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Sunday, 16 January 2011

Top 10 secrets to backing two-year-old winners

1. Remember it is always more difficult for a two-year-old to win on its debut and especially against experienced opposition. If you bet, then it is advisable to compete against youngsters making their racecourse bows.

2. If a juvenile has enough ability to win a race, it is much more likely to do so on its second or third start. Most trainers’ feature significantly higher win rates compared with debutantes.

3. Most fashionable stables are unlikely to win at speculative prices. The majority have few winners priced over 13/2 with lesser still at 10/1 or bigger. An example, Mick Channon has very few juveniles win on their second start priced over 8/1.

4. However, if a two-year-old is a short price on its second start but disappoints there is a likelihood this individual could be a good value bet on its next start. Often a short price is an indication of ability and a horse is always prone to disappointing, especially on extremes of going: heavy or firm. A poor run can make judgment more difficult but this uncertainty often leads to a bigger price. It is worth noting that juveniles from stronger stables are still unlikely to win at speculative odds. In fact, being strongly fancied in the betting is often a very good sign of ability.

5. Speculative-priced winners are more likely to come from less fashionable stables: sometimes winning on debut but more generally showing little ability on their first start because they are in need of the race – simply unfit. It is always worth noting smaller stables that trained juvenile winners in the past – they are a select few. If any of these juveniles were a significantly short price on debut then disappointing, they are worthy of consideration on their second start but only at a speculative price. Many smaller trainers are very unlikely to train a juvenile winner. Take a look at their statistics and it soon becomes clear if they have any chance. There are always exceptions to every rule – talented two-year-olds do appear at less fashionable stables and reason why studying significant entries has its rewards.

6. Pay attention to horse declarations, they are often overlooked but a great source of information that most people either don't consider or quickly forget. Take note as they can lead to superb betting opportunities. Jockey bookings may also be a pointer, especially if their mounts are changed late on. It's important to be aware that a jockey may be retained for a given trainer/owner, which may negate such findings.

7. Juvenile declarations are particularly important with regard to race type. These differing grades of racing are worth their weight in gold. The key is to note extremes such as Selling & Claiming entries at the lower level and Stakes, Listed & Group races at the highest. Two-year-olds are often entered to run but then withdrawn. It isn’t uncommon to see a two-year-old entered to run in a Selling race later compete at maiden level. Clearly, these juveniles are potentially at a disadvantage but this knowledge is often forgotten on the day. In particular, Mick Channon falls into this category. These two-year-old often start at short prices because of his popularity and prone to drifting in the betting. The contrary can be said for Listed/Group race entered juveniles. Although no guarantee of ability they may indicate a level of confidence, especially when holding a string of Group entries. Take your time to note smaller trainers who give their two-year-olds such lofty engagements. Many will fail to show ability but there are always a number each season that win at speculative odds. Again, check to see the trainer’s general statistics or note if they have had other two-year-old winners that season. If they have, it is likely the Group-entered horse is better.

8. Always be careful when betting on extremes of going, especially if selections are a short price. Be aware of extreme draw bias, especially on turning course. Experienced juveniles running against debutantes may be able to negate such factors but there is always a concern it will be a stiff task.

9. Be careful of juveniles with a string of placed efforts because they often struggle to win and at some point are likely to regress and lose at a short price.

10. When assessing form, wait until you are certain the two-year-olds in question have attained a winning standard of ability. Do not – unless you are absolutely convinced – presume that the form is ‘good enough’ or just hope it is. Juveniles with placed efforts on their first start can be made favourite for their next race and consequently under priced. You don’t want to learn the form is weak after you have backed it. In the long term it pays to be careful when assessing form and bet selectively