New Year Racing – In The Deep Mid Winter

Let me start by wishing you a Happy New Year. By the time you read this, your Christmas Festivities may well be over and we will be entering 2019. For punters the dawn of the New Year racing brings with it hope and expectations for the year ahead, an optimism and a resolve not to repeat the errors of the past. We all make those New Year resolutions to strive to become successful punters in the year ahead. We might not stick to those resolutions for long but at least we have shown a commitment to improving which is half of the battle.

The racing in January might not be of the same quality as we have seen over Christmas or indeed in November and December but there’s still plenty to look forward too. We have races like the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock, The Classic Chase at Warwick, the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster, the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton and at the end of the month we have Cheltenham Trials Day, which is the last meeting at the home of National Hunt racing until the Festival in March.

It’s hard to believe but we are just two and a half months away from the Cheltenham Festival!

Now January is the darkest month for many and many of the races I mentioned above will as ever be hostage to the British weather. Can racing escape unscathed this year or will there be a spell of freezing weather that leads to plenty of abandonment?

The one thing that we can almost guarantee is that the going is likely to be very soft or heavy at many racecourses during the month.

All Aboard The Mudlarks

For this month’s Acorns, I am taking a look at those horses, jockey’s and horses that have traditionally done well in the January and February when heavy is the going description.

As ever the excellent with its mine of detailed information and stats is the starting point for this month’s investigation.

To get a decent sample size the stats used are from 2013 to 2017 and are from National Hunt handicap races only. They consist of 1078 winners from 9597 runners.

I will begin by looking at a couple of general stats. How favourites and previous heavy ground winners have performed?

The Favourites

During the period under research, favourites have done reasonably well producing 350 winners from 1203 runners 29% -57 A/E 0.95 655 placed 54%.

Wins On Going

Horses with two or more previous wins with heavy in the going description have done best with:

147 winners from 1095 runners 13% -19.6 A/E 0.95 358 placed 33%

However, we are looking to make profits here and there isn’t too much to work on here but runners with 2+ winners on heavy that started favourite have produced 41 winners from 136 runners 30% A/E 1.02. +2.27 78 placed.


As ever some trainers seem to do better on heavy going than others. The first trainer I’m going to look at is Yorkshire based trainer Sue Smith.

Sue Smith 21 winners from 89 runners 24% +42.1 A/E 1.22 40 placed 45%

Digging a bit further let’s see how she fares with her chasers and hurdlers:

Given Sue’s preference for chasers, I was expecting to find her more profitable with runners over the larger obstacles but as the above table shows that’s not been the case. Indeed, her hurdlers are doing slightly better than those over fences.

Moving onto wins on the going.

Again, nothing really stands out although runners that have not won on heavy previously do well.

Are there any courses that she does well at?

Well, three stand out.

21 winners from 33 runners 36% +64.01 A/E 2.02 20 placed 61%

So, of her 21 winners, heavy ground handicap wins at the above three courses have provided 58% of her winners from 37% of her total runners.

You could always research further for an even more niche angle but I would be happy to stop there.

System: Back Sue Smith’s handicap runners, on heavy ground in January & February at Catterick, Haydock & Sedgefield.

Another two trainers worth noting when the mud is flying are Nicky Richards and Henry Oliver.

Starting with the former:

Nicky Richards 16 winners from 47 runners 34% +28.35 A/E 1.75 25 placed 53%.

All his handicap runners are worth noting but to improve the profit even further concentrate on his runners who are fit and have had 2 or 3 runs in the previous 90 days.

Actually 2018 was a poor one for the trainer with just 1 win from 8 runners 13% -6 3 placed but you would have made a profit for each of the previous five years.

Hopefully 2019 will see the trainer once again back in profit with heavy ground handicappers.

System: Back Nicky Richards handicap runners, on heavy ground in January & February that had 2 or 3 runs in the previous 90-days.

Henry Oliver13 winners from 37 runners 35% +15.75 A/E 1.54 18 placed 49%

The market seems to be a good guide to his horses’ chances with those going off 8/1 & under in the betting producing:

System: Back Henry Oliver handicap runners, on heavy ground in January & February that are 8/1 & under.


There are two jockeys whose mounts are worth noting on the heavy ground: Robbie Power and Sean Bowen.

Robbie Power – 12 winners from 41 runners 29% +60 A/E 2.23 17 placed 41% (handicap hurdles 9 winners from 23 runners 39% +43.5 A/E 2.65 11 placed 48%).

Sean Bowen – 12 winners from 45 runners 27% +42.74 A/E 1.8 16 placed 36% (All 12 winners in races up to 3m ½ f).

System: Back Robbie Power & Sean Bowen rides in handicap races with heavy in the going description.


Finally, something a little different, six horses that have won at least twice on the heavy ground in January or February and could pop up at decent prices this year.

  • Pistol – 3 wins from 3 runs 100% +28.75
  • The Delray Munky – 3 wins from 3 runs 100% +15.73
  • Goodtoknow -2 wins from 2 runs 100% +9
  • Another Venture 2 wins from 2 runs 100% +6.63
  • Poormans Hill – 2 wins from 2 nruns 100% +2.18
  • Lochnell – 2 wins from 5 runs 40% +14.5 3 placed 60%

Like many of the methods outlined above. The above figures are based on historical data and whilst history has a good habit of repeating itself, it often doesn’t.

It is important to remember that these bets are for solely on heavy ground, in January & February and as such there may be too many or indeed too few qualifiers for you, depending on your betting strategies.

Wishing you all a happy and of course profitable 2019.

Until next month.

John Burke

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