Tag Archive for: Archie Watson

Bradsell scratched from Turf Sprint

Royal Ascot winner Bradsell has been scratched from the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint.

In a huge blow to connections the King’s Stand Stakes hero will not be taking his place in the field.

He had been seen in action on the Santa Anita track on Wednesday but overnight trainer Archie Watson informed Breeders’ Cup officials Bradsell would not be running.

In the absence of usual partner Hollie Doyle, who is suspended, he was due to be ridden by Luke Morris but unfortunately for those concerned Bradsell will be absent when the field lines up on Saturday.

European interest in the race now rests with Nunthorpe winner Live In The Dream and Aidan O’Brien’s Aesop’s Fables.

Luke Morris to ride Bradsell after Hollie Doyle fails in appeal

Luke Morris will stand in on Bradsell at next week’s Breeders’ Cup meeting after Hollie Doyle failed in her appeal against the severity of a careless riding ban.

Doyle incurred a seven-day suspension for her ride aboard the Jonathan Portman-trained Rose Light in the Unibet More Boosts In More Races Fillies’ Handicap at Kempton last week, being found to have cut across a number of rivals in the early stages of the 11-furlong contest, causing them to be tightened for racing room.

The British Horseracing Authority’s independent disciplinary panel heard Doyle’s appeal on Thursday morning, with the jockey contesting the length of the ban rather than the riding offence itself.

After hearing submissions from Charlotte Davison, who was representing the BHA, and Rory Mac Neice for Doyle, the panel concluded the original penalty should stand, meaning Doyle will be suspended on November 4, when Bradsell is due to run in the Turf Sprint at Santa Anita.

Rachel Spearing, the panel’s chair, said: “We do accept there was corrective action taken by Miss Doyle, but the reality was unfortunately the situation had been caused. We can see from the footage interference does take place and it is, in our view, significant.

“We find interference was foreseeable, it was serious and it is appropriate to fall within the careless riding (penalty) of five to 14 days. We note she was provided with a seven-day suspension and we see no reason to interfere with those days.

“We have concluded this wasn’t a frivolous appeal and in those circumstances agree to return the deposit.”

Lambourn-based trainer Archie Watson subsequently confirmed to the PA news agency that Arc-winning rider Morris will now partner Bradsell in California on Saturday week.

The three-year-old defeated Highfield Princess when lifting the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot in June, since when he has finished third in the Nunthorpe at York and seventh in the Flying Five in Ireland.

Watson said: “Luke Morris will ride Bradsell at the Breeders’ Cup.”

Ascot hero Bradsell ready for Nunthorpe challenge

Bradsell is primed for a York rematch with Highfield Princess in the Group One Coolmore Wootton Bassett Nunthorpe Stakes on Friday week.

The pair, trained by Archie Watson and John Quinn respectively, filled the first two places in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, with Bradsell edging the victory by a length in a tight finish to the five-furlong heat.

Bradsell was trying the minimum trip for the first time that day after connections decided to supplement the three-year-old and following the colt’s maiden Group One victory, Watson is certain the fast five furlongs at York will present no issues.

He said: “I don’t see a sharper five furlongs being a problem.

“He travels so well that nothing can really take him far enough into his races. Over the quick five furlongs at York he should get a nice tow deep into the race.”

While Highfield Princess went on to finish third in the six-furlong Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes on the final day of the Royal meeting and subsequently registered an impressive win in the King George Stakes at Goodwood, Watson has kept Bradsell in reserve for his Knavesmire date.

“I would say it’s (his absence) a reflection of the options over five furlongs,” said the trainer.

“He won his Group One at Ascot, so I didn’t feel the need to go to the Group Two at Goodwood, and I wasn’t going to step him back up to six furlongs in between either.

“I have been delighted with him since Ascot. He cantered away in his routine for six weeks and then has been galloping well through August into this race.”

Bradsell won at the first time of asking on good to soft ground at York last May and while he has stuck to sound surfaces since, Watson would not be perturbed should conditions be on the easy side.

He added: “He has obviously got very good form on good and good to firm ground.

“We haven’t deliberately avoided cut in the ground. His maiden win was on good to soft but until we run on proper soft ground we won’t know.

“I never get overly concerned about it until you know that a horse doesn’t handle a certain type of ground. If it rains, it rains.”

Aside from his sprint star, Watson also has Newbury Listed winner Action Point in contention for the Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Gimcrack Stakes, while Ambushed features in the Goffs UK Harry Beeby Premier Yearling Stakes.

Of Action Point, Watson said: “The flat, quick six furlongs at York should suit him well and I’m looking forward to seeing him up in class as he was impressive last time and is a horse we have always thought a lot of.

“Ambushed won his maiden at Newcastle from a horse of Adrian Keatley’s who was subsequently second in the Richmond Stakes (Ballymount Boy).

“He has plenty of ability and I hope he can run a good race, if the draw and pace set-up are kind. You need plenty of luck in the big-field sales races.”

Saint Lawrence thrilling connections with recent progress

Saint Lawrence will attempt to continue on his upward curve in Haydock’s Betfair Sprint Cup next month, with connections keen to praise Archie Watson’s influence since taking over training duties.

The five-year-old has been at the peak of his powers since switching to Watson earlier in the season and having won the Wokingham at Royal Ascot on stable debut, proved he could be a force in the leading sprint events with a near-miss in Deauville’s Prix Maurice de Gheest.

Although beaten half a length in third, things could have been different for Saint Lawrence granted a smoother passage in the contest, but the performance was enough to convince connections to continue campaigning the speedster in Group One company, with a trip to Merseyside on September 9 up next.

“He was probably a bit unlucky in the run,” said David Hilton, stud manager at owner John Deer’s Oakgrove Stud.

“The first and second probably got first run and he’s just had to wait and then he’s made up ground in the final furlong on ground which is probably not ideal for him, it was very tacky and holding ground.

“There will be stronger Group Ones but at the same time that might just suit him. They didn’t go that quick, probably sensibly on that ground, but his likely next target is going to be the Haydock Sprint Cup where they are bound to go very fast.”

Saint Lawrence is a son of owner Deer’s popular multiple Group One winner Al Kazeem, who last year was one of the leading British sires of three-year-olds in terms of winners to runners percentage.

Al Kazeem was a real star for owner John Deer
Al Kazeem was a real star for owner John Deer (Pat Healy/PA)

However, even though Saint Lawrence’s achievements further highlight Al Kazeem’s impact in the breeding sheds, it is Watson’s handling of the resurgent sprinter that has been the catalyst for the gelding taking his form to a new level.

“It’s all credit to Archie and his team really,” continued Hilton. “They have found improvement in the horse and John and the Deer family are delighted, especially with the horse being by Al Kazeem. It’s very exciting.

“I think what Archie has done with him in a short space of time is astonishing really. He has run two lifetime bests in a row and he’s still improving. Both of those races since Archie has had him, he’s really tanked through the race and it’s possible we are maybe still learning about him and just scratching the surface.

Archie Watson is doing a fine job with Al Kazeem
Archie Watson is doing a fine job with Al Kazeem (Simon Cooper/PA)

“He does have some really good form as a young horse and then had a few problems mid-season as a three-year-old which probably led to the horse losing a bit of confidence.

