January 8, 2020

Beginners, Novices and A Small Field

There is no doubt that when we try to piece together a method or system which can turn a profit we always find ourselves heading back to the statistics, and look back at what has happened before as an indicator to what “may” happen in the future.

Such an approach can be productive from time to time, but it can also have its drawbacks. We can have a habit of making the statistics fit to our will.

Both methods, particular procedures for accomplishing or approaching something,

especially a systematic or established one, and systems, a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole, are difficult to produce without some form of live data to follow.

If it were that simple we’d all be doing it and doing it well!

We can see a bunch of figures and think; I have a cracking idea, on occasions we may be right, but in the main reality does not portray our reality as the following will demonstrate.

Our initial thought was to try and take a step away from the Boom and Bust approaches we often see and try to start the New Year with a slow and steady approach which would hopefully give us a solid foundation.

The approach may seem way too simple for the more seasoned racing enthusiasts among our readers, but it highlights how easily we can be drawn in by a single number and think that we are on to something.

To begin with we are going to take a look at Novice and Beginners Chases as on occasions we do get asked “what is the difference”.

According to the British Horse Racing Association the definitions are as follows:

Novice Chasers: “… a novice chaser is a horse which has not won a chase race before the end of the previous season (30th April).

Beginners Chasers.” Conditions races restricted to horses which have never won

a steeple chase before”, they may have won at Point to Point” or in a “match” race – where two horses go off in a head to head. It is worth noting that they may have won a hurdle race.

Novice Chasers

We will go to www.horseracebase.com for our starting point at taking a look at the


We use this regularly for one simple reason; it is a mine of statistics updated daily and with a little time spent can be relatively easy to use once you get your head around the numerous options available.

We are going to choose a time period to look at of 2016-date (11th Dec 2019). This will give us a more “current” view of the statistics.

From the above we can see that of those that won their race, nearly half of the races were won by those runners which went off as the outright favourite in the betting.

This statistic in itself can bring a problem.

A number of methods may suggest that we look specifically at those runners which go off favourite in their race, and in principle this is fine, the problem though is, how do we know who will go off favourite?

Markets are notoriously volatile within the final 10 minutes before a race. You could very easily place your bet and then find yourself on the 2nd favourite or even the 3rd in a blink of an eye.

Some of the best methods are those where you are able to place your bets in the

morning and walk away.

We don’t all have the time to be watching betting markets and taking a chance on our selection actually going off favourite. But given the statistic above it is clear that there is very little point looking too far away from the head of the market.

So, what if we look at the FORECAST favourite, after all the people that pull these forecasts together are supposed to be the professionals aren’t they. They put together these forecasts as a guide for the novices amongst us.

The FORECAST favourites seem to be pretty well….forecast and bear similar results to those runners which actually went off favourite. So, why don’t we use those forecast favourites as are starting point.

You will hear us mention many times that trainers are “creatures of habit” and often will follow a pattern in how they bring their runners to the field. This has proven in the past to be true, but will it always? With the National Hunt season running all year round these days it is difficult to see these patterns to the same effect.

Interestingly though if we look at those trainers who have had at least 10 runners over the period in question and success in Novice Chasers over the sample period, over two thirds of the winners have come from just 12 stables, and have a hefty 50.85% strike rate. Now that sounds good doesn’t it?

But look closer? Would you have made a profit?

If you had backed all 413 selections over the past 3 years, and taken the Betfair Starting Price you would have made a whopping 6.30points profit. Now we know we often say a profit is a profit, but that level of return is of little use to us and had you backed at ISP you would have made a very small loss.

But whatever you say, year on year, that strike rate is pretty consistent, and in the worst year, 2017, you would have lost less than £20 for a £1 stake to win on every selection.

Those trainers are all pretty familiar we are sure to even a novice punter and in the main we generally assume that finding a profit from such trainers is difficult, or profitable angles have already been found and used up.

Kim Bailey

Of the above 210 winners, Kim Bailey’s yard has found 13 of them from 22 runners over the period in question

11 of those 13 winners have come when running over 2m5-3m.5f.

