Technology and data continually bring new insights into the great world of sport. Racing is somewhat of an exception with only occasional use of things like the fascinating jockey cam. The unique challenge of fast moving thoroughbreds is perhaps a barrier to investment. Or, is it because the beautiful majesty of a racehorse in full flight speaks for itself?
Whatever your viewpoint we at Total Performance Data (TPD) are pleased to introduce new technology that aims to enhance interest in the sport whatever your taste. In conjunction with Arena Racing Company and the All-Weather Championships, TPD will be providing sectional timing data through the use of sophisticated on-horse GPS tracking. As a racehorse owner myself, I have come fast and late to the mid race timing party but found the splits from York and Meydan essential in understanding why field pace was so crucial to the finishing position of the mercurial Short Squeeze! The TPD technology presents live position information for every horse throughout the race and from the paddock to the weighing room. Though this sounds rather obvious it is a departure from the world of timing horse between fixed points (sections) which are usually the furlong markers down the back straight. Historically stop watches and cameras were used to offer ‘sectional timing’ whereas we can now use satellites to track each horse live. Both methods have their uses and complement one another. Excitingly, live and constant timing of every runner in every race is now possible and opens up lots of exciting new opportunities. So, whereas timing only gives you times, live tracking also gives new things for experts to devour like distance raced and, in the near term, stride length. But, as importantly, widespread tracking means racecourses can offer broadcasters and bookmakers richer content on which they can build analytics and products. For example, wouldn’t it be nice to bet on a horse and have its progress through the race automatically tracked rather than having to recognise its colours? We went live at Lingfield Park on 19 December, two days after the US Government launched two new satellites into orbit. Whilst President Obama had defence and tractors rather than the All-Weather Championships on his mind, it nonetheless gives an indication of the growth of Government investment in this technology! The data that our system produces is published on the All-Weather Championships website (www.awchampionships.co.uk), in the form of a table which allows everyone to interpret and analyse the performances of the individual racehorses in a visual manner, at a glance. The screen grab below shows the following for each horse:
- Race pace: is summarised at the top with the leaders cumulative time displayed at each furlong
- Field position: is indicated by the amount of white versus grey space in each box; backmarkers will show less grey than front runners at each furlong. This is based upon a set period of time for that race where a horse that is over c.2 seconds from the leader will have no grey shading in his split time box
- Mid race speed: the split times at the furlong intervals are retrospective e.g the split time at the 4f post is the time from the 5f to the 4f
- Fastest furlong is denoted by the green stopwatch
- We measure the total distance travelled per horse with the longest and least distances run flagged by green (best) and red (worst) symbols next to their name
Will Duff Gordon - Director, Total Performance Data