Second Time Around: Where to Look for Profits Post Seasonal Debut

April 14th, 2020

Truly unprecedented times right now, serious things happening regards public health, lockdown, and the no doubt subsequent economic fallouts, which undoubtedly the racing industry will feel effects from. While we all have more urgent things to deal with at the moment, I have taken the time to consider what may affect the betting landscape when racing returns.

The postponement of racing and the opening of the Flat season will mean horses coming in off prolonged layoffs, question marks about horse fitness levels with travel restrictions and skeleton operations at yards, will it be the same for everyone so that all are affected and none are disadvantaged? Or will there be extra effort put in at home at the yard to compensate for lost time, (whether horses have gotten in on social media fitness challenges) it really is difficult to know.

Early season meetings that certain trainers may have targeted have and will be lost, will that mean those who traditionally are fast starters in Mar-May will not start fast in say 6-8 weeks (optimism!) when racing returns?
The blueprint of picking a winner of say a big Saturday handicap based on demographics of previous victors, where I’m sure many Proform users are like myself in the approach to narrow the field on such criteria. Those trends will be out the window for any contest before August you would imagine.

Proform recently added more to their software in many areas well worth exploring, and perhaps what has made picking value bets and winning strategies previously may need an adjustment in the post quarantine remnants of the 2020 flat season.
Using a more ratings based approach rather than metrics that rely on history repeating itself is an avenue that I am exploring for when racing resumes and we might revisit that in a later article.

Horses will be likely in their summer coats first time up when we return, 2yo and 3yo will be bigger and stronger but will have less time to gain racecourse experience, what will happen with weight for age in 3yo entering all age handicaps which is determined by month? And will a compressed schedule mean that some will inevitably lose out and that is a huge issue for racing when the income stream of share of prizemoney has been turned off for many months. Well I am asking more questions than I am answering so let’s look at some possible angles for the months ahead.

For now, the thoughts expressed in the opening paragraph about horse freshness, I decided given the exceptional circumstances is there any yards who get it right on their horses’ second run after a layoff.

*Figures from 2015 onwards and for Turf race type only.

Those who traditionally do well with horses after a layoff are in the table below.

Fresh >180 DSLR (Filter >=10 Expected Wins, Chi Scr >=2.0)

So probably little surprise there especially in the case of Saeed Bin Suroor, 2 big yards who come in well ahead of expectation. And interestingly both averaged a BSP of 11+ in the sample which was surprising also as I for one would associate their runners being at the top of the market.

Every horse will be coming in after a prolonged layoff and I’m holding reservations as to whether the fresh angle will be as consistent as usual given circumstances outlined above but lets look at how yards go with horses having a 30 day reappearance after a break of 200 days+ before that. So in effect, “second run back” but not too long after the reappearance.

Trainers with 1 run last 180 days and <=30 DSLR (Filter >=10 Expected Wins, Chi Scr >=2.0)

The power of Proform is illustrated to me every time I do one of these articles. It is a tough thing to observe otherwise and I would not have guessed Keith Dalgleish in my top 20 attempts as a trainer who had such a good record and such a level of qualifiers. But with a strong starting chi score and qualifier numbers decent for all 3 on the list above I will leave it to you reader to examine those avenues further as to the makeup of those winners.

Looking at handicap events only and Godolphin trainer again emerging, Charlie Appleby this time. A high P/L contributed to mainly by a big priced Saturday handicap winner (~31BSP). A huge strike rate of 35% win rate and 72% PRB for 3yo runner category.

Hcaps Only Chi Scr >1.0 by Trainer

Ok so we have identified some good angles for those coming in fresh but who should we look out for that may not find any improvement from their seasonal debut.

Trainers with 1 run last 180 days and <=30 DSLR (Filter >=10 Expected Wins, Chi Scr >=1.0)

Richard Fahey is an interesting one, he often has a really good opening to the season in March/April and there may be a number of factors contributing to the yards appearance on this list such as rising handicap marks, the edge of being fresh gone from the horse or that there are just certain meetings in the north at the season outset that the trainer targets and subsequent ones are not.
Richard Fahey is a great trainer with so many horses running every week, he is a bottomless mine for Proform users to excavate!

Roger Varian is also an intriguing one as he does well with fresh horses off a prolonged break but then second run out the figures above suggest that the market very much over estimates even with a perfectly good 18% strike rate comes in well below expectations.

I trust this provides you some good ideas to explore in the System Builder that you can examine in this Lockdown period to get the most out of the opportunity to explore more now that daily racing is currently shelved.