Horse racing speed ratings

Four horses racing at a racecourse.

Horse speed ratings are one of the most frequently overlooked, yet critical, pieces of information about a racehorse.

In essence speed ratings are intended to give you an idea of the time it takes a horse to travel between two points.

This information is critical because, all things being equal, speed is the single most important variable when it comes to comparing how two racehorses are likely to perform in a race.

How to use speed ratings in horse racing

Speed ratings give you the power to do something that few other racehorse variables can match.

They allow you to get a clear idea of how two different horses who have never competed against one another are likely to perform when raced together.

With accurate speed ratings for an entire field, you’ll have the ability to look at the field in an entirely new way, and easily detect which horses offer the best betting opportunities.

In fact, speed ratings can be so powerful that many punters will ignore other factors like form and official ratings entirely and focus exclusively on assessing horses by their speed.

And speed ratings are easy to use. Once you have good speed ratings, all you need to do is pick out the horse with the best speed rating in the field and you’re looking at a horse with good prospects.

If other factors that punters and bookies are focusing on have pushed the horse’s price higher than it should be, then you’re in luck – you have the fastest horse in the field at a bargain price.

However, there is a catch.

Using an overall speed rating for a horse will not provide a good indication of how a horse will perform in a specific race.

That’s because factors like ground and distance are likely to have a substantial impact on a horse’s speed in particular conditions.

For example a horse that has an excellent speed rating over all weather tracks over 5 furlongs is not going to deliver an equally strong performance over a mile on a heavy turf track.

Speed ratings therefore need to take into account the variables at play in a given race.

So, you want the speed ratings to always reflect the speed of the horse when it has run in a similar race with similar conditions.

This is important to keep in mind, because a number of services which provide speed ratings for horses do not provide this information.

Instead they provide speed ratings over a horse’s career, or for recent races, without taking ground preferences or other important variables into account.

This means you only get an overall idea of a horse’s capabilities without an assurance that these will hold up in the particular race you are backing, unless it typically races in very similar events.

How to calculate speed rating in horse rating

It can be tempting to attempt to calculate your own speed ratings for a race and develop your own horse speed rating system.

However, this is no small undertaking. At best you will need to follow up on the career of every horse in a race to gather the data required to assign a rating.

At worst you will need to keep track of the performances of thousands of horses in action in the country you are betting in, so that speed data is easily available to you in every race.

And that’s not even taking into account how you’ll figure out how to compile these variables into a rating to get the most effective results.

It’s not a task for the faint hearted, or anyone who does not have sufficient coding ability to scan through race result data and automatically crunch the numbers.

Fortunately you don’t need to do this yourself.

Using established speed ratings services

There are at least two popular speed ratings services that take into account race variables when calculating racehorse speed.

The Racing Post Topspeed rating

The Racing Post publishes a Topspeed rating for every horse after a race, taking into account changing race variables when calculating a speed rating for the horse.

While this is likely to create a more accurate overall speed score, it remains an overall speed score and will have limited applicability when using it to compare horses in specific races and conditions.

Proform speed rating

Proform goes a step further than Topspeed by allowing you to assess racehorse speeds by filtering results according to conditions.

Once you select the conditions you wish to filter for, Proform will automatically recalculate and display relevant speed ratings, creating a much more accurate picture of the horse’s capabilities in the given conditions.

Proform also allows you to assess horse speed using other helpful variables. These include its highest speed rating, average speed rating, and average rating the horse achieved in its last several runs.

Other speed ratings services

There are a number of other speed rating services out there that do the hard yards in terms of number crunching and claim to provide the most accurate speed ratings.

Many of these services are subscription based, so it might cost you a little to find out if they really deliver the goods.

However, these services are incentivized to provide decent speed ratings, or they risk losing your business.