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Raceform Interactive

I’ve just purchased a copy of Raceform Interactive to cover the flat and jump race season. I haven’t purchased much racing software because I’ve had my fingers burnt purchasing expensive software in the past that didn’t quite do what it said on the tin. However, I decided to take plunge on Raceform Interactive because of the sheer volume of information that it contains and it’s built in systems and draw analyser.

For those that do not know the software Raceform Interactive is a horse racing analysis tool, which contains the official British Horseracing Board’s race results plus data from Raceform’s own database. It therefore claims to be “the most comprehensive and authoritative database of form in the world”.

Provided that you have a monthly subscription, you can update the database and form quickly online every day, with results, declarations and all entries. You are also able upload statistics on trainers, jockeys and pedigrees.

You are also able to store and search your own ratings; make lists of significant horses, trainers and jockeys. These can all be saved back onto the database. This feature is probably for the real form students and paddock watchers.

The software has a useful search facility that allows you to search for a horse by its name or Raceform Number. These numbers correspond to the numbers used in Raceform’s Official BHB paper formbooks and so you can cross-reference between the database and paper records. Another useful feature is an icon on the Overnight Declaration screen. A click on the ‘corresponding race last year’ button calls up the past results for the race, which is ideal if you like to research past trends.

You can also research past trends by using the in built 10-year trend feature. This feature is available for races in the Overnight Declarations only (not for 4/5 day entries or Early Closing races). I personally find this feature a bit frustrating because I often want to look at the trends for races in the weeks and months ahead and not just the night before. I can’t quite understand why the software doesn’t just let you look at the trends for each and every race. My guess is that it doesn’t do this because the software does not yet have a full ten years of data in its system. The software is advertised with five full years of past data but for some reason the latest version goes back to the year 2000.

The following details are included in the 10-year trend window:
• Year of race
• Form figures coming into the race (last 4 outings, plus season breaks)
• Name of the winner
• Age at the time of the run
• Weight carried in the race
• BHB Rating if applicable
• Raceform Rating (RR)
• Draw and total number of runners (Flat races only)
• Going
• SP of the winner and a ‘F’ if the horse went off favourite
• Trainer
• Information on the horse about whether it was a debutante, unexposed (if previously failing to record a Raceform Rating), an improver (if today’s RF Rating is 3lb or more better than the previous RF rating or in form (again defined by Raceform ratings).
• Speed figures from Raceform’s Split Second service
• the last 10 winners are broken down into Age Groups (Wins / Place / Total Attempts)
• Finishing position of all the horses that went off the SP favourite for the race.
• The record of all trainers with runners in today’s renewal who have a good record in the corresponding race.

It is also possible to download information similar to that provided by the ‘Signposts’ feature in the Racing Post. I’ve always found this a very useful edition to the newspaper and it is a good source of winner finding material. Raceform Interactive includes all the same information and so you can identify the hot and cold trainers, the top course trainers, trainer and jockey combinations, and horses wearing blinkers for the first time. It is also possible to call up information on horses wearing a tongue-tie and information about which horses have travelled furthest to fulfil their engagements today (and the distance travelled) and whether the jockey has only one ride at a days meeting.

One of the most excellent features about the software, and one that should pay dividends, is the draw analyser. This allows you to instantly view the draw statistics for each course, including total wins/runs for each stall number (with a percentage total). This draw information is also displayed as a graph to give you a visual impression of a potential draw bias. These statistics can be fine-tuned by means of various pull-down menus. These allow you to research draw bias in more detail by disaggregating the data by the race distance, number of runners, going, track type (straight and round courses), race type, stall position (high, medium or low) and other useful categories.

However, probably the best part of the software is the query database function that allows you to construct systems and test them against the data in the Raceform Interactive database. Queries can be run on historical data or on the latest declarations and entries. For example, you may have developed a profitable system based on a trainer’s record with horses that win on their first run as three-year olds. You can then run the query to find out if the trainer in question has any three year old debutantes declared for the following days racing. You can therefore follow a number of systems with the minimum amount of effort. The computer also does not make mistakes and so you know when you run a system against the following days declarations that the computer will have identified all the right qualifiers for you to bet on.

All the systems (or queries) you run against the database can be saved and revisited at any time When you re-run them, they will automatically be updated to include the form which has been added to the database since the last time it was run. I’m sure that this feature will help to pay for the software if you are able to develop a number of profitable systems and follow them over a period of time.

The only thing that is disappointing about the Query feature is that the software doesn’t provide a link into a betting exchange or bookmaker. It would be very exciting if the program was able to identify selections from a system and then able to operate as a betting robot by placing bets on the selections. I’m sure this will come about eventually but it is a shame that this feature isn’t incorporated into the current version as it would make the software unique.

The actual database behind the program can also be exported into a CSV or other format for importing into a spreadsheet or into another database. This is a useful feature for those who want to conduct more detailed analysis on the data and/or link it to another database. In total there are 29 variables that can be exported. However, I was slightly disappointed in this feature because it doesn’t include all the variables available across the whole database, especially the data contained in the declarations file that you have to upload each day. For instance, I found it frustrating that you couldn’t pull out of the database the betting forecast for each and every race in the database (both current and historic) or the tote returns for win, place and the Exacta. I can’t believe that this would have been too difficult for the software developers and it would have added an extra dimension to this feature. As it stands I think you would have to have good reasons for using the export facility instead of using ‘Query Database’.

Conclusion

Raceform Interactive promised to be the “the most comprehensive and authoritative database of form in the world”. I’ll keep an open mind about that one but the software certainly includes some useful features and the best of these is the Query Database feature. The draw analyser also has a lot of potential and could be used to develop a profitable system based around draw bias at certain tracks, distances and going etc.

Some of the features included in the software do not, in my view, have the added value that you would want from a product that costs a couple of hundred quid for the jump and flat race versions and a monthly subscription of £69. For instance, the form summaries and statistics that you can upload from the declarations window are also available from the Racing Post website for free.

However, on balance I would recommend the software. It has more positives than negatives. It could be improved but that probably applies to any piece of software ever developed. If you would like to purchase the software I would suggest that you initially pay for the minimum subscription period (three months) and then review how you are using the software to see whether it is worth paying the extra cost to have access to future declarations.