Chester is one of Britain’s iconic racecourses and has always been known for its perceived draw bias.
The Roodee track is just one mile around, much like an American track, and is a left-handed turf course.
Notoriously tight, the track here is great for spectators who get to see all the action while certain horses and jockeys tend to do well here.
Low numbered draws near the rail have been seen as a big advantage here for years, though we’re looking into that in a bit more detail.
Chester Course Draw Bias Overview
Chester has long been seen as a front-runner’s track and that’s sort of true but it has links to the draw bias.
The run-in here is less than two furlongs long, meaning those coming from the back have little time to organise themselves and make a run.
Those coming from behind won’t want to be trapped on the rail by slower horses, yet on such a tight course low draws continue to be important in terms of saving ground.
There is a 2½-furlong run from the 7½-furlong start to the bend round the back which is straight, but other than that horses are just about always on the turn around here.
The more horses turn, the more ground is given up by those running wide which is why a low draw is important.
5 and 5½ Furlongs at Chester
The five-furlong races at Chester have always been known for a draw bias and it does exist in terms of the stats. When there is a large enough field, eight runners minimum, this is especially true.
Around 60-70% of all races at this distance are won by horses from the bottom third of the draw in terms of numbers. That is a huge stat. Those drawn 5 and under, especially when they’re quick from the gate, hold a big advantage over the minimum trip at Chester.
Tightening that up even further; those drawn 1 and 2 with good recent form tend to be favourites or second-favourites at Chester’s big meetings as bookies run scared of the draw bias.
6 Furlongs at Chester
There are fewer stats to rely on here as Chester hosts precious few six-furlong handicap races. When they do, the draw bias continues with those drawn in stalls 1-5 taking the vast majority of races.
As a basic handicapping rule in sprints at Chester, you could look at the horses in the first 3, 4 or 5 stalls (depending on the field size) then simply look at ground preference and strength of recent form. Many times, you will be left with only one selection.
7 and 7½ Furlongs at Chester
The larger the field, the more runners with no chance can be sneaked into lower draws meaning the potential winning stall numbers do go up. In small fields, the draw won’t matter much at all. When we get to 8+ runners then take a close look at those in the bottom half of the draw as the stats tell us they hold an advantage at seven furlongs.
Despite there being only a 100-yard difference, the extended seven-furlong races (7f, 122yds) see less of an advantage so keep that in mind. Starting speed may play more of a part, meaning those drawn wider have time to come across and get into position.
Longer Distances at Chester
There is a perceived Chester Cup draw bias, but really over 2m2½f this isn’t the case. Runners have plenty of time to get into position even from wider draws.
Not only this, but when the wider horses and hold-up horses make their challenge on the short straight, those up front are going so much slower than in the sprints that they still have time to catch and pass them.
Even over 1m2f, there is no strong draw bias here. Track position and early speed is so much more important. If a horse which is quick from the gate and has strong recent form happens to have a low draw, then you can take it as a major positive. The draw itself however over 1m2f+ will not be enough to see a horse home.
There are 1m 3f, 1m 4f, 1m 5f and 1m 6f starts at Chester and the same applies to all.