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Trying to Make Scottish Racing Pay
Trying to Make Scottish Racing Pay by David Renham
This week I am starting to look forward to the flat and am focusing on Scottish courses – on the flat in Scotland they race at three courses – Ayr, Hamilton and Musselburgh. I am focusing on trainer trends at these courses to see if we can gain an edge for the coming season. The data for this article is taken from the last 9 full seasons – 2000 to 2008, but not all roads to lead positives as you shall see. SR – stands for strike rate; ROI for return on investment.
Ayr – let us look at the trainers with the best strike rate in all races. The cut off point chosen is 10 or more wins coupled with a strike rate of 18% or more:
Not all of the trainers with the best strike rates have provided blind profits – indeed only 3 of the 7 in the list have proved profitable. Of course, this is to be expected and as with all trainer research it is worth digging more deeply. The best trainer to start with is BarryHills as he has a fair number of winners (19) and has made a small profit. However, as we start to dig a bit deeper, there are instant problems – firstly in the past two seasons he has sent only 3 runners up to the course; secondly 11 of the wins came in 2000 and 2001. He is now an irregular visitor to the course, and although future trips should be noted, there is no easy angle to exploit. This highlights a flaw in simply churning out raw stats – raw stats are a very good starting point, but essentially that is it – a starting point. Let me move onto Mark Johnston next as he has had by far the most runners (and winners) from the top trainer list.
Firstly with Johnston’s figures I wanted to see how his recent figures were in comparison to early ones. I looked at 2000 to 2006 results and compared them with 2007 and 2008:
Ouch! The last two seasons have been verging on the dreadful. Indeed in the last two seasons horses priced 4/1 or bigger have provided 0 winners from 32 runners! His record in 2yo maidens in the past two years has not been too bad with 5 wins from 23, but losses have equated to around 30%. Also looking at his record in 2yo maidens from 2000 to 2006 we get the following impressive figures – 27 wins from 89 (SR 30.3%) for a profit of £19.40 (ROI +21.8%). One crumb of comfort is when we focus on the top 2 horses in the betting. Let us compare the two time periods with such animals:
Fairly similar records so perhaps it is worth noting fancied Johnston runners at Ayr in 2yo maidens in the future – having said that it is certainly not likely to be a get rich quick scheme!
However, all is not lost as one trainer not on the high strike rate list is worth a second glance. The trainer is Richard Fahey and he has had a good record in handicaps over the period of study. 24 handicap winners in the past four seasons is a good return and an overall profit of around 24% would be made backing them blind. Take special note of those horses are strong in the market (either those that hold their price, or get backed).
Hamilton– let us look at the trainers at Hamilton with the best strike rates and let’s hope for better luck than we had at Ayr!
Prescott, Johnston and Bell make the list again which is interesting. Let us look at Johnston again as he has had the most runners again, and this time has made an overall profit. The year splits shown below are as above:
This looks more positive, the last couple of years have been an improvement, but the important the general figures correlate quite nicely. The strike rates are similar which I think is the key. Areas where Johnston has done well at Hamilton include the following:
Thus, there are these 4 areas where Johnston has done consistently well in the past nine seasons. Hopefully, these areas will prove profitable again this year.
Musselburgh – this time I have used 9 wins as a cut off point, simply to show that certain trainer names crop up time and again in Scotland:
Again Johnston is the leading trainer in terms of wins, and as I am running out of space I will highlight the most notable trainer stats at Musselburgh for a select band of trainers:
A few positive angles worth noting then at Musselburgh.
It is interesting that the same trainers seem happy to travel up to the Scotish courses – Prescott for example has to travel over 300 miles to reach all three of the Scottish courses. Clearly that effort has to be worth it. The same length journey is undertaken by Willie Haggas, albeit less often, while even Mark Johnston has a trip of over 100 miles to all 3 courses, and for the record Ayr is over 150 miles for him.
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