Pareto jockeys returned 35% more profit than non Pareto jockeys.

Using the 80/20 rule for Horse Racing

22nd Apr 2001
turf / stats
Article is over 10 years old. Stats may have changed since.

In a previous Pareto Principle Article it was proven that 80% of races are won by the same 20% of jockeys.

This magical rule is like gravity, or a law of nature. During any set time period you will find that 80% of races are indeed won by the same 20% of jockeys, or the same 20% of trainers.

If you are still not convinced about the Pareto phenomenon then here is more information which proves that the 80/20 rule works.

The following data is derived from 23,343 races on the flat turf since 1995. All 258,123 runners in those races were analysed where the jockey, trainer and sire were checked to see if they passed the Pareto test.

Backing All Runners in 23,343 Races

  Win % ROI%
All 9.0% -33%

This table shows the results of backing every runner in every race. This is not a wise thing to do as inevitably you would lose due to the way bookies price up all runners. In this example the table shows that backing all runners resulted in a strike rate of 9% and a loss of 33%.

Jockeys applied to the 80/20 rule

Jockey Win % ROI%
Pass 10.7% -27%
Fail 6.0% -42%

Applying each jockey to the 80/20 test shows that jockeys who pass the test (the jockey is part of the 20% that win 80% of all races) see their strike rate increased to 10.7% and the loss made is now 27%.

This may not seem much of a change but look at the figures for jockeys that fail the test (the remaining 80% of jockeys who only win 20% of all races). The strike rate drops to 6% and the loss increases to 42%.

This means that a jockey that passes the test is 1.8 times more likely to win a race than a jockey that fails. Also, jockeys that pass the test will return 35% more profit (in this case make 35% less of a loss) than jockeys that fail.

Trainers applied to the 80/20 rule

Trainer Win % ROI%
Pass 11.0% -27%
Fail 5.7% -42%

Similar figures can be seen with trainers. Trainers that pass the test are nearly twice as likely to win a race than trainers that fail, and trainers that pass the test return less of a loss than non Pareto status trainers.

Sires applied to the 80/20 rule

Sire Win % ROI%
Pass 9.5% -30%
Fail 7.8% -39%

Testing sires shows a positive impact if the sire has Pareto status too. Sires with Pareto status win more races and return less of a loss than non Pareto sires.

The above tables show each item on their own. By insisting that jockeys and trainers should both be put to the test reveals even more significant findings.

Jockeys and Trainers applied to the 80/20 rule

Jockey and Trainer Win % ROI%
Pass 12.3% -23%
Fail 4.5% -48%

In this table jockeys and trainers are both put to the test where a result shows a pass if both the jockey and trainer have Pareto status, whilst the result is a fail if one or both do not have Pareto status.

The table shows that jockeys and trainers who both pass the rule are 2.7 times more likely to win the race than those that fail. The loss in the fail group is more than twice that of the pass group.

Jockeys, Trainers and Sires applied to the 80/20 rule

Trainer and Sire Win % ROI%
Pass 12.6% -22%
Fail 4.0% -53%

When the rule is applied to all three items the importance of passing the test is even stronger. The table shows that a horse which has a jockey, trainer and sire all with Pareto status is more than three times likley to win than a horse which does not have all three with Pareto status.

First Three In The Betting

All the above tables were analysing every runner in a race. What should be checked now is just the main market leaders as there is sure to be some correlation between a 'top' trainer or jockey and being at the top of the market.

First Three in the betting in 23,343 races

  Win % ROI%
All 21.5% -11%

If you had backed the first three in the betting in every race you would have hit a strike rate of 21.5%. The loss backing all those runners was 11%.

Jockeys applied to the 80/20 rule

Jockey Win % ROI%
Pass 22.3% -11%
Fail 18.4% -12%

By applying the jockey rule to three market leaders dataset there is still a difference between the pass and fail group but the difference is not that great. The reason why the gap is smaller is because the market leaders are more likely to be top jockeys and thus already part of the 20% elite.

Similar figures are obtained from putting trainers and sires through the test in that top trainers and top sires will tend to be at the top of the market.

Favourites

Digging deeper the Pareto status trainers is applied to favourites. Using the same 23,343 but analysing just the favourite:

Favourite in 23,343 races

  Win % ROI%
All 31.9% -7%

The favourite won 31.9% of the time and made a 7% loss to a level stake bet.

Favourite - Trainers applied to the 80/20 rule

Trainer Win % ROI%
Pass 31.3% -9%
Fail 33.2% -5%

This shows unexpected results! If the favourite is trained by a top trainer (has Pareto status) the strike rate is roughly the same as all favourites in general, but this favourite returns more of a loss! If the favourite is trained by a non Pareto trainer (the 80% of all other trainers) then the loss backing that favourite improves!

To some this may seem puzzling. If you asked punters which favourite is best for backing: a favourite trained by a top trainer, or a favourite trained by a not so good trainer the majority would opt for the top trainer.

