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Handicap Trends & Future Pointers

Last month we highlighted the handicaps run during the U.K. turf flat season since March 2021 which have produced the most wins from runners on their next start.

In this article we will continue the theme with a look at upcoming handicaps at some of the big meetings in July which were a source of future winners’ last season.

Before we proceed with this month’s offering let’s remind ourselves of the top 12 handicaps highlighted for next time winners:

The Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap), Class 2 (0-105), 1 Mile

Last season’s Britannia Stakes runners topped the list for most wins (8 from 22 runs) on their next start and was our focus in the OCP June edition in which we also delved into the race trends with a view to hopefully providing us with a short list of likely contenders for this year’s renewal at Royal Ascot on Thursday 16th June (5pm).

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At the time of writing, this year’s Britannia Stakes entries are yet to be released but fingers crossed we managed to provide OCP members following the trends, with the winner.

To recap, last season had we backed all the Britannia Stakes runners on their next start we would have made a £54 profit (using Betfair SP before commission) to £1 stakes.

A closer look at those 8 winners on their next start shows:

  • Three won in a lower grade (2 x Class 3, 1 x Class 5)
  • Three were Irish trained who won lower value (8k to 11k) races in Ireland
  • Two (3rd & 4th placed) won in the same Class 2 company, the 3rd Dubai Honour won a Class 2 Handicap at Newmarket’s July Festival.

This year’s Britannia Stakes result is worth putting in your race tracker with a view to following/betting Britannia runners on their next start, or at least giving them close consideration.

Newmarket July Festival

The first race in our focus this month takes place at one of my favourite meetings in the racing calendar.

Newmarket’s July Festival holds fond memories having visited the July Course for the first time back in 1993 with my late father. Watching Lester Piggott ride Niche to Group 1 success in the Falmouth Stakes was only topped by backing a few winners along with a very nice tote tricast pay out to cap a fantastic day’s racing!

There are two handicaps (5th & 8th) in our top 12 table which took place at Newmarket’s July Festival last season:

Both are bet365 sponsored events again at this year’s July festival, the race we are focusing on is the top one of the two above which at the time of writing is scheduled to be the 4th race at 3:00 pm on the first day (Thursday 7th July) of the meeting.

The bet365 Heritage Handicap (Class 2) For 3yo’s only over 6 Furlongs

I’m keen to highlight this Newmarket sprint for 3 year olds as it has produced some good winners in recent seasons, notably Magical Memory in 2015 who won Goodwood’s Stewards Cup on his next start before going on to multiple pattern race success in the U.K. at Group 2 and Group 3 level. He finished a close 4th in Royal Ascot’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes the following season before being sent off a well fancied 5/1 shot in Newmarket’s Group 1 July Cup, eventually finishing 7th at the July festival.

Last season’s renewal looked an above average one with ten of the seventeen runners winning afterwards and five are multiple winners:

Race winner Blackrod is one of the multiple scorers and looks a very progressive sprinter who could make his mark in pattern company this season. He was the only one of the five to win in the same Class 2 company next time when taking a valuable Apprentice Sprint Handicap at York’s Ebor festival before finishing a good 3rd of 24 in Ayr’s Silver Cup handicap on final start.

He has already won on seasonal return this year, taking a £56,000 Class 2 handicap at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting.

Five runners won on their next start and betting all runners on their next outing would have returned a £11 profit to £1 stakes at Betfair SP (before commission), not a huge profit but a profit all the same.

Interestingly had you backed just the 6 runners who dropped down in grade to a Class 3 event next time you would have had 4 winners resulting in a £15 profit to £1 stakes. One of those winners, the 6th home Whenthedealinsdone won a Class 3 handicap at Glorious Goodwood @ 8/1 (industry SP).

This year’s bet365 Heritage Handicap result is worth putting in your race tracker as the following scenarios would have returned a profit from last season’s renewal:

  • Backing runners dropping down in grade to a class 3 race next time.
  • Backing all runners on their next start only

In fact, there is a solid case for following the runners indefinitely from last season’s renewal when you look at the Performance Breakdown by Horse profit stats to level stakes (at the time of writing) shown below:

  • 15 Wins
  • 34 Placed
  • 79 Runs
  • 19% Win Strike Rate
  • £28.63 Profit

Bet365 Heritage Handicap Trends

Hopefully, this season’s renewal will provide us with future winners, and I thought it would be worth delving into the previous race trends for the bet365 Heritage Handicap over the last 10 years using HorseRaceBase to see if they will provide us with a short list of likely candidates for this year.

