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Speed Maps

Speed Maps: Position, Pace and More

Speed maps may be an unfamiliar concept to the majority of British horse racing punters, but they’re ‘meat and drink’ to punters in other countries, such as Australia and Hong Kong. We thought it was time to have a look at what speed maps are and how you can use them to supplement your form study.

What is a Speed Map?

A speed map is essentially a graphical chart, or ‘map’, which predicts the likely position of each horse in a race on settling down after the starting stalls open. The preferred position of each horse is determined by reference to its past performances and, once determined, can also be used to predict the likely pace of the race and overcome any track bias. In other words, a speed map is a simple method of determining whether or not a horse will have the race run to suit, which can obviously make the difference between winning and losing.



Luck in running may be an issue for horses coming off the pace

The racing position of any horse in a race is usually determined, in large part, by its position in the starting stalls and the speed at which it exits the stalls. In any case, any field can be divided in to six sections, ranging from horses that like to race on, or close to, the pace at the front, to horses that need to be held up off the pace at the rear. Typically, horses designated ‘leader’ or ‘pace’ hold a distinct advantage over those designated ‘off pace’, ‘midfield’, ‘off midfield’ or ‘backmarker’ insofar as they’re less likely to suffer poor luck in running and less reliant on a fast pace to be effective.


As mentioned above, a faster pace in a race usually favours horses held up off the pace. If the leaders break fast from the starting stalls and set fast sectional times in the early stages of a race, horses held up off the pace can conserve their energy and deliver their challenge late in the race. Conversely, a slower pace usually favours horses that like to race on, or close to, the pace. In a slowly run race, the leaders can usually conserve enough energy to sprint away from their rivals in the straight, leaving those in midfield and beyond with little, or no, chance of making up ground. A speed map allows you to see, at-a-glance, how a race is likely to be run and, therefore, which horses will be suited by the likely pace.

Track Bias

Track Bias

A speed map may allow you to take advantage of track bias.

A speed map may also allow you to use any track bias, for example, in favour of front-runners or those drawn in certain positions, such as against the far side or stands’ side rail, to your advantage. Reference to a speed map will indicate where each horse is likely to race and therefore which are likely to advantaged or disadvantaged by the prevailing conditions. Of course, interpreting a speed map requires a certain amount of personal judgement. You may, for example, identify a race that is likely to be slowly run (and therefore favour the leader), only to discover that the likely leader is drawn on the ‘wrong’ side of the track; this would, indeed, be reason for caution.

Other Considerations

A speed map also you to determine how far back in the field, in terms of lengths from the leader, a horse is likely to race and what sort of passage it can expected through the race. A habitual front-runner, for example, may be forced to race two or three wide if there are similar horses in the field, which can be a major disadvantage if the pace is strong. Similarly, a horse coming from off the pace may need to weave its way through, or circumnavigate, the field to reach the lead; in this case, a glance at the speed map could tell you if it’s likely to be left with too much to do.

Of course, many horses are versatile with regard to tactics and racing positions so, if you’re going to rely on speed maps, you probably need to inspect the last few performances of a horse to make sure that it’s been in more or less the same position at, say, the 6-furlong, 4-furlong and 2-furlong marker in its recent races. If you want to see some ‘real’ speed maps for racing at Sha Tin Racecourse, Hong Kong, you can find them here. Have a look; I’m sure you’ll find them interesting.

We hope you enjoyed ‘Speed Maps: Position, Pace and More’ and we will be back soon with another advanced betting guide. In the meantime, we would love to hear your thoughts on ‘Speed Maps: Position, Pace and More’ in the comments section below. If you missed our previous post in this series, ‘May The Form Be With You: How To Improve Your Form Reading Skills’


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