Epsom 5F articles based on 7 and 10 years results 1976 - 1985

The first of these two articles was published in The Sporting Chronicle Handicap Book and the second in Raceform Handicap Book. The equivalent of these two publications today is the weekly racing paper, Raceform Update.

Following publication of these two articles, the starting stalls have been positioned against the High rail in all 5 furlong races at Epsom since the mid 1980’s. The reason could be that Epsom racecourse are saving the ground on the “Low” side of the course from excessive use.
Although I cannot claim credit for this action being taken, it does seem something of a coincidence that it took place at this time, and had never been implemented since starting stalls were introduced to The U.K. at Newmarket on 8th July 1965. They were first used in The Derby in 1967.

The first of these two articles was published on April 16th 1983, before any races took place at Epsom that year. This first article contains an analysis of draw advantages at Epsom over the 5 furlong course, based on a simple count up of winning stall numbers taken from the results of the previous 7 years’ racing results.
Note that no mention is made of the going.

The second article, published 2 years later, on June 22nd 1985, lists the results of the 3 seasons that followed the first article. This confirms that my findings were spot on and proved that all draw advantage advice for Epsom’s 5F course in The National and Sporting Press at that time, was based on nothing other than guesswork.

Over the Epsom 5 furlong course, the 4 highest numbered stalls, were identified in the first article as having produced 60% of the winners over that 7 year period – more than all the other stalls put together.

Incredibly, all National Sporting and Daily Newspapers, and prominent racing annuals at that time knew nothing of this pattern of results.
They all recommended a LOW draw advantage.

Thus they encouraged their readers to bet against this very significant trend.

The second article published 2 years later proved beyond doubt that there was indeed a very significant HIGH draw advantage.
In races confined to horses aged 3 years and older, the 3 highest numbered stalls had produced 60% of the winners over a 10 year period.

ALL the major publications named had been advising their readers to bet against these favoured stalls for a very long time.

16th April 1983. Sporting Chronicle Handicap Book.


It is a popular belief that horses drawn close to the running rail enjoy an advantage over their competitors, especially in sprints and more so where a bend is to be negotiated. It is obvious to any observer that the horse that is farthest from the rail has further to travel in both straight and “round” races, since in the majority of cases, most runners move across at least part of the course towards the rail. Take the course map, a few personal observations, and here, I believe we have the basis of most advice concerning draw advantages.
Take Epsom’s five furlong course as an example.
Viewing from the stands, the majority of races are contested against the far “low” rail. The positioning of the starting stalls is usually either in the centre of the course, or with stall number one next to the far rail. Hence the term – the “low” rail. Also, another feature at Epsom is a cross-course slope. This can be seen on television. The “high” rail on the stands side is several feet higher than the low rail on the far side for much of the 5 furlongs. Possibly it is this feature more than any other which causes almost all these races to be run and won on the far side of the course – the “low” side.
The Sporting Life, Chronicle, Daily Mirror, Sun, Star, Express, Handicap Book, Raceform Up-To-Date, Haig Annual, etc, etc., ALL recognize these facts and recommend a LOW draw advantage, especially some advise, on good or better going.

My enquiries revealed that some of this advice at least is, quote:- “updated regularly and is recommended as an accurate and reliable guide”.
At Epsom during the 6 seasons 1976 – 1981 there were 35 races of 8 or more runners over the 5f course. These were the winning stalls.
The Bottom 4 stalls won 7 races 20%
The Top 4 stalls won 21 races 60%
That is 3 times as many from the opposite end of the stalls to those recommended by most racing experts.
In 1982 the following results in races for 3 year olds and older horses were produced.
April 22 Pontin Lad drawn 3 of 10 runners.
June 4 Steel Charger 9 of 9 …….5/1.
Aug 31 Bri Eden 11 of 11 ……5/1.
The 2 year old races which generally had less runners produced 4 wins from 7 races from the TOP 4 stalls.
I have stated before in these columns that I regard the patterns of results of races for 3 year olds and older horses as the best guide to most draw advantages. These are the statistics of these Epsom 5f races of the past seven seasons, 1976 – 1982, 8 or more runners, 3 year olds and older only.

TOP 3 stalls 11 wins 61%.
ALL other stalls 7 wins.

Against an almost overwhelming body of racing journalism, who with a far, far louder voice than mine, serve virtually the whole of Britain’s racing enthusiasts, I offer Epsom 5f as proof that their draw advantage advice at most courses is based on theory rather than the facts of past results. Such advice lacks just one simple word, vital to its credibility …….SHOULD.
In theory, perhaps winners from the LOW stalls quoted at Epsom SHOULD outnumber those from HIGH stalls. For the last seven years THEY HAVE NOT!
H. Hutchinson.

…… and 3 years later …..

22nd June 1985. Raceform Handicap Book.


In the April 16, 1983 issue of The Handicap Book, I pointed out that ALL sporting and daily newspapers at that time advised a low draw advantage for Epsom’s 5f course.
I also drew attention to the fact that during the previous 7 years (1976 – 1982), in races for horses aged 3 yrs upwards over this course and distance, the 3 HIGHEST stalls had produced over 60% of all winners in these races – the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of all draw advantage advice at that time.
These are the winning stall numbers of these races since 1983:
1983: winner drawn 7 of 8 runners, 9 – 10 runners.
1984: 6 – 11 runners, 9 – 12 runner, 9 – 13 runners.
1985: 12 – 13 runners, 10 – 12 runners, 7 – 7 runners.
From a total of 25 races of 8 or more runners during the last 10 years, no less than 15 (60%) have now been won by horses drawn in the top 3 stalls.

H. Hutchinson.

Since the publication of these articles, the stalls at Epsom in 5 furlong races have been placed at the opposite side of the course (next to the “High” rail) in every race since the mid eighties, presumably to counteract this very significant draw advantage.

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