“We decided as a team after his second run this year that a change of scenery was probably the right thing to do and Archie was probably the obvious choice given his track record of improving horses and also there is probably no better trainer of sprinters in the country at the minute. He has a fantastic record and a team going places.”

Overseas options for Deauville victor Brave Emperor

A trip to Paris on Arc weekend and an appearance at the Breeders’ Cup are among the exciting options under consideration for Brave Emperor following his latest success in France on Sunday.

It has been quite the rise through the ranks for the Archie Watson-trained three-year-old, who began his campaign with a runner-up finish at Southwell in late January.

He had since won a Listed race at Cagnes-Sur-Mer, a conditions prize at Kempton, a Group Three in Germany and finished third in a Group Three in Sweden prior to his latest trip across the Channel.

Brave Emperor looked to face the toughest test of his career in the Group Three Prix Daphnis, but rose to the challenge under a power-packed ride from Luke Morris, leaving members of the Middleham Park Racing syndicate that own him eyeing loftier targets.

“It was a great piece of placement again from Archie. He’s placed him to perfection all season and I think Luke rode him to perfection as well,” said Middleham Park racing manager Tom Palin.

“You still need the horse to be able to do it, of course. It’s one thing finding these opportunities, but you’re still relying on a willing partner underneath you and this horse is definitely brave by name, brave by nature.

“He had to carry a 3lb penalty on Sunday, but he loves his racing and thrives on it. We’ve not really spared him, but he travels well and he’s just an absolute dude of a horse and a bit of a legend.

“There’s a small cohort of owners who follow him around. They’ve been to Sweden, they’ve been to Germany and they’ve been to France twice. He’s well supported wherever he goes and has a bit of a cult following here at Middleham Park.”

While plans for Brave Emperor’s next run remain fluid, Palin views the Prix Daniel Wildenstein – a Group Two run at ParisLongchamp in early October – as a likely objective for the autumn.

He added: “We’re probably going to have to start looking at bigger, sexier and dare I say scarier things with him going forward, but he’s fully entitled to now.

“The Wildenstein would be lovely and a very sensible target and we could look at the Prix du Moulin before then. I know that’s a Group One, but you are into Group Two/Group One territory now.

“We love to get our owners over for the Arc meeting if we can, it’s a meeting that’s served us well in the past, and maybe we’ll take in the Moulin on the way. It’s that or a Group Two in Germany, I think.

“I quite like the idea of the Wildenstein and then who knows, it could be onto the Breeders’ Cup. Archie and I have briefly mentioned that, but let’s see.

“Of course he’s going to have to improve, but that attitude he possesses is a huge asset, so why not give him a spin in those kind of races? You’re probably pitching him in for places, but who knows?”

Deer eyeing Abbaye hat-trick with Saint Lawrence

Owner John Deer has revealed his desire to try to win the Prix de l’Abbaye for a third time following Saint Lawrence’s Royal Ascot triumph.

Although a regular in some of the best sprinting contests over the past few seasons, the son of Al Kazeem was scoring for the first time since landing the Denford Stakes during his two-year-old days when storming to Wokingham glory – the last leg of a treble for Archie Watson and Hollie Doyle at the big meeting.

It was also Saint Lawrence’s first run for Lambourn-based Watson and having credited former handler Roger Varian for his input regarding the five-year-old’s switch from Newmarket, Deer – who enjoyed Prince of Wales’s Stakes glory with Al Kazeem – is keen to leave future plans to Watson.

“To have won twice there is quite fantastic really,” said Deer of his latest trip to the Royal Ascot winner’s enclosure.

“Roger Varian was very good and without any prompting suggested that perhaps a change of scenery might benefit the horse. Who knows, but there was a hell of an improvement. That improvement may have come with Roger in Newmarket, no one will ever know, but from my point of view it was sensational really.

“There has been such a change now in his performance that I’m just going to leave it (running plans) to his trainer and hope for the best!”

It was somewhat appropriate that Saint Lawrence should win the Wokingham for Deer, with the owner-breeder having seen his Averti withdrawn at the start when fancied for the race in 1996 and like the William Muir-trained sprinter, Deer hopes Saint Lawrence will one-day carry his colours at ParisLongchamp on Arc day.

Newbury Races – August 15th
Saint Lawrence winning the Denford Stakes as a two-year-old (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

He explained: “Many many years ago I had a very good horse called Averti with William Muir and he was supposed to be favourite for the Wokingham.

“He had been in the stalls for a long time and the horse that came in next to him played up and Averti got frightened or something and he was pulled out and didn’t run. That was a pity because he was a lovely horse and deserved a big race like that.

“He went on to be second in the Abbaye (in 1998) and then subsequently Patavellian (2003) and Avonbridge (2005) went on to win that race, so I think I have got close to breeding three of them.

“I would love to win the Abbaye again and he would be a candidate. Whether he goes this year I don’t know, but if he didn’t I would want him to go next year.”

Bradsell repels Highfield Princess in dramatic King’s Stand

Hollie Doyle gave Bradsell a brilliant ride to land a dramatic running of the King’s Stand Stakes, as the Archie Watson-trained colt earned a second Royal Ascot win in as many years.

Bradsell landed the six-furlong Coventry Stakes last term, yet had shown plenty of speed in his recent work and his trainer was able to persuade connections to supplement him for the five-furlong dash.

Doyle, gaining her fourth Royal Ascot success, was positive from the stalls aboard the three-year-old and had Highfield Princess for company throughout, in a race few ever really got into.

But it was not all plain sailing for Doyle and Watson, who had to survive a stewards’ inquiry as Bradsell – sent off a 14-1 chance – drifted left in the final furlong and intimidated 7-4 favourite Highfield Princess and jockey Jason Hart.

After an agonising deliberation by the stewards, it was a sweet success for Watson, who had to endure Dragon Symbol losing the 2021 Commonwealth Cup after an inquiry.

Doyle’s mount had three-quarters of a length to spare at the line, with 50-1 shot Annaf running a huge race to be third for Mick Appleby.

Watson said: “He’s a Coventry winner over a stiff six here and we were always going to go over six, we were never going to go over a mile or anything. The plan all winter was always to come to the Commonwealth trial here and on to the Commonwealth.

“I thought he showed up best of the horses in the Commonwealth trial, he got a bit tired late so we ran in the Sandy Lane and he ran similar race. I knew it couldn’t have been tiredness that day, even in the Coventry last year they could only really take him to the four-and-a-half-furlong pole, then Hollie had to say ‘right, I’m getting on with this now’.

A big smile from Hollie Doyle
A big smile from Hollie Doyle (John Walton/PA)

“He’s got so much speed, this horse. It was an easy decision to pull back to five, it wasn’t easy in that we had to pay £35,000 to supplement him! I was feeling slightly iffy yesterday when he was 40-1 in the betting, thinking ‘God, we’ve spent quite a lot of money for a 40-1 shot’. But when he was 12-1 I thought that was alright. Sheikh Nasser was incredibly supportive and said if it’s the right race then we will go for it. I’m just delighted.”

