News: 15 May 2013
John Flood writes... Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics is
a phrase that describes the persuasive power of numbers. Mark Twain
popularised it but the original origin of the phrase has been attributed
I wonder who in racing folklore
should we attribute the most common way of analysing sires statistics?
i.e. The Leading Sires table by prize money earned by their progeny
during the current racing season only (LSTBPEBTPDTCRSO, for want
of a deservedly annoying acronym).
It has always baffled me how anyone could or should rate a sires
achievements solely by looking at the above mentioned leader
board. Yet, for years this seems to be the only leader board
that matters to people given that it is the leader board that is
most frequently published by media and in a lot of cases it is the
only leader board ever published.
Through my discussions with others, different reasons for this
have been put forward. One perhaps cynical viewpoint is that a Sires
Table portrayed this way is very much in favour of the sires who
have the most runners in one season and historically the biggest
advertisers with the various bloodstock racing press are the studs
with the most mares covered and hence the most runners
get the drift. Another more simplistic viewpoint is that in racing,
all leader boards are viewed for the current season only. i.e. Leading
Jockey, Trainer, owner etc. and that at some point a leading stallion
table was introduced and for no other reason it was based on the
same credentials i.e. current season totals only.
I dont claim to be the only person with a strong opinion
on this topic as John Osborne has spoken many times about this subject
and holds strong views about how Stallions achievements should be
portrayed and analysed on a lifetime basis and not just over the
current season. Johns
Views can be found here.
John and his flat counterparts of similar views can count themselves
lucky though, whilst they may disagree with the level of press and
importance one certain sires table gets over other more relevant
tables they at least have access to other tables through
the various promotions companies that supply these statistical services.
On the other hand, in my experience, it is next to impossible to
obtain any National Hunt Sires leader board, other than the above
mentioned. Any promotional company I have contacted do not supply
National Hunt statistics.
-The Racing Post database groups sires earnings by season only and
annoyingly the progeny results featured within each sires page include
some French results but yet not all French results, which completely
distorts the total figures and there is no way of filtering results
to include UK and Ire only.
-The Irish Field who receive their statistics from Weatherbys,
just include LSTBPEBTPDTCRSO in their weekly paper.
-Thoroughbredinternet.com have a reasonably good Jumps Stakes database
with a simple search feature, but again it has limitations. i.e.
It is purely a database of stakes results and doesnt do any
ranking of sires by stakes performers etc. Another limitation I
have found with it, is that Graded Handicaps in UK are included,
whereas Graded Handicaps in Ireland do not feature.
-EBN doesnt feature any NH statistics.
I strongly feel that the publishing and resulting reliance on such
a narrow set of statistics has a big part to play in the increasing
fickleness of the National Hunt market. It is totally biased against
young sires with their first runners on the ground and also sires
who havent covered large books of mares i.e. If a sire isnt
featuring high up on the Leader Board he is automatically
assumed to be underperforming. This assumption is made without knowing
how many foals of racing age they have on the ground, how their
winners/runners ratio compares with other sires etc. etc.
What I would like to see made available for National Hunt breeders
would be statistics that cover a stallions lifetime achievements
as opposed to just the current season and these statistics would
include the following: number of crops of racing age, number of
registered foals to date, number of runners, number of winners,
number of non-winning placed horses, number of stakes winners, number
of stakes placed horses etc.
The web is the ideal platform to drive this system as it is real
time and can be interactive with users based on what criteria they
want to see. And for anyone suffering withdrawal symptoms, they
can even look up LSTBPEBTPDTCRSO!
Feeding from this platform, paper publications can then publish
whatever ranking tables they choose. Whilst not expecting these
publications, who have obvious space constraints, to publish pages
upon pages of statistics, one would hope that different tables would
be featured on a rotational basis.
All views welcome
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