What is the Draw Bias in Horse Racing?

Unlike the National Hunt racing, Flat races use starting stalls in an attempt to give each horse an equal start. This is much better than a standing start, which does happen infrequently, when the ground is very soft or the stalls are broken or malfunction. Horses racing over any distance can be ill prepared for a flag start (standing start), turning at the wrong time or not paying attention, which is a major disadvantage over a 5f sprint.

It is literally the difference between winning and losing. Even with the use of starting stalls, a horse that starts quickly can gain an easy lead and advantage. Horses are allocated their draw position randomly and all draws are not equal. So if your horse is lucky it may have a good draw and if not a poor draw. This is what we would call a draw bias.

For example, a race run over a straight course may not have any particular draw advantage. However, as many races take place on turning courses then there may be a plus or negative to being drawn high or low.

We can take the principle of a bias to other forms of entertainment and aspects of chance too. For instance many casino goers just go on whichever game personally draws them in and base their way on that. However if you’re attuned to the casino world and the many sites around such as those mentioned in this scotsman.com article, you’ll know that there are varying degrees of bias to the ‘house’ (casino) depending on the game. Also known as the ‘house edge’, and the smaller this edge is the less advantage over the player the casino holds.

For instance, my personal favourite casino game, roulette has a comparatively small house edge of 2.5% (for a wheel with one zero). It’s not difficult to work out, as the odds offered for a simple number is 35-1, but there a 37 numbers of the roulette wheel. Understandably the odds get markedly worse for a double zero wheel. The odds of games like Slot differ widely so it’s best to check on the machine in question (anywhere from 2 – 10% usually) and the Poker edge is typically around 1.5%. For hours of fun with a very marginal edge you can also play Blackjack (one deck – 1.5%). It’s a quick and easy game to play and pick up both online and off. With a sensible strategy and bankroll strategy (not to mention the online sign up bonuses some casino sites offer) you’re already off to a good start. In any case, back to bias in the horse racing sense..

Chester racecourse is not only the oldest racecourse still in operation but it is the smallest in England, an oval shape covering a distance of 1 mile and 1 furlong. At this course, in particular, a low draw is a big advantage because it is the equivalent of running round a bend, like a staggered start. A high draw here is the equivalent of running farther. The betting for individual horses is often dependent on the draw.

Each and every of the 60 racecourses in the UK have their idiosyncrasies and the draw bias is just one of the crucial factors to whether the horse you bet may win or lose.