The StatsMan

THE STATSMAN: a serious statistical deep dive into Class 3 PPs on debut

📸LeeMing Donald

Like Californiadeepshot at the Valley on debut? Read this first as Sohil Patel pulls apart the stats that matter ahead of the sprinter's debut

By Sohil Patel.

Californiadeepshot is an exciting three-year-old Privately Purchased (PP) horse who makes his debut at Happy Valley on Wednesday night. Private Purchased horses, or PPs, are horses that have been purchased in private sales that have raced at least once before they come to Hong Kong.

Californiadeepshot tackles a tough field in the Queen’s Road East Handicap tonight (January 29). Not only does he face hat-trickers Hardly Swears and Aurora Pegasus, but two-time winners Victoriam and Happy Warrior, plus the intriguing prospect Superb Daddy.

Californiadeepshot was a $6.50 fourth favourite approximately twelve hours before he lined up in the 11-horse sprint over 1,200m.  The pre-race buzz on Twitter is understandable given that this Australian import has won from both his starts at Kembla Grange in New South Wales by comfortable margins, the first of them in a then-track record time on debut.

So what do the basic stats say about Californiadeepshot chances?

Let’s brush up our statistics (see table below) to include the most recent data and narrow our analysis to PPs making their debuts in Class 3 using six factors; trainer, jockey, rating, market odds, country of origin, and age (we used these six factors originally in an article earlier this season).

These six factors point to Californiadeepshot’s winning probability ranging between 0% and 7.1%.

The key points:

  • Californiadeepshot is trained by Tony Cruz who wins at 7.1% with debutant PPs which is nearly twice than the overall average (3.8%)
  • His jockey, Karis Teetan, has yet to win a race with a debutant PP in Class 3
  • Based on his rating of 70, he has a 2.2% chance of winning.
  • Based on Californiadeepshot’s tote price midway through Wednesday, his win probability is 6.6%.
  • Australian PPs win 5.5% of the time and horses who are 3.3 in age win 5.6% of the time.

If we had based our betting strategy just on these factors above (which gives us probabilities ranging from 0% to 7.1%), we would not consider Californiadeepshot a betting proposition at the odds available.

What about some more factors to assess Californiadeepshot’s chances on Wednesday? 

After arriving in Hong Kong around the end of last year in trainer Tony Cruz’s yard, Californiadeepshot has had three barrier trials.

He has won all three barrier trials, each with an increasing margin. His most impressive barrier trial was when he beat Wellington and Sparking Dragon in his second barrier trial – both Wellington and Sparking Dragon won subsequently. Given that barrier trials are an indicator of a horse’s readiness to win, we look at have added the evaluation of barrier trial as a new angle to better evaluate the chances of debutant PPs in Class 3 (including Californiadeepshot) below.

Do debutant PPs that have had more barrier trials win more often?

We first look at the number of barrier trials (in Hong Kong) that a PP has run in the two months leading up to that PP’s debut and notice that there is a definite disadvantage if a debutant PP runs without a recent barrier trial – the six debutant PPs that ran without a barrier trial all did not win. Of the PPs that had barrier trials, there seems to be no significant advantage in the number of barrier trials.

Do debutant PPs that have won more barrier trials win more often?

As per the analysis below, there is a straight-line correlation between the number of barrier trials that a PP has won in the two months prior to his debut and his winning chances. Californiadeepshot has won three barrier trials in the last two months and that puts him in the top win percentage bracket of 21.4%.



Do debutant PPs that have won a larger percentage of their barrier trials win more often?

We analysed the debutant PPs that have won a barrier trial in the last two months in context of the number of barrier trials they have run. In the table below, we notice right away that if a PP has won more than 50% of his lead up barrier trials in the last two months, he wins 26.3% of the time on debut – more than nine times more than the PPs that win 50% or less of their barrier trials. This is a significant statistical advantage. Californiadeepshot, who has won 100% of his barrier trials (three from three over the last two months) falls within a group that has a nine-times advantage of winning.




