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Wednesday, 1 February 2012

In Search of the Outsider: The Significance of Trainers & Starting Price

When considering placing a bet on a horse race, which selection is your eye drawn to first? For most people, it’s the favourite.

Logic instils that the most fancied horse has the best chance of winning. But what should we make of the lesser-fancied horses or even the outsider of the field? It is important to appreciate – however unlikely - that even the most forlorn hope can win. Clearly, that statement may seem foolish when comparing one thoroughbred with another in terms of proven ability. However, the best horse doesn’t win every race. Perhaps the odds-on favourite had an off day, a chaser falls at the last when clear of the field. In truth, coincidence dictates that, however remote a chance, the outsider may have his day.

Scanning the results in the daily paper, those outsiders always catch the eye. Whether 10/1, 33/1 or 100/1 there is one thing you can guarantee – someone backed it.

But what are the chances of you doing the same?

High Class Equine specialise in two-year-old horse racing tips & detail their insight to what makes a good, speculative bet and why the outsider cannot be ignored.

From their research, it seems incredible that many a horse’s chance can be assessed quite easily. In fact, their wisdom details that you don’t even need to consider the horse’s pedigree, form, or which jockey is riding. All these factors are – of course – important but most significance can be gained from appreciating two specific criteria: trainer and starting odds.

What becomes apparent from reviewing the data for all trainers of two-year-olds is that many are very unlikely to win at fancy odds. But why is this? The main reason is that many of our most respected trainers are held in such regard that their juveniles are unlikely to win at speculative odds because their reputation precedes them.

Simply reviewing the price of two-year-old debutantes from powerful stables reveals quite a startling picture. For example, it isn’t rocket science to think a well-bred juvenile from Sir Michael Stoute’s yard could be pretty fancied. But what percentage are, let’s say, priced 13/2 & less on debut? From nearly 300 debutantes it was just under 50%. And even more interesting to those who hope to back a big priced juvenile making its race course bow,  over 80% of winners were within this restrictive (13/2 & less) price range. So what should we make of his 20/1 shot at Leicester first time out? The figures suggest that you can draw a line through that one.

However, this is just the tip of iceberg because many of our leading trainers follow in a similar vein.

Sir Henry Cecil has very similar statistics to Stoute but with a smaller sample of runners. Jeremy Noseda is another trainer held in high regard when training two-year-olds. With such a wealth of talented juveniles he, too, is under the spotlight. In fact, in the last six or so years, just over 50% of his debutantes have been priced 13/2 & less. Probably the daddy of them all with regard to short priced debutantes is Saeed Bin Suroor. In essence it is all about reputation.

Now I don’t want to simply reel off a string of statistics, which to a certain extent says the same thing. ‘That our most respected trainers, who have the wealthiest owners, buying the best bred horses, are more likely to be a much shorter price than umpteen smaller trainers who often do wonders with bargain buys. I would love to see Neville Bycroft’s train just one horse for Sheikh Mohammed! However, in our search for backing a winning outsider we would be wiser to look elsewhere. The crème de la crème of talented trainers winning at speculative odds is pretty much a no-go area. I’m not saying it can’t happen – but there are better candidates, who often slip under the radar, even on debut. 

You may be wondering why I have focused on debutante or, at least, the early part of a juvenile’s career? It is worth noting at this early stage that - as a rule - betting on debuatntes is a rarity for me. However, its focus is of importance because the vast majority of talented two-year-olds win within their first three starts. As I have mentioned before, betting on debutantes isn’t – in general – a good move. Without question, the majority of trainers are much more likely to win with juveniles on their second start. The few major juvenile stables with a chance of negating this bias are Peter Chapple-Hyam, Tom Dascombe & Richard Fahey. It is worth noting that the majority of these horses will win at single-figure prices and a factor of having their ''fancied'' debutantes very fit or placed with precision. It isn’t too surprising that trainers are tentative with their better prospects. It never impresses to see a debutante given a hard race because it is a time to learn. With hope, a first step towards what should be a long, enjoyable career.


(Tomorrow, Part 2)