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Nursery Handicap Races
Nursery Handicap Races – these are handicap races for 2yos.
One question I want to try and answer in this article is, ‘are they a good betting medium?’ In order to investigate nursery handicaps I have decided to concentrate on such races over the last 5 seasons (2007-2011).
Market – let us look at the results of the betting market:
61% of all nurseries have been won by horses in the top three of the betting, and in terms of returns 3rd favourites have performed best over the past 5 seasons. Having said that, I would not be rushing to back all third favourites as if you looked at the previous 5 seasons (2002-2006) they actually lost 18% (18 pence in the £). Hence, although the market tends to be a decent guide, we cannot use the market alone to make our selections.
For those of you who filter by price it should be noted that horses priced 28/1 or bigger have won just 1.15% of all nurseries for losses of 53p in the £. These outsiders look best ignored.
Digging a bit further into market factors, I have looked at how the top three in the betting have performed at different courses. I have combined the runners together and here is what I have found:
The data is limited for some courses, but there are some points worth noting. Firstly, Newmarket nurseries look extremely competitive as the top three in the betting have combined to lose 30 pence in the £ in nursery handicaps. These races look quite open and hence will spring the occasional surprise. The all weather courses of Wolverhampton and Lingfield offer contrasting results to Newmarket with the top three in the betting performing above the norm (N.B. the Lingfield stats include turf racing but 83% of all nursery handicaps at the course are raced on the all weather).
Hamilton is a course where I have long believed the racing to be relatively uncompetitive, and the nursery figures seem to back up this theory. Although the data comes from just 19 races, the market has tended to dominate. Indeed, going back a further 5 years (2002 to 2006), the top three in the betting in Hamilton nurseries made a profit then as well.
Days since last run – let us look at days since last run next:
Usually a quick return is a positive, but not so much for 2yos. They are younger horses that physically find it difficult to run well a second time after a very short rest period. This is illustrated further if we restrict the very quick returners to 4 days or less – their record reads a dismal 24 wins from 245 (SR 9.8%) for a loss of £134.46 (ROI -54.9%).
Let us now look at weight rank:
There does seem to be a weight bias, with it preferable to look for runners in the top 5 of the weights. 4th and 5th in the weights have produced the best returns over the period of study.
Recent form is next of the agenda with a look at their position LTO:
Essentially a sliding scale in terms of strike rate, which is what one would expect, but there does not seem any significant angle to take away from this. Horses that were 6th LTO have made a profit but that is down to a few big priced winners rather than anything more interesting.
Sticking with the LTO theme, I have looked at the results in terms of what type of race they contested LTO:
The majority of runners raced in a maiden or a handicap LTO with it seemingly a slight advantage to have raced in a maiden LTO (simply from looking at the ROIs). Interestingly, horses that came 2nd or 3rd LTO in a maiden have actually made a profit when racing in a nursery next time, albeit both were only around the +5% mark.
Last two areas I am going to look at involve trainers and jockeys. Firstly a look at claiming jockeys to see if there are any patterns:
A correlation here indicating the more experienced claiming jockeys outperforming the least experienced. 7lb claimers have a very poor record and are worth avoiding.
Finally, a look at trainer performance – firstly a look at those trainers who have secured decent strike rates:
Ed McMahon is a trainer to keep an eye on – the price of his runners does look to be key as runners priced 10/1 or shorter have provided all his winners; those over 10/1 are 0 from 17. He also is better over sprint trips – his 5-6f record reads 14 wins from 48 (SR 29.2%); his 7f+ record reads 1 win from 15 (SR 6.7%).
Now a look at those trainers with poor strike rates:
Some fairly well known trainers in this list but it definitely seems worth siding against them in nurseries.
Nurseries are not easy puzzles to solve, but hopefully the stats in this article will make life easier for you.
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