Sectional Timing and Tracking

RaceTech is founded on a commitment to maintain British racing at the forefront of technological innovation.
Its role in the development of systems to support integrity, broadcast and data provision is unparalleled and now enhanced by the launch of a sectional timing and tracking product with the potential to change perception of the sport.

  1. Sectional times subdivide a race into convenient fractions in order to capture some of racing’s most important data. How fast was the early pace? Did the winner accelerate or merely keep on? Did beaten horses lack stamina or fail to quicken? The naked eye is woefully imprecise when it comes to making these judgments, and the era of Big Data demands that the sport stops guessing and starts measuring.
  2. In other sports, sectionals are considered intrinsic to understanding the action. In skiing, for instance, split times down the course give the viewer an instant readout of where each competitor has gained or lost time. It is often said that sectionals can’t work as well on undulating British racetracks as on flat, featureless ones in the US, but the Lauberhorn and the Hahnenkamm are hardly flat tracks, are they?
  3. After the race, sectionals can be broken down to provide all manner of insights into how the race was run, but they also have an important function during it. Creating anticipation is a key element of providing exciting sport for the viewer, and on-screen sectionals in real-time can predict what will happen at the end of the race, given what has happened at the start of it: a strong pace will regularly see the leaders pay for it, while a slow pace can lead to a shock if a pace-setter is kicked for home.
  4. Sectionals and tracking data have more than technical use. The tracking of horses can be used to empower colourful and descriptive in-running readouts of position which are especially important when pictures of British racing are exported abroad. Racing experts sometimes frown over the utility of this device, yet nobody can say with certainty which horse is in front in the many big-field races on straight tracks which proliferate during the British racing calendar. If numbers or colours on the screen are useful for US punters watching six-runner races on tight tracks, it is a fair bet they can gain employ in 40-runner cavalry charges at Newmarket, for instance.
  5. Racing is still televised in a strikingly similar way to 30 years ago. Yet many other sports – football, rugby, cricket and tennis – have seen technological instruments enliven their coverage and provide the viewer with key insights. Used properly, sectionals and tracking data can revolutionise the way racing is digested at all levels of the sport and encourage better and more informed dialogue concerning how races are run.
  6. Sectionals have failed to grip the racing industry in Britain in limited exposure so far, but their implementation has been severely lacking. Now, with a better and sharper presentation and effort made towards explanation, punters who had never thought of themselves as being sectional-savvy can soon be talking the language of pace. So, when the field opens with a 26sec quarter, viewers will know what that means. And they will soon be keen to follow horses in their next start who have come home in 23sec or less.
  7. Sectionals – and the positional tracking of horses with which they are allied – provide vital evidence as to which jockeys are really the best. Counting a rider’s total of winners and declaring him the champion just because he rides for a powerful stable may be enough to determine where the trophies should go, but the best jockeys are not necessarily those who win the most races but those who maximise the chance of their mounts. This information – determined readily from timing and tracking – will be extremely powerful to owners, trainers and punters.
  8. The conventional way of rating horses – whom they beat and how far – only provides a part of the picture when it comes to assessing their merit. In maiden races, for instance, the pace often isn’t strong enough for the best horses to expose their true potential. Sectionals provided instant evidence that John Gosden’s Kingman was a potential Group winner the moment he passed the post in a maiden at Newmarket last season – and it wasn’t a surprise when he won the Solario Stakes in good style on his next start.
  9. Racing is the ultimate betting product because it is data-rich at many different levels of complexity. But, as betting markets have become more finely tuned to the real probabilities of horses winning, the punter without inside information needs more tools to enable him or her to sustain belief in making a profit. In other countries such as Australia and Hong Kong, data sets provided by sectionals have empowered punters from enthusiast to syndicate-level.
  10. Computation is now much more widespread in schools and colleges, and the racing enthusiast of tomorrow is likely to be very different to the ageing crowd of today. Schools are soon to place coding on the curriculum, and the data of sectionals lends itself perfectly to the kind of analysis that will fire the interest of a more technological public. The youth are simply not intimidated by numbers anymore – as the changing face of computer games has proved.

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