Sectional Times Are Seriously Important
There is a strong correlation between punting success and knowledge of sectional times.
At one end of the scale the average Saturday punter doesn’t pay any attention at all to them when looking at the form.
Then you have the more serious form student who looks at sectional times but probably not in great detail.
And finally you have the professionals whose punting fortunes live and die by them.
One leading corporate bookmaker puts it this way. “Times are a massive part of what I do because the numbers don’t lie. If a horse looks to have run well to the naked eye but the sectionals are poor then I’ll be looking to lay the hell out of it next start. Good horses have acceleration. I’m huge on sectional times and they form the basis of my own ratings”.
Punters are in a battle with their fellow punters just as much as they are competing against bookmakers. So it would be unwise and most likely unprofitable to allow others to be armed with better information than yourself. And don’t be afraid of having to learn a new skill just because understanding sectional times may look a little daunting at first. Because once information becomes easily accessible and understood by the market the profitable edge that can be gained from this analysis declines.
Ed Kennett, Senior Form Analyst at Champion Picks, is a firm believer in the importance of analysing sectional times.
“We pay a lot of money for the most detailed data available and it would be crazy to try and watch videos without proper sectional times. You have to know which part of the field is being advantaged because the way some races are run there are horses that have next to no chance.”
“I’m especially interested in horses that defied the speed bias. For example a horse that ran fast closing sectionals off a hot pace, particularly the last 200 and 400. I compare the overall and sectional times to the standardised time to assess how are they performing on the day relative to par. I look at the good times, make sure it’s not hand timed, and then look in detail at the sectionals.”
“Media commentators often quote the last 600m in isolation but that figure by itself is misleading. A last 600 in 34.5 seconds may sound impressive, but you need to look at the early pace of the race to determine just how good the run was. Some people get sucked into following horses that stormed home from the back of the field, but that’s not the main thing to look for when using sectionals.”
“Punters love the thrill of watching backmarkers as they consider it more exciting than watching one lead all the way. But horses that race back in the field need everything to go their way and some can run incredible closing sectionals without ever winning. Horses like Von Costa De Hero come to mind. Backmarkers are subject to the way the race is run so really there is a lot that’s out of their control. “
“When doing the video and sectional times analysis I’m also looking for horses that are weak so I can consider betting around them at their next start. For example a horse that has enjoyed an easy time of it on a slow pace, but then finds very little in the straight.”
“Another thing to avoid is expecting a peak run to be reproduced next start. If a horse has had a big spike in their performance either first up or towards the end of their preparation, it’s a very hard thing to reproduce next start.”
Most punters don’t have the time nor inclination to put in the work required to analyse sectional times in great depth and that’s fair enough for the $ 5 mug punter. But for those more serious about their punting, it’s nigh on impossible to win long-term without utilising sectional time analysis in some form.