Do debutant PPs that have speedier barrier trials win more often?

We have classified the speed (after accounting for the day’s underfoot conditions and the pace of the barrier trials) into the groups shown below. Debutant PPs that have a blazing fast barrier trial in the two months leading up to a horse’s debut win disproportionately more at 50%. Californiadeepshot’s time of 1.11.72s over the Happy Valley turf track was classified as a blazing barrier trial by our computer algorithm.


What do the new stats (related to Barrier Trials) say about Californiadeepshot chances?

Once we apply the barrier trial factors, we see a completely different picture for Californiadeepshot:

  • Californiadeepshot has had three trials, which suggests a 3.1% winning probability.
  • But when we consider the fact that Californiadeepshot has won three barrier trials, this rockets his win probability to 21.4%. He joins the elite company of debutant PPs Fat Turtle, Baltic Whisper, and Yee Cheong Baby that all won two or more barrier trials and then went on to win on debut in Class 3.
  • This winning probability pointed to the third aspect of the barrier trials related analysis becomes even more compelling when we see that horses that win more than 50% of their barrier trials have a first-up strike rate of 26.3%. Past PPs that won more than 50% of their barrier trials before their debut run and then went on to win in Class 3 include Fat Turtle, Magic Legend, Baltic Whisper, Regency Legend and Yee Cheong Baby.
  • Finally, the blistering speed at which Califiorniadeepshot has trialed at Happy Valley on January 18 points to a 50% winning probability.

Based on the evaluation of Californiadeepshot’s barrier trials in Hong Kong, and the statistical winning probabilities that we analysed for the past PP debutants in Class 3, we will definitely have a wager on Californiadeepshot, especially if his odds hold up (anything more than $5).

Appendix: Updated statistics including the most recent data for PPs making their debuts in Class 3 (factor analysed include trainer, jockey, rating, market odds, country of origin, and age).

If we looked at the breakdown by season, we see that the win percentage is between 0% (for the current season) and 5% for the past three complete seasons. Interestingly, there is a positive 15.7% return on investment (ROI) for the 2018-19 season. This is because four out of the seven winners were at longer odds (Star Performance at 65-to-1, Winning Delight at 50-1, Regency Legend at 14-1, Perfect Glory at 17-1). The three others at shorter odds were Yee Cheong Baby at 1.4, Dan Control at 3.8 and Fat Turtle at 2.6.

John Moore has had the most success with four winners (Dan Control, Solar Patch, Easy Go Easy Win, and Magic Legend) . Interestingly, Californiaddeepshot’s trainer, Tony Cruz, had had two winners (Star Performance at $66 and Winner’s Way at $26 and shows a whopping
profitability of 228.6% on flat bets.

It is no surprise that last season’s champion jockey, Zac Purton has ridden the most debutant PPs to victory. Californiadeepshot’s ridder Karis Teetan has not ridden a single PP debuting in Class 3 to victory from 28 attempts.

Most of the winners were rated between 71 and 75. This rating range also showed the highest win percentage (at 5.7%) and a positive return on investment (ROI) of 1.8% on the flat bets. Californiadeepshot is rated at 70, which is from the 66 to 70 band that shows only 2.2% of winners.

Debutant PPs who ran at $5.00 or lower won a disproportionately high 27% strike rate. The other two groups that show a better than overall win percentage are the PPs that debut “between $5 and $11 ” and “between $11.10 and $21”.

Debutant PPs originated mostly from Australia which had a slightly higher win percentage (5.5%).

The age in the table below is the exactly calculated age (from the horse’s foaling date). It shows that horses that are between 2.9 to 3.5 years of age win at a slightly higher percentage (5.6%) compared to the overall 3.8%. Californiadeepshot, who was foaled on October 20, 2016, is 3.3 years old.

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