Of his partnership with Doyle, he said: “We’ve had 200-odd winners together now, she’s been massive for my career and I hope vice versa. What I’ve always said about Hollie is that she’s incredibly consistent, she doesn’t make many mistakes and she knows the team, she loves all the horses, she knows how we want them ridden.

“For a yard like us to have one of the top five jockeys in the country – which she is – to ride our horses is just fantastic.”

Doyle – becoming the first woman to ride at Group One winner at Royal Ascot – said: “It’s always heart-wrenching when you hear that claxon go and unfortunately it’s happened to me the last twice I’ve had a big winner here. When you get the result and the certainty of keeping the race you can relax, thankfully we kept the race today.

“It’s a huge training performance from Archie, thank God we supplemented him and thank God the owners allowed us to do so. The improvement with the step down in trip has been incredible, what a tough little horse.

“The race went perfectly well, I wanted to track Highfield Princess and she just hit a flat spot. Three down I had to kick in and hold my position and it lit him up – he got really competitive and scooted clear.

“He just idled quite badly towards the line and had a look at the exit, which shows he’s got a bit up his sleeve. I think if he’d stayed straight, he’d have won by two or three lengths.

“It’s so special and I’m so lucky – I have to pinch myself sometimes with the position I’m in. Coming to Royal Ascot and having a winner on the first day is unbelievable. I’ve got a big book of rides, but you play it down every year and think if you get one you’ll be doing well, so I’m lucky.”

Highfield Princess was out of luck
Highfield Princess was out of luck (PA)

Malton trainer John Quinn took defeat for Highfield Princess on the chin, although he was of the view the interference did hamper his mare.

“I’m delighted with how she ran and she definitely got taken off a straight line and it obviously hasn’t helped,” he said.

“If you’re trying to run in one direction and something is pushing you the other way – well you can’t go as quick can you. But I was delighted.

“Jason felt she was just getting going again. We certainly had a case.

“She’s a six-year-old mare and she’s run two fantastic races this season. The only thing I would say, and I’m not making excuses, is that she’s better when she just runs and runs and runs.”

Trainer John Quinn
Trainer John Quinn (Mike Egerton/PA)

He added of a possible quick reappearance later in the week: “We said if she won or ran well Saturday (Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes) was always likely. We’re leaving her down tonight and if she’s OK she will run.”

Of Annaf, Appleby said: “Hopefully he’s improving this year. I think he’s better over six furlong than five, too.

“We might look at taking him out to Korea again later in the year, he ran well there last year but it just didn’t pan out for him.”

Bradsell spearheading Royal Ascot squad for Archie Watson

Archie Watson is gearing up to send his biggest team to Royal Ascot next week, with King’s Stand Stakes contender Bradsell expected to fly the flag for the Upper Lambourn yard.

Last year’s winner of the Coventry Stakes on only his second start, he has run twice this term since finishing fourth in the Group One Phoenix at the Curragh last August.

Both of those outings have seen him finish third, in the Commonwealth Cup Trial at Ascot and the Sandy Lane at Haydock.

Though each of his five career starts have come over six furlongs, Watson is rolling the dice and going back in trip with the son of Tasleet.

He said: “We supplemented him for the King’s Stand. I thought on both his runs this season he travelled very strongly and shaped like a five-furlong horse. He’s run two very solid races and has really sharpened up.

“That is the route we are going and it is very sporting of Sheikh Nasser to supplement him and I’ve been delighted with him at home. Hopefully, he will have a campaign over five furlongs for the rest of the season.”

In only his seventh full season with a licence, having previously been an assistant to William Haggas, Watson has built a formidable CV which includes Ascot victories in the Windsor Castle Stakes, British Champions Sprint and the Coventry.

Glen Shiel provided Watson with his first Group One winner in 2020, two years after Soldier’s Call had scored in the Windsor Castle. And he will send another top juvenile team to the Berkshire venue, with Army Ethos tackling the Coventry, carrying the same colours as Bradsell for Victorious Racing and Fawzi Nass.

An easy three-and-a-quarter-length winner on debut at Ayr, Watson said: “He is a very nice colt. Ayr was always the plan and he won his race nicely.

“I think a lot of him. Obviously it looks a very strong Coventry on paper with Aidan’s horse (River Tiber), but I’m sure he will run a very good race and then go on to be a proper six-furlong stakes horse this year.”

Action Point, the first winner for first-season sire Blue Point, will run in the Windsor Castle, having won on debut and then finished runner-up to Maximum Impact at Ascot.

Watson said: “He’s a very nice horse, who has come on a lot physically from his last run.

Archie Watson sends a strong team to the Royal meeting
Archie Watson sends a strong team to the Royal meeting (Simon Cooper/PA)

“Reveiller, who won at Salisbury a couple of weekends ago, will go to the Norfolk and Lightning Leo, who won a strong-looking seven-furlong race at Yarmouth, goes to the Chesham, all being well.

“Aaddeey will go to the Copper Horse. He has done nothing wrong and won nicely on his first start for us. He probably would prefer a bit of cut in the ground, but I’m sure it will be lovely racing ground there.

“We are very lucky to have 15 or so horses going there. None of them are going to be favourites. They are 12-1 to 20-1 shots at a minimum, but I’m very happy with them all and they all deserve to be there, so fingers crossed.”

Two-Year-Old Runners on 2nd Start: Part 2

This is the second of two articles looking at two-year-old runners (2yos) on their second career starts. The first piece looked at last time out (LTO) performance, LTO course, market factors, sires, damsires and some jockey stats. You can read that here. This one focuses exclusively on trainer data. I have collated stats from UK flat racing for six full years, from 2017 to 2022, and this includes both turf and all weather data. I have calculated profit and loss to Betfair SP (BSP for short), with commission of 5% taken into account.

Overall 2yo second run stats for trainers

I am going to start with a full table with all trainers who have had at least 100 two-year old second starters in the past six seasons. I have ordered the trainers by win strike rate:


* C Johnston in 2023; ** Jack Channon in 2023


A familiar face heads the list – Charlie Appleby. His 37%-plus strike rate is remarkable but, despite that whopping win percentage, he has failed to make it into blind profit. This is, naturally, because many of his runners start at short prices. Seven other trainers have secured strike rates of 20% or higher with juvenile runners making their second career starts, which again is extremely noteworthy. Just one of these seven in profit though: Hugo Palmer.

In terms of A/E indices Messrs. Palmer, Dods, Dalgleish, Osborne and Tinkler are above the magic 1.00, although Nigel Tinkler, with a strike rate of under 5%, is not a trainer for the faint of heart to follow.

At this juncture it makes sense to compare the performance of trainers' 2yo debut runners with their 2yos having a second run. In the following table I have broken this down by strike rates and A/E indices for each trainer. I have ordered them by trainers who have seen the most improvement in strike rate from first to second start:



In the final column I have divided the second run win percentage by the debut one to give us a type of Impact Value. I call it a Comparison Strike Rate (CSR) and I also used this idea in the previous article when comparing sire stats. The higher this figure the more improvement the runners show on their second run compared to their debut. I have highlighted any CSR figure of 2.00 or more in green as these are much higher than the average. The CSR figure to bear in mind is 1.52. This is the average CSR figure when looking at the strike rate comparison for second starters compared with debutants; that is, on average a two-year-old is 1.52 times more likely to win on its second start compared with its debut (7.96% vs 12.08% in case you were curious).

