Van Der Wheil Ratings

Van Der Wheil ratings or VDW ratings as they are usually known are a way of rating a horse by its class or ability and form.

It was created quite a few years ago by the mysterious writer, Che Van Der Wheil and nicknamed the Flying Dutchman, who wrote his notes in the old Sporting Chronicle Handicap book.

There is a ton of information on this subject and a whole host of people who have their own idea on the subject, the method used and even whether Van Der Wheil was real or a fake.

I am not going to go into full detail about the number of different methods that he came up with but I will give the basis of the idea as I know it as I have read a lot about the subject over the years, in fact I had one or two of the updated little books that have been published since myself.

Books like VDW The Golden Years and VDW The Silver Lining are two that I remember and can still be obtained today if you wanted to look for them.

The books however did seem to me at times to confuse the matter as there were answers to questions that had been asked that gave rise to new angles not mentioned before and other previously written articles giving different reasons for past selections being given.

The Basis Of VDW Ratings

The ability rating is used to find the class of each horse in a race and can be calculated quite easily by dividing the amount of winning prize money each horse has won by the number of wins.

So a horse that has won seven races and a total of £175,000 for these wins (not place money), will have a VDW rating 25,000. You would then divide this number by 100 to get a final rating of 250.

Another horse may have won ten races before with a total winning prize fund of £42,000 and this would give that horse a rating of 4200 or 42.

So you can see that it is not how many races the horse has won, it is the average of prize money he has won each time and is in itself a very good way of looking at a horses class.

In the two examples above the first horse has won in races with an average prize fund of £25,000 whilst the second has been winning races on average worth just £4,200 and just from this you can see which horse has been winning the better races.

Inform Racing provide the VDW ratings for every horse on the race cards, making it a very easy way of comparing all of the runners of a race very quickly without having to work through each race and calculate all of the ratings yourself.

Form together with ability

Van Der Wheil also said that consistent horses, or those who consistently performed better should command interest and his second formula was a very simple one that looked at a horses last three runs.

Simply by adding up the last three form figures and given anything over 10, or that was a letter such as F for Fell or P for Pulled Up, a rating of 10 you can get the form figure for each horse.

So a horse that won its last three races would score 3, 1 + 1 + 1. A horse that had form figures of 72F would score 19.

By taking horses in a race that were in the top 3 for both the ability and form ratings, VDW said you can narrow down the field to those that have the best class and those in best form.

I believe that in essence this is a sound formulation that you can use in your betting toolkit but it will not be everyones cup of tea.

It is the sort of topic that divides people right down the middle and if you explore more about Van Der Wheil, his methods and his writing, then you will probably see why.

Using the VDW ratings

I personally find the VDW ratings useful as another way of confirming any selections but I cannot say I would start my form research by them alone.

The ability rating is certainly an excellent method of looking at the class of a horse but I believe both this and the form ratings need to be used in conjunction with other form reading criteria.

For example, a horse may have won only one race before but it was a high class Heritage Handicap a few years ago and has run poorly ever since. However he will still have a high ability rating just from this one win.

I would personally like to see a horse has won say three races before I take the VDW rating seriously, or maybe has a 15% or better strike rate perhaps.

As for the form rating, well a horse that has won its last races can certainly be said to be in form, but just how much has he gone up in the handicap for these wins and does he go on today’s soft ground?

The VDW ability and form ratings provided by Inform Racing will certainly save you time calculating the ratings yourself and is a very easy way of comparing the horses in a race.

As you may or not know by now, I am quite a fan of the top weights in Handicaps so I took a look at the Inform Racing race cards at the weekend to see what would happen when the horse with the highest VDW ability rating was also the top weight in a race.

Well the answer is, they didn’t fare too badly.

There were 11 horses that were top on ability rating and top weight in the handicap and from these there were 3 winners at 8/1, 15/2 and 9/2 giving a profit to SP of 12 points over the two days.

The winners were Bayan Kasirga Won 8/1, Sinbad The Sailor Won 15/2 both at Wolverhampton and Emperors Choice Won 9/2 over at Haydock.

A small sample but a 27% strike rate and a half decent profit to boot.

This little system idea gives you the horse thought to have the most class as well as being the best rated horse on Official Ratings in a race and should be quite a powerful formula if you think about it.

I then looked at all of the non handicaps where there was at least one horse with a VDW rating, so no Miaden races for example, just selecting the horse with the highest VDW ability rating and saw another decent profit made, albeit with most winners at short prices.

9 winners were found, while there were 2 seconds and 3 losers.

The winners were Field Of Dreams Won 2/1, Rock On Ruby Won 15/8, Criq Rock Won 15/8, Surtee De Berlais Won 15/8, Illegally Blonde Won 7/4, Jaboltski Won 11/8, Irving Won 10/11, O O Seven Won 4/7 and Vautor Won 2/5.

With the five losers this makes a profit of 7.77 points with an even better strike rate of 64%

So, my little take on the VDW ratings and something you may want to take a look at over the next few days or so.

Inform Racing provide these ability ratings every day on the race cards and will save a lot of time calculating these for every race.


If you have any comments to make about this post then please do so below or on the Forum link for this post here thanks.



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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