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2000 Guineas Weekend – The Trainers

Guineas weekend is here. With Punchestown winding down today, the last reminders of the jumps season will simply become memories and a flat season which up until now may have felt as if it was still beginning to kick into gear is most definitely in full swing. This weekend at Newmarket will see some of the game’s most talented, most exciting fillies and colts battle it out over what is one of the truest tests of the thoroughbred possible, the Rowley Mile.

While the Lincoln at Doncaster may seem like a long time ago, it has to be acknowledged that this is still early in the season – many see this as the turning point, when the warmup ends and the game begins. Plenty of horses we see this weekend (indeed plenty of the protagonists in some of the biggest races, including the Classics) will be having their first run of the season, so it pays to take a look at which trainers tend to have their horses primed and ready, and which have the best record at this meeting.

Andre Fabre

The first mention has to go to the Frenchman who in the last decade has brought 7 horses to Newmarket on Guineas weekend, with 3 winners and a 2nd and 3rd to boot. Fabre’s runners at this meeting since 2003 have form figures of 351514112513, and perhaps most interestingly, only 4 of them were favourites. Baking all of Fabre’s runners since 2003 would have given a tidy SP profit of +9.91. The profit figures, along with Fabre’s A/E of 1.61, suggest that the market still may underestimate French raiders, favouring horses from these isles whose form we know better.

Ralph Beckett

Beckett hasn’t had a winner at this meeting in the last 3 years, but can’t be criticised for this – three of his five runners in that period of time went off at double-figure prices, and his form read 02262, with the three runners-up going off at starting prices of 7/1, 16/1 and 9/1. Looking back at the three years prior to that, he had a winner at a double-figure price each year, with his overall record over the last decade reading 4 winners from 17 (24%) and a further 5 places, meaning that more than half of his runners have made the frame despite the fact that not one of them was sent off favourite (in fact, not one of them was shorter than 4/1 and 10 of the 17 went off at double-figure prices). This brings Beckett’s A/E to an impressive 2.41.

Sir Michael Stoute

Sir Michael Stoute has had more runners at the meeting than either of the two trainers discussed so far, which makes his 22% strike rate (9 winners from 41 runners) all the more impressive. He drew a blank last year with neither of his two runners making the frame, but had a winner at the meeting in each of the 5 preceding years, and it would have been profitable to blindly back all of his runners in each of those years. In earlier years his runners tended to be well fancied in the market, although he has only trainer one clear favourite at the meeting in the last 3 years. His A/E over the last decade is 1.15.

Charlie Appleby

It would be ridiculous to discuss trainers at the meeting without mentioning Charlie Appleby, who trained 5 winners across the two days last year. 2018 was a big step up for Appleby in terms of the amount of ammunition he fired at the meeting (17 runners, compared to 6, 5 and 2 in the previous three years) and so somewhat surprisingly, backing all of his runners last year would have resulted in a small loss (of -0.59 at industry SP, although backing all of them at Betfair SP would have resulted in a profit of 1.47 – his A/E was 1.29). Appleby didn’t have any winners from his 11 runners in 2014 and 2015, although 4 of them did finish either 2nd or 3rd. In 2016 his success was eyecatching, with form across the two days of 23114, and he went on to train another two winners at the meeting the following year (517166) before sending out 5 winners and 5 placed horses from 17 runners last year. Overall, his strike rate is 9 from 39 (23%), with an A/E of 1.22 and a win/place strike rate of 51% (20 from 39).

Jim Bolger

Bolger might not be the most obvious trainer to finish up with, as he’s not renowned for sending his horses here – he has saddled 115 runners at the Irish Guineas meeting in the last 10 years, and has sent just 10 runners to Newmarket for Guineas weekend in the same space of time. These have yielded just one winner (Dawn Approach in the 2000 Guineas in 2013) but 6 of the 10 have made the frame. You could argue that Bolger has underperformed with Trading Leather (4/6 favourite) and Lucida (9/2 favourite) only managing 3rd and 2nd respectively in recent years – however, his other three placed horses returned odds of 15/2, 12/1 and 25/1 and it’s striking that the only four Bolger runners in the last 10 years which failed to make the frame had starting prices of 28/1, 50/1, 25/1 and 20/1. Using the implied probabilities from Betfair’s place markets, Bolger’s A/E in terms of making the frame is 1.77.

