Seasonality in Horse Racing

05/10/2017 | By | 1 Reply More

Still, plenty of racing to look forward to and the champions meeting still to come followed by the restart of Cheltenham, but what happens as we move into the winter?

There are plenty of highlights around at this time and more as we head into the full on jumps season. For some reason, I know it’s named after a horse, the Tingle Creek meeting at Sandown sounds Christmassy to me, but for sure is an early high point in December. The meeting is joined by Aintree (The Beecher chase) and the Welsh Grand National trial to make a decent card. Outside of the main meetings what can we expect over the course of year?


At this time of the year, it’s easy to slip into some gloom. Like the weather, the markets can be cold damp and featureless and it can feel at times like it’s all changed. However is just the natural cycle in the market. See the video and graphic below for a full explanation.

Three codes

The racing market tends to shift and change over the year between the three main codes. In Spring you have new horses out for the flat turf season, in Autumn you get the same for the jumps. All weather rather racing continues all year round but declines significantly in the summer.

The impact of new horses in a market with little or no form means trends are often more pronounced. People don’t know how the horse is going to run and if money comes for it, it can really come for it. If the horse doesn’t look ‘good’ then expect a very quick re-rating as people start to doubt if this is the next great thing.

As the season progresses then the form becomes more establish and the market start to settle into a pattern again. Normality is resumed. The key to these changes in behaviour is to go on the front foot and exploit these characteristics rather than sit there and wonder what happened.


The weather can play a bit of havoc as well. Cancelled meetings, delayed start times, fog, frost, rain. Everything can get thrown at racing at this time of the year and it all has an impact. If a meeting is delayed then the market arriving in the market can be a little erratic. If it’s cancelled it can leave huge gaps between races and it’s difficult to get into a decent flow.

I am speaking a little from personal preference. But I find nothing more exciting that one race after another in regular time. After a couple of cycles of the card, I get a really good feel for the markets and can easily get into my zone and high gear. A distinct contrast from not really knowing when the next race is due off or when the money will arrive. Everybody is different, but that’s my preference.


While the markets shift, you also need to shift your mindset. You simply can’t earn as much in the winter as you can during the summer. The first year I came across this shift, I tried to make up for it with a great deal of effort by trying to squeeze every penny out of the market, but it didn’t really work. It took until next year to work out why.

It’s better to come to terms with new trading conditions and use that to your advantage. You will notice I am quieter on weaker days and much more active around key meetings. It’s the Pareto principle, 20% of the races will produce 80% of the profit. So I’ll work hard on those. So I would recommend you pick on key meetings and days and focus some energy on it. On the quieter or disrupted days, take some time out to do some research. Play around with some ideas, try a new sport, or maybe just have the day off and do something else that is ‘well-being’ oriented.

Look at the quieter days as an opportunity to do something else, you are going to be really busy in the summer and will need the energy and structure to achieve that. Build that now while you have the opportunity, you won’t have it in the summer.

Fixture list graphic


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Category: Horse Racing, Psychology, Trading strategies

About the Author ()

I left a good job in the consumer technology industry to go a trade on Betfair for a living way back in June 2000. I've been here ever since pushing very boundaries of what's possible on betting exchanges and loved every minute of it.

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  1. Black Ice says:

    TINGLE CREEK was the most exciting Chaser of our lifetime. He was around in the ’70’s and was a brilliant 2 mile chaser who was a Sandown & 2 mile specialist. He pulled hard, made the running & simply galloped the opposition into submission. He stood off a mile from his fences (very exhilarating/frightening for both jockeys and punters!) but always got away with it.

    As thetapes go up at Sandown at around 2.25pm for one of the most popular races of the jumps season, Steve Smith Eccles will raise a glass to the horse that bears the name of the 2m chase. Naturally it will contain scotch.

    Tingle Creek was the horse that helped put ‘Ecc’ on the map.

    Trained by Harry Thomson Jones (always known as Tom) Tingle Creek was a strapping, white-faced chestnut, known for his exuberant jumping.

    “He appeared on the scene in the mid-seventies and was a big, leggy, flashy, wishy-washy chestnut with four white socks,” said Smith Eccles, who rode 868 winners in England.

    The Derbyshire miner’s son, who took over the No.1 peg in the weighing room upon John Francome’s departure in 1985, says his most memorable moments in the saddle came when partnering Tingle Creek.

    “I was young and brave at the time, and that style of riding really suited the horse,” said Smith Eccles.

    “He had a very distinctive style. You couldn’t hold him because he went a million miles an hour and he absolutely loved fast ground, the harder the better.”

    Now coaching young jockeys in an official capacity and still schooling most of the Newmarket jumpers, Smith Eccles – whose passions are “scotch and women… but not necessarily in that order” – still marvels at the way the horse managed to turn up each year and give his best at the Surrey track.

    “At the time, the race was known then as the Sandown Pattern Chase and he ran in it on six consecutive years.

    “Tingle Creek won three of those races and came in second in the other three. I rode him for two seasons. David Mould was his first jockey in this country and Ian Watkinson also rode him.

    “All he needed was to be pointed in the right direction. He had a unique ability and loved jumping.

    “When you started a race, he would either go right at the first fence, meet it long, or if he didn’t meet that way, he’d meet it very long.

    He’d hurdle fences and would never get in close and fiddle them.

    “He never fell and certainly with me I can’t even remember him making a mistake. He was an easy ride. You just had to point him in the right direction.

    Tactics never came into it, because he’d jump off and make all the running.

    “Sandown was the perfect track for him, because he invariably gained a length or two at every fence.

    “He’d won the race before I rode him, but we broke the two-mile track record the first time I got on him and he broke his own track record again when winning the race on the day he retired. It was a great way to go out!”

    Tingle Creek died in 1996, aged 30, and until then he returned annually to Sandown to appear in front of the crowds. The race was named after him in 1979.

    “He gave me some wonderful memories,” added Smith Eccles.

    There isn’t much that beats winging round Sandown on a two-mile chaser and it is easy to understand why Tingle Creek was held in such great affection with ‘Ecc’ and the public.

    The Tingle Creek Chase is a fitting was to remember one of the greats.

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