Malinas: a NH sire to note with his chasers

National Hunt Sire Data: An Edge? Part 1

Back in the Spring of 2021, I wrote a four-part flat series on sires and damsires (which you can read here), but this is my first departure into National Hunt sire research for Geegeez. There is plenty to get the teeth into, so I've spread the research over two articles, this being the first half.

The use of breeding as a winner finding / betting tool has become more popular in recent years, especially in flat racing: some astute punters who bet in two-year-old maidens will use sire stats to try and help predict how a juvenile with little or no form will run. Sires are the fathers of the respective horses, and sires have a more discernible influence on their offspring (progeny) than dams (mothers) due to the size of the respective samples: dams can produce only a single foal annually whereas sires can produce 100 and more.

For this first article I will be using five years' worth of UK data, from 1st January 2018 through to 31st December 2022, and profits/losses shown in all tables have been calculated to Industry Starting Price. I will also quote Betfair SP if appropriate. The vast majority of the data for this piece has been sourced using the Geegeez Query Tool.

The Top 50 National Hunt Sires by Win Strike Rate

Firstly let us look at the top 50 sires in terms of number of runs in the last five years. I am only including sires which had runners in 2022. The sires are listed in order of strike rate (win%):

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As the table clearly shows, backing sires ‘blind’ is not a profitable avenue as far as Industry SP is concerned. Just one sire has made a profit to SP with all his runners in the past five years (Walk In the Park). However, using BSP, several made a solid profit after commission including Shirocco, Passing Glance, Ask, Dylan Thomas, Great Pretender, Flemensfirth, Brian Boru, Schiaparelli and Gold Well.

It is time to dig a bit deeper...

Individual Sire Analysis

Authorized

Let's look at some of the leading sires in more detail, starting with Authorized who heads the list in terms of win strike rate. One snapshot worth sharing is his record at different race distances, because as you will see from the table below, the progeny of Authorized seem to prefer shorter trips:

 

 

It should not surprise you to note that races of 2m2f or less have produced a BSP profit given the very small industry SP negative return on investment. It also is worth noting that at these shorter distances an Industry SP profit could have been achieved if focusing on runners priced 8/1 or shorter. Such runners won 93 races from 321 starts (SR 29.0%) for an SP profit of £50.47 (ROI +15.7%).

It should also come as no real surprise that there is also an age bias for Authorized runners. With a fair proportion of horses stepping up in distance as they get older, one might expect this given the more profitable form was shown by progeny in shorter races. Horses sired by Authorized aged six or younger have a far stronger record than horses aged seven or older:

 

 

It should be said that one would expect younger horses to have a slightly higher strike rate (average figures for all horses aged 6 and younger during this time frame was 12.4%, whereas for 7yos and older it was 11.3%). However, as you can see, the difference is far more marked here.

 

Shantou

I would have looked at King’s Theatre next, but he has hardly any runners any more (just 65 runs in total in 2022). Hence Shantou is the next sire about which I want to share a couple of interesting findings. Firstly, let us compare male runners to female ones in terms of win percentage/strike rate. The graph below shows Shantou’s figures as well as the stats for ALL sires:

 

 

As you can see males score more often than females as a general rule, but Shantou’s figures show a significant difference between the two. Taking this a stage further, a really eye-opening stat is when we look at Shantou’s female runners once their SP hits 7/2 or bigger: just 12 such runners have won from 265 runners (SR 4.5%) creating steep losses of 47 pence in the £. It is not just the really big priced runners that have affected this, either, because 69 female runners have been priced between 7/2 and 7/1 and only three have won.

It's not easy to explain why this should be the case, so if any readers have a theory do leave a comment below this post.

One further Shantou stat worth sharing is his record with runners on debut. Of 120 debutants 24 have won (SR 20%) for an SP return of 38p in the £, BSP return of 65p in the £.

 

Ask

British sire Ask has some interesting weight carrying stats that I would like to share. The graph below compares light weights of 10st 6lb or less with heavier weights of 11st 5lb or more. The graph shows Ask’s figures and the ‘ALL sires’ figures:

 

 

As we can see horses carrying more weight win far more often than those carrying less weight (N.B. the market takes account of this so backing higher weighted horses is not a license to print money, I’m afraid!). However, we can see with Ask that the differential is far greater than the norm. Some horses are built to carry weight better than others and Ask seems to fit this ‘type’. Perhaps his progeny are somehow bigger, or more robust, than the average. Again, does any reader know?

 

Presenting

One thing to be aware of is that sire results / strike rates and so on do fluctuate from month to month, year to year. However, some sires can be very consistent and an example of this is Presenting. Below we can see his yearly strike rate in terms of win and each way:

 

 

There is very little fluctuation in either set of yearly figures. Knowing what ‘you are going to get’ on a consistent basis can be important. The sad part as far as Presenting runners is concerned is that his runners look overbet, even allowing for - or probably because of - his consistency, and hence finding profitable angles is virtually impossible.

