The Boys in Blue

September 4th, 2019

If you are anything like myself and have had Proform a while you may have noticed some trends and angles about Godolphin come and go as profitable angles over the years. Given such a high profile operation with thousands of runners worldwide every year in the distinctive royal blue silks the market is quicker to react than is the case for many others.

Nevertheless it is worth digging into and seeing what intriguing titbits we can emerge with. There has been much mumblings and the rumour mill always seems in strong flow when it comes to ‘The Boys in Blue’, but let’s see what the figures say.

[Date between 01/1/2014 and end August 2019, filtered by Owner as Godolphin and Courses exclude Meydan unless otherwise stated]

A good starting point would be to look at how the various trainers do, of course Saeed Bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby are basically exclusively trainers of Godolphin horses. Jim Bolger their main man for Irish trained runners since acquisition of Dawn Approach for his classic season, and many others in the list outside of Gosden, Halford and McCreery would have been the one or 2 horses allowed to stay after Sheik Mohammed’s purchase from previous owners.

[Filters: Number of runners >=10, Present by Trainer]

The strike rate of their horses on the All Weather is far better (28%) than on Turf (19%) albeit from about one third of the runners.

An area of interest is the performance of their newcomers given that most of their horses are not raced beyond 4 (at least in their colours) and their career for Godolphin is more front loaded.

[Filters: Career Runs = 0, Present by Age]

Interesting to see that 3yos having their first run have such a good Chi Score and are well ahead of market expectations as a group, with an operation the size of this and the potential access to information about what is doing well or not you would assume should find its way into the starting price.

Of all of their newcomers we see that fillies and geldings perform better than colts who come in under their expected strike rate.

[Filters: Career Runs = 0, Present by Sex]

If you take this to 3yo debutants only the story changes slightly. The males perform below expected at 2yo (16.7% win rate, -13.7 WAX) but those one year older show a far improved strike rate (25.8%, +13.9 WAX).
Fillies remains pretty constant but worth noting that newcomer fillies do better in open company against the colts than they do in fillies only contests at 3yo, but the trend is reversed for the two year olds.

In the 3yo newcomer category we see below that both main yards have a strong trend of landing winners.

[Filters: Career Runs = 0, Age =3, Present by Trainer]

So looking at what trends can be uncovered per trainer. Starting with the longer serving Saeed Bin Suroor, his runners in general come in around market expectation which could probably have been anticipated. We have seen earlier he does well with 3yo newcomers but he does not do so well with 2yo newcomers. Their strike rate on debut is 16%, this rises to 30% for subsequent runs.

The interesting angle about the ‘SBS’ runners is their record after a longer break.

[Filter: Trainer = Saeed Bin Suroor, Present by DSLR]

We see those coming off a break of 90 days or more come in well ahead of expected. There is also a stronger trend amongst runners on the All Weather than Turf in this category, 38% Vs 21% strike rates but both well ahead of expected.

Charlie Appleby has perhaps become their number one trainer in his 6 years as a trainer for the Dubai outfit. But his record in the top races on the face of it would not provide support that.

[Filters: Trainer = Charlie Appleby, Present by Race Class Number]

In Group 1s (UK and Ireland) though, Appleby has won more than the rest combined who donned the Godolphin silks.
And Bin Suroor fares no better with a strike rate in Class 1 of just 12% and 9 winners below the market expected, and while he enjoys good success overseas he has not landed a domestic Group 1 since as ‘Farhh’ back as the 2013 Champion Stakes!

They are an enormous operation and have a perception of having many high class horses but it is very interesting that their top level results are better when crossing borders than when staying at home.

It is hardly unexpected as they are receiving the same ammunition from the breeding sheds, but like Saeed Bin Suroor, Appleby runners’ record on the AW is far ahead of their turf conversion rate. And also just like SBS, his record with 3yo newcomers is very strong.

Given the volume of runners and the power of drill down Proform provides there are many more angles you can investigate further in your own time. The matter of Godolphin like their silks is a big blue sea and this article is but a drop in the ocean.