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First Three Starts In A Handicap
In this article I am going to delve into some records / patterns of trainers to see how they have performed when sending runners into handicaps. I will be examining their stats when their runners make their handicap debut, have their second handicap start and when they have their third handicap start. All trainers have slightly different methods and regimes and hence I am hoping to find some exploitable angles for the future – either positive ones or negative ones. My focus has been on UK flat racing dating back to the start of 2013 and all profits/losses have been calculated to Betfair Starting Price (BSP). I have also included A/E indices. This A/E stat is a type of impact value statistic and gives us an extra piece of key information. An A/E index of around 0.85 is an average figure to be aware of (this is roughly the figure obtained for all runners in all races). An A/E index of 1.00 or bigger should be seen as a definite positive.
Let me ‘crack on’ and look at the performance of trainers on handicap debut. I have looked at trainers who have saddled at least 50 runners. Here are those with the highest strike rates:
A bit of a mixed bag here in terms of the trainers who make this list – as you would expect some of the top trainers in the country such as Gosden, Bin Suroor and Stoute are included, but also some of the lesser known brigade – Furtado, Burrows and Scott.
Ivan Furtado’s stats do catch the eye albeit from a small sample. A strike rate of nearly 1 in 4; huge profits, and an excellent A/E index of 2.39. Digging a little deeper I notice that 9 of these winners came from an all weather track (from 27 runners), and he has also had 4 wins from 10 in 2yo nursery handicaps. As I have said, this data is limited, but I feel he is a trainer worth keeping an eye on when sending out a handicap debutant.
Sir Mark Prescott has long been renowned for finding handicap opportunities for his runners early on in their careers and the recent stats back this up. An A/E index of 1.10 is good to see coupled with a sound strike rate and decent profits. Interestingly he is more successful with fillies - 21 wins from 80 returning profits of 55p in the £ (A/E 1.31). He also has a good record with 2yos with 8 wins from 31 (SR 25.8%) for a BSP profit of £23.38 (ROI +75.1%); A/E 1.45. He is also profitable with 3yos and amazingly has had 7 winners from just 10 runners when sending his runners to Newcastle.
In terms of trainers to avoid on handicap debut, the following table highlights those with a very poor record in terms of strike rate and they also have low A/E indices:
With a combined total of just 17 winners from 696 runners the logical advice is to avoid these trainers on handicap debut! Indeed, even when their horses have been near the head of the betting, their performance has been dire. Focusing on all these trainers with horses that started in the first four of the betting would have produced just 6 winners from 137 runners (SR 4.4%) making huge losses of nearly 73p in the £ to Betfair SP (A/E 0.27).
Onto trainers and their horses having their second start in a handicap. Here are the trainers with the highest strike rates:
A good proportion of the trainers that appeared in the first table appear again. Perhaps the two trainers to take out of this list are Saeed Bin Suroor and Sir Michael Stoute. Both have improved strike rates; they also have moved into profit and their A/E indices have increased significantly. Some positives for Bin Suroor are listed below:
Meanwhile Sir Michael Stoute with second handicap starters should be noted when sending runners to Doncaster (7 wins from 11), any all weather track (11 wins from 33) and 3yo+/4yo+ handicaps (32 wins from 96). It should also be noted that Stoute’s runners prefer a firmer surface when racing on turf. On good to soft or softer his record is quite poor – 4 wins from 51 (SR 7.8%) for a loss of £36.64 (ROI -71.8%); A/E 0.36. Meanwhile on good or firmer his record reads 40 wins from 159 (SR 25.2%) for a profit of £31.78 (ROI +20.0%); A/E 1.03.
Time to look at trainers to avoid on their second handicap start:
Again the best advice is to avoid these trainers when they run a horse for the second time in a handicap.
Now to trainers and their horses having their third start in a handicap. As before a look at the trainers with the highest strike rates first:
Several trainers with decent records here - 10 of the 14 proving profitable during the period of study and 10 of 14 with an A/E index of more than 1.00. Willie Muir appears in the top trainer list for the first time – it should be noted that his profits have been boosted by a one particularly big priced winner, but his overall stats still look strong. The A/E index of 1.50 is particularly eye-catching. If you focus on Muir’s runners who were well fancied (top three of the betting) his record reads 13 wins from 34 (SR 38.2%) for a profit of £30.99 (ROI +91.2%). He has also done well in 5 to 7f races, with 3yo runners and male runners.
Now the trainers with poor strike rates with horses having their third handicap run:
If you use trainer data to help you with your betting selections, it is important to really dig quite deep into the available data. Derek Shaw for example has appeared in all three of the low strike rate tables with an overall strike rate in his first three handicap runs standing at just 3.1%. Hence he is a trainer to avoid with such runners. However, Shaw does much better with older runners in handicaps and if you focus on horses that have had at least 15 handicap starts his strike rate more than trebles to 10.7% (91 wins from 851 runners) and you actually would have made a small profit backing all of them (3p in the £). His A/E index is also positive at 1.03.
Finally I thought it would be useful to give you a list of trainer strike rates for comparison purposes. It includes all trainers who have had at least 100 runners in each category:
These articles can only ever really scratch the surface on whichever topic is being examined, but if you are serious about your betting and the angles discussed tweak your interest, it is worth doing your own extra digging. The Derek Shaw example discussed earlier hopefully emphasizes this.
This article was written by Dave but first appeared on the interesting OnCourseProfits.com website / magazine.
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