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Top National Hunt Trainers – Evaluation Of Price by David Renham
A friend of mine e mailed me the other day asking me whether there was any value in opposing some of the top trainers when their runners were not fancied. He suggested looking at prices of 10/1 or more. I have noticed for many years that very few of top trainers land big priced winners so thought the idea was worth further exploration. I decided to look at 10 of the top National Hunt trainers and the data was taken from 1st January 2009 to 30th September 2011. The trainers I chose were those that had the most winners in the 201011 season – these were Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson, Donald Mc Cain, Philip Hobbs, David Pipe, Nigel TwistonDavies, Alan King, Jonjo O’Neill, Evan Williams and Tim Vaughan. In terms of price I decided to split into four groups to give a better comparison. I used traditional SP for splitting the results and the price bands were: 7/2 or shorter; 4/1 to 15/2; 8/1 to 14/1; 16/1 or bigger. Let us see the results. Firstly horses priced 7/2 or shorter; the profit and loss is checked to SP using £1 win level stakes:
Two of the ten trainers are in profit, but the other eight have shown varying losses. Combining all 10 trainers their record reads 1681 wins from 4940 (SR 34%) for a loss of £396.03 (ROI 8%). A loss of 8p in the £ is not a disaster and so I decided to look at what would happen if we had used Betfair SP instead:
Using Betfair SP has improved results as one would expect. However, combining all trainers still does not produce a profit. Losses are now £197.56 (ROI 4%). An improvement but still an overall loss. Now a look at results to SP when the prices were 4/1 to 15/2:
Strike rates dip considerably as one would expect, and the returns are much poorer. Just David Pipe showing a profit and overall the top 10 trainers combined to produce 519 winners from 3861 runners (SR 13.4%) for a loss of £627.50 (ROI –16.3%). Double the losses in percentage terms compared to the shorter price bracket – would using BSP make a significant difference? Let us look:
Three trainers now in profit but despite the improvement combined losses stand at £326.69 (ROI 8.5%). Losses of over 8p in the £ at BSP. Onto 8/114/1 SP results next:
One trainer in profit, but the rest are in loss, with three of the ten showing losses of over 30p in the £. Overall though combining the ten, losses stand at £549.00 (ROI 15.8%) which in percentage terms is showing a slightly smaller loss than the 4/1 to 15/2 price bracket. Let us look at the BSP figures for the 81 to 141 SP price band:
Four trainers now in profit and amazingly combining all ten you would have made a profit to BSP – only £43.61 (ROI +1.3%), but a profit nonetheless. This highlights why it is difficult to lay bigger prices on Betfair and perhaps my friend has not found his holy grail of laying. We need though to look at the genuine outsiders to see what the results bring. So let me look at the SP returns for runners priced 16/1 or bigger:
All trainers are showing a loss to SP; several showing big losses. Maybe my friend was right after all. Overall losses for the ten stand at £1167.00 (ROI 36.8%). Surely BSP will show a loss as well – let’s see:
Incredibly the ten trainers have combined to make a profit despite the dreadful figures at SP – this is almost certainly down to a few huge BSP winners, but even so. This highlights the problems for layers of big priced runners – it just takes one or two huge winners to spoil a succession of successful lays. So where does leave my friend and his laying idea? At this juncture, I would say that laying the bigger priced runners is too risky; indeed with them actually making a BSP profit is it actually worth backing them??!! The problem here in terms of backing them is the long losing runs – on average there has been 1 winner every 40 bets, but this could easily see a losing run of 200 bets or more. The other problem with any price based idea is the fact that we do not actually know the SP until after the event. Of course we can make a pretty good guess, but there will be times when a horse who is 16/1 on the bookmaker’s board seconds before the race, ends up with an SP of 14/1. So we could never stick rigidly to a 16/1 or bigger idea be it laying or backing. I was going to leave the article there and leave it to the reader to decide whether there was any mileage in backing or laying certain top trainers depending on price. However, I have looked at the 16/1 or bigger runners in a little bit more detail and I think you will be interested in the findings. I simply decided to split the data into handicaps and non handicaps. For this comparison I have not bothered with SP profit and loss figures; I am just looking at BSP profit and loss figures as they are the more relevant whether we wish to back or lay this runners. So firstly here are the trainer figures for horses priced 16/1 or bigger in handicaps:
The combined results have seen 41 wins from 1594 runners (SR 2.6%) for a loss of £490.20 (ROI 30.8%). Not a pretty picture for backers, but a ray of sunshine for my friend and his laying idea. Let’s look at the non handicaps figures now:
The combined non handicap figures have seen 38 wins from 1497 runners (SR 2.5%) for a profit of £630.53 (ROI +42.1%). There is a huge difference in the returns for non handicaps versus handicaps despite the strike rates being virtually identical. So maybe we have found the answer – back these outsiders in non handicaps and lay these outsiders in handicaps. Whatever you decide, each method will almost certainly see some big ups and downs in the future – for some people these swings in fortunes are too much to cope with. My feeling is to follow either of the two ideas you need to be brave if you are laying and patience if you are backing. It will be interesting to see if this season produces similar results.



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