This Year

Fabre, Beckett and Bolger don’t run anything at Newmarket on Saturday, which leaves just two trainers, with three runners between them:
1:50 – Elector (Sir Michael Stoute) – 1st
1:50 – Vintager (Charlie Appleby) – 3rd
3:35 – Al Hilalee (Charlie Appleby) – 16th

And Sunday:
1:50 – Melting Dew (Sir Michael Stoute)
2:20 – Veracious (Sir Michael Stoute)
2:55 – On The Warpath (Charlie Appleby)
4:10 – Path Of Thunder (Charlie Appleby)

Betfair Hurdle Review – The Stand-Out Stat

Kalashnikov put in a good performance to win the Betfair Hurdle on Saturday in tough conditions. It was undoubtedly one of the best renewals in recent memory in terms of the overall standard of the race. Interestingly, Kalashnikov was one of the horses to come out on top in our trends analysis ahead of the race. However, more interesting than his overall good performance on trends is one particular stat which was backed up by his win. This is most certainly worth noting ahead of next year’s race.

Trend number 9 in our analysis last Saturday concerned horses making their handicap debuts:

5 of the last 10 winners had never run in a handicap.
These 5 winners all came in the last 6 years. This is a significant over-performance, considering these horses made up just 13% of the total field in the last 10 years, but managed to fill 23% of the total places. In the last 5 years, they have over-performed even more significantly – 35% of the total places from 20% of the total field.”

Just 4 of the 24 horses to go to post in Saturday’s race fitted this trend – these were Kalashnikov (won), Moon Racer (11th), Lalor (13th) and Waterlord (pulled up). This means that 6 of the last 7 winners have fit this trend (as have 2 placed horses), despite only 28 runners in the last 7 years having fit the trend, from a total of 146 runners in the race.

In the last 7 years, 19% of the total field have fit this trend. However, these horses have managed to fill 32% of the total places, including 86% of the winners. 

In short, it’s definitely worth looking out for handicap debutantes in this race next February.

In-Form Trainers: February 12th

After some top quality action in Newbury this weekend (and a few Cheltenham festival clues), it’s back to the midweek racing with only 29 days to go until the highlight of the season.

As ever, here’s our update on the trainers operating at high strike rates over the past couple of weeks:

John Gosden has had 3 winners and 2 placed horses from 5 runners in the last 14 days, with form of 21211. He runs one horse today at Wolverhampton:
5:40 Wolverhampton – Orchid Lily

Mrs R Dobbin has had 4 winners from  7 runners in the last 2 weeks, although her good form stretches back slightly further than that, with form of 1211141F51 since January 26th. She has two runners today:
2:00 Catterick – Jack Devine
3:35 Catterick – Monfass

Ed Walker has had 3 winners from 6 runners in the last 14 days. He runs one horse today:
8:10 Wolverhampton – Bold Prediction

Rebecca Bastiman has had 3 winners and 2 placed horses from 7 runners in the last 2 weeks. She runs two today:
7:40 Wolverhampton – See Vermont
8:40 Wolverhampton – Gone With The Wind

J Scott has had 4 wins and a place from 10 runners in the last 2 weeks (in fact, he has had 4 wins and a place from 7 runners in the last 7 days). His form in the last 7 days reads 11118P2, with the horse than finished 8th having had a starting price of 50/1 and the horse than pulled up having had a starting price of 100/1. He has two runners today:
3:50 Plumpton – Two Hoots
4:20 Plumpton – Shoofly Milly

Dr Richard Newland has had 2 wins and a place from 4 runners in the last 7 days (2 wins and a place from 5 runners in the last 14 days). His form over the last 7 days reads 4211. He has one runners today:
2:35 Catterick – Aaron Lad

In-Form Trainers: February 5th

As we recover from an incredible weekend at Leopardstown, it’s time to settle back into midweek racing, so, as usual, here’s our update on the trainers who have been in hot form over the last two weeks.

Robin Dickin has had 4 wins and 3 places from his 8 runners in the last 14 days, with form of 111342131. He runs two horses on Monday:
2:30 Southwell – Myroundorurs
4:35 Southwell – Tara Well

Rose Dobbin has had 6 wins and 3 places from her 13 runners in the last 14 days. Her more recent record is even more impressive, with form of 1211141 since the 26th of January, and 3 wins from 4 runners in the last 7 days. She runs two horses on Monday:
3:50 Newcastle – Log On
4:20 Newcastle – Le Gavroche

Kevin Ryan has had 3 wins and a place from 8 runners in the last 14 days (including 2 wins and a place from 6 runners in the last 7 days). His two runners so far this month have won. He runs one horse on Monday:
5:45 Wolverhampton – Al Khan

Anthony Honeyball has had 3 wins and 2 places from 8 runners in the last 14 days (all in the last 7 days) with form of 11288621 (the two horses to finish 8th had starting prices of 33/1 and 25/1). He runs one horse on Monday:
3:00 Southwell – Don Lami

John Gosden has had 3 wins and 3 places from 9 runners in the last 14 days (with his two runners in the last 7 days finishing 2nd and 1st at 17/2 and 5/1 respectively). He runs one horse on Monday:
7:15 Wolverhampton – Natch

Gold Cup – Never This Century

Courtesy of Gaultstats.com, there are a list of 4 things that have not happened this century in a Gold Cup… this is a closer look at the stats behind them.

