The Distance Factor - Distance Switches

Wizard Daily Report and Research  - Wednesday, 29 November 2023.

  • The Distance Factor - Distance switches.

Better betting - Specialise - Distance Switches

Most horses race within a limited range of distances (once they have reached peak fitness) during any single campaign. If a horse is mixing its distances (and its form) this calls for some investigation.

A sudden switch in distances can be a signal to the careful bettor. A horse may experience some difficulty in adapting itself to the new pace and/or physical demands of a race over a significantly different distance.

Three possible scenarios are:


A horse, after resuming from a spell has had 2 races - one over 1200m and the other over 1400m. Seven days after its last start (1400m) it is in a 2000m race and pitted against race-fit horses capable of scoring at that distance.

*  On a light preparation this horse faces a difficult assignment.

Three main factors indicate possible defeat under these circumstances:

-  The sudden upward switch of 600m within 7 days.

-  Its preparation would not appear to be programmed to bring it to middle-distance condition without further racing and/trials.

-  The 7 days between races was insufficient time to work it into race winning condition for an event over 2000m.


Another horse has had seven starts since returning from a spell. Its recent races have been over 1600m. Now, 10 days after its last start, this horse is racing against similar company in a 1200m race and is facing fresh, class-capable horses.

*  This horse is likely to be defeated.

This horse has been trained (and raced) in a manner to fit it for a searching 1600m race. When coming back 400 metres in distance against the same class of horse it will find it difficult to match strides with its more brilliant and fresher rivals.

(Note: If the horse had a let-up between these starts, this analysis might not apply. The horse could have been freshened up and sprint well. Also note that natural front runners are not as disadvantaged by a sudden switch to a shorter distance.


A third horse has now had four runs since resuming from a spell. Its last two starts have been at 1600m, and it has run on strongly at the finish. Now, fourteen days after its last run this horse has been stepped up to 2000m.

*  This horse has been conditioned for the switch to 2000m.

This horse is being trained to cope with a middle distance this campaign, and has been conditioned to handle a distance jump of 400m. Its strong finishing efforts over 1600m indicate that 2000m should be suitable. If other factors regarding this race are suitable, it can be included with some confidence as a possible selection.

Distance changes the on-track evidence

Just how well do trainers perform when they are stepping up a horse in distance, or bringing it back to a shorter trip?

The table below shows the record over the past five years. This record is examined in three ways:

  • All runs at all odds
  • Only those runs when the horse has a starting price of 10/1 or less.
  • Only those runs where the horse was the race favourite.

The table shows the record for:

  • All trainers in Australia
  • Only the top 100 (2022-2023) trainers across the Metropolitan premierships (20 per state).
  • Two top 20 trainers for comparison purposes.
    • Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott from Sydney
    • Ciaron Maher and David Eustace from Melbourne

(Note: Chris Waller, the top trainer in Sydney, was not included as his stats are impacted by the multiple runners he has in many races, thereby reducing his potential strike rate.)

To remove the problem of an apparent drop back in distance when a horse is resuming, I have included only those runs which are the 2nd or later run from a spell.

There is a wealth of information to be gained from this table.


 < -500-500 -301-300 -101-100 +100+101 +300+301 +500> 500
All trainers -all odds458  7.6%1437  8.9%8073  10.4%43552  11.5%19476  10.4%3903  9.3%941  9.0%
top 100 - all odds62  10.5%205  11.9%1412  14.3%10919  15.7%5166  14.7%1084  13.9%256  15.2%
Gai & Adrian - all odds2  13.3%5  15.6%17  15.2%247  17.7%190  21.0%43  19.1%14  16.9%
Ciaron & David - all odds4  12.1%10  10.1%52  15.4%626  18.9%258  17.3%89  17.6%53  25.2%
All trainers - <= 10/1335  15.9%1176  17.1%6845  18.1%37715  19.1%16420  18.6%3155  18.0%749  18.5%
top 100  - <= 10/149  17.6%179  18.9%1262  20.5%9924  21.5%4636  21.0%964  20.6%226  22.7%
Gai & Adrian  - <= 10/12  20.0%5  21.7%16  21.9%226  22.1%176  25.9%37  24.3%13  28.3%
Ciaron & David - <= 10/14  22.2%8  13.3%47  19.7%584  23.3%245  22.5%81  24.8%49  33.6%
All trainers -favourite97  30.9%393  32.8%2710  33.9%16599  34.0%7104  33.7%1281  33.4%295  34.0%
top 100 - favourite22  37.3%72  33.3%617  36.9%5182  35.4%2392  35.0%524  36.7%127  38.7%
Gai & Adrian - favourite1  50.0%1  16.7%9  42.9%128  36.0%88  38.4%16  41.0%7  36.8%
Ciaron & David - favourite2  22.2%4  40.0%19  28.4%333  37.3%139  35.4%46  38.3%34  58.6%


Most significantly, in the context of the current discussion, there is no dramatic difference between the results when stepping up or bringing back a runner up to 300m in distance, for all-trainers and the top-100.

There is, however, a reduction in performance levels when dropped back more than 300m, as compared to stepping up more than 300m, for both the all-trainers and the top-100 categories in the all odds and <=10/1 categories.

When both all-trainers and top-100 are on the level playing field of race favourite, there is little variation across the board.

Now it is important to bear in mind that the above analysis is a global approach to this one aspect of form analysis. Individual trainers will differ in performance, with some producing excellent results when stepping up or bringing back. This aspect, and the opportunities it provides, will be addressed in later articles.

Warren - Wiz-Ed

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