Which trainer holds the hot hand pre Cheltenham?

February 23th, 2014

With 15 days to go before the big dance, the pre-race hype dominates all media outlets with chatter of which horses, trainers, jockeys et al will feature at Cheltenham.

Not to miss out on the Cheltenham feeding frenzy, Proform will also throw in its $ 0.10 worth with a series of Cheltenham focused blog posts leading up to the start of the festival, and beyond!

During the 4 days of the festival  our team will be providing the facts, stats, trends and information covering every profitable angle we can uncover from the depths of our data. Using our Proform Professional Software and Proform Racecards our subscribers have got it all covered during the ultimate week of National Hunt Racing!

Today we start our series of blog posts by focusing on specific trainers punters should keep a careful eye on when assessing the merits of their entries at Cheltenham.

The starting point for our analysis are the records of trainers at the Cheltenham festival over the past five years. The rationale for this time period allows us to draw conclusions from the data using a fairly decent sample size at the same time eliminating trainers that are no longer in the game, the notable example being Martin Pipe.

After extracting the data from Proform Professional, the trainer records were ordered by the Actual versus Expected statistic as shown in the table below:

Trainer Record at Cheltenham Festival: 2009 - 20013

Using the information in the title row, the data in columns should be self-explanatory with the exception of the “Statistical Strength” column which uses the Actual verses Expected (A/E) data to derive a visual representation of the strength of A/E.

Each symbol in this column represents 10%, therefore Nigel Twiston-Davis record at the Cheltenham festival is approx. 80% better than statistical expectations. Alan King has approx. 40% worse than expected record at the Cheltenham festival.

The “others” grouping is for trainers that had 1 or 2 winners at the festival during the 5 year period.

This data was deemed insignificant for the purposes of our analysis. With the data organised in this manner, we can now deduce a couple of interesting insights

  • The Mullins, Henderson, Nicholls, and Pipe stables send battalions of horses to Cheltenham, however it’s the Nicky Henderson horses that are profitable in the last 5 years.
  • Alan King and David Pipe have a very poor record at the Cheltenham over the same time period.

So, if we assume that these trends remain the same i.e. the trainers in the table above are going to be the same trainers that will figure in the shake up for winners at this year’s festival, we then created the same table but instead, used the trainers record from the last 45 days to allow us to set a marker for the current state of each stable 16 days before the start of Cheltenham.

Trainer Record: 8th Jan - 22nd Feb 2014

One obvious caveat is that any trainer worth his salt is not going reveal his key weapons prior to Cheltenham, so the table kinda represents how the yard is performing with the lesser horses in the past 45 days.

What does the data for this period tell us?

  1. At this moment in time, the Paul Nicholls’ yard is performing approx. 10% below statistical expectations.
  2. In the lead up to Cheltenham, the statistics for the Willie Mullins stable are within normal expectations although punters are backing his stable horses off the board.
  3. The Hobbs and Henderson yards are riding high at the moment; 45% and 25% above statistical expectations respectively.
  4. Contrasting his 5 year record at Cheltenham  against his current form at the moment, we'll be keeping a close eye on the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable leading up to Cheltenham

With 16 days to the festival and a lot can happen during this period of time. However the above data might be a precursor for the health of the each stable in the run up to Cheltenham.

Therefore it would be prudent to subscribe to Proform so you can run the analysis yourself prior to the start of the festival on the 11th March to determine if the record for each trainer had improved or, got a lot worse since our marker.

In the interim, Proform Mission Control will be considering the 4/1 on offer for Nicky Henderson to be the top trainer at the festival