The 2020 Turf Flat Season was delayed due to the pandemic Coronavirus which caused all the racing in Great Britain to be postponed from Wednesday 18th March.
We had the opportunity to savour the Cheltenham Festival but just a few days later it became apparent that it was necessary to stop racing and, although they continued briefly in Ireland, they too reached the conclusion to halt the action to help prevent the spread of the virus.
At the time of writing we still have no idea as to the actual date that the equine action will resume, but the hope is it will get underway again in May.
Of course whenever it does recommence there will be many areas which will be unknown to us punters, such as which yards were more affected by the shutdown, and which ones may be able to hit the ground running?
To be perfectly honest who knows?
Over the year’s horse race trainers have demonstrated that they are “creatures of habit” and whilst the scribes in last month’s edition of Research Corner covering the “Flying start to the Flat” may not apply in these new circumstances, it will still hopefully pay to play close attention to some well time served routines.
Under The Radar?
Reviewing the 2019 Turf Flat season as a whole we find that the top 10 Trainers in terms of winners were as follows:-
With the possible exception of Tim Easterby, most are made up of the “usual suspects” with Mark Johnston heading the pile with 180 winners, combined with a solid 18% Strike Rate.
However, you would have made a loss of 23 pence in the pound blindly backing the North Yorkshire based maestro.
On a side and personal note the Mark Johnston yard is one of the most frustrating to follow, especially when he has multiple entries in the same race!
If we look a little further down the total winners column for the 2019 Turf Flat season, are there any trainers that may be “punching above their weight”?
In this respect we will use the “Actual v Expected” ratio, where figures exceeding 1.00 are an indication that the overall performance of the runners being considered has achieved a better result than the odds markets would have expected.
The following table details the yards which ended the 2019 Flat season ranked from 11th through to 50th in terms of winners whilst recording a noteworthy A/E (1.00 or above).
Let us now consider each of the above 6 trainers and see if we can uncover any traits which may be able to lead us to future profits:-
Saeed Bin Suroor
Having been born and raised in Dubai, Saeed bin Suroor is Godolphin’s longest-serving trainer which stretches all the way back to 1995.
Given the backing it should come as no surprise that he has won 4 British trainers’ Championships and trained 12 British Classic winners.
In normal circumstances he splits his time between his home base of Al Quoz Stables in Dubai from November to April, and is based at Godolphin Stables in Newmarket, UK, during the rest of the year.
It wouldn’t be the biggest surprise given the yards location that the Flat racing at “Headquarters” was targeted and across the July and Rowley courses they managed 11 winners from 46 runners in 2019 combined with a solid +31.26% ROI.
During the 2019 Flat campaign Bin Suroor engaged no less than 24 individual jockeys, but the trio of Oisin Murphy, Hector Crouch and Pat Cosgrave were collectively on-board over 50% of the winners.
Unless there is news to the contrary it may well pay to focus on these guys when considering backing one of the Bin Suroor runners once the 2020 season gets underway.
Carroll AW (Tony)
Based between Evesham and Pershore in Worcestershire Tony Carroll trains horses for both the Flat and National Hunt racing.
The overall Strike Rate of his runners may appear modest, 11.61% during 2019 Flat, but the following Table eases us in the right direction of his modus operandi…
Clearly the yard targets Handicap races and if you take out the lowest level, Class 6, the figures would have improved to just shy of 47 points level stakes profit at Betfair SP and a very handy +25% ROI.
Bell MLW (Michael)
Michael Bell has been training in the historic yard of Fitzroy House, Newmarket for 30 years. During that time he has trained close to 1,500 winners and won circa £26 million worth of prize money. He has enjoyed success at Classic level with the Epsom Derby (Motivator) and the winner of the Oaks (Sariska), as well as having numerous winners abroad.
When the new season finally gets underway the yard will have approximately 100 horses in training ready to go to the tracks, including an exciting bunch of two year olds by all the right stallions, including the progeny of Frankel, Dubawi, Kingman, Lope de Vega and Oasis Dream.
The yard traditionally takes a while to get going and most of the runners need their first outing after a layoff which is shown by the following table:-
Breakdown of H-Run (90 Days)
In the most recent campaign the Strike Rate of those that had a relatively recent run was more than triple than of those that hadn’t seen the track in the last 90 days.
It will be interesting to see if that trait follows suit this time around and maybe the first dozen or so runners will provide a yard stick on which to gauge.
One other key point to note is the performance of the runners at Newmarket which is surprisingly poor with just 9 winners from the 139 that competed at HQ during the last 3 Flat seasons.
Moving on next up is James Tate.
A relative newcomer to the training ranks having sent out his first runner just 8 years ago James Tate is closing in on his 400th winner and enjoyed his best ever season last time around.
Taking in all codes 2019 saw the stable send out 74 winners, including a Group 2, three Group 3 races and four Listed races earning more than £1 million of prize money worldwide.
Another trainer based at Newmarket, Tate is also a qualified veterinary surgeon and openly mentions that this accreditation gives him more insights into the welfare of the horses in his care.
This is given credence when we consider the Strike Rate of his 2019 runners that hadn’t seen the track for at least 90 days:-
There was clearly a shift in the yards approach during the latest campaign as previously the runners benefitted with a recent run.
From his base in Middleham, North Yorkshire Jedd O’Keeffe has been sending out winners across all codes of racing including over the jumps.
As we saw in the original 2019 table blindly backing all of his runners on the Flat (Turf) last season came close to breakeven on the Betfair SP which is no mean feat.
Drilling down a little we see that 23 of the 26 winners came in Handicap races and the majority were also from races run in the north.
If you focus on those that have a recent run, 45 days or less, the Strike Rate and ROI improve quite nicely.
The final yard in this edition of Research Corner is Chris Wall….
Wall CF (Chris)
Another stalwart of the Newmarket scene and one of the smaller yards, but very effective at making the most of the limited numbers under his care, it is pretty clear from the below table as to where his expertise lies…
He doesn’t have many two-year-old winners, and in the main the youngsters are primed for the following campaign when they become qualified for Handicap races.
The yard does have winners at the local track (Newmarket) but enjoy a better Strike Rate away from headquarters.
For our Gold Members we have dug up a number of systems which will hopefully generate a profit over the coming months when racing resumes from these noteworthy stables.
If you would like to upgrade to On Course Profits Gold you can do so here – https://www.oncourseprofits.com/upgrade
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