What is SP Profile and how can punters use it to find winners?

SP profile
SP profile

Maybe you’ve heard it spoken of during racing broadcasts or preview shows. Or maybe you’ve never heard of it at all! Either way, SP profile is an interesting tool that is well worth getting your head around. Many serious form students pay very close attention to it, so perhaps we should as well…

What is SP Profile?

SP Profile is Starting Price Profile, and is simply a broad term for the analysis of a horse’s starting price over its previous runs – regardless of whether it won or lost any of those races.

If a horse has started previous runs at short prices – eg $1.90, $2.20, $2, $2.70 and $1.85 – it would be said to have a very strong SP Profile. Conversely, if a horse has started at long SPs, it would have a weak SP Profile.

So what do the odds of previous races have to do with today’s race?

It’s all about the accuracy of the market and taking advantage of that accuracy as a form tool.

Overall, and over many years, the market has proven to be a very accurate guide to the performance of horses. That means that, for example, horses with a starting price of 2/1 ($3 in decimal prices) win about one out of every three starts. Horses at 9/1 ($10) win about one in every ten. Over time, the market is very efficient. It gets it right.

The key point to note there is “over time”. As we know, probability doesn’t work perfectly. All those $10 shots don’t lose 9 races in a row, win one, then lose another nine, then win another one, and so on. It’s random. Five of them in a row could win. 100 of them in a row could lose.

Why Starting Price?

The starting price is the most accurate racing market, as it’s the market that contains the most information. The starting price takes into account the weight of money of all bets placed on the race, from when the market opens to when the starting gates open. It’s when the “wisdom of crowds” is at its highest, as the entire crowd has had their say and poured their money into the market as they see fit.

SP Profile: The logic

Proponents of using the SP Profile argue that if the market (ie, the starting price) is accurate over time, then it’s more relevant than the actual results of the last race or the last few races. By way of illustration, a horse might have started the past few races with a Starting Price of $2 in each. Yet it may have finished 7th, 4th and 8th in those three races.

A 7/4/8 formline doesn’t look particularly impressive.

But the market said that the horse was a $2 shot – or a 50% chance – in all three of those races. And, over time, the market gets it right.

So the SP profile allows us to see exactly where the horse was placed in those three race fields, rather than just looking at the three isolated results, which may well have been the result of variance.

SP Profile: The expert view

Expert punter Rod runs the ridiculously profitable High Low membership at Champion Bets. We asked him about SP profile.

“First and foremost, it’s the best indicator of the true chance of the selection last start,” said Rod.

“Individual results are just luck. If your horse was 100/1 last start and won, and it was in a similar race today 10/1, you might be inclined to think the 10/1 was unders.

“Sure, the horse won last start. Perhaps it was underrated by the market, perhaps it was overs last start. However, a more likely explanation is that last start the favourite got a stitch, the second-favourite got checked, the third-favourite set a ridiculous pace, fourth-favourite fell… and there the race was on a platter for the 100/1 shot, exactly the way he needed it.

“Conversely (and probably more relevant) is when a horse was SP favourite last start and lost. It was SP favourite last start because the market thought it was a great chance, and as luck had it, things didn’t pan out. This start it will probably be longer than it should be, simply because it lost. One start does not always mean that much.

“The point is that the last start SP (or any race SP) is the best indicator of its chance of winning that race. The actual result – 1st, 10th, whatever – is not as meaningful as people give it credit, because the horse may just have gotten good or bad luck that will even out this start.

“So don’t read as much into results and read more into SP!”

But, as with all things horse racing, SP profile needs to be taken in context.

“SP profile is a single form factor and cannot be treated as gospel,” said Rod.

“The horse may have won or lost for legitimate reasons last start. You n eed to study the form to work out whether the result last start was a true indication of form or just related to luck, which often it will be.”

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