Losers can be big winners!

Turn neg­a­tives into pos­i­tives

Racing Ahead - - NICK PULLEN -

As a con­trar­ian punter I al­ways want to be op­pos­ing mar­ket sen­ti­ment and tak­ing on con­sen­sus opin­ion.Us­ing data and in­for­ma­tion I gen­er­ate or gather my­self – in­for­ma­tion that isn’t avail­able or read­ily ac­ces­si­ble to the rest of the mar­ket – is cen­tral to that ef­fort. It gives me a knowl­edge or per­spec­tive edge.

When I’m look­ing at run­ners and riders in a race, I’m not us­ing stan­dard race­cards, form or sta­tis­ti­cal point­ers pub­lished by the trade press and the big web­sites.

The datasets I use are self-gen­er­ated. And there’s noth­ing stan­dard about them. I can choose what I want to look at race-torace – de­pend­ing on the con­di­tions and cir­cum­stances of that’s spe­cific race and the fac­tors and vari­ables I give most weight to. My datasets con­tain in­for­ma­tion, data, rat­ings and stats that no­body else has ac­cess to.

Right or wrong, I’m look­ing at in­for­ma­tion that gives me a unique per­spec­tive on a race – and that’s a po­ten­tial edge in the mar­kets.

My non-main­stream in­for­ma­tion can point me to horses trad­ing at a value price be­cause the rest of the mar­ket is over­look­ing, ig­nor­ing or com­pletely un­aware of some key fac­tor.

I was re­cently look­ing at some such in­for­ma­tion – a dataset re­lated to the most valu­able hand­i­cap events run over hur­dles and fences last term (worth £25k or more to win­ning con­nec­tions).

I wanted a han­dle on how in­di­vid­ual train­ers had done in those races. Some had done well.Philip Hobbs,for ex­am­ple. He had good time of it in the big NH hand­i­caps – win­ning 4 with his chasers and 5 with his hur­dlers from a rep­re­sen­ta­tion of 70 run­ners.

Yards that have 50 or more run­ners in such races across a sea­son are do­ing well if they record a win­ning strike-rate of 10%. Plac­ing with 30%+ of those run­ners is an­other mea­sure of a sus­tained stand­out per­for­mance. Hobbs placed with 33% of his last term. He was one of the top per­form­ers across the win­ter.

Gor­don El­liott also had a good sea­son – pro­duc­ing 6 winners and 10 plac­ers from 53 par­tic­i­pants. His record with his top hand­i­cap chasers was par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive – 4 winners and 6 plac­ers from 32 run­ners.

Alan King was an­other trainer whose bet­ter hand­i­cap­pers went well. His 37 qual­i­fiers across the term pro­duced 5 winners and 6 places.All his winners and two of his plac­ers were pro­duced over fences – from just 21 run­ners.That’s a stel­lar ef­fort when you con­sider how com­pet­i­tive the more valu­able hand­i­caps are.

There were oth­ers who did well. But when I started dig­ging into the stats I was much more in­ter­ested in train­ers who had per­formed poorly. Be­cause that’s where the po­ten­tial value will re­side this time round.

Win­ning hand­i­cap­pers – and many of the plac­ers – go up the weights.The ones do­ing the los­ing move down.The for­mer group find life harder. The lat­ter group can find life eas­ier on a lower mark – es­pe­cially when their yard comes out of a bad patch and back into form.

For sure, the pop­u­la­tion in any yard changes year-on-year. Horses change codes. Old hands are shipped out. New hands move in.

But I think it’s rea­son­able to as­sume that train­ers who per­formed badly in the top hand­i­caps last term will be sit­ting on some po­ten­tially well-hand­i­capped run­ners in such races this time round.

Train­ers like Nicky Hen­der­son. He surely can’t have an­other sea­son in the big hand­i­caps like the last one.

His 20 run­ners in the big hand­i­cap chases didn’t pro­duce a win­ner.And his 23 rep­re­sen­ta­tives in big hand­i­cap hur­dle events pro­duced just a sin­gle vic­tory. Across the 43 run­ners in to­tal he logged just one ad­di­tional place.

That’s a rel­a­tively low yield for such a high-pro­file yard – and you’d have to ex­pect Hen­der­son to go bet­ter this term and to be sit­ting on at least some well­hand­i­capped horses that can as­sist in that ef­fort.

There are no guar­an­tees,of course.And all bets must be con­sid­ered on a case-by­case ba­sis. But from a con­trar­ian per­spec­tive, look­ing at poor re­sults in a pos­i­tive light, his hand­i­cap run­ners over the next cou­ple of months are worth pay­ing close at­ten­tion to.

It’s a sim­i­lar case with Jonjo O’Neill.He’s con­sid­ered a mas­ter at pre­par­ing his horses for tilts at the big hand­i­cap pots – and his long-term record un­der­pins that rep­u­ta­tion.

But last sea­son’s re­sults – a sin­gle win­ner from 54 run­ners in big hand­i­caps run across both codes – tells you that he un­der­per­formed.Like Hen­der­son,he too could be sit­ting on a few well-hand­i­capped horses this time round.

Nei­ther Hen­der­son nor O’Neill have be­come poor train­ers – some­how un­able to pro­duce horses to win big hand­i­cap prizes. They just had a poor time last sea­son.

But a neg­a­tive (a poor per­for­mance last term) can be the source of a pos­i­tive (a few well-hand­i­capped in­mates this term) – a pos­i­tive that could well pro­duce value bets at nice prices in the big hand­i­caps sched­uled to be run over the next cou­ple of months.

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