There has been a theory around for many years that goes along the lines of ‘If the trainer has travelled a horse such a long distance then they must expect it to win because it costs far too much to transport otherwise’.
Okay I may have gotten the exact phrase wrong but I am sure you have heard or read something similar before. I think that it is about time somebody actually put that statement to the test and in this article I am going to do so.
In 2009 the average distance that a horse travelled (in races where this data was available) to get to its race was 95 miles. That is an estimated one hour and 34 minutes of driving. We can estimate that anything over two hours of driving can be considered as long distance and anything more than four hours means that a stop will be required to let the horse out. Four hours of driving at 60mph is 240 miles and I think this is a good place to begin our research.
There were 3380 runners that travelled more than 240 miles to race last year. These horses produce a staggering 24% loss on investment. However they also have an impact value of 1.19 which shows that these horses win 19% more often than we would expect them to but there is no value in them.
If we take this even further into the extreme and look at horses that have travelled more than 400 miles or an estimated six hours and 40 minutes where at least one stop would have to be necessary, possibly two and thus considerable extra expense, then we start to see something very different. These runners have an impact value of 1.58. This means that they are 58% more likely to win the race than we would expect. There were only 104 runners last year that met this criteria and they made a healthy 12% return on investment to SP.