Take a look at the Return On Investment to ISP. 37.80%. We’d be happy with that, and that very steady profit would have been accrued each year.

System 7: Back Kim Bailey Novice Chasers running over 2m5f-3m.5f when the FORECAST favourite.

Brian Ellison

Over the period Brian Ellison has8 winners from 11 runners and a 72% strike rate and a 34.73% ROI to ISP.

2019 so far is running at a very small loss of 0.80 points, but interestingly of those 8 winners only 2 were in the 4th quarter of the calendar year.

It’s worth putting a pound or two on from January 2020 onwards if Brian Ellison has a FORECAST favourite running.

Harry Fry

There are not a lot of positives here.

Significantly lower strike rate to the other trainers we have seen so far and a sizeable negative ROI.

4 of the 7 winners had had a previous run in a Novice Chase, but backing them blindly would see you just break even.

No system for us here.

Warren Greatrex

He may be in the top 12 when it comes to Novice Chasers (according to the BHA there are currently some 600 licensed trainers in the UK covering both National Hunt and Flat racing), but 4 winners from 13 and a negative ROI of 37.85% mean we will step away from this one.

Of those 12 trainers above 5 of them are currently the Top 5 Jumps Trainers according to the BHA based on prize money.

So we will look at those together a little later on.

First let’s take a look at Philip Hobbs.

Philip Hobbs

A well-known name, but as with Harry Fry, Hobbs may be in our Top 12 but just 5 winners from 20 runners and a negative ROI of 43.35% means we’ll leave his runners alone.

Alan King

Another racing stalwart and well-known name is Alan King.

A 53% strike rate and a positive ROI% lead us to hope that there may be a little more worth looking at here.

14 of those 15 winners have come in Class 3 and Class 4 races.

And all of them had run last time out in a Novice Chase, Handicap Novice Chase or Handicap Hurdle.

And every year under investigation was a positive year.

System 8: Back Alan King’s Novice Chasers when running in Class 3 or Class 4 races and their last run was in a Novice Chase, Handicap Novice Chase or Handicap Hurdle and they are the FORECAST favourite.

Neil Mulholland

Although showing a 20% ROI and a very healthy strike rate this is one trainer we will park until the second half of next year.

That’s because of those 10 winners the largest part of them occurred during the months of July through to December.

The Big Guns

Backing the Forecast Favourite Novice Chasers from the 5 Top Trainers blindly would’ve seen you just about break even over 2019-to date.

Of the 5 trainers though it is Nigel Twiston-Davies who appears to have been the only trainer to have generated a positive return consistently.

System 9: Back Nigel Twiston Davies Novice Chasers when FORECAST Favourite.

With little difference between the rate of profit between BFSP and ISP you could look to place your bets either on the exchanges or with a bookmaker and take the benefit of Best Odds Guaranteed.

Nicky Henderson

Nicky Henderson is one of the most prolific trainers when it comes to our Top 12 with 86 runners over the period in question and a strike rate of just over 50%.

50% of those winners have occurred in the first half of the calendar year (Jan – June) so that can bode well for us.

And of those 22 winners 21 have been ridden by resident stable jockeys Nico De Boinville, and Jeremiah McGrath, together with Daryl Jacob.

System 10: Back Nicky Henderson’s Novice Chasers during Jan-June when ridden by Nico de Boinville, Jeremiah McGrath or Daryl Jacob and are shown as the FORECAST Favourite.

Sometimes, particularly if new to betting, it helps to find a steadier approach, allowing you time to take stock of your actions and settling on and enjoying the pleasure of a winner, while adding a small but steady profit.

At the end of the day there will always be two types of bettors, the outright gamblers and the selective investors.

Which one will you be in 2020?

For our Gold Members this month we take a look at the remaining 3 of the Top 5 trainers and their novice chasers, together with a look at Beginners Chases, and an angle for the All Weather should the weather in the UK take a turn for the worse.

If you would like to upgrade to On Course Profits Gold you can do so for just £24.99 –  https://www.oncourseprofits.com/upgradetogold

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Wendy Carter

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