The draw is an often overlooked but extremely important part of betting on horse racing with draw bias playing a big role at some tracks. Our guide to draws will make you an expert and help you find winners in 5 minutes!
Who hasn’t fallen into this trap when having a bet? You’ve been through the form inside out and the winner stands out a mile away. The trainer is bang in form and the jockey is on a hot streak. The horse has won over the course and distance and loves the going. But you haven’t given the draw a second thought.
The draw a horse receives is perhaps the most overlooked factor in horse racing. Depending on what course you’re at, which stall a horse is drawn in can massively influence the outcome. A draw is made at random by Weatherbys (think of them as the governors of British racing) on the day declarations are made. It is done to decide which stall a horse comes out of (a horse drawn 1 will come out of stall 1, and so on). Stalls are used in almost every flat race in Britain, bar a handful which are run over marathon trips where it’s impossible to remove the stalls from the course, such as at Goodwood. But the basic rule is, if it’s a flat race, stalls are used.
You can find out which horse comes out of which stall by looking at a racecard such as the ones in our racecard section. It is the number which appears in brackets next to the number of the horse. What the draw does is determine which part of the course the horse will race on. And that’s important for many reasons.
Firstly, if it’s a 20-runner five or six-furlong race, chances are the horses will be spread out across the track. And it’s also very possible that some parts of the course are quicker than others. There are various reasons why this may be the case, such as how quickly parts of the course drain after rain. But if parts of the course are softer than others, it stands to reason that horses will be slower getting through it.
But the draw is also important in any race which involves horses travelling around a bend. Take Chester, for example, a tight left-handed course which is basically an oval and at which horses are almost constantly running on a bend. Any horse drawn nearer the rails (stalls 1, 2 and 3) has an obvious advantage over a horse drawn high (10, 11 and 12). The runners with a low draw have ideal track position and have less distance to cover than their rivals hampered by a high draw. This advantage is called ‘draw bias‘ and some tracks, such as the two just mentioned, are well known for it.
And on a tight track such as this, front-runners have a distinct advantage. The sprint course at Beverley is similar in that the track has a right-hand kink in it, so horses drawn on that rail have a huge advantage. The stats bear that out. Think of it this way. The 400 metres final at the Olympics is run once around the track, but the athletes in the outside lanes have a stagger so everyone covers the same distance. That is not the same in horse racing. If you are drawn wide on the right on a left-handed course, tough. It’s why horses drawn high in American racing struggle. They have poor track position and are at a disadvantage from then on.
Any national newspaper worth its salt will have information on draw bias on the racecard. It will detail if low or high numbers have any significant advantage, or if there is none at all. The luck of the draw – you heard it here first!