Ed Dunlop has a very high CSR figure but that is because his debut runners having won less than 0.6% of the time. His second starters still only win on average once in every 15 or 16 races. Ed Walker, Michael Dods, William Haggas, Hugo Palmer, Charlie Hills, Sir Michael Stoute and Andrew Balding are the group of trainers who I would be expecting to see excellent improvement between first and second runs. Some of their runners should offer us decent value.

Brian Meehan is one specific trainer whose second starters look poor value, especially when comparing the stats to his debut runners. With debutants his A/E index stands at an impressive 1.36, for second starters this drops markedly to 0.76. Eve Johnson Houghton has a similar slide (1.38 to 0.79) which is also worth noting. Ths is essentially saying that Brian and Eve have their two-year-olds ready to fire on day one, which in itself is well worth noting.


Distance breakdown: trainer performance in 5f and 6f races

I want to split the trainer data by distance now and for this piece I am combining the sprint distances of 5 and 6f, and then will be looking at races of 7f or further. This is because it gives better sized data sets. So, to start, here are the win strike rates for trainers who have had at least 75 two-year-old second starters over 5f / 6f. I have split the data into two graphs – the first with strike rates of 16% or more:



William Haggas stands head and shoulders above the rest in terms of win record. He also has an A/E index in excess of 1.00 (1.09), as do three others - Michael Dods (1.24), Andrew Balding (1.15) and Clive Cox (1.02). For the record these three have made decent profits to BSP, while Haggas would have just about broken even. Of the remaining trainers, all made a loss bar Tom Dascombe, who made a small profit. Dascombe will be interesting to follow this year in his second season after the move from Cheshire to Lambourn and without the support of Chasemore Farm.

Now for those with strike rates under 16%:



There are still some relatively decent strike rates here as well, on the left-hand part of the graph at least, although only Keith Dalgleish managed a BSP profit. No trainer in this group had an A/E index of 1.00 or more and, for the record, Richard Hughes and Tim Easterby had the poorest A/E indices (0.64 and 0.54 respectively) with both making significant losses.


Distance breakdown: trainer performance in races of 7f or further

There are 10 trainers who have secured a strike rate of 16% or more in these longer distance races:



Charlie Appleby strikes at a preposterous close to 40% and backing his runners would have seen you break even to BSP. Here are these trainers' A/E indices which give us a better indication of overall value:



Hugo Palmer, Archie Watson and the Charlton stable have figures above 1.00 and they are trainers who, over 7f or more, I think we should keep on the right side (more often than not).

At the other end of the scale, these are the trainers with lower strike rates over 7f+. As there are quite a few I’ve put their results in tabular form rather than in a graph.



Andrew Balding’s bottom line looks impressive but he had a 232.24 BSP winner in 2020 which accounts for most of his profit. Having said that, even without that outlier, Balding still made a positive return. The three trainers at the bottom – Richard Fahey, Sir Mark Prescott and Tim Easterby - are trainers I think should be swerved with 2yo runners at 7f or beyond when making their second start.

Before moving on there are a few points worth making.

Firstly, Clive Cox has a vastly contrasting distance record: over sprint distances his second starter strike rate is 21.9%, over 7f+ it is just 8.8%. A/E indices also have a chasm between them at 1.02 vs 0.60.

Secondly, Richard Fahey has a similar bent to his stats with much better sprint results: strike rates of 15.6% compared to 6.9%; A/E indices of 0.88 to 0.59.

And third, Roger Varian’s stats are somewhat remarkable from the point of view that his strike rate has been exactly 20% for both distance groups and his A/E indices are almost identical, too, at 0.67 and 0.68.


Market breakdown: trainer performance with top three in the betting

As we know, profit figures can be easily skewed by big priced winners. Hence it makes sense to analyse trainer data where it is a more level playing field – or at least where we can perform a fair price comparison. Here are the data for trainers when their 2yo second starters have figured in the top three of the betting. A minimum of 75 runs has been used as the cut-off point:



It seems right that Charlie Appleby hits a small profit considering his overall figures.

Any trainer with an A/E index of 0.90 or more I feel can be considered much more a positive than negative when it comes to their more fancied runners. Ten trainers have achieved that, of which six have edged into profit. These are Charlie Appleby, the Johnston yard, Archie Watson, Team Crisford, Hugo Palmer and Tom Dascombe. The other four - William Haggas, Charlie Hills, Clive Cox and Richard Fahey - made losses and only Cox had losses of worse than 7 pence in the £.

On the other side of the coin, Saeed bin Suroor’s record is surprisingly poor with qualifiers from the top three in the betting – a win rate of roughly one in six, but losses close to 30p in the £ and a very poor A/E index of 0.56.

So far in this article I have looked at more general trainer stats – but now I want to focus in on a few specific trainers starting, not surprisingly, with Charlie Appleby.


Individual Trainers with Second Start Two-Year-Olds

Charlie Appleby

We have seen already that Charlie Appleby has an impressive overall strike rate, but this does not mean he is a money making machine for punters. If only it was that simple! Strike rate is important but betting is essentially about getting a value price - having 50% of winners at 10/11 keeps you in the game but loses you money, whereas 15% of winners at 8/1 means long losing runs but wins you money. Such is the challenge for us punters: winners, or profit?

From my personal experience it is harder to find value with short prices and this is why one cannot just blindly back Appleby runners, or indeed almost any other short-priced 'no brainer' angle. This is perhaps neatly illustrated when we breakdown Appleby’s profit with horses from the top three in the betting. As the previous table showed, these runners did make a small 5p in the £ profit for him. However, all the profits came from horses second and third in the betting. These combined to produce returns of just under 26p in the £, whereas favourites lost just over 4p in the £.

I have dug deeper into the Appleby stats and one angle that does stand out is jockey based. I touched upon jockeys in the first of these articles when I compared second starters that were ridden by the same jockey who had ridden them on debut, with those who have seen their jockey change. As a general rule I found that horses ridden by the same jockey outperformed those which were not. For Appleby this bias is pronounced as the table shows:



William Buick has been responsible for 72 of these 103 ‘same jockey’ runners. His strike rate was 45.8% and backing these runners would have returned you £16.06 (ROI +22.3%). James Doyle has had an even better strike rate albeit from a much smaller group of runners. He had a success rate of 52.2% (12 win from 23) for returns of 19p in the £. Hence any 2yo second starter from the Appleby yard who is ridden for the second time by either Buick or Doyle is a horse that potentially offers some value.

We have seen good consistency before with Appleby runners and his second starters seem no exception. They have proved versatile by going / ground conditions as the graph below shows:



All the strike rates are above 30%; it should be noted that the highest one (tapeta) is from a small sample (7 wins from 15) so this may be artificially high.

