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This week I am going to look at penalty carriers on the flat racing in the UK. The data has been taken from 2009 to May 7th 2012. All profits and losses quoted in the article are to SP.
So why look at penalty carriers? Well, although they are forced to the carry extra weight of the penalty, trainers often try to take advantage of the horse being in form before being reassessed by the handicapper. Let us see therefore the performance of all penalty carriers over the period of study:
This is a fairly solid set of figures with losses equating to only 4.4 pence in the £, and a good number of selections to boot. Let us breakdown this data starting by looking at the position in the market:
A position in the top three in the betting has been preferable both in terms of strike rate and in terms of returns. Although third favourites have made a small profit I would not advocate backing them blind as I would not expect that profit to be replicated over a similar future time frame.
I looked at the age of runners next:
The record of 3yos looks impressive on the surface. Conversely, results for horses aged 9 and older are poor and they look worth avoiding. The 3yo performance I felt merited further investigation and a pleasing stat to note is that they have made a profit in every year – 2009, 2010, 2011 and the first half of 2012. That suggests consistency which is a plus when looking at potential punting angles. Another positive angle worth noting is the performance of 3yo penalty carriers in open handicaps (3yo+ races). They have produced 80 winners from 276 runners (SR 29%) for a profit of £64.88 (ROI +23.5%). The reason why the returns in these contests have been far better than the overall figure is probably down to punter prejudice. Most punters would expect a 3yo penalty carrier to be less successful when racing older horses as compared to when racing against his/her own age group. Hence in open (3yo+) I suspect these penalty carriers tend to start at slightly bigger prices than they should due to this pre-conception.
Onto class of race next:
There does seem to be a pattern here with the higher class races (2 and above) performing below expectations, while the lowest class races (6 and 7) performing over expectations and actually making a nominal profit.
Next I wanted to look at claiming jockeys. Trainers sometimes try and ‘offset’ the penalty by putting a claiming jockey on board. Is this a good ploy? Well let’s look at the stats:
The figures suggest there is no advantage to be had by placing a claiming jockey on board. In fact, they have performed worse in terms of both strike rate and returns. Indeed, it is worth noting that 7lb claimers have managed a strike rate of only 17% with losses of 27% (27 pence in the £).
Finally let me look at trainers to see whether there are any trainers who are adept at placing horses carrying penalties. Here are a list of those trainers that have secured 7 or more winners.
Sir Mark Prescott is renowned for running horses quickly after a win, but despite an excellent strike rate, profits are small. Perhaps the trainer to take out of this is Kevin Ryan – a 50% strike rate is excellent as are returns of 64p in the £.
To conclude you could do a lot worse than backing a good proportion of penalty carriers. I would pay most attention to 3yos (especially in 3yo+ handicaps), and also I would look closely at class 6-7 handicaps. Any penalty carrier trained by one of the trainers with a positive return, most notably Kevin Ryan, are also worth close scrutiny. In terms of negatives, I would avoid horses aged 9 and older, class 2 or higher handicaps and any horse ridden by a 7lb claimer.
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