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Trainers – Two Runners In The Same Race by David Renham
One dilemma that faces punters from time to time is when a trainer runs two or more runners in a race. Do you take the obvious option and back the shortest priced runner? Or do you look for some ‘perceived value’ by backing the outsider of the pair? Whatever you decide I would imagine many of you are thinking back to occasions when you backed the wrong one!!
This article is restricted to looking at trainer performance when they run two runners in the same race. The data has been taken from 2005 to July 2009 with the focus on turf races.
Let us first look at trainers that have had at least 2 runners in the same race on at least 50 occasions (hence I am looking for 100+ runners). The table is basically split into four parts – the first two columns show the trainer’s name and the total number of runners in question; columns 3 and 4 look at the overall strike rate and return on investment (ROI) on all the runners; columns 5 and 6 examine the performance of the shortest priced runner in terms of strike rate and ROI; columns 7 and 8 examine the performance of the longest priced runner. For the record, on the rare occasions both runners have been the same price I have used jockey bookings at the determining factor.
With so many columns to look at it may be worthwhile to compare strike rates and ROI with simply the first and second ‘strings’.
As the table shows, only one trainer, Mel Brittain has achieved a higher strike rate with his biggest priced runners as compared to his shortest priced runners. However, it is not too significant as we are talking about strike rates of only 4 and 6%.
It should be the case that the shortest priced runners produce a better strike rate; certainly when we are looking at a decent sample for each trainer. In terms of returns – the shortest priced runners have produced better returns for 31 trainers in the list; the biggest priced runners have produced better returns for 14 of the trainers in the list. Hence, around 69% of the trainers in the sample perform better with their more fancied runner. I suppose this figure should really be closer to 100% if working simply on prices, so it should pay dividends to look at the trainers individually to see if any patterns can be gleaned. As we know all trainers have different methods, but their individual style of training stays fairly consistent year in year out. Hence, with some trainers we should be able to disregard their less fancied runner; with others we may need to take the runner more seriously. Let us look at some of the trainers in more detail:
J Gosden – a significant difference in the results of his two runners. The shortest priced runners have won 20% of the time producing a profit of 13%. In stark contrast, the outsider of his pair has scored in 2% of races showing drastic losses of 72%. These figures look pretty conclusive and it is clear that his shortest priced runners deserve very close scrutiny, while his longer priced runners do not! Digging deeper, it looks best to concentrate on non handicaps (3yo, 3yo+) as his strike rate for his shortest priced runners increases to 22% with returns of 27%; his longest priced runners in these contests have won just once in 88 attempts for losses of 93%!!
S Bin Suroor – from his figures it seems that his shortest priced runners are overbet and his longest priced runners are underbet. Hence the profits for his longest priced runners. It should be noted however, that his longest priced runners have the best strike rate of any trainer in the list at 11%. He does best with the longest priced runners in Group or Listed races – he has a strike rate of 12% in such races with profits of 77%.
B Hills – the shortest priced runners have made a blind profit of 12% thanks to a very solid 18% strike rate. He has achieved the same strike rate of 18% in all handicaps, but the profit is a healthier 36%. Something perhaps worth noting!
R Harris – his shortest priced runners make a profit of 11%, but if we focus on handicaps only this increases to an impressive 47% (SR 16%). He looks a trainer to note in handicaps when double handed.
D Barker – his string of horses include several sprint handicappers so it is no surprise to see him enter more than one runner in a race. His figures clearly show that it is his more fancied runner that deserves the closest consideration – a strike rate of 14% with losses of only 8% compared with a strike rate of 3% and losses of 62%. If we focus on handicaps (excluding 2yo nurseries), Barker has made a 2% profit with his ‘first strings’.
D Nicholls – well known for saddling numerous runners in the big sprint handicaps, Nicholls does rather well when he saddles just 2 runners in the same race. His more fancied runners score roughly twice as often as his less fancied ones (13% versus 6%), and they have also managed a modest 8% profit. However, don’t rule out the bigger priced runners despite the much lower strike rate as they have lost only 3%. Indeed, focusing on handicaps only the ‘second strings’ have secured a 10% profit compared with a 4% profit for the ‘first string’ runners.
B Meehan – his figures clearly show that his biggest priced runners can be ignored – just 1% have won with losses of 93%. His more fancied runners have a much better strike rate of 13% but they still have made a loss of 28% so there does not seem a ‘backing angle’ here.
M Johnston – looking at Johnston’s overall figures we can see that his more fancied runners score nearly four times more often than his less fancied ones (19% versus 5%). However, the losses of 22% and 34% indicate that the prices on the bigger priced runners do compensate somewhat. Indeed, I would imagine that using Betfair rather than SP, these loss percentages would be virtually the same. The good news is that in 3yo and 3yo+ non handicaps Johnston’s ‘first string’ has produced some encouraging results – 22 wins from 62 runners (SR 35%) for a tidy return of 57%.
K Reveley – the overall figures indicate that Reveley’s second strings require close scrutiny. They have scored only 9% of the time, but have produced returns of 116%.
K Burke – as you will know, Karl Burke is now serving a 12 month ban and his figures are quite revealing in the light of this. His shortest priced runners have scored in 10% of races, but his longest priced runners are not far behind on 8%. Indeed, his ‘less fancied’ runners have returned a profit of 54%. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
This article has only scratched the surface, but my initial thoughts are that trainers with multiple entries is an area worth further investigation. This article has highlighted some positive and negative angles which should point you in the right direction when certain trainers have 2 runners in the same race.



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