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Trainer Form How Relevant
Trainer Form – How Relevant?
Recent trainer form is something that many punters seem take into account before having a bet. In fact recent trainer form is mentioned in the Racing press on a daily basis and hence it should come as no surprise that punters take notice of it. You often see comments such as “xxxx is in form having had 4 winners from his last 7 runners ...”, or “the stable of xxxx is struggling at the moment with his last winner 21 days ago ...” Also it is easy for punters these days to get access to 7 day trainer form; 14 day trainer form; 30 day trainer form etc etc. Newspapers, racing papers, racing websites all seem to have this information to hand.
However, how important really is trainer form? In fact more to the point, how do we quantify recent trainer form? The reason I ask this is that a basic fact such as trainer X has had a 20% strike rate in the past 14 days does not really give us much information. OK most publications or websites give the wins to runs figures which helps with sample size, but some trainers score close to 20% all of the time, so a 14-day 20% strike rate looks to be fairly irrelevant in terms of recent form. However, if a trainer normally scores 7% of the time with his runners, then a recent 20% strike rate would logically become more relevant. In this article I am going to look into trainer form in more detail – or at least try to. As I write this, I have no real idea how these research findings are going to work out – whether there is going to be more value in backing ‘in form’ trainers, or ‘out of form’ trainers. However, my gut feeling is that if we look at Betfair prices the ‘out of form’ trainers may actually perform better in terms of percentage returns. My thinking is two-fold - firstly I feel ‘in form’ trainers are over-bet and ‘out of form’ trainers are under-bet – this would have an effect on influencing Betfair prices/BSP IMO. Secondly, I summarized that a fair proportion of the winners for ‘out of form’ trainers could be big prices and with big prices you do get the odd freak result in terms of a BSP return being considerably higher than its SP counterpart.
Now, I need some criteria to adhere to make it is as fair a test as possible. So here is what I have decided upon:
a) all trainers must have had at least 10 runners in the past 2 weeks (any code);
b) To be classed as 'in form' their 14 day win SR% must be at least double their SR% for the previous 2 years;
c) To be classed as ‘out of form’ their 14 day win SR% must be at least half of their SR% for the previous 2 years;
d) UK and Irish racing included.
Now I am not saying this is perfect criteria for such a study, but it something that looks logical and the sample size of 10+ runners in 14 days is hopefully enough.
To help me with this article I am using www.horseracebase.com who give daily figures in relation to 14 day form and 2 year form also. With this data I would not be able to do the relevant research – well not without more than 24 hours in a day!
I will go through the research process in a day by day format to begin with, giving my thoughts as the days passed during week 1. This will move into a week by week format after the first week. At the end I will collate and discuss the whole data and from there we should have a better idea about so called trainers in good form. I will run the test over four weeks. This test was carried out on the www.punterprofits.com website.
27th August 2012 – day 1
Why did I choose a Bank holiday with loads of meetings to start this trial?! There were 40 horses running for ‘in form’ trainers and 62 horses running for ‘out of form’ trainers. At least the sample size for this idea should not be a problem!
The results on day 1 were the reverse of my prediction with the runners from the ‘in form’ stables clearly coming out on top. They had 5 winners from 40 runners with the winners all at pretty good BSPs – 14.39, 15.86, 8.09, 5.80 and 10.50. After commission the profit on the day stood at 12.16pts (ROI +30.4%). Surely a bit of a freak day! At one point in the middle of the day there were 3 winners in 4 races! Horses from the ‘out of form’ stables performed poorly with just 3 winners from 62 for a hefty loss of 24.78pts (ROI -40%). I suppose if these figures are replicated over a longer period then I should not be too disheartened as although it would mean my prediction skills are pretty poor, I would have found a good looking backing system and a good looking laying system. Of course I know this won’t happen ...........
