Timeform’s in-depth guide to Newcastle, featuring all the key facts and figures ahead of the Northumberland Plate Festival.
Left-handed, oval. Newcastle switched from turf to all-weather during the winter of 2015/16, and like Wolverhampton, the surface it uses is tapeta.
It differs from the majority of the all-weather tracks in that as well as a traditional oval, it has a floodlit straight mile course, which is uphill for the final four furlongs, meaning an ability to see out the trip is essential and those who press on too early can prove vulnerable in the later stages.
Sorted by strike rate in the last five years (minimum 20 rides)
Sorted by strike rate in the last five years (minimum 20 runners)
The tactical advantage front-runners have in any given race, both on the Flat and over jumps, should never be underestimated. For example, if you had backed every horse who recorded a Timeform EPF (Early Position Figure) of 1 in British Flat races since the start of the 2017 season, you would be operating at a strike rate of 17.98% and celebrating a profit of over 21,000 points at Betfair SP.
By contrast, the statistics tell us that backing hold-up horses simply doesn’t pay in the long run. Horses who recorded an EPF of 4 (towards rear) in British Flat races during the same period have a strike rate of 7.54%, while horses who recorded an EPF of 5 (in rear) have performed worse still with a strike rate of just 5.51%.
It’s worth pointing out that these figures can vary drastically from one course to the next. At one end of the spectrum there is Epsom, where front-runners have a strike rate of 27.38% since the start of the 2017 season, and at the other end there is Ascot, where front-runners have a strike rate of just 10.80% for the same period.
When looking at the overall data, Newcastle appears to have far more in common with Ascot than it does Epsom.
For context, horses who recorded an EPF of 1 have a strike rate of 14.08% in all Flat races run at Newcastle since the start of the 2017 season. That leaves just six Flat tracks in Britain where front-runners have a poorer record, namely Ascot, Doncaster (12.85%), Ayr (13.43%), Wetherby (13.64%), Newbury (13.79%) and Wolverhampton (13.94%).
Nevertheless, it’s once again worth pointing out that front-runners still have a better strike at Newcastle than horses who recorded an EPF of either 2 (11.66%), 3 (9.10%), 4 (8.85%) or 5 (9.08%).
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