Since statisticians can mostly with astounding accuracy predict everything from the outcome of national elections to the person most likely to be next voted out of a Big Brother house, it stands to reason that there must be something to be said for the role of statistics in predicting the outcome of a race run by horses.
In fact, predicting what people may or may not get up to compared to how a horse will perform, makes determining horseracing odds look practically inconsequential. People can bend and twist the truth to their own liking at will – animals can’t. And for this very reason, having even only a basic knowledge of statistics must necessarily lead to some sort or extent of advantage over the crowd. And since winning at horseracing is nothing more than beating the crowd, it would be an act of folly not to investigate the topic of statistics a little further.
A Practical Example
Since the mathematics of statistics is a completely alien or even obscure discipline or idea to so many people, it helps to explain its practical use with the help of an example.
When buying a car, a person mindful of getting value for their money will typically inquire about the fuel mileage. This type of information is usually available because of someone having previously tested a large number of cars in order to determine the average fuel efficiency, or fuel mileage, for that particular car.
Though only an estimate, this type of information is regarded accurate enough to be published by car manufacturers as a type of guidance. Important to keep in mind also is that the estimate to be had by calculating an “average” value gets progressively more accurate as the size of the sample of cars taken into account gets bigger. Surprising however, and useful for our ultimate purpose, being horse racing, is that according to statistical opinion, a big enough number in order to yield an accurate average estimation, can be as “small” as 30.
Why Data Is Gold
What generally ails most statisticians, regardless of their specific field of work, is a lack of data. But since each racing form handed out at a horseracing event contains more than enough “data”, this isn’t even a consideration for our topic. The only difference between winning or losing at betting on the races is a lack of experience at deciding which of the information appearing in the data is relevant, and how to use that information for the making of accurate predictions.
For this purpose, we will take into account certain predictor, and in particular, those predictors known to be reliable instead of purely circumstantial. In plain language, this reliability generally comes down to “more of the same”. Winning horses typically carry on winning, and vice versa.
This information should obviously be measured against factors such as distance about to be run, racing at the same track or at a different one to the last race, changing class, the layoff between races, etc. But when combined into a single statistical formula, all of these come together to yield accurate results.
The trick to horseracing betting success mostly comes down to actually being aware of the existence and application of formulas in the first place.