Spotting Horses Who Have Just Peaked

In horse racing it is very rare for a horse to keep on improving and a good run has to come to an end sooner or later. Knowing when this may be can help avoid betting on certain horses and looking for these has led to me write this post, Spotting Horses Who Have Just Peaked.

A few weeks ago I was re-reading some of the books I have collected over the years on American speed ratings and one covered a particular point that was made about a certain pattern in a horses ratings to look out for.

Basically a horse cannot keep improving indefinitely and all horses are going to peak at some stage. At some point a horse will run to its limit and will start to decline, need a break before coming back to top form or throw in a poor run after peaking.

The energy used to hit peak form in a race can take a lot out of a horse and the three and out pattern below highlights just what to look for.


The Three And Out Pattern

Starting at the beginning of the month until yesterday which is 24 days of racing, I was looking back at results for the following:

  1. Flat races only for older horses, no Maidens.
  2. Horses that were one of the top highlighted horses in the Lto column.
  3. Horses who had an improved rating for all the last three races culminating in the latest run. (E.g. 67, 72, 77)
  4. From those any runners whose last run was less than 90 days ago.

I decided to concentrate on flat racing for this and ignored races for 2 and 3 year olds only, as I am aware that these horses are open to improvement as they are maturing and can maintain an increase in performance longer.

Older horses cannot keep on improving indefinitely and my results do seem to show that the three and out pattern will highlight horses who are unlikely to improve again.

90 days was chosen since the last run because I thought that after 90 days off a horse would perhaps had time to recover and build up to another good run again.

Please note, I am not suggesting this as a laying system, but as an aid to help eliminate some of the bets we are all likely to make. All of the selections have one of the top Lto ratings and as you will see, a high percentage of favoured horses do not win after following this pattern.


Example Card

Below you can see that the horses we are looking at for this are Seige Of Boston, Miracle Garden and Bluff Cragg as they are the ones in this race with a highlighted red rating in the Lto column.

There are just three highlighted horses in this race but for the test I was taking all highlighted horses in the Lto column, not just the top 3, so could be 4 or 5 and if any were non runners I was taking the next best rated horses in the Lto column to make sure I had at least a top 3.

With the latest rating on the left under Lto, you can see that only Miracle Garden has three improving ratings, starting with a 68, then a 72 and finally an 80 which was from a race just 5 days ago. Miracle Garden came 3rd at 5/1 and was beaten three and a quarter lengths.

Click the image below to enlarge in a new window.

Here are the Test Results – 24 days.

Number of runners whose ratings improved on all three last runs = 293

Number of horses which won after peaking last time = 47 (16%)

Number of horses that lost after peaking last time = 246 (84%)

I think you will agree that even for just a short period this is quite a big difference in those that won and those that lost.


Runners with an SP of 6/1 or less (168 in total)

If you just take those horses with an SP of 6/1 or less, the horses with a supposed better chance and probably one of the first three or four favourites in a race, then the stats are not too different.

Number of winners = 35 (21%)

Number of losers = 133 (79%)

Adding up the SP’s of these 34 winners totals 98.8, against 133 losers, so you could add 10% or so for the exchange prices but you wouldn’t be gaining much if either backing or laying.

The same with all runners regardless of price, the winning SP’s add up to 206.3 against 246 losers.

As I said earlier this is not a laying strategy, indeed it is not a system idea at all. It is just a tutorial and a way to use the speed ratings positively, given some evidence with horses that are going to peak at some point.

A horse that peaks after three improving runs will often need time to recover or can put in a poor performance next time out. It all depends how much energy has been used up in these runs and I suppose all horses have different recovery periods but overall it does seem to appear that avoiding these horses would be very wise.

Speed ratings can be used in a number of ways and this is just another way to look at the figures to help make a decision on your betting, spotting horses who have just peaked.

How many times have you seen a horse supposedly come into form with a ‘good looking second’ last time, that just doesn’t fire despite being backed into favourite? You are left scratching your head and wondering why.

However the speed ratings would have told you a different story when the horses ratings are 70, 73, 77. Now you may be more inclined to pass over this horse as you know there is a good chance that the horse will put in a poor run.


Different angles on the three and out pattern.

When you are looking at these horses there are many things you could angle in such as, the size of improvement between all three latest runs or just the last two runs.

For example I  didn’t differentiate between a horse that only increased by 1 rating point each time, 72, 73, 74 and one that jumped quite a bit such as, 72, 79, 86 and of course form figures were not taken into account at all.

Also the time period of the three runs may have an effect, for example it would seem likely a horse who had three runs within the last 3o days would tire or peak more than one whose third last run was 100 days ago, the next race was 50 days ago and the latest run was 25 days ago.

Another thing that occurred to me whilst checking these results was the latest Lto rating compared to the Master Rating. A horse may have three Lto ratings of 65, 75, 79 but the Master Rating may be 83. Does this mean there is still a little more the horse could give in its next race as it is still 4 points off its bets rating in the last 12 months?

All of these angles and more can be researched using the Historical Races from Inform Racing.



Whatever your take on the points above, there is no denying that the vast majority of horses in this short test did not win after recording three improving speed ratings, with a total of 84% losing next time out and 79% losing for horses at 6/1 or less.

Fatigue, peaking, the bounce factor, call it what you like but clearly it takes a lot out of a horse to improve, improve and improve and knowing which horse these are likely to be, despite what the form figures say, can only benefit your betting.

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Ian Welch

Creator and owner of Inform since 2003, I have over 30 years of racing and betting experience to share. Speed ratings are my main passion whilst updating the website and writing the odd blog post keeps me busy and hopefully other users well informed.

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