Speed Maps – ‘X’ marks the spot

You’ll often hear punters and analysts referring to ‘horses mapping well’ but what does it actually mean and how important is it?

Essentially what it means is that a particular horse looks to be suited by the speed and predicted settling positions in an upcoming race. It’s accepted logic that not always the best or fastest horse wins the race and a favourable map can make up for many lengths in natural ability or culmination of other factors.

The key elements to a successful speed map revolve around determining the tempo a race will be run at as well as determining which horses will get a run to suit the track pattern. You can often predict the likely pattern ahead of time using data from previous meetings run under the same conditions. But it doesn’t always unfold as predicted, which I’ll touch upon later.

The cleanest example of a favourable map is often a natural leader who finds itself in a race devoid of other leaders and on a track where, typically, frontrunners are advantaged. Those types of scenarios can be exacerbated when other key chances in the race are likely to settle towards the rear of the field. The horses concerned might come into the race with a similar ratings/performance profile but this map advantage can be worth many lengths.

Another reason why speed maps are such a crucial part of form analysis is highlighted at race meetings where a strong track bias or pattern emerges through the card. It’s one thing to realise a track is playing in a certain way but that intuition can only really pay off when you can identify which horses are now going to be advantaged as a result.

Plenty of significant market-movers are courtesy of punters tuning into changes or patterns in the track surface. Backmarkers that might sit in the $4.00 range at the morning line might double in price as the meeting progresses due to the track pattern suiting on-pacers.

I’ve always started my form process by putting the speed map together before I begin pricing the runners. It’s important initially, but it can be vital in staying ahead of the market when an unpredictable track pattern emerges.