28th August 2012 day 2
Not so many qualifiers today but still 28 for the ‘out of form’ group – going to be a long process keeping record of these runners over a period of time! The ‘out of form’ horses managed just 2 wins from 28 at BSP prices of 7.69 and 7.76 so losses now standing at 38 pts or -42.2%. The ‘in form’ horses lost around 5 pts on the day also picking up two winners (BSP 9.6 and 3.25). They were still in profit. Interestingly the ‘in form’ horses were showing a slightly better profit to BSP place betting thanks to a 33% place SR. The returns for BSP place for ‘out of form’ runners were also much improved when comparing to win returns – early days, but worth keeping an eye on the place data too.
29th August 2012 day 3
Lots of qualifiers again today for both so keeping on top of the record keeping is getting a little annoying! However, at least I am gathering a decent data set already.
The ‘out of form’ horses managed 6 winners but with only one over 7.0 BSP the figures remained pretty much the same – losses now up to 61pts and ROI still around -42%. The ‘in form’ horses had only 12 qualifiers and 2 won and overall they are still showing a small profit to BSP despite losing 3.7pts on the day. 5 of the 12 placed keeping up the solid record for place betting. My prediction is not looking very good at this early stage!
30th August 2012 day 4
Just the 56 qualifiers today for the ‘out of form’ horses! The day started well in terms of a big priced winner (BSP 16.89) with the sixth qualifier, but then went downhill finishing just 4 more from 50 all at shortish prices. Another loss of around 42% on the day which meant the overall losses to BSP stood at 84.64pts (ROI -42.8%).
‘In form’ horses had a poor day also – just 1 win at 2.94 from 13 runners. Overall these horses were now in negative figures albeit only by 6.39pts (ROI -7.8%).
31st August 2012 day 5
Just 4 wins from 49 for the ‘out of form’ horses increasing overall returns to an extremely dismal -47%. ‘In form’ horses had a poor day also – just 2 winners from 22 and with winning prices of 2.46 and 1.57 and huge loss on the day. Two poor days in a row for the ‘in form’ horses – question is, “were the first three days where they performed well simply a statistical blip?”
1st September 2012 day 6
In form – only 2 winners from 21 but BSP odds of 40.0 and 15.47 meant a profit on the day of 29.8pts pulling back the previous day’s poor results and some. The overall performance stood at 14 wins from 127 (SR 11%) for a profit of 5.3pts (ROI +4.2%).
‘Out of form’ horses – 3 wins from 37 for a break-even day – their winners were at 21.66, 13.9 and 7.21.
2nd September 2012 day 7
‘In form’ horses started the day started well with a 16.01 BSP winner but that was the only winner of the 18 qualifiers on the day. ‘Out of form’ horses also had just the 1 win (from 19) but with the price at BSP 21.7 a small profit was made on the day.
End of week 1 stats
So after week 1 we see there is a difference in the strike rates with the ‘in form’ horses having the better strike rate. Having said that, the samples so far are small enough that these figures may change a little over a much longer period of time. The ROI percentages see a big difference at this stage, but it does not take much in the way of big priced winners to start changing that quickly. Indeed the last 3 winners for ‘in form’ horses have been at BSP odds of 15.47, 40.0 and 16.01; the previous 3 winners to that were only 2.94, 2.46 and 1.57. Now if you took away the 40.0 winner from the ‘in form’ horses the ROI% would go down steeply to -24.5%! Small margins.
In terms of BSP place results, the ‘in form’ horses had secured a strike rate of 1 in 3 and a small profit of 6.4pts (ROI +4.4%); ‘out of form’ horses had struggled after a good start on day 1 and were now 93pts down (ROI -30.4%).
Two other things I noted after week 1 were – ‘out of form’ results in non handicaps were far poorer than in handicaps, and ‘in form’ horses had performed poorly in Ireland. I would continue to monitor these and other factors I have looked at over the whole trial.
For the remainder of this article I am going to switch to a weekly diary.