Here are some additional Charlie Appleby stats, both positive and negative:

  1. Appleby 2yo debut winners have a relatively modest record when running for the second time. They have backed up this win just 14 times from 60 (SR 23.3%) for a loss of £25.02 (ROI -41.7%).
  1. The value in terms of debut performance has come from horses that finished 5th or worse on debut. On second starts Appleby has secured 19 winners with these runners from 58 (SR 32.8%) for a profit of £10.59 (ROI +18.3%).
  1. At the highest level (Class 1 races) Appleby's runners on second start have won just 7 from 41 (SR 17.1%) for a loss of £18.07 (ROI -44.1%).
  1. Second time runners returning to the course where they debuted have done well, scoring nearly 50% of the time. 16 wins from 33 (SR 48.5%) have created a BSP profit of £17.36 (ROI 52.6%).
  1. Appleby has done well when sending second starting 2yos to Newmarket. He has been rewarded with 24 wins from 53 (SR 45.3%) for a healthy profit of £19.48 (ROI +36.8%).


Richard Hannon

I have chosen Richard Hannon next as he has had the biggest number of second starters in the past six seasons.

The eagle eyed of you would have seen already that his record in sprint events is better than 7f+ races; specifically, he has a strike rate of 17.3% for sprints compared to 10.6% for longer races. Here are some other Hannon second starter stats I would like to share.

  1. Just like Appleby, having the same jockey on board that rode the horse on debut has been a plus. These horses have won 37 of their 224 starts (SR 16.5%) for a small profit of £11.29 (ROI of 5.0%); the record of horses with new / different jockeys is 53 wins from 450 (SR 11.8%) for a loss of £73.50 (ROI -16.3%).
  1. 2yos returning to the track within two weeks of their debut have a surprisingly good record. 40 have won from 244 (SR 16.4%) for a healthy profit of £90.27 (ROI +37.0%). Amazingly, Hannon has made a profit with these runners in five of the six years which shows good consistency.
  1. Horses that finished first or second on debut have a good record with 26.1% of them winning on their second starts (35 wins from 135) for a profit of £40.06 (ROI +29.9%).
  1. Hannon has scored nearly 41% of the time with second time starter favourites, making the smallest of profits, £1.93 (ROI 1.8%).


Richard Fahey

Another Richard and another trainer who has had a decent number of runners. His overall strike rate with second starters stands at just under 13% and I have found a handful of useful stats – positive, negative and neutral.

  1. Clear favourites for Fahey have secured 33 wins from 73 2yo second starters (SR 45.2%) for a profit of £11.68 (ROI +16.0%).
  1. 2yos that won on debut have proved profitable on their second starts thanks to a strike rate of 17.9% producing returns of 56p in the £.
  1. Second starters who race at Beverley have scored 26.5% of the time (13 wins from 49) for a break even scenario.
  1. Having the same jockey on board as on debut has once again seen a big difference in performance, just as we saw with Appleby and Hannon runners. Fahey horses retaining the same jockey for the second run have won 19.8% of races (A/E index 1.06); those horses whose jockey has changed have won just 8.4% of their races (A/E index 0.60).
  1. Second starters racing on all weather tracks have a poor record with only 7 wins from 104 (SR 6.7%). Losses have been steep at 54p lost for every £1 staked.
  1. 2yos that have had their second start in September or later in the year look worth avoiding. Just 11 wins from 153 (SR 7.2%) for a loss of £67.11 (ROI -43.9%). For the record, if the horse was not favourite or second favourite Fahey saw just 3 wins from 121 runners.


Other trainers

Here are some individual stats that I have unearthed related to other trainers:

  1. Andrew Balding has an excellent record with horses that finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd on debut. On their second starts they have gone onto win 25 times from 89 (SR 28.1%) for a profit of £31.68 (ROI +35.6%). Balding has secured profits with these runners in four of the six years.
  1. Kevin Ryan has reverse stats compared to Balding. Horses that finished in the first three on debut would have lost a whopping 46p in the £ if backed blindly on second start.
  1. Sir Mark Prescott has sent 99 2yo second starters to all weather tracks, and only one has managed to win.
  1. Tim Easterby has a dreadful record with horses running again within two weeks of their debut, with just one win from 104 runners.
  1. William Haggas has a good record with 2yos that have dropped in class since their debut. He has secured a 34.2% strike rate thanks to 26 winners from 76. These runners have returned a profit of £9.84 (ROI +12.9%).
  1. Karl Burke is another trainer that does particularly well when retaining the same jockey who rode on debut – 36 wins from 150 rides (SR 24%) for a profit of £45.34 (ROI +30.2%).



Below is a summary of my main takeaways from this article; but there may be stats above that are far more important to you, so keep that in mind!

  1. Ed Walker, Michael Dods, William Haggas, Hugo Palmer, Charlie Hills, Sir Michael Stoute and Andrew Balding all enjoy much higher strike rates on second starts compared to debut runs.
  1. Brian Meehan and Eve Johnson Houghton are two trainers whose second starting 2yos offer relatively poor value, especially when comparing second runs to debuts.
  1. William Haggas, Michael Dods, Andrew Balding and Clive Cox have good records with 2yo second runs in 5-6f races. In contrast, Tim Easterby looks a trainer to avoid.
  1. Hugo Palmer, Archie Watson and the Charlton stable do well in races of 7f or more with their second starters.
  1. Charlie Appleby, the Johnston stable, Archie Watson, the Crisford stable, Hugo Palmer and Tom Dascombe have good records with second starters when in the top three in the betting. Saeed bin Suroor has a particularly poor record with these fancied runners.
  1. Charlie Appleby runners have a very good record when the same jockey who rode on debut rides on the second start. In particular, look out for William Buick and James Doyle. Appleby also does well with horses that finished out of the first four on debut, as well as horses that ran at Newmarket.
  1. Richard Hannon does well with horses that return to the track within two weeks of their debut. He also does well with debutants that won or finished second on debut.
  1. Richard Fahey second starters that start clear favourite have a strong record. On the negative side, avoid second starters if racing on the all weather, or if racing after August.


There is a fair bit to get your teeth into in this article and hopefully it has started to point you in the right direction, as well as steering away from some treacherous paths. For those readers who do not generally bet in 2yo races, I hope this, and the previous three articles, may have changed your mind.

- DR

Kentucky Derby adventure off the agenda for Brave Emperor

Archie Watson’s Brave Emperor has been confirmed as set for travelling duty – but will stay closer to home rather than bid for Kentucky Derby glory.

The three-year-old had earned a spot in the ‘Run for the Roses’ through the European qualifying system, but having weighed up all the pros and cons, owners Middleham Park Racing have decided he will be better off in a Group Three in Germany.

Should his progress continue he will then have some lofty targets on the domestic front, including likely at Royal Ascot.

“We won’t be going there on this occasion, unfortunately,” said Middleham Park’s Tom Palin.

“We ran the numbers and as much as it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, it would wipe out all of his prize-money and while you shouldn’t really try to make sense of this game, we did this time.

“He is on his travels, he’s going to go to Germany for a Group Three on April 28 (Krefeld, Dr Busch Memorial), that’s where he’ll run next.

“He’s got no penalties. He has won a Listed race but he’s picked up novices, handicaps and conditions races so for a serial winner like him he doesn’t have penalties so we can pick and choose.

“He should be rocking up at all the big meetings, Royal Ascot, Goodwood, so we’ll hopefully have a good summer with him.

