Follow the Leader

The Polytrack at Kempton Park, which was refurbished in 2015, 2016 and 2018, is a right-handed oval, consisting of an inner and an outer loop, measuring 10 furlongs and 8 furlongs respectively. The inner loop, over which races of the minimum distance are run, features a relatively short run to a tight, sweeping bend leading to a short home straight, less than a quarter of a mile in length.

Consequently, over 5 furlongs, horses trying to come from off the pace are at a disadvantage with those who race on, or close to, the pace, provided of course that the leaders do not go off too fast and ‘cut one another’s throats’ at the head of affairs. The latter situation is more likely to occur if there are two, or three, forward-racing types in opposition, so beware of any such race.

In fact, roughly one in three horses that makes the running over 5 furlongs at Kempton holds on to win. Unsurprisingly, the 5-furlong course record, 58.07 seconds, set in April, 2018, is held by A Momentofmadness, who made all the running from stall 3.

In terms of draw bias, the speedy, handy type who breaks quickly from a low draw is always likely to hold all the aces. Logically, horses drawn low are positioned next to the inside rail and, provided they run in a more or less straight line from start to finish, cover a shorter distance than those drawn middle or high.

Even so, a low draw is no longer a prerequisite for winning over 5 furlongs at Kempton.

Provided a horse drawn middle or high breaks quickly enough to lead, without expending too much energy in the early stages, its jockey can steer a course towards the inside rail and gain a similar advantage to a front-runner drawn low in the first place.