 

Yeats

Yeats is also one of the more consistent sires, but from a punting point of view does give us an angle to try and exploit. His record on firmer ground is much better than on softer, and if we focus on races on good ground or firmer, his record is extremely good – 217 wins from 1203 runs (SR 18.0%). To SP he made a small loss of just under 8 pence in the £, but to BSP this becomes a profitable return of the same amount (8p in the £). That figure improves further if we restrict races on good or firmer going to three miles or longer. Here the strike rate improves to 20.5% (93 wins from 453 runs). Backing horses at £1 level stakes you would have seen rewards of £97.57 (ROI +21.5%) at SP, and a BSP profit of £169.39 (ROI +37.1%).

 

National Hunt Sire Performance by Race Code

I have several areas I want to cover in detail in the follow up article, but there are two specific subjects that I want to focus on in this piece - starting with a review by race code.

Chase and hurdle races

The first thing to appreciate is that hurdle races have more runners on average than chases so when we compare win strike rates we need to be aware of this. What this means is that individual chase strike rates should higher than individual hurdle strike rates. The average horse (and, by association, the sire) wins 13.7% of the time in chases, whereas in hurdle races this drops to 11%. This is important because I am going to compare each sire’s chase and hurdle strike rates.

I have divided the chase strike rate by the hurdle strike rate to give us a type of Impact Value. It is not a ‘true’ IV so I’ll call it a Comparison Strike Rate (CSR). The average CSR figure should be 1.25 (13.7/11 = 1.245). Scores above this suggest the sire performs better in chases than he does in hurdles. Conversely scores below 1.25 suggest the sire's progeny perform better in hurdles than in chases. Here are the findings – they are ordered by highest CSR  figure to lowest (the midpoint is highlighted in green):

 

 

Dr Massini stands head and shoulders above the rest with a C.S.R fig of 2.5 although backing all his runners in chases would have only seen you break even on Betfair. This is partly due to the fact that the win strike rate was still a relatively modest 12.61%. Schiaparelli also has a high CSR figure of 1.93 and his runners in chases have secured a 16p in the £ profit to BSP.

Another measure to look at are the A/E indices for each sire in chases. A/E, or Actual vs Expected, is a measure of sustainable profitability where indices of 0.95 and above are generally considered good, with indices north of 1 suggesting good overall value.

 

 

Malinas (1.18) and Passing Glance (1.15) have the best two indices, and have proved profitable if backing all their runners in chases. Specifically, Malinas has seen 48 of his 222 runners win (SR 21.6%) for a BSP profit of £66.29 (ROI +29.9%), while the offspring of Passing Glance have won 37 from 177 (SR 20.9%) for a BSP profit of £162.55 (ROI +91.8%). Both made a profit to Industry SP as well.

The next four highest sires in terms of A/E indices were Great Pretender (1.09), Dylan Thomas (1.07), Shirocco (1.05) and Brian Boru (1.04); each of these also individually produced a BSP profit in chases. Indeed, you would have won £489.33 to £1 level stakes if backing the runners of all four sires in all of their chases. Ah, wonderful hindsight...

Moving briefly to hurdles, Winged Love and Walk In The Park were the two sires with the lowest CSR figures meaning they had thus far performed better over hurdles than in chases based on their win strike rates. Both horses made a blind profit to BSP in hurdle races, to the tune of 6p and 15p in the £ respectively. In chases they have both struggled, losing 21p and 22p in the £ respectively.

As an aside, I use the Comparison Strike Rate (CSR) idea quite a lot in my personal research. I also compare A/E indices and place strike rates in the same way. It just gives a bit more of an insight, and helps me to compare stats quickly.

Right and Left handed tracks

For the last section of this first half, I would like to compare sire performance at right-handed tracks compared to left-handed ones. Some horses have what Nick Mordin in his iconic book Betting For a Living called ‘the right-hand/left-hand pattern’. He mentioned the great Desert Orchid as a prime example of the right-hand pattern. This horse had a brilliant record on right-handed tracks but a relatively poor one in comparison when racing left-handed. Mordin believed that this pattern occurs a lot, generally with steeplechasers, more especially the right-handed pattern. Some horses simply don’t jump straight all the time and have a tendency to jump across the fence either right or left. Hence horses with a tendency to jump out to the right are going to struggle on left-handed tracks as they are constantly going wider on the track, especially if the jump is on or near a bend. Of course it works the other way round, too, with horses that jump to the left losing ground when racing right-handed.

Below is some sire data on left- and right-handed tracks in chases (minimum 100 runs to qualify). I am effectively grouping individual horses together here as we are looking at sire stats, but it is possible that sires pass on a preference that they had to jump to the left or right. I have graphed seven sires below in terms of strike rate on both right- and left-handed tracks. Their figures suggest each of the seven potentially show a right- or left-handed pattern:

 

 

Poliglote, Scorpion, Kayf Tara and Westerner have much better records on right-handed tracks; the other three enjoy better records on left-handed tracks. Naturally, one cannot definitively say that these results are down to a right/left pattern, but it would be an idea to delve into these sires and their individual horse records to see how many horses show a strong pattern one way or the other. The sample sizes are generally quite big which lends credence to the notion that there might be something going on here.

