ADAYAR (Adam Kirby) with Charlie Appleby after The Cazoo Derby Epsom 5 Jun 2021 - Pic Steven Cargill /

Racing Systems: Flat Trainers, Part 2

In my last piece I looked at trainer based systems in flat racing (turf and all weather combined), writes Dave Renham. I will be revisiting the same idea in this article and in one more that follows next week. As before I have analysed UK data from January 1st 2009 to December 31st 2021 with all profits quoted to Betfair Starting Price.

In terms of the systems discussed here, my plan is to provide some facts and figures from which we may make an informed choice. Systems can be flexible; nobody is ‘forcing’ us into backing every selection!

The first trainer offering this week is based on an idea that I shared last time with a different trainer. Then it was Roger Varian; this time it's...

Saeed Bin Suroor – Six month system

Saeed Bin Suroor somewhat exploded onto the racing scene with the Godolphin outfit in the mid-1990's. He had won four UK trainer titles by 2004 and looked unstoppable. As the years have passed, however, his success in Group races has diminished; nevertheless, he still regularly hits a strike rate of over 20% (all races) in Britain. In fact, since 2009, in ten of the 13 seasons bin Suroor has achieved this. Overall his strike rate is an impressive 22% and backing all his runners to BSP would have yielded a loss of only around 3p in the £.

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That is a fairly good base therefore to find a profitable system. Here are the rules I have used:

  1. Flat racing (Turf / All weather)
  2. Trainer – Saeed Bin Suroor
  3. 180 days or more since last run
  4. SP 10/1 or less

Let us have a look at how this system has fared since 2009:



These are a very solid set of figures comprising an impressive strike rate, good profits, and a healthy return on investment. His overall results are quite similar to the Roger Varian equivalent angle, but bin Suroor has a slightly stronger bottom line with returns equating to an extra 3p in the £.

For the record, all his horses priced exactly 10/1 lost (17 in total) but I was not going to change the SP cap just to improve his results. As stated in previous articles, back-fitting is to be avoided at all costs if you want to have any confidence in your research.

The chart below shows the annual breakdown using profit figures to £1 level stakes.


bin Suroor has enjoyed ten winning years out of 13 and, importantly, shows excellent year to year consistency. The counter, however, is that two of the last four seasons have ended up in the negative. 2020 was the worst but, as I have mentioned before in other articles, we have to be a bit wary about 2020 data due to COVID and the truncated flat season that ensued. 2018 saw the Godolphin trainer hit the post several times including a spell when he had four seconds from four starters so he could easily have posted a small profit that year. He certainly bounced back in 2021 producing returns of 62p in the £.

Another barometer of consistency is when we look at his results across different classes. He has made a profit at every single level:



His Class 2 results are weaker, but he is still in profit; only two runners raced in Class 6 company but he still has sneaked into profit there, too. Saeed Bin Suroor is still a trainer to have on your side and this system looks very promising.

Roger Charlton (& Harry Charlton) – 2yo system

Roger Charlton trains in my neck of the woods in Wiltshire and has enjoyed good success since he started in 1990. He served his apprenticeship under Jeremy Tree for 12 years. That was a stable that contained such greats as Rainbow Quest and Danehill. Indeed, in Charlton's first season in charge in 1990, he won the French Derby with Sanglamore and, less than a week later, he had landed the English Derby with Quest For Fame. It's only downhill from there! Nowadays, he is formally assisted by his son Harry, the pair sharing the licence.

When you look at Charlton’s overall record (all UK races) going back to 2009 he has been the model of consistency.



His strike rate has been above 16% in all but two years and, even then, the lower returns were still a highly acceptable 14.6% and 15.6%.

The Charlton stable has done particularly well with their 2yos in non-handicaps. Hence the system to share reads:

1. Flat racing (Turf / All weather)
2. Trainer – Roger Charlton
3. 2yos in non-handicaps

Here are the system results:



An impressive set of numbers here, with returns close to 30p in the £, and a solid strike rate considering they are juveniles. Onto the yearly breakdown by profit / loss to £1 level stakes at BSP:



There have effectively been four break-even years, two losing and seven winning years. 2017 produced just over 40% of the overall profits but even without this outlier year the figures look solid. Crucially, there have been no really bad years at all, his worst - in 2016 - losing just £6.29 to £1 level stakes.

When looking at Charlton runners in more detail, the best returns have come from debutants and those having their second career start. These runners have also made up nearly 80% of all his starters, suggesting the yard does not over-race their young horses. Males and females have both done well; males have returned 33p in the £, females 25p in the £.