“Trip-wise, 10 furlongs might be a question mark, but certainly nine furlongs we are of the opinion is no problem, it is almost nine furlongs in Germany and we’re confident about that.

“I can’t see why he wouldn’t see 10 out in the future. We could maybe think about something like the Hampton Court at Ascot.”

Two-Year-Old Runners on Debut: Part 2

This is the second in a two-parter looking at two-year-old (2yo) debut runners, writes Dave Renham. The first part - which you can read here - looked at market factors, gender, sires and damsires. This concluding half hones in on a plethora of trainer data. I have collated data for UK flat racing for six full years from 2017 to 2022, and this includes both turf and all-weather. I have calculated profit and loss to Betfair SP (BSP), with commission of 5% taken into account.


Overall 2yo debut stats for trainers

I am going to start with a full table of trainers who have had at least 75 two-year old debut runners in the past six seasons. I think it is important to share as much raw trainer data as possible. I have ordered the trainers by win strike rate:


* C Johnston from 2023; ** Jack Channon from 2023


Any trainer from Eve Johnson Houghton upwards deserves credit, with ten of those eleven in profit as well as having a decent strike rate. Sticking with strike rate, Charlie Appleby stands head and shoulders above the rest and I will be digging deeper into his stats later in the piece.


2yo debutants in 5f races

I want to split the data by distance so I am looking at the minimum trip first. There are fewer 2yo races over 5f compared to six and seven furlongs, so that does need to be taken into account. Here are win strike rates for those trainers who have had at least 50 debut runners over 5f:



There are three trainers with excellent strike rates of over 20% (Archie Watson, Clive Cox and the Johnston stable); at the other end of the scale Tim Easterby is a pretty dismal 1 from 118. Not surprisingly Watson, Cox and Johnston have all made a blind profit with their runners to BSP. Having said that, I would personally be a little wary about Watson as the last three seasons have been less good than before with only three winners from 27 (admittedly he has had a few near misses).

Another trainer worth mentioning is Michael Bell. He did not have enough runners to qualify for the graph above, but of his 39 juvenile debutants over five furlongs, 10 won (SR 25.6%) for a BSP profit of £17.41 (ROI +44.6%).


2yo debutants in 6f races

Up an extra furlong now to three-quarters of a mile, or six furlongs if you prefer. Again, a trainer must have saddled a minimum of 50 qualifiers to appear in the table. Here are all the trainers who qualify, this time in tabular form:



As can be seen, the profit / loss figures are all over the place – you only have to look at the stats for Jamie Osborne to see that. Just one decent priced outsider winning can turn a very poor run of results into a profitable set.

Richard Hannon has comfortably secured the most winners, but he has had the most runners over this trip. Four of the six study years have actually turned a profit, with only one poor year which was 2020. Hannon's profits have come from maiden races rather than novice events and he has recorded a 19% win strike rate in the month of May. In fact his winning percentage when combining May, June and July results is almost double that of his August to December figure (13.9% versus 7.2%).


2yo debutants in 7f races

Onto to 7 furlongs now. The data is based on 50 runs minimum once more and the focus is on the trainers with the highest win percentages:



Charlie Appleby remains head and shoulders above the rest, but one other stat that stood out was for the Johnston stable. Their record in June in 7f races has been excellent with 14 debut winners from 49 (SR 28.6%) for a BSP profit of £40.41 (ROI +82.5%). Not only that, 12 further horses were placed. I am wondering if this is down to excellent race placement: June is the first full month of 2yo 7f races and many of the big juvenile stars of the future tend to be seen later in the season. Hence the standard of 7f races in June are likely to be weaker in quality compared with later in the year.

Before moving away from the June Johnston data, it is worth sharing that 12 of his winners figured in the top three in the betting from 32 runners returning an impressive over 90 pence in the £.


2yo debutants in 1m+ races

A look at the longest distances now. The furthest distance a two-year-old runs is 1 mile 3 furlongs and that has only occurred twice in the last six seasons. Just over 70% of races at 1 mile or more are actually raced at a mile.

Let’s look at the trainer splits (50 runs or more):


These are the only trainers to qualify, mainly because longer distance races for 2yos are less common. Indeed, there are nearly twice the number of 7f races compared to races of 1 mile and up.

Charlie Appleby again tops the table to make it a clean sweep at distances from six furlongs to a mile, so now it is time to dig deeper into his record with 2yos making their racecourse debut.


Charlie Appleby's 2yo Debutants

To begin with let us look at the yearly breakdown in terms of win percentage / strike rate:



As the graph shows he has struggled to maintain those staggeringly high figures from the first three years in the review window. However, the figures for 2020 to 2022 are still pretty darn good.

I want to look at jockey data now; William Buick and James Doyle are the two riders Appleby uses the most as the table shows:



As punters, these type of findings are clearly important. Buick and Doyle have scored twice as frequently when compared to all other jockeys that have ridden 2yo debutants for Appleby. Clearly we should focus our attention on the mounts of Buick and Doyle only.

In terms of price, most of Appleby’s runners are at, or near, the head of the market. I have split his results by different Industry SP price bands but with the results calculated once again to BSP.



The table suggests that the very shortest priced runners are poor value. From this past data it seems better to focus on horses that are likely to be priced between 13/8 and 7/1.

Here are some other Appleby stats I would like to share:

  1. 2yo debutants over 5f are rare which is why he did not appear in the 5f stats earlier. However, from his 20 5f runners, an amazing 13 won (SR 65%) for a BSP profit of £26.95 (ROI +134.8%).
  2. Appleby has a similar strike rate with male and female runners – male runners have won just over 28% of their starts, females just under 27%.
  3. He does not send that many runners out early in the season. However, if we combine April and May data he has secured 22 victories from only 51 first starters (SR 43.1%) for a profit of £26.48 (ROI +51.9%).
  4. He sends more debutants to turf courses (245 versus 99) but again has similar strike rates. On turf it is 28.6% and on the sand it 26.3%. The A/E indices are almost identical as well (0.91 and 0.92).


Trainers and 2yo debutants in the top three in the betting

Moving away from a specific focus on Charlie Appleby now, I want to examine trainer records when their debutants start in the top three in the betting. This avoids big-priced winners skewing the profit and loss figures. It also makes it a relatively fair comparison between the trainers. I have used 50 or more runs once again as my qualifying mark:



I find this type of table illuminating. Considering the prices (96% of all the qualifying runners were single figure prices), any trainer in profit has fared extremely well. The top five in terms of strike rate - Appleby, Charlton, Watson, Bell and Cox - have secured a profit, and I feel these trainers are worth noting this season when one of their runners is in the top three of the betting.

At the other end of the scale, Andrew Balding has a really poor record: of his 18 favourites just one has prevailed. In Balding's defence, the stable is very much known for horses improving through their early starts. His runners won just 8.2% on debut in the six-year study period, but that shot up to 17.4% on second start, 22% on third start and 26% on fourth start. Not strictly 'on topic' but worth noting.