I search for trends in previous years where a high proportion of runners have failed. This method helps to narrow the field to a handful of qualifiers using ideally no more than 5 or 6 trends. The average field size in the bet365 Heritage Handicap over the last 10 years is 17/18 runners with 179 going to post in total.

1. Distance Winner

All 10 winners had previously won at least once over 6 furlongs, 44 runners have contested this race over the last 10 years having never won at 6 furlongs and just 6 made the frame.

2. Career Win %

All 10 winners had won at least 20% of their career starts, those with less than a 20% success rate are 0 wins and just 4 placed from 40 runners.

3. Distance Move (Not 7f LTO)

Horses contesting a 7 furlong race last time out before reverting to 6 furlongs here have struggled with 0 wins and just 6 making the frame from 37 runners.

4. Class Move (Not Class 3 LTO)

Horses stepping up into this Class 2 grade from running in a Class 3 event last time out have found it tough with no wins and just 5 making the frame from 30 runners.

5. Last Race (Not Ascot)

Many horses turning up here having run at Ascot last time may find this coming a bit quick as they have generally struggled with no wins and just 4 finishing in the places from 24 runners.

6. Highest Class Run (Not Group Level)

The last 9 winners had never run in a higher grade than Listed level, those having already tested the water in Group 1, 2 or 3 races have won just once (2012) with 10 making the frame from 72 runners.

The last nine winners have met those six trends from the last ten renewals and there are only 49 qualifiers remaining from the original 179 runners that went to post so we should be looking at an average of around 5 qualifiers this year which is a nice number before filtering the short list using personal betting preferences.

To help filter the short list it’s worth checking the following factors from the trends, these had less impact than the six used above however they are worth consideration:

Draw Analysis

Over the last ten years the number of runners per year have ranged from 15 to 20 and grouping the stalls positions into four segments we have:

  • Quarter 1 = Stalls 1 to 5
  • Quarter 2 = Stalls 6 to 10
  • Quarter 3 = Stalls 11 to 15
  • Quarter 4 = Stalls 16 to 20

Here’s a breakdown of the winners and placed horses over the last ten years using the Draw segments:

Although at least one winner has emerged from each of the four segments it’s fair to say runners in Quarter 3 (stalls 11 to 15) and Quarter 4 (stalls 16 to 20) have performed better than runners in Quarter 1 (Stalls 1 to 5) and more so Quarter 2 (stalls 6 to 10).

Seven of the last ten winners were drawn in stalls 12 to 20 and runners in these stalls have generally performed better than expected compared to stalls 1 to 10.

Fancied Runners

Seven of the last ten winners were in the first five in the betting market.

Weight Carried

Those carrying top or joint top weight have struggled, 0 wins and just 1 placed from 13 runners.

Recent Form

Nine of the ten winners had finished 1st or 2nd at least once within their previous three starts.

Class Drop

Runners competing at a higher grade (Group or Listed) last time out have struggled with 0 wins and just 4 making the frame from 24 runners.

Total Career Wins

All ten winners had no more than three career wins thus staying under the handicapper’s radar to some degree.

York Run

Six winners and four placed horses contested York’s Pavers Foundation Catherine Memorial Sprint Stakes handicap over 6 furlongs last time out, last year’s winner Blackrod finished 2nd at York. This year’s renewal took place (after the time of article submission) on Saturday 11th June (3:40 pm) so those heading to Newmarket are worth keeping an eye on.

Trainer Check

Andrew Balding has trained three winners and had two placed horses from seven runners since 2010:

Best of luck with your bet365 fancies!

John Smith’s Sprint Handicap Stakes (Class 4) – York, Saturday 9th July

I could not conclude this month’s article without highlighting our 2nd race on the top 12 handicap table for next time winners:

York’s John Smith’s Sprint Handicap Stakes (class 4) for 4yo’s and upwards over 6 furlongs is scheduled to be the final race of York’s John Smith’s meeting due off at 5:15 pm on Saturday 9th July.

Last year’s renewal saw 7 winners from 17 runners win next time out and betting all runners on next start would have returned an £80 profit to £1 stakes at Betfair SP (before commission).

It’s also worth mentioning not to disregard runners finishing way down the field as six of the seven next time winners finished between 8th and 18th in the York race. Five of the seven winners won in a class 4 or class 5 event next time.

This year’s John Smith’s Sprint Handicap Stakes may be worth putting in your race trackers to see how this year’s runners perform next time.

Best of luck!!

James Collins

Featured Image: (CC BY 4.0)Grand prix equestrian all'ippodromo of Capannelle in Rome.

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