Punters would actually be better off financially backing the favourite with the non top trainer as he / she is more likely to be underbet and give a better return.

Similar figures were obtained for jockeys on favourites, and sires of favourites such that a name which did not have Pareto status would return less of a loss than one which did.

Systems

Using the information above it is possible to create systems based on Pareto status. One such system is based on finding a race where only one jockey, trainer, or sire has Pareto status. In this situation the jockey, or trainer should be head and shoulders above the others in the race and have a big advantage.

Single 80/20 System

What happens if there is only one Pareto jockey in the race? What happens when Pat Eddery goes up north to Carlisle to ride amongst run of the mill jockeys?

Single 80/20 jockey in a race

Jockey Win % ROI%
  27.9% -8%

If you had bet all races where there was only one jockey who passed the 80/20 rule you would have hit a strike rate of 27.9% and made a loss of 8%. That does not sound very exciting but look what happens if the horse is the favourite.

Single 80/20 jockey in a race when favourite

Jockey Win % ROI%
  59.7% 28%

That is quite a turn around. The strike rate more than doubles to an astonishing 59.7% and a loss was turned into a 28% profit.

Quite a few of the contenders were in apprentice races. A top apprentice riding amongst newcomers is really worth his allowance claim.

If you want to follow this system there will not be many contenders: there were only be about 10 bets a year.

Don't forget that the FlatStats Systems sheet and Systems Alerts feature can identify contenders for you so you do not have to check the racecards each day in order to find one contender a month!

Single 80/20 trainer in a race

Trainer Win % ROI%
  28.2% -23%

If you had bet all races where there was only one trainer who passed the 80/20 rule, you would have had a strike rate of 28.2% and made a loss of 23%.

This loss is much bigger than the single 80/20 jockey. Usually this is because a top trainer is going to a smaller meeting, say Carlisle, and punters are very much aware of trainers sending runners over long distances. You sometimes hear punters say "Fallon is not going all the way up North for nothing", but you always hear "Dunlop is not going all the way up North for nothing".

Single 80/20 trainer in a race when favourite

Trainer Win % ROI%
  51.0% -7%

The single 80/20 trainer is most definitely overbet. Not even when favourite could a profit be made.

The ultimate single 80/20 system must be when there is just 1 horse with a jockey, trainer and sire that pass the test exclusively. But during the past 7 years there were no contenders. No horse had a jockey, trainer and sire that passed the test exclusively.

There were only 9 horses that passed the test with a single jockey and trainer. 7 of them won to produce a profit of £2.82.

Horse with a Single 80/20 jockey and trainer in a race

Jockey and Trainer Win % ROI%
  78% 31%

Trying to find these contenders will be tedious. There will only be 1 or 2 contenders amongst the 3000+ races on the flat turf each year. The high strike rate and profit means that they are worth looking out for though.

You may be quite shocked to see some of the prices on these hot contenders. You won't find any big priced winners, but plenty of odds on shots. The lowest SP from the previous winners was Oceans Friendly who won at 1/28 back in July 1999.

Date Horse Pos SP
27-Apr-95 Passion For Life 1st 1/6f
28-Jul-95 The Fed 4th 9/1
1-Aug-95 Fearless Wonder 2nd 4/5f
24-Aug-95 Keep Your Distance 1st 4/5f
28-Jun-96 Friendly Brave(USA) 1st 7/4f
9-Aug-98 Minivet 1st 1/16f
24-May-99 Paris Star(IRE) 1st 4/5f
17-Jul-99 Oceans Friendly(USA) 1st 1/28f
21-Aug-00 Taffeta(IRE)  1st 6/5f

The Fed went off at 9/1 and only finished 4th. Of the remaining 8 contenders all were favourite, 6 went off at odds on.

Most of the contenders were in very small fields of just 2 or 3 runners. A top trainer and jockey racing against 1 or 2 not so good types is easier to find in small fields.

Conclusion

The 80/20 rule is very significant. We have proven, that when nothing else is known about a horse, having a jockey, trainer, or sire that passes the test is much better than those that fail.

If all 3 pass the test then this is significantly better than a horse where all 3 fail.

Systems will have better strike rates with contenders that pass, but in some cases a jockey pass, or a trainer pass will mean that the contender will be overbet.

You can make money backing single pass jockeys in race if they are favourite, but trainers are definitely overbet.

In order to find out who passes the 80/20 test just enter the jockey, trainer, or sire into the flatstats database. All those that pass the test will be indicated with a pass the pareto test.

We update the list every week using a rolling formula method. This is to ensure that fading jockeys drop out of the list and new promising apprentices are added to it.

If ever you are stuck between 2 or 3 selections look up the jockey, trainer and sire on the flatstats databases. If they pass the test you should back them. If any of your contenders pass all 3 they will be a special bet.

To see the current list of jockeys, trainers and sires who make up the 20% elite see the Pareto List page.

Related Articles and Resources


Article created 22-Apr-01. Stats may have changed since.

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