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Picking Winners in Grade 1 Races

Everyone loves trying to find winners in Grade 1 races. They are the feature races of any card and are always the races that get people talking. However, picking winners in Grade 1 races is bloody tricky, the bookmakers like you trying but it can be a stiff ask.

Generally, there will only be four or five pounds between every horse in the eyes of the handicapper and in Grade 1 races, they will all be carrying the same weight. Therefore, any horse could win on any given day.

Decision making and race reading

Plenty of Grade 1 races come down to good jockey decision making and the ability of your jockey to read the race as it enfolds. A great example of this was the 2020 Mares hurdle at Cheltenham when Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle got up the inside of Robbie Power and Paul Townend on the home turn, that was a real touch of “Yeah baby” as it turned out to be the race winning move and punters loved it.

There is very little on ratings

Grade 1’s are tight, very tight and punters need to watch out for this, all the horses are similarly rated with similar improvement expected. Let’s use the 2020 Grade 1 Savills Chase at Leopardstown as an example. There were 14 runners in total. One horse was rated 170, one was rated 169, one was rated 168, one was rated 167 while 6 more were rated between 160 and 166. It is hard to find those progressive horses when each horse is of such similar ability. Of course there will be outliers where one horse will be rated head and shoulders above the rest but the price will reflect this superiority.

If you want to pick consistent winners our advice to punters is to specialise. Pick those races where progression and fitness count for a lot as you can spot those variables when examining races. It’s much harder in Grade 1 races where horses are of similar ability and will generally be at their peak fitness levels, our advice is to watch and enjoy unless you feel you can find an edge.

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