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Novice Chases by David Renham
In this article I am going to look in detail at novice chases. I have included novice hunter chases, but it should be noted that they have only accounted for about 12% of the all novice chases. The data taken from January 2004 to August 2009. All profits/losses have been calculated to £1 level stakes.
Areas I examine are the effect of
1- Market Rank ( Fav, 2nd Fav etc )
2 - Age of The Horse
3 - Country of Breeding
4 - Best Jockeys
5 - Best Trainers
6 - Whether it is a horses first or second run in a novice chase
Market rank – let us look at the market first and where the winners have ‘fallen’:
From a betting perspective, novice chases tend to be fairly uncompetitive with the market leaders dominating. The table clearly demonstrates this. Indeed, 86.2% of all races have been won by the top three in the betting and for punters, it is clear that these races are not ones in which to find those big priced winners. To show this more clearly, of the 1289 races, only 10 were won by horses priced 33/1 or bigger.
Age – the next table looks at the age splits and where the winners have come from:
The cut-off point seems to be 7. Horses 8 or older clearly perform less well. This is the case even in novice hunter chases. Horses aged 8 or 9 should be avoided unless you can find a genuine reason to ignore the age stats. This could be a lightly raced horse that may have been injured early on in their career. Meanwhile, horses aged 10 or older are a definite ‘no no’.
Breeding – the country of breeding is an aspect of National hunt racing that only a few punters take note of. However, it is very important to appreciate that it can make a difference. The vast majority of runners in the UK in National hunt racing are either Irish bred, British bred or French bred. The table below shows their performance in novice chases as well as showing you the performance of American breds, German breds and all other countries combined (Others):
According to the figures, French breds seem to have an ‘edge’ in novice chases. This is almost certainly down to the fact French horses seem to mature quicker than horses from other countries. German breds are still fairly rare, but we are gradually seeing more of them racing in the UK. The signs are that they also have ‘an edge’ in novice chases, but the data is still fairly small so it is difficult to be fully confident that this is the case.
Jockeys (60 runs minimum) – can jockeys make a difference in novice chases? The table below shows jockey performance in these races:
Not surprisingly, Ruby Walsh and Tony Mc Coy head the list in terms of strike rate. It should be noted that they tend to ride for the top stables so this should come as no surprise. Having said that, their overall records are still excellent.
Let me move onto trainers now.
Trainers in all novice chases (60 runs minimum) – different trainers tend to excel in different race types. The table below looks at the trainers with the best strike rates in novice chases:
I find these stats very interesting. Despite a strike rate better of 1 win in 3, backing all runners from champion trainer Paul Nicholls would have lost you over 13 pence for every £1 staked. In contrast, Tom George who is second in the table has shown a profit of over 50 pence for every £1 staked. One trainer who has surprisingly poor record is Nicky Henderson – losses of nearly 34 pence in the £ is something as a punter you must be aware of. Henderson may be an excellent trainer, but novice chases look best avoided.
I want to dig a little deeper into the trainer records, so I decided to look at horses making their debut over fences.
Making chase debut in novice chases – 20 runs minimum
Paul Nicholls’ record is worth mentioning – to achieve a 50% strike rate with horses having their first run over fences is outstanding. They are clearly very well schooled and also fit enough to do themselves justice. From a negative perspective, Knight and Murphy chase debutants look as if they are only there for the experience.
Moving on, I decided to look at horses having their second run over fences.
2nd chase start (in novice chase) – 15 runs minimum
First thing to note is the improvement in the runners from the Knight and Murphy stables. In contrast, Paul Nicholls’ runners have gone from a 50% strike rate for debutants, to one of under 24%. In addition, they are now showing hefty losses of 32.6 pence in the £. Tom George heads the list and this is also worth noting.
There are other trainer areas worth looking at, but that is for another time. However, I hope you have found some vital nuggets which will help your betting this winter.
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