Losers can be big winners!
Turn negatives into positives
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.