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SWITCHING STABLES (NATIONAL HUNT)
In the spotlight section of the Racing Post, it is normally brought to your attention if a horse has switched stables and is having his/her first run for a new trainer. The question is – what is the effect does a change of stables have on this first run? I have gathered data for National Hunt racing from 2004 to 2010 and here are the overall figures:
As you can see, a change of stables can hardly be described as a ‘positive’. Losses of around 31 pence in the £ are testament to that. With this starting point, we will clearly be struggling to find many positive slants. However, finding negative stats has value, not just from a potential laying perspective, but also for elimination purposes when you are analysing a race. Time to do some more digging:
Let us see if there is much of a difference when we examine the race type of this first run for a new trainer:
This shows the importance of breaking stats down – there is a big difference in the results of certain race types. Horses that tackle Novice hurdles, Hunter Chases or bumpers are definitely worth avoiding. However, the record of runners in handicap chases is not too bad – losses of only 9p in the £. Indeed, if you focus on runners priced 15/2 or shorter you would have a made a profit – there would have been 127 winners from 531 runners (SR 23.9%) for a profit of £88.68 (ROI +16.7%).
Moving back to the novice hurdle results, if you excludes favourites and second favourites, the strike rate drops to a dismal 3.3% with losses of over 47p in the £.
Looking now at bumper races, focusing on runners that raced on a Grade 1 track (Aintree, Ascot, Cheltenham, Chepstow, Haydock, Kempton, Newbury & Sandown) after switching stables, and we see some dreadful results – just 3 wins from 116 runners (SR 2.6%) for losses of £94.20 (ROI -81.2%). These runners should be avoided like the plague.
Moving back to the overall starting figures (SR 8.2%; ROI -31.1%), it is interesting to see what happens when horses are asked to run at least ½ mile further than their last run – of the 4794 runners only 296 were successful equating to a strike rate of just 6.2%. In terms of losses, they would have stood at £2166.89 (ROI -45.2%). This group of runners are definitely worth avoiding.
Another group of runners with a very poor record are those that wear headgear for the first time when tackling their first run for a new trainer. Combining horses wearing first time blinkers, visors, hoods and cheekpieces gives a paltry total of 30 wins from 529 runners (SR 5.7%) for a hefty loss of £349.89 (ROI -66.1%).
Of course perhaps the most interesting data is simply looking at the records of individual trainers. Training methods differ from trainer to trainer, so it will be interesting to see whether any trainer manages to secure a profit from these stable switchers. More likely perhaps is to find a group of trainers to avoid. Firstly then, here is a look at the trainers with the highest strike rates. I have only included trainers who have had at least 30 runners, producing a strike rate of at least 16%:
Despite the poor base figures, it is clear that some trainers are worth close scrutiny when a horse has its first run for them. It is perhaps no surprise to Nicky Henderson topping the list – he is a top notch trainer who should be followed under these circumstances. Mrs Tawney Hill is not such a familiar name but she clearly is adept at placing her new runners well in their first start having switched stables. For the record, she has been equally effective with hurdlers (6 wins from 21) and chasers (6 from 17).
Splitting the trainer into hurdle and chase data gives some interesting comparisons. For example, David Pipe with chasers having their first run for him have produced 19 wins from 91 (SR 20.1%) for a profit of £24.57 (ROI +27%); whereas his hurdlers have won 16 races from 158 (SR 10.1%) for a heavy loss of £89.27 (ROI -56.5%). Paul Nicholls has also performed much better with his chasers thanks to 13 wins from 35 (SR 37.1) for a profit of £11.24 (ROI +32.1%); his hurdlers have produced14 winners from 67 (SR 20.9%) for a loss of £18.96 (ROI – 28.3%).
Moving on, let us look at the trainers with the worst record when horses have their first run for them:
Most of these trainers have poor overall records also so it should come as no surprise that their record with such runners is poor.
So what have we gleaned from this research? Well, essentially horses switching stables are generally worth avoiding on their first National Hunt start for a new trainer. This is especially so in hurdle races and bumpers; also runners with first time headgear are definitely worth avoiding. All in all, one should be wary of National Hunt horses having their first run for a new stable. However, having said all that, handicap chasers priced 15/2 or shorter actually made a decent profit, as did a few specific trainers.
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