Beating the odds: using epidemiology to pick the Cheltenham Gold Cup winner

Jane Williams, Yvonne Heath, Fernando Mata

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Article

Abstract

Aim:
To date epidemiology has been widely utilised to analyse disease and identify risk factors associated with injury. This study aimed to establish if epidemiology has the potential to be employed as a predictive model of National Hunt racing performance.
Objectives:
The purpose of the present study was to apply the principles of epidemiology to predict factors that impact on individual performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and to strengthen the potential of epidemiology as a valid methodology for predicting racehorse performance.
Methods
Relevant factors related to racehorse performance were identified and collated via the Racingpost website for horses that had run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup from 1995 to 2010. Subsequent univariate and multivariable single-level and mixed effects logistic regression models were developed using winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup as the dependent variable.
Results
The chance of a horse winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is increased by
1.09 times for each extra 10 percentage point increase in the percentage of starts at Cheltenham that resulted in a win. Horses that had been ridden by only one or two jockeys throughout their career were 40 times more likely to win than horses that had been ridden by three or more jockeys.
Conclusions
National Hunt racehorses that have one or two consistent jockeys throughout their racing career and have a higher course runs to win ratio at Cheltenham are predicted to perform superiorly to their peers who do not.
Aim:

To date epidemiology has been widely utilised to analyse disease and identify risk factors associated with injury. This study aimed to establish if epidemiology has the potential to be employed as a predictive model of National Hunt racing performance.

Objectives:

The purpose of the present study was to apply the principles of epidemiology to predict factors that impact on individual performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and to strengthen the potential of epidemiology as a valid methodology for predicting racehorse performance.

Methods

Relevant factors related to racehorse performance were identified and collated via the Racingpost website for horses that had run in the Cheltenham Gold Cup from 1995 to 2010. Subsequent univariate and multivariable single-level and mixed effects logistic regression models were developed using winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup as the dependent variable.

Results

The chance of a horse winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is increased by

1.09 times for each extra 10 percentage point increase in the percentage of starts at Cheltenham that resulted in a win. Horses that had been ridden by only one or two jockeys throughout their career were 40 times more likely to win than horses that had been ridden by three or more jockeys.

Conclusions

National Hunt racehorses that have one or two consistent jockeys throughout their racing career and have a higher course runs to win ratio at Cheltenham are predicted to perform superiorly to their peers who do not.

Potential relevance:

Epidemiology appears to be a valid tool for predicting variables that can increase the probability of superior performance for specific events and has potential to be utilised in other equine sporting fields
Epidemiology appears to be a valid tool for predicting variables that can increase the probability of superior performance for specific events and has potential to be utilised in other equine sporting fields

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-52
Number of pages4
JournalThe Veterinary Nurse
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

Keywords

  • Gold Cup
  • Epidemiology
  • horse racing
  • performance

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