The A/E indices are shown in the table but I think it worth graphing them as well to see which trainers have been the best ‘value’ according to this metric:



The seven trainers with the highest A/E indices are also the seven trainers with the highest strike rates (albeit not perfectly in the same order). The trainers with the lowest five A/E indices (all under 0.65) are the trainers that fill the bottom five places in the strike rate order. As a general rule, you would expect to see that type of correlation with strike rates and A/E indices, but it does not always happen like that.


Trainer Jockey combinations with 2yo debutants

Earlier we saw the importance of jockey booking when looking at Charlie Appleby debutants. Well, there are a couple of other trainers where we find similar stats. Firstly Archie Watson:



Oisin Murphy has not ridden for Watson for over a year due to his suspension, but it is clear from this data that if he, Danny Tudhope, or Hollie Doyle especially is on board then a good run is expected. The 11.1% figure for ‘All other jockeys’ is poor in comparison.

Likewise when we examine the Gosden stable we see a similar pattern. Robert Havlin has ridden 220 of the 512 2yo debutants and his win record far outstrips the rest:



There is a huge difference in A/E indices, too, with Havlin at an impressive 1.07 and all other jockeys combining to average out at 0.76. The final stat to mention here is that Havlin / Gosden runners have proved profitable over the 220 debut rides to the tune of 34p in the £ at Betfair SP.


Trainers and Courses for 2yo debutants

Data is a little limited here so I would not go headlong into backing every combo in the table. However, I still want to share the most impressive course stats for some trainers. The vast majority have produced a six year profit and all bar one have produced a strike rate of 20% or more. The one that did not was close to that mark (19.35%) and, due to a good sample size (62 runs), I thought it was worth including:



This table is a bit of a 2yo debut Trainer Track Stats, to use Matt's previous trainer-based report terminology. Personally, during this upcoming season, I will be taking note of any of these combinations that have secured a double figure number of wins – I will not back them blind, but I will look at the relevant runners in some detail in order to determine whether I would deem them to a potential bet or not. The Gosden / Yarmouth combo is one I will certainly look out for.

Before I finish, let me summarise some of the key stats this article has highlighted:



  1. Charlie Appleby has by far the highest win percentage and he is consistent across all race distances. His 13 wins from 20 runners in 5f races is arguably the highlight despite the smaller sample size.
  2. In 5f races the stables of Archie Watson, Clive Cox and Charlie Johnston have the best strike rates of those with 50+ runners over the six-year period.
  3. Over 6f Charlie Appleby and the Crisford stable are the only ones to have secured strike rates in excess of 20%.
  4. The Johnston stable has had an excellent record in the month of June in 7f races.
  5. Over 1 mile+ Charlie Appleby, Ralph Beckett and the Gosden stable have the strongest looking stats.
  6. Charlie Appleby, Roger and Harry Charlton, Archie Watson, Michael Bell and Clive Cox are trainers who have secured good strike rates with 2yo debutants from the top three in the betting. In addition they have all secured individual profits.
  7. Saeed bin Suroor, Sir Michael Stoute, Charlie Hills and Andrew Balding have poor records with 2yo debut runners which start in the top three in the betting. All are famously patient trainers.
  8. Charlie Appleby does twice as well with juvenile debutants when either William Buick or James Doyle are on board when compared with all other jockeys.
  9. Archie Watson and Hollie Doyle, and the Gosden stable with Robert Havlin are positive trainer / jockey combos.
  10. There were 12 wins from 41 2yo debutants from the Gosden stable making their racecourse bow at Yarmouth. These runners have produced profits of over 92p in the £.


I hope you have found the two articles on 2yo debutants useful. I certainly enjoyed uncovering these interesting angles. 2yo debutants will now take a back seat, editorially speaking, with my attention switching to 2yos on their second starts. That is next on the agenda for researching and next week I will be sharing my findings with Geegeez readers.

Until then...

- DR

Watson keen to test Grove Road up in class

Archie Watson will step Grove Road up in class for his next outing as the trainer bids to find out if he has a Cheltenham Festival contender on his hands.

The Mahler gelding won a bumper in December 2021 and opened his account over hurdles at Carlisle in October.

Upped to an extended three and a quarter miles in soft ground at Hereford, he gained a neck success over previously unbeaten Mr Vango, with the pair well clear of the remainder.

Now the Upper Lambourn handler will hand the Hambleton Racing-owned seven-year-old a stiffer test, with the River Don Novices’ Hurdle at Doncaster on January 28 pencilled in.

“We are very happy with him – he has come out of the race well,” said Watson.

“He has done nothing wrong under rules – he’s won his bumper and a novice hurdle, and now a novice hurdle under a penalty.

“He was going to go to Cheltenham for a Grade Two, but that meeting was called off, so it was good that they put that meeting on at Hereford. It was a good time-frame for us.

“The River Don is the next race for him now.”

Anything Grove Road achieves over hurdles is a bonus, according to Watson, whose yard has sent out eight jumps winners from just 20 runners this term.

He added: “We’ll see how he runs in either one or two of those Grade Twos before Cheltenham and then see if he ends up an Albert Bartlett horse, or whether we look towards handicaps.

“Long-term, his future was always going to be over fences. He’s a very straightforward horse, nice to deal with, nice to look after.”

Watson added: “We have had plenty of jumps winners. My wife, Brodie, trains them mostly. She gets the credit. It is a lot of fun and we have a good strike-rate.”

Trainers and Run Style: Part 3

This is the third article in a series in which I have been looking at run style bias in relation to trainers, writes Dave Renham. In this piece, I'll drill down looking specifically at trainer data from two-year-old (2yo) races. As with the previous articles (read them here and here) I have looked at 8 years' worth of data (1/1/14 to 31/12/21) and included both turf and all weather racing in the UK.

The focus is all race types (handicaps and non-handicaps) and all distances. I have not used a 'field size' restriction this time as around 95% of 2yo races had six or more (my usual cut off) runners anyway. I have explained the phrase 'run style' in the first two articles of the series but for new readers here is a very quick recap.

Run style is concerned with the position a horse takes up early on, usually within the first two furlongs of the race. Here on geegeez.co.uk run style is split into four categories as follows:

Led (4) – essentially those runners that get to the lead early
Prominent (3) – horses that track these early leader(s)
Mid Division (2) – horses that settle mid pack in the early stages
Held Up (1) – horses who begin their race near, or at the back of the field

The number in brackets is the run style score that is assigned to each section.

Run style is often linked with the word 'pace' because the early pace shown by horses in a race determines their early position. Hence, the words 'run style' and 'pace' are often used essentially meaning the same thing, though some commentators feel 'pace' is more associated with speed than racing position: this is why we differentiate. Each Geegeez racecard has the last four run style/pace figures for each runner within a table on the 'Pace' tab. That looks like this:


2yo horses may often have fewer data as some would not have run four times (indeed Clear Day in the example above has run only three times). This, hopefully, is where the trainer run style data shared below will prove its worth.

To help with this piece I have primarily used the Geegeez Query Tool – a tool that is available, and potentially game-changing, for all Gold subscribers. I then used my Excel knowledge to help crunch and interpret the data gathered.

Which trainers' two-year-olds led early most often?

To begin with, let us look at which trainers saw their 2yos take the early lead the most (in percentage terms). I have included trainers who have had at least 200 such runners over this 8-year period:



To offer some sort of comparison, the average percentage of all 2yo's that lead early stands at 14.6%. The trainers with the highest percentages are certainly worthy of further analysis.