3rd September to 9th September (week 2)
I had kept an eye on the daily results so I had a good idea what to expect. So here are the results for week 2:
The ‘in form’ stable again had the better strike rate – in fact roughly double during this seven day period. Interesting to see the ‘in form’ stables making a profit again on the week. The ‘out of form’ stables figures have been skewed somewhat by a massive 125.87 BSP winner – take that away and their performance was pretty much like the first week. Having said that, as I mentioned at the start of the article, I had expected this type of result to happen from time to time and was why originally I thought ‘out of form’ trainers may actually prove better value in the long term. As yet this is not being proved but a few more 100+ winners and things will turn around pretty quickly. The very interesting fact for me is that the SP price of this winner was not 50/1 or 66/1 as I had expected, it was only 25/1!
Running totals (after 2 weeks)
So let us see how we stand after 2 weeks:
A good number of bets already and the ‘in form’ selections continue to sneak into positive figures. Not convinced this can last – in fact totally convinced it can’t! Famous last words!
I have checked the overall BSP Place performance as well – currently the ‘in form’ trainers have hit a strike rate of 31.7% producing a small loss of £6.22 (ROI -2.1%); the ‘out of form’ trainers have produced a 22% strike rate for losses of £56.70 (ROI – 9.5%).
I am looking forward to seeing what the next week brings.
10th September to 16th September (week 3)
Here are the results for week 3:
The most interesting fact for this week is the severe drop in the number of ‘in form’ trainer selections – an average of around 10 a day having been around 20 per day the week before. We are of course coming to the season switchover with the flat season starting to wind down, and the National Hunt season soon to click into gear. Hence, it can be a tricky time of the year and perhaps it should come as no surprise to see a drop in the number of ‘in form’ trainer selections. Having said that, they made a profit this week keeping them in positive figures overall (see below).
This week has seen a much better strike rate for the ‘out of form’ trainers but losses were still around 15p in the £. So let us see how we stand after 3 weeks:
I am surprised to see the ‘in form’ trainer selections still in profit – I wonder whether this can keep up? The ‘out of form’ figures are still relatively poor despite that huge winner in week 2. Take that out of the equation and losses would be over 30p in the £.
17th September to 23rd September (week 4)
Here are the results for week 4:
As with week 3 there is a big discrepancy in the number of runners for each group. The ‘ in form’ runners have had a moderate week, while the ‘out of form’ figures are similar to their previous three weeks’ total.
So let us see how we stand at the end of our 4 week trial:
One interesting point to note is that the strike rates after 4 weeks are close to the ones after week 1 – 10.5 versus 10.3; and 8.1 versus 7.8. I would surmise that these 4-week strike rates would be similar over a much longer period.
The returns are still surprising to me – to see the ‘in form’ trainers managing a profit was not what I expected especially with a strike rate of only 10.5%. I also expected better returns for the ‘out of form’ trainers expecting more huge priced winners making up for the low strike rate. Indeed, if the 125.87 winner had not occurred in week 2 then ‘out of form’ trainers would have racked losses of around 27%.
During this 4-week study there was far more flat racing than NH racing and hence one would expect that the flat figures would be more ‘accurate’ - accurate in the sense that with limited NH racing there would be less recent NH trainer to work with. For the record, here are final flat figures:
Earlier in the trial I looked at BSP place results so it will be interesting to see the final figures for these:
Not that much in the place results as it turns out.
So what conclusions can be drawn from this experiment? Firstly, it seems that in general ‘in form’ trainers outperform ‘out of form’ trainers – both in strike rate and returns. I would hope that the main reason for this is that the rules devised for this trial were indeed ‘fair’ and did distinguish between those trainers that WERE in form, and those that WERN’T. However, if doing this again I would change a three things – firstly I would extend the qualifying number of runs over the last 2 weeks for each trainer to 15. I used 10, but in hindsight I feel this may be too few, especially for trainers whose 2-year strike rates are low. Secondly, I would run the trial over the middle of a season – eg. between May and August on the flat, or December to March over the jumps. I’m not sure September was the best month to do this. Finally, I would extend the trial to 8-10 weeks to give more data – although we had nearly 1800 qualifiers in total I feel we need a larger sample size to look at.
Having said all that, I feel the time has been well spent and hope you have found the idea/article interesting.
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