Every punter loves the feeling of betting on a winner that makes a run from
the back of the field to get the money in the shadows of the finishing post.
It's one of the most enjoyable feelings a punter can have. The truth is, however,
that horses that settle towards the back in the field win a lot less than horses
that are forward in running. Backmarkers need a lot of things to go their way
in a race, many of which are out of their control. There are, however certain
factors that punters can look for, that if right, will significantly improve
the chances of horses winning from the back of the field.
Quicker race tempos improve the chances of backmarkers. It's a scientific fact
called 'drafting' or 'slipstreaming' which also comes into play in many other
racing codes like cycling, auto racing, swimming, speed skating and athletics.
The speed of the horses in front of the backmarker reduces the forces of drag
on the horses behind and its effect increases the quicker the front runners
are going. This drafting effect is more significant in longer races as the backmarkers
are able to benefit over a longer period of time, conserving more energy during
It's often beyond most punters to determine the tempo. Having two or three
speedsters in a race doesn't necessarily guarantee that it will be run at a
quick tempo. Other factors like track characteristics, barrier positions and
a jockey's strategy will also play a role in the eventual tempo throughout the
running. Expert racing form analysts like Deane
Lester spend hours doing speedmaps, enabling them to predict tempo for punters
to use with their analysis of the race.
The effects of drafting also increases with the number of horses contesting
a race. This works in a backmarkers favour by reducing the drag further, allowing
the horses at the back of the field to conserve more energy again. Large field
sizes are not all good news however, as it usually means trailing horses have
to settle many more lengths away from the leaders, which means more distance
to cover in the concluding stages of the race.
Length of the home straight
This point is fairly obvious. The longer the home straight, the greater the
opportunity for backmarkers to find a clear path to attack the line. Wider tracks
help the cause also which explains why Flemington racecourse
has seen some of the best swooping finishes in racing history.
There are a few reasons why wet tracks typically assist backmarkers more than
dry tracks. For starters a wet track requires a horse to expend more energy
during the running, which increases the significance of energy saved by backmarkers.
Wet tracks also tend to open up greater opportunities for backmarkers in the
home straight. If the field sticks to the rails there is a good chance they
will be running in a bog created from traffic in previous races leaving the
less traveled turf out wide for the swoopers in the run to the post. If the
field fans wide it can leave an opportunity for a clear short cut towards the
post on the inside, which compounds the advantage of the energy conserved by
the horse during the race.
Even with the first four points going in the favour of a horse that likes to
settle back in a field, there are still significant challenges confronting them
to finish home the better. So much can still go wrong. Knowledge of a track
with track conditions in mind, where to position the horse to ensure it has
a good trail, when to move forward in the race and which part of the track to
come down in the run towards the finishing post all rely on the jockey's experience