1)    No Horse Has Won the Gold Cup Having Been Beaten Favourite Last Time Out

The last horse to win the Gold Cup having been a beaten favourite on their last start was Cool Dawn back in 1998. Since the turn of the century, 37 have tried and none have succeeded.

Year Runners Wins W% Places P% W/P W/P%
2017 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2016 1 0 0% 1 100% 1 100%
2015 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2012 3 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2011 4 0 0% 2 50% 2 50%
2010 2 0 0% 1 50% 1 50%
2009 3 0 0% 1 33% 1 33%
2007 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2006 4 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2005 6 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2004 3 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2003 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2002 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2000 1 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%

37 isn’t an absolutely massive number and does include a number of outsiders. However, I wanted to have a look at how many of these horses were relatively well fancied for the race. 13 of these horses had starting prices of 12/1 or shorter, and they are listed below:

Year Horse Odds Finishing Position
2017 Djakadam 3/1 4th
2016 Djakadam 9/2 2nd
2011 Kauto Star 5/1 3rd
2011 Denman 8/1 2nd
2010 Denman 4/1 2nd
2009 Denman 7/1 2nd
2005 Celestial Gold 9/2 7th
2005 Strong Flow 5/1 6th
2005 Beef Or Salmon 5/1 PU
2004 Keen Leader 10/1 6th
2004 Therealbandit 15/2 7th
2003 Hussard Collonges 8/1 PU
2002 Florida Pearl 10/1 11th

5 places from 13 horses is a worse place rate (38%) when compared to all horses running in the Gold Cup at odds of 12/1 or less (a 45% place rate from 51 runners in the last 10 years).

Overall, this has to be considered a negative for the Gold Cup. These horses also performed worse than would be expected of them in terms of the places they filled – they filled 10% of the total places on offer from 16% of the total field.

2)    No Horse Aged 10 Years or Older Has Won the Gold Cup

Again, the las horse to buck this trend was Cool Dawn in 1998, a rather untypical winner at 25/1. Since the turn of the century, however, 67 horses have run in the Gold Cup at an age older than 9, and none have managed to win. Those at short prices are listed below:

Year Horse Odds Position
2000 See More Business 9/4 4th
2002 Looks Like Trouble 9/2 13th
2006 Beef Or Salmon 4/1 11th
2010 Denman 4/1 2nd
2010 Kauto Star 8/11 Fell
2011 Imperial Commander 4/1 PU
2011 Kauto Star 5/1 3rd
2012 Kauto Star 3/1 PU
2016 Cue Card 5/2 Fell
2017 Cue Card 9/2 Fell

There are some memorable and surprise losses included in the list, with Kauto Star and Denman featuring again, along with some other veterans such as Beef Or Salmon and more recent stars such as Cue Card.

It’s fair to say that these horses went into the race with solid chances and disappointed. When we look at all 67 older Gold Cup runners since the turn of the century, we see a similarly unimpressive result:

Runners Wins W% Places P% W/P W/P%
67 0 0% 7 10% 7 10%

7 places from 67 runners is hardly too promising when we consider that these horses made up 28% of the total field but managed to fill just 15% of the places. It looks like horses aged older than 9 are worth avoiding in the Gold Cup.

3)    No Horse Has Won the Gold Cup for the First Time Having Previously Been Beaten in the Race

For this statistic, we’re discounting horses which ran in the Gold Cup and won it on their first run before returning to the race again. If we look at just runs this century which were horse’s 2nd/3rd/4th/5th Gold Cup starts (no horse has run in it this century for a sixth time), we see the following figures:

Runs Wins W% Places P% W/P W/P%
68 0 0% 9 13% 9 13%

That’s no wins from 68 attempts, a startlingly low figure. The place record may not look terrible, but in terms of filling the places, these horses performed considerably worse than have been expected of them (19% of the total places from 29% of the total field). Therefore, it’s best to steer clear of horses which have previously been beaten in the race.

Full details of these horses can be seen here.

4)    No Horse Has Won the Gold Cup Having Raced on Heavy Ground That Season

This is a very difficult one to find the correct stat for, with a 0/79 strike rate commonly cited. Taking into account only runs in the UK or Ireland, I came up with the following stats:

Runners Wins W% Places P% W/P W/P%
70 0 0 13 19% 13 19%

The vast majority of these were outsiders with big starting prices, but 0 wins from 70 runners is still fairly worrying, particularly considering that we’re talking about almost a third of the total Gold Cup field since the turn of the century. The place record isn’t nearly as bad (a 19% strike rate with these horses filling 27% of the total places on offer from 30% of the total field) which would make me less worried about this stat. However, we will be wary of horses which ran on heavy this season.