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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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)