How Does a Horse Falling Affect Its Next Race?

horse and jockey fallingThere are countless things that you need to take into account when you’re looking at the performance of a horse. What was the Going like? Do they tend to favour one type of Going over another? Are they better when working with one jockey or another? Have they raced on the course before and, if so, how did they do? One thing you might not think about is whether or not they fell in the previous race that they took part in. After all, falling once isn’t necessarily going to have much of an effect on their next outing, is it?

We don’t often think of horses as being confidence driven in the same way that we think of, say, footballers. If a footballer scored a hat-trick in their previous match then we might fancy them to be on the scoresheet in their next outing, too. A horse winning their previous race doesn’t automatically mean that we’ll fancy it to win its next one because we’ll have to look at the circumstances of the race and whether there are any similarities. Is it the same with falling? If they’ve fallen once will they be nervous in their next race?

This is also an interesting factor when using faller insurance offers, if you think a horse more likely to fall it could be wise to use one.

Examples From Previous Meetings

The best way of exploring whether or not falling can have a genuine effect on a horse’s ability to make a jump the next time out is to look at their records either side of a fall.

In order to do that we’re going to have a look at the fallers from two meetings: the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National Meeting from 2017. That should give us enough time to explore what sort of difference a fall has made to a horse’s career.

Cheltenham Festival 2017 Fallers

cheltenham the home of jump racing

Let’s start by looking at the fallers from the 2017 Cheltenham Festival. Here’s a look at them all, including the race that they fell in:

  • Charbel: Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase
  • Caid Du Berlais: Ultima Handicap Chase
  • Vintage Clouds: Ultima Handicap Chase
  • Jer’s Girl: OLBG Mares' Hurdle
  • Foxtail Hill: Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase
  • Killiney Court: Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase
  • Burtons Well: Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase
  • Consul De Thaix: Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle
  • Usuel Smurfer: Glenfarclas Chase
  • Icario: Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
  • Baily Cloud: JLT Novices' Chase
  • Balko Des Flos: JLT Novices' Chase
  • Germany Calling: Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase
  • Mad Jack Mytton: Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase
  • Toe The Line: Trull House Stud Mares' Novices' Hurdle
  • Southfield Royale: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase
  • Hadrian's Approach: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase
  • Venitien De Mai: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase
  • Jaleo: Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle
  • The Worlds End: Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
  • Cue Card: Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
  • Sweet As A Nut: St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase
  • Gibralfaro: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

That list is specifically of horses that fell, not ones that were pulled up or unseated their riders. 23 horses fell across the 28 races, which is just shy of one per race.

Sadly, Consul De Thaix, Toe The Line and Hadrian’s Approach suffered injuries from their falls that they couldn’t recover from and were therefore destroyed.

Knowing that the other horses fell is one thing, but knowing how they were running before and how they ran afterwards is something else entirely. Here’s a look at the other 20 horses and their records both before and after their fall:

Horse2 Races Before2 Races After
Charbel 1/6, 2/4 3/5, 4/7
Caid Du Berlais 4/5, 5/15 8/24, 1/5
Vintage Clouds Fell, 3/13 7/30, 1/9
Jer’s Girl 2/5, 5/5 1/14, 4/6
Foxtail Hill 1/7, 1/13 9/14, 2/10
Killiney Court 1/5, 1/7 12/14, Unseated Rider
Burtons Well 1/11, 4/14 2/6, 7/9
Usuel Smurfer 2/13, 2/14 No Information
Icario 2/15, 2/12 3/11, 2/14
Baily Cloud 4/7, Unseated Rider 4/6, Unseated Rider
Balko Des Flos 3/8, 3/6 3/15, 1/22
Germany Calling 1/5, 7/9 Pulled Up, 6/7
Mad Jack Mytton 2/5, 5/6 16/22, 1/7
Southfield Royale 7/9, 12/14 15/30, Pulled Up
Venitien De Mai Fell, 6/10 3/6, 1/8
Jaleo Fell, 3/7 7/12, 3/14
The Worlds End 1/8, 1/7 1/11, 8/16
Cue Card 2/5, 1/6 2/7, Fell
Sweet As A Nut 1/16, 1/8 5/10, 6/6
Gibralfaro 2/11, 6/10 8/10, 3/3

All information taken from the Racing Post.

We could look at that information straight away, but it’s probably not helpful to look at something in an isolated manner. Instead, we’ll look at the Aintree results and then try to see if there’s anything that we can gleam from it.

One thing to point out straight away, though, is that Caid Du Berlais is something of the exception that proves the rule. Having finished 4th and 5th in their previous two races and actually only managed three wins since records began in May of 2012, the horse went on to win six of its next nine races.

It’s also noteworthy that Caid Du Berlais’s owner didn’t mess about in getting back back into the saddle, racing it two days later in the Pertemps, in which it finished 8th out of 24 horses.

The Grand National Meeting 2017 Fallers

crowd and stands at the grand nationalHaving explored the various fallers of the Cheltenham Festival in 2017 it’s now time to have a look at the Grand National Festival from the same year. Two things worth thinking about are that there are less races run at that meeting that during the Festival and that the Grand National itself is known for being a tricky race for horses.

