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Predictable Trainers

Predictable Trainers

Let me get one thing straight, making money from backing or indeed laying horses is not easy. You need a combination of many things I believe – hard work; a good understanding of what you are trying to achieve; some sort of specialism otherwise I feel there is simply too much racing and too many horses to gain a handle on; and finally a bit of luck.

This article focuses on two predictable trainers – predictable in the sense that we can be fairly confident that their past performances, with a certain type of runner, is likely to replicated in the future. The first trainer I am going to focus on is Sir Mark Prescott.

Prescott tends to bring his horses to their peak in the summer months and I am going to focus on his record in July and August from 2005 to 2010. I am also going to focus on his 3yo runners as they seem to be consistent year in year out. Here are the yearly results for his 3yos in these two months:

Year Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
2005 14 44 31.8 +£3.66 +8.3
2006 16 37 43.2 -£4.42 -12.0
2007 16 51 31.4 +£9.83 +19.3
2008 15 44 34.1 +£3.54 +8.1
2009 20 58 34.5 +£7.41 +12.8
2010 16 48 33.3 +£7.99 +16.6


5 winning years out of 6 with consistently high strike rates is a great starting point – in fact it is quite bizarre that in 2006 when he had his highest strike rate he actually made a loss! Overall to SP you would have made a profit in the 6 years of around £28 to a £1 stake (so £280 to a £10 stake) – ok not the way to millionaire’s row, but a start. Indeed, if you could have backed at early prices or used Betfair this profit would probably have been doubled.

Let me break the results down to see if we can improve upon them. Firstly by class:

Class Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
1 1 10 10.0 -£3.50 -35.0
2 1 11 9.1 -£5.00 -45.5
3 8 20 40.0 +£0.49 +2.4
4 21 57 36.8 +£12.03 +21.1
5 44 127 34.7 -£4.22 -3.3
6 21 56 37.5 +£19.21 +34.3
7 1 1 100.0 +£9.00 +900.0


Performance in class 1 and 2 races has been poor – just 2 wins from 21 runners, so it seems best to concentrate on runners in class 3 or lower. Classes 3 to 7 all have decent strike rates, which seems to suggest consistency once more and this would be the class band to concentrate on.

Let us look at days since last run next:

Days off track Wins Runs SR% Profit/loss ROI%
1-14 59 138 42.8 +£28.22 +20.4
15-28 18 65 27.7 -£4.89 -7.5
29+ 20 78 25.6 +£4.68 +6.0


It seems the shorter break the better, especially in terms of strike rate. Indeed horses off the track for 2 weeks or less have produced a profit of over 20 pence in the £. Indeed if we focus on all runners that have returned to the track in less than 10 days we get an impressive set of figures – 46 wins from 86 (SR 53.5%) for a profit of £27.76 (ROI +32.3%).

So class 3 or lower and/or with a quick return to the track looks sensible ways to improve the initial figures. However, there is a potential “in running” angle I believe on all his 3yo runners in July and August, although it is difficult to give you concrete results. Here is the basic idea:

- Back the horse pre race; or at Betfair SP.

- If the horse leads within the first furlong or is close to the pace then leave the bet to run.

- If the horse if held up mid-pack or in the back half of the field try lay back immediately at the price you got – eg. you are looking to recover your stake and just forget about the race.

Now, if we assume that we were able to trade out each time on the hold up horses, in the 6 years of study we would have attained a profit of around £48 to SP, which we can assume would have been somewhat higher using Betfair. Of course whether you could have successfully traded out each time is another matter, but it something I will be looking at personally – albeit starting with a minimum stake of £2 per horse!

As with the Prescott stable, Saeed Bin Suroor’s runners tend to start improving in the middle of summer so once again I am focusing on 6 year data for July and August. This time though I am looking at all his runners for my initial starting point rather than a specific age group. Backing all his runners during this period of study would have yielded a loss, but only a small one of 8p in the £. The chances are that using early prices and/or Betfair would have turned this loss into a very small profit. Let me try and improve upon the initial starting point.

Firstly let us look at his runners on the all weather during this period that have had racecourse experience – he has saddled 42 runners of which 21 have won (SR 50%) for a tidy profit of £20.81 (ROI +49.5%). 14 wins from 25 at Kempton is where he has had the most success but his 5 wins from 11 record at Lingfield is also very solid.

A next area worth considering is days since their last run. If you focus on horses that have been off the track for more than 4 weeks, their strike rate hits 25% sneaking into profit to the tune of £10.45 (ROI +4.5%). Indeed in 4 of the 6 years backing these runners blind would have yielded a profit. If we restrict to non handicap races only, runners off the track for more than 4 weeks have won 47 of their 161 starts (SR 29.2%) for a profit of £24.82 (ROI +15.4%).

Bin Suroor’s 2yos have actually made a blind profit in July and August so they are worth investigating in more detail. The market tends to be a good guide with his 2yos from the top 4 of the betting winning 32.4% of the time, while those 5th or bigger in the betting market have won just 5.6% of the time. Indeed if you had ignored any 2yo priced in double figures you would have increased returns by £17.00.

His 2yo debutants have made a small loss, but if you restrict them to those that made their debut at a Grade 1 track* their record reads an impressive 16 wins from 54 (SR 29.6%) for a profit of £18.45 (ROI +34.2%). He clearly is not afraid of pitching his inexperienced juveniles in at the deep end.

In terms of 2yos with at least one run under their belt, the most positive angle seems to be horses coming back from a break of 4 or more weeks. They have won an impressive 12 races from 21 (SR 57.1%) for a profit of £19.38 (ROI +92.3%).

Both Prescott and Bin Suroor have powerful ammunition year in year out, and I would hope that the patterns and angles noted in this article are more likely than not to reoccur for the last 3 weeks of July and the whole of August. If so we should end up ahead of the game, which is the name of the game.

Summary of the positives – July / August only

Prescott – 3yos in class 3 or lower

Prescott – days off track 14 or less

Bin Suroor all runners on the all weather (not debut)

Bin Suroor all runners in non handicaps and off track for 29+ days or more

Bin Suroor – 2yo debutants at Grade 1 tracks

Bin Suroor – 2yos off track for 4 or more weeks

* Grade 1 tracks are Ascot, Doncaster, Epsom, Goodwood, Newbury, Newmarket, Sandown, York

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