As an example, I looked briefly at the sire Westerner and pulled up the record of a horse called Mr Mercurial. Mr Mercurial’s chasing career spanned from 2015 to 2020 and his 24 chase starts were split thus:

 

Although we're now dealing with micro sample sizes, we can see a clear preference to right-handed tracks; and this strengthens further when I share that the other three runs at right-handed tracks resulted in three placed efforts. Indeed Mr Mercurial's PRB (percentage of rivals beaten) on right-handed tracks was an amazing 0.93 (93% of rivals beaten). Now, I appreciate this horse ran some of the time outside the 2018 to 2022 period on which I am focusing in this article, but hopefully you take the point.

I am not saying all horses from these seven highlighted sires will display a preference but the chances are some will. This type of knowledge, should you uncover it, will give you a useful edge over the average punter.

MAIN TAKEAWAYS

  1. Runners sired by Authorized have a good record over 2miles 2f or shorter. Horses priced 8/1 or shorter have been profitable to SP and BSP.
  2. Horses aged 6 or younger sired by Authorized have scored roughly one win in every five races for a small SP profit.
  3. The male progeny of Shantou score nearly twice as often as their female counterparts.
  4. Horses sired by Ask seem very adept at carrying big weights (11st 5lb or more). They have a poor record when carrying light weights(10st 6b or less).
  5. Runners sired by Yeats improve on better ground (good or firmer). This improvement is even greater when the race hits 3 miles or further.
  6. The progeny of Dr Massini, Schiaparelli, Malinas and Passing Glance are much better when racing over fences than over hurdles.
  7. The progeny of Winged Love and Walk In The Park are much better when racing over hurdles than over fences.
  8. The offspring of Poliglote, Scorpion, Kayf Tara and Westerner have much better records on right-handed tracks.
  9. The offspring of Jeremy, Doyen and Arcadio have much better records on left-handed tracks.

I'll be back soon with part two of this look into the characteristics of National Hunt sires… until then...

- DR

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4 replies
  1. Monsieurbernie
    Monsieurbernie says:

    interesting!

    like to know ground preferences…/from what i think shantou, presenting horses tend to prefer better ground rather than the heavy

  2. Steve Packer
    Steve Packer says:

    Excellent stuff Dave
    Sires and damsires is my go to on query tools.
    Interesting take on the left and right direction, but i think class, going and distance would have more effect on the horses chance then the direction they run.
    Here is one of my QT lists regarding sires with top trainers.
    Trainers included; Mullins, Elliott, Henderson, de bromhead, Nichols and skelton.
    Ground between soft and good. Distance up to 2m4 over hurdles. Win % 25 +

    Valirann
    21 10 12 47.62 57.14 17.79 16.36 84.71 1.34 4.99
    Coastal Path
    89 33 53 37.08 59.55 30.74 44.1 34.54 1.21 4.11
    Muhtathir
    65 24 38 36.92 58.46 -2.76 -10.45 -4.25 0.98 3.66
    Samum
    36 12 25 33.33 69.44 20.57 33.34 57.14 1.33 3.49
    Camelot
    33 11 20 33.33 60.61 8.43 10.47 25.55 1.28 3.27
    Doctor Dino
    64 21 39 32.81 60.94 3.29 9.76 5.14 1.07 3.64
    Saddler Maker
    96 30 59 31.25 61.46 32.11 54.73 33.45 1.04 3.45
    No Risk At All
    64 20 29 31.25 45.31 -19.14 -35.78 -29.91 1.04 3.78
    Walk In The Park
    126 38 69 30.16 54.76 -35.23 -42.28 -27.96 0.98 3.73
    Blue Bresil
    78 23 38 29.49 48.72 28.73 28.57 36.83 1.29 3.27
    Califet
    95 28 52 29.47 54.74 -9.96 -6.08 -10.48 1.08 3.26
    Stowaway
    191 52 103 27.23 53.93 -0.42 2.13 -0.22 1.06 3.44
    New Approach
    26 7 14 26.92 53.85 -12.1 -18.63 -46.54 0.91 2.94
    Jet Away
    34 9 21 26.47 61.76 -11.72 -13.16 -34.47 0.85 2.95
    Maxios
    65 17 32 26.15 49.23 -10.68 -20.98 -16.43 0.92 3.08
    Buck’s Boum
    58 15 24 25.86 41.38 -10.81 -16.58 -18.64 1.19 2.57
    Cokoriko
    43 11 22 25.58 51.16 4.82 0.63 11.21 1.09 3.32
    Jeremy
    156 39 80 25 51.28 -9.26 -17.65 -5.94 1.1 2.93
    Saint Des Saints
    140 35 84 25 60 -43.08 -5.52 -30.77 0.92 2.7
    Well Chosen
    36 9 19 25 52.78 0.85 4.65 2.36 1.04 3.31

    • Dave Renham
      Dave Renham says:

      Good to see you doing your own digging. Going factors are discussed in detail in the follow up piece. cheers Dave

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