(Charlie &) Mark Johnston

It is no surprise for regular readers to see Mark Johnston at the top of the pile, as we've previously discovered his modus operandi is typically to send horses forward. Nevertheless, it is an incredible statistic that more than 40% of his 2yos have led early. Mark is training with his son, Charlie, from the current season so it will be interesting to see if anything changes. I doubt it, but it is a good idea to keep an eye on such things. [Editor's note: at time of writing, the father/son Johnston team have led with 25 of 49 two-year-old runners, 51%, so little has changed at this stage]

Let's look at the Johnston stable breakdown in terms of percentage distribution across all four run styles:



Almost four out of every five of their 2yos either race prominently early or lead. To show how this bucks the general trend, compare Johnston’s stats to the overall 2yo run style stats for all trainers:



The real differences lie either end in the ‘led’ and ‘held up’ sections. This clearly illustrates how differently Johnston thinks about run style. If we look at individual years, we can see the percentage of his runners that lead has been consistent throughout:



The range, 36.1% to 46%, shows his methods have changed little over time.

In terms of race distance, we can see that in general it does not matter too much in terms of how likely a Johnston 2yo will lead. The breakdown is as follows:



It is only when we get to races beyond a mile that we see the percentage drop; even then, it is still very high when compared to other trainers.

The following table, sourced from the Pace Score section on the Query Tool, shows perhaps why the Johnston stable tend not to hold their 2yo (or indeed any age) runners up:



Hold up horses have been successful for the Johnston team just 5.5% of the time, with losses equating to just under 67 pence in every £1. That's not good for punters and, more materially from a training perspective, not good for owners. Meanwhile, early leaders won 26% of the time (incredible for owners) and would have made a profit if we had successfully decided upon which of his 2yos would actually lead (awesome for clairvoyant punters).

Archie Watson

Archie Watson is second in the standings when it comes to percentage of 2yos that took the early lead during the sample period. The most striking stats I found were when I looked at his record with 2yos that started favourite or second favourite (see below):



The differences are quite mind blowing. When we combine his 2yo's sent off in the top pair in the betting and that were held up or raced mid-division early, they produced just six winners between them from 62 runners; this equates to less than 1 in 10 winning. Watson's 2yos which led early and were top two in the betting won on average more than four times as often, at a 43% clip.

Which trainers' two-year-olds led early least often?

As we have seen earlier in this series, not all trainers are keen for their runners to take an early lead. Below is a list of the trainers with the lowest percentages in terms of horses that led early:



The eye is immediately drawn to James Fanshawe: just 1 of his 203 2yos have led early. It should be noted that Fanshawe has a relatively small crop of 2yos each year but, even so, this is remarkable. It is also worth noting that if a 2yo Fanshawe runner has raced prominently they have won 18% of the their races; compare this to the 4% win strike rate for his held up 2yos.

Some other well-known trainers appear in this table: the likes of Marcus Tregoning, Roger Varian and Roger (joined now by son Harry) Charlton to name but three. The Charlton data is worth expanding upon. Firstly let me breakdown his 2yo runners in terms of percentage of run style across all four run styles, as we saw earlier for Johnston:



A huge chunk of his 2yos tend to be held up, and nearly 65% of them have not been pushed up with or close to the pace early. Now look at the strike rates for each run style category:



It is the pattern we should all expect by now, but it begs the question why does Charlton hold up 43.8% of his 2yos when only 8.5% of them go on to win? Likewise why does he send just 8.4% of his 2yos out into an early lead when a huge 32.7% of them win? In general, it is likely to be that the Charlton runners may be incapable of getting to the front early, or that they are raced with at least one eye on the future; but the pattern is clear. Perhaps further schooling at the starting stalls might be beneficial.

Trainer run style averages

In order to give us a more complete picture, I have produced trainer run style averages, in exactly the same way that I did in the first article. To recap, I simply add up the Geegeez pace points for a particular trainer's two-year-olds and divide the total by the number of runners. The higher the average the more prominent the trainer’s horse tends to race. I have looked at overall pace averages rather than breaking down by handicap v non-handicap figures. The reason for this is that 79% of all 2yo races are non-handicaps. Also it saves some space!

For the record, the trainer run style average for all 2yos is 2.29. Have a look for your favourites below.



I have mentioned before that how you deploy these averages is personal choice. In 2yo races, especially when the horses have not run many times before, I believe the data can prove very useful. Let me give an example of a 2yo race run in April of this year.



As can be seen from the Geegeez PACE tab, only three of the horses had previously run and only once each. If we look at the trainer run style averages it looks likely that the Johnston runner will lead:



As the result below shows below, the Johnston runner Beautiful Eyes did lead, and also went onto win:



It is interesting to note that Karl Burke had the second highest number in the run style average table for this race, and his horse raced prominently and came second. Of course, the run style of all 2yo horses are not always going to correlate with the trainer averages. However, these averages can help us build up the most likely scenario of how the early stages of a race are going to be run even when horses have never raced before.

Here is a second example of a race from earlier this year, again it occurred in April:



Once again there was very limited run style/pace data from previous races to help form a picture of how the race may pan out in the early stages. The trainer run style averages for this contest were as follows:



Archie Watson comfortably had the highest run style average at 2.98, with David Evans earning the second highest. As it turns out the runners from these two trainers disputed the early lead and finished 1st and 2nd.



As I mentioned earlier this ‘prediction’ method won’t always work, but it is a useful starting point, particularly in 2yo races (or other race types where there is little no previous form).

Run style and market rank

To finish with I want to combine market rank with run style for the 2yo data from 2014 to 2021. The following graph looks at the percentage of runners that took the early lead in relation to their market rank:



What is clear from this strong correlation is that either market factors influence the running style of certain horses, or the running style of certain horses influences the market. Favourites led early in nearly 27% of all 2yo races in the eight year study period, almost double the average figure for early leaders of 14.6%. Horses occupying the next two places in the betting led in just over 20% of races but, as can be seen, once we get to horses outside of the top six in the betting, getting to the early lead was not easy for this group (less than 8% of them managed it).

This should come as no surprise. Less fancied horses in general are going to be slower than fancied horses, certainly over the full race distance; so it makes sense that this scenario is quite likely to occur early in the race as well as at the finish line. Of course, there will be occasions when an outsider is ahead of the favourite in the first furlong because trainer habits will have an effect or because the market has simply miscalculated the ability of a horse. Sometimes those horses will remain in front at the end of a race: shocks happen! But those are the exceptions.

Combining trainer run style data with market rank looks a potent combination. All Geegeez Gold users have the opportunity to dig even deeper than I have by looking at individual trainer run style statistics combined with market rank inside the Query Tool. To give you a taster, here are the top ten trainers in terms of percentage of runners which led early when sent off favourite (to qualify - 30 favourites minimum):



So Robert Cowell and (Charlie &) Mark Johnston favourites led more than half the time: that could be useful to know!

That's all for this episode. Please leave any comments, questions or thoughts below.

- DR

p.s. the next instalment of this series contains some of my most detailed research ever - stay tuned!