If you wanted to tweak the system to give a higher strike rate and even greater consistency then you may wish to consider a price cap. As we know price caps can be tricky to implement at times, but Charlton's 2yo non-handicap starters sent off 3/1 or shorter have produced the following results:



These are similar returns to the original system but provide players with a slightly smoother ride due to the much improved strike rate. Also, there are no big priced winners skewing the results.

Working with a higher price cap, then if we use the same one as the Bin Suroor and Varian systems, 10/1 or less, the results still look good:



The Charlton system in its raw form is not one I would use blindly as personally my betting portfolio does not involve many two-year-old bets. However, I would not put anyone off using it, with or without price cap considerations.

Charlie Appleby – 3yo system

Charlie Appleby is, like Saeed bin Suroor, a trainer who operates under the Godolphin flag. He was appointed by the stable in July 2013 so the data crunched starts from then rather than 2009. His strike rate in ALL races has been an impressive 24% and in four of the last five years that win rate has exceeded 28%. The system I wish to share is as simple as it gets:

1. Flat racing (Turf / All weather)
2. Trainer – Charlie Appleby
3. 3yos

There have been nearly 1500 qualifiers as you can see below. This is a good chunk of data:



This system has produced very modest returns on investment of just under 3p in the £ but, considering its simplicity and Appleby's high profile, a blind profit is still mightily impressive. The graph below shows the yearly Return on Investment % to BSP. I am using ROI% due to the bigger sample size:



There have been five winning years and four losing losing ones. The overall performance is stronger since 2016, which is a positive (profit of £110.16 and returns of 13p in the £ from 2016 to 2021). Also there have been no really big-priced winners that have skewed the stats.

I see this system as an excellent starting point, with system qualifiers worth further scrutiny from a form reading perspective. Here are a few more stats / facts about Appleby three-year-olds that may help with that process:

1. Appleby has three jockeys he uses regularly – William Buick, James Doyle and Adam Kirby. Two of the three have made blind profits as the table below shows:



Combining the three would have given a profit of £121.04 with returns close to 14p in the £. Decent A/E values for all three riders add to confidence, so when one of these jockeys is booked I would see it as a plus.

2. I touched briefly on the fact he had no big priced winners previously. To give the meat on the bones, any horse that started bigger than 16/1 SP has lost. Charlie Appleby is 0 from 59 with such horses.

3. His male runners have outperformed female runners from a strike rate and profit perspective: a win strike rate of 26.2% for males and 21.4% for females, with correlating placed strike rates of 51.6% for males and 42.5% for females. Looking at returns we see males making a profit of 8p for every £ bet, whereas females have lost just over 12p in the £.

4. Horses that were odds on last time out have performed very well with 56 wins from 168 runners (SR 33.3%) for a profit of £47.90 (ROI +28.5%).

Sir Mark Prescott – Low Grade 3yo handicap system

Sir Mark Prescott is still going strong aged 74, but that might mean any Prescott system is on borrowed time. The wily baronet has always done well with 3yos in handicaps and this system exploits that fact. Sir Mark has made a decent overall profit with ALL 3yo handicappers since 2009 (£198.89 to £1 level stakes with an ROI of 15.1%), but he seems to excel when tackling lower class races. Hence the system reads:

1. Flat racing (Turf / All weather)
2. Trainer – Sir Mark Prescott
3. 3yo's in handicap races
4. Class 6 or 7 (NB. Just one qualifying Class 7 race, so essentially Class 6)

The results are shown in the table:



Those are some very strong looking figures, with a win rate close to 1 in 3 and returns of a whopping 41p in the £. The annual breakdown by profit to £1 level stakes to BSP is shown below:



There have been nine winning years, one break even (a 51p profit in 2019), and three losing years with those three having each seen only very small losses (less than £6 each time). Last year (2021) saw a small reverse, but Prescott had several near misses including placed runners at BSP prices of 12.7, 22.0, 15.0 and 12.5. If just one of those had won it would have been another profitable year.

The consistency can also be seen when we break the results into time of year. Splitting the years into quarters we get:


There were not many qualifiers in the first three months of the year but still a good profit and a remarkable ROI. Indeed, the numbers are very solid across the board with positive A/E values as well. All in all I do not think there is any need to modify this system - it's not broken, so let's not try to fix it - although, again, exactly if/how you deploy it comes down to personal preference.


So, four more systems for your consideration. I'll have another quartet to share next week in the final part of this mini-series. If there are any trainer-based systems you would like me to look into, do leave a comment below.

- DR

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