEICESTER0.7-0.843-0.145
STRATFORD-ON-AVON        0.7-0.8440.826
REDCAR0.6-0.945-0.249
YARMOUTH0.6-0.946-0.454
WOLVERHAMPTON0.6-0.9470.139
WORCESTER0.6-0.948-0.251
NEWMARKET0.5-1.049-0.248
AYR0.5-1.0500.236
THIRSK0.5-1.051-0.758
HAMILTON PARK0.4-1.152040
NEWBURY0.3-1.253-0.657
CARLISLE0.2-1.3540.334
MUSSELBURGH0.1-1.455-0.656
WETHERBY0.1-1.456-0.352
HUNTINGDON0.0-1.5570.137
SOUTHWELL-0.2-1.758-0.555
CHELTENHAM-0.4-1.959-0.246
CATTERICK BRIDGE-0.8-2.360-159
Grand Total/Par1.50.0PAR

Table 2: Last four years, top three value courses, purely based on overround per runner

1 All Catterick 1.50
2 All Cheltenham 1.51
3 All Redcar 1.59
1 2018 Catterick 1.54
2 2018 Cheltenham 1.56
3 2018 Southwell 1.61
1 2017 Cheltenham 1.49
2 2017 Nottingham 1.50
3 2017 Catterick 1.50
1 2016 Catterick 1.47
2 2016 Cheltenham 1.53
3 2016 Thirsk 1.55
1 2015 Catterick 1.44
2 2015 Cheltenham 1.47
3 2015 Redcar 1.51

Table 3: Last four years, bottom three value courses, purely based on overround per runner

1 All Ffos Las 2.27
2 All Chelmsford 2.15
3 All Cartmel 2.01
1 2018 Ffos Las 2.33
2 2018 Cartmel 2.15
3 2018 Chelmsford 2.10
1 2017 Ffos Las 2.54
2 2017 Cartmel 2.18
3 2017 Chelmsford 2.14
1 2016 Chelmsford 2.18
2 2016 Ffos Las 2.18
3 2016 Lingfield 1.98
1 2015 Ffos Las 2.04
2 2015 Lingfield 2.02
3 2015 Chester 1.96