Another extremely popular Yorkshire horse racing venue is Thirsk.
This is the home of the Thirsk Hunt Cup in early May, an ultra-competitive one-mile handicap event for the older horses.
The turf course here features a straight track for five and six-furlong races. The round track is a mile and a quarter long with a run-in of half a mile after the final turn.
The course is considered generally fair, though like anywhere it has its pace and draw biases to keep track of.
Thirsk Course Draw Bias Overview
The left-handed oval at 1¼ miles is not the widest in the country, but with a half-mile run-in there is plenty of time and space for runners to get organised after turning for home. It’s thought low numbers are best on the round course, but we’ll look into that in more detail.
Despite the length of the straight, the track has a relatively sharp nature to it so those at the front can steal away. In fact, there is a strong pace bias at Thirsk.
Most of that pace bias concerns the sprint track. Pace is absolutely key above anything else over five and six furlongs, with it still being important over seven. It suddenly diminishes, statistically at least, over the mile course.
Keep the pace angle in mind along with draw advantages.
5 Furlongs at Thirsk
It’s important to remember first of all that the five-furlong draw bias at Thirsk is negated somewhat on soft ground. Due to the drainage, at least that’s what we surmise, the ground is a little better on the far side when the rain comes.
Generally speaking, on good ground or faster, a high number draw is essential. Almost all winners come up the near side rail in such conditions. Add to this the fact that the pace bias is huge at this distance, so a hold-up horse drawn low would stand virtually no chance.
6 Furlongs at Thirsk
Unsurprisingly, the same pace and draw biases exist over six furlongs as at five. Hold-up horses are not fancied, while a high draw is crucial unless the rain comes.
Small fields and stalls position should be kept in mind however, i.e., if the stalls are on the far side then they will migrate to that rail, while even on the near side if there are only five or so runners there will be a heavy pace bias but not a great one regarding the draw.
7 Furlongs at Thirsk
There are two factors over seven furlongs to remember at Thirsk, one which is surprising and one which isn’t.
It won’t surprise you to know that the slight draw advantage is for those coming from low stalls. That puts them on the inside as the field turns for home.
Slightly more surprising is that the strong pace bias remains, as it does on the sprint track. The reason this wasn’t expected is that, as you’ll see below, going over just one furlong more here tends to negate that pace bias almost completely.
1 Mile at Thirsk
If we believe the stats, and there is a large sample available at Thirsk so we do, then the pace and draw biases disappear from seven furlongs to a mile.
No longer is pace king. Hold-up horses do a little better over the mile, although that will be more the case in strongly run races. A Thirsk Hunt Cup draw bias doesn’t seem to exist either, even though there are usually large fields for that race.
Longer Distances at Thirsk
As explained about the mile races, as we go up in trip at Thirsk the pace and draw biases don’t seem large at all. Over the 1m 4f, 1m 7f, 2m, 2m 1f and 2m 2f trips you can tend to concentrate on form, ability and potential.