Here’s a list of the fallers:

  • Broken Eagle: Randox Health Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase
  • Black Thunder: Randox Health Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase
  • Sam Cavallaro: Randox Health Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase
  • Flash Garden: Randox Health Foxhunters' Open Hunters' Chase
  • Doitforthevillage: Betway Red Rum Handicap Chase
  • Third Intention: Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
  • Bright New Dawn: Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
  • Imjoeking: Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
  • Seefood: Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
  • Long Lunch: Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
  • Ballykan: Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
  • Gold Present: Randox Health Topham Handicap Chase
  • Politologue: Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase
  • The Young Master: Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase
  • Cocktails At Dawn: Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase
  • Saphir Du Rheu: Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase
  • Vicente: Randox Health Grand National Handicap Chase
  • John Constable: Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle
  • Wakea: Pinsent Masons Handicap Hurdle

That’s 19 horses that fell during a meeting which contained 21 races. As with the Cheltenham Festival, therefore, it was close to the equivalent of one horse per race that fell.

Unlike at Cheltenham, however, no horses had to be destroyed in the wake of the Grand National Meeting. With that in mind, here’s a look at the before and after information for all 19 of the horses:

Horse2 Races Before2 Races After
Broken Eagle 1/4, 1/1 1/2, Pulled Up
Black Thunder 2/7, Pulled Up No Information
Sam Cavallaro 5/13, 4/8 3/11, 2/12
Flash Garden 1/8, 2/7 Pulled Up
Doitforthevillage 3/7, 2/7 1/5, 9/15
Third Intention 4/7, 8/16 4/6, 8/12
Bright New Dawn 3/6, 7/24 6/9, Refused to Race
Imjoeking 7/8, 1/3 6/8, 5/11
Seefood 2/17, 6/8 10/15, 6/9
Long Lunch 10/14, 6/7 5/7, 4/7
Ballykan 5/13, 6/24 4/8, Pulled Up
Gold Present 2/4, 2/20 1/12, 1/14
Politologue 1/2, 4/8 1/8, 1/6
The Young Master 14/15, 6/23 9/13, Unseated Rider
Cocktails At Dawn Fell, Pulled Up 6/8, 9/11
Saphir Du Rheu 1/4, 5/13 3/3, Pulled Up
Vicente 6/14, 9/13 1/30, 2/8
John Constable 11/14, 10/14 1/17, 1/10
Wakea 4/5, 11/25 Fell, 2/5

All information taken from the Racing Post.

Does Falling Affect Results?

faller insuranceConcluding anything from horse racing results can be a tricky game to play. Unless you’re looking at horses that are world-class in their field like Frankel, for example, you’re always likely to be made to look a fool if you assume certain things will definitely happen next.

That said, we can certainly make some interesting inferences from the two tables above. Firstly, only 4 of the 39 horses had fallen in either of the two races that they took part in before the race that we’re looking at.

Secondly, only two horses fell in the two races that they took part in after the race that we’re looking at. Does that imply that horses tend to learn their lesson about falling? It’s certainly interesting to see that of the four horses that had fallen before the races in question, none of them failed to complete the two races afterwards.

Equally, twelve horses that fell either pulled up, unseated their rider, fell or refused to race in one of the two races that they were entered into after the race that the fell in that we’re looking at here.

It’s reasonably fair to say, then, that falling has an impact on some horses but not so much on others. That’s intriguing, especially as there doesn’t seem to be any obvious correlation between horses doing well before falling and not not so much afterwards or vice-versa.

Does It Make Any Difference?

cartoon of a jockey on a horse

One thing that we can see is that horses that have done well before falling tend to carry on doing well afterwards, whilst horses that had mediocre results before their fall continued to be mediocre afterwards.

Again, that’s not conclusive. After all, John Constable finished 11th and 10th in two races featuring 14 horses before his fall, then won the two races afterwards. Similarly Gold Present finished 2nd out of 4 and 20 horses in the races before his fall at Aintree and then won two races featuring 12 and 14 horses afterwards.

On the flip side, Foxtail Hill finished 1st in races with 7 and 13 horses before the fall at Cheltenham and then 9th and 2nd in races featuring 14 and 10 horses respectively after the fall. That’s suggestive of a horse that no longer has the confidence that it was running with before it fell.

It’s tricky to offer any sort of definitive conclusion here, but it’s probably fair to say that horses that have enjoyed a confident run before the fall are more likely to take the fall in their stride, so to speak, than horses that haven’t particularly been enjoying their racing before the suffered a fall.

What This Means For Betting

888 fallerThe obvious question, of course, is what this means when it comes to placing bets on horses that you know have suffered a fall in the past. What we can tell you is that 10 of the 39 horses that won one or more of their two races after falling had not won either of the races they took part in before the fall.

Exactly the same number won one of the two races before their fall and then won neither of the races afterwards. In other words, it is not the fall itself that matters as much as it is the horse’s general form.

When you’re looking at a horse’s past behaviour on the track in order to make a decision about whether or not to bet on them, don’t pay too much mind to a fall in the previous race. Try to look at how they’ve responded to previous falls that they’ve had and that should tell you whether they’re the sort of horse that will allow it to affect their confidence.