Affectionately known as ‘The Garden Racecourse’, Ripon is one of the most picturesque tracks in the country.
The turf course is right-handed, 1 mile and 5 furlongs in length and features a five-furlong run-in after the final bend.
There is a straight six-furlong track for its most important race, the Great St Wilfrid Handicap.
The bends at Ripon are pretty sharp and the track undulates. Unsurprisingly, pace as well as draw biases are quite prevalent.
Ripon Course Draw Bias Overview
Alongside the draw, the pace bias is the thing to keep in mind at Ripon. Essentially the shorter the trip, the bigger the bias. Generally speaking, you don’t really want a hold-up horse in a sprint race at Ripon.
Unlike at other tracks, Ripon is already known colloquially as a front-runner’s course. Some jockeys have put this down to the undulations, kicking their mount on when they hit a slight downhill run but really, it’s about more than that.
The sprint course is the main focus here. Those relying on the old wives’ tales may tell you that you want to be up the stands rail at Ripon which means high numbers. We’ve found that it is not the case in truth, at least not in fuller fields.
5 Furlongs at Ripon
In smaller fields, the stands side rail is indeed the place to be. Runners will migrate there naturally, so being drawn in the high numbers closer to the rail is an advantage. Much more to the point; speed is king. Getting to or near the front can end five-furlong races as a contest at Ripon for the right horse.
When there is a full field which may split, suddenly low numbers become best. The ground is arguably faster going up the far side rail so watch out for 15+ runner handicaps.
6 Furlongs at Ripon
When the ground is decent and the field is not too large, the same high draw bias can be found over six furlongs.
There can be a Great St Wilfried draw bias moving over to the far side (low numbers) however if there is juice in the ground and/or a full field. We do tend to get bigger fields in the biggest race of the year, as well as in the Ripon Champion Two-Year-Old Trophy.
1 Mile at Ripon
Not surprisingly to us, the bias over a mile at Ripon comes clearly with the low-drawn horses.
These are the horses drawn nearest to the rail. The layout of this track tends to favour those racing up with the pace or even setting it. The bends are also tight.
Not only do wider horses lose ground on the bend but, much more to the point, they expend a lot of energy getting to the front from a high draw. Either that or they have to sit at the back and wait for an opportunity which may never arrive, keeping low numbers as the best.
The more runners there are over a mile, the bigger the bias will be in terms of both pace and stalls position.
Longer Distances at Ripon
Over 1m 1f there may be a similar bias to the mile races, though it does start to diminish slightly.
Ripon also has starts for races over 1 mile, 1 furlong & 170 yards, 1 mile, 2 furlongs & 190 yards as well as 1m 4f, 2m and a trip just short of 2m 2f.
Each of these sees the pace and draw advantages dissipate the further the runners go. That said, it will not harm things even over staying trips if your horse naturally wants to get to the front and dictate matters, nor is it a disadvantage to be handed a low draw.