Andrew Balding is a two-year-old trainer to note, here winning at Goodwood with The Foxes under David Probert. Photo Credit: Press Association

Trainers in Two-Year-Old Races, Part 3

This is the third in a series of articles where I have delved into the performance of trainers over the past few years, writes Dave Renham. I have been looking at UK races over the past six full seasons (1st January 2016 to 31st December 2021) and my focus, as in the first two episodes is two-year-old (2yo) races; all profits / losses have been calculated to Industry Starting Price using £1 level stakes. These figures could be improved by taking early prices with Best Odds Guaranteed and / or using the exchanges. In fact I have referenced Betfair SP profits where appropriate in what follows. For this piece, in addition to the Geegeez Query Tool, I will be using a couple of external databases to provide additional colour.

Parts 1 and 2 can be read here and here.

Horse career starts

My first port of call in this part three is quite an important one. 2yos are the youngest racehorses and hence are very inexperienced when it comes to racing. This can be seen when we compare the overall strike rate of 2yos on debut against subsequent runs: 


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As can be seen, debutants prevail around 8% of the time, but this improves by roughly 1.5 times as we move to second and subsequent runs. That gives us a baseline to use, as it were, when we are examining individual trainers.


Trainers with 2yos making their debut

It's now time to drill down into individual trainer records with 2yo debutants. I have focused on those trainer who have saddled at least 75 debutants over the past six seasons. They are ordered by strike rate (Win%):



These are the top 20 in terms of win strike rate. All of them are in advance of the average 8% figure for all 2yo debutants shown above. A few are in profit, but in general these trainers have had one or more big priced winners that have skewed the figures. 

Charlie Appleby, who figured prominently in the first article of the series, has an outstanding strike rate with such runners, hitting his mark nearly 28% of the time which is quite amazing. Having said that his runners have still shown a loss to Industry SP. However, he did manage a small £7.99 profit (ROI +2.4%) to BSP.

What becomes more impressive when you dig deeper into Appleby’s figures is that over a third of his 2yos made their debut at Newmarket. Thus his runners are contesting some of the very best 2yo races. In fact, from limited data, he has been impressive at both the top courses of Ascot (6 wins from 15) and Goodwood (4 wins from 7) also. Finally when it comes to Appleby his record in sprints (5-6f) is particularly good with 32 wins from 78 (SR 41.0%) for a profit to SP of £26.21 (ROI +33.6%). Of course, he does also train some of the most regally bred and expensive juveniles.

Going back to his Newmarket 2yo debut stats, it is worth comparing his record there with other trainers. Below is a graph showing the strike rates of trainers who have had at least 30 2yo debutant runs at Newmarket.



As we see only Ralph Beckett is near the same ballpark as Appleby, and we have several excellent trainers with a strike rate of under 10%. In fact six of them are under 6%, with Michael Bell on zero. Clearly, Moulton Paddocks have their horses ready to roll from day one.


Trainers with 2yos on their second career start

Onto second runs now and, again, I am using a minimum of 75 runs and looking at the top 20 in terms of strike rate (Win%).



As one might expect, these trainers have secured significantly higher strike rates compared to the top 20 trainer debutant figures. A handful are in profit once more, and four of them have produced impressive A/E indices of 1.00 or above (Balding 1.02, Dods 1.21, Charlton 1.00, Dalgleish 1,13).

Charlie Appleby, who was the only trainer with a strike rate over 20% for his first starters, now stands at over 35%, with a further eight trainers having secured a 20% or better figure here.

At this juncture it makes sense to look at the one of the key comparisons; namely individual trainer strike rates with their second starters and comparing them with their debutant strike rate. All trainers who have had at least 75 runners in each group are shown. I have ordered them by 1st-2nd Ratio, a calculation where I have divided the 2nd start Win% by the debut [1st] Win%.



There is a good number of trainers whose 2yos really improve from first to second start. I mentioned near the beginning of the article that the benchmark ratio figure for the Win% improvement is around 1.5x, and 30 of the 48 trainers in the table have matched or exceeded that mark. However, care is needed when it comes to trainers whose debutants have a very low strike rate, especially those near the top of the table. Their 1st to 2nd Start Win% Ratios are skewed slightly as a result of their poor debut stats.

A comparison of the A/E indices now using the same idea of dividing the 2nd start figure by the debut one. A look at the highest ratios first:



Most of those that were in the top section of the Strike Rate Win% Ratios reappear here. However, the more interesting comparison comes when we analyse those with the lowest ratios:



The 14 lowest trainer A/E figures are shown, but Charlie Appleby and (Charlie and) Mark Johnston, who you'd be forgiven for thinking would be in that group (due to their low position in the Strike Rate Win% Ratio table), are not. In fact the Johnston A/E ratio is 1.00 and Appleby is 1.01. This implies their debutants and second starters offer similar value.


Trainers with 2yos on their third career start

I am not going to go into too much detail here, but I do want to share a top five of the strongest snippets that I have found:

  1. Sir Michael Stoute had 65 2yos making their third career start and a highly impressive 22 have won. This equates to a strike rate close to 34%. Returns of 10p in the £ to Industry SP have been achieved. This figure is doubled if using BSP. A staggering statistic is that 16 of his 21 runners that started as clear favourite have won.
  1. Saeed bin Suroor’s runners have won just shy of 30% of races on their third start. This improves to 40% (12 wins from 30) when looking at class 5 events.
  1. Andrew Balding has a 23.7% strike rate with third career starters (2yos), but beware runners on the all-weather in November and December – just 1 of 21 have won for him under those conditions.
  1. A few trainers have a big drop off from 2nd to 3rd starters. Clive Cox’s strike rate drops from 17% to 10.9%; Michael Dods drops from 17.4% to 8.6%, and David Simcock drops from 18.1% to 4.7%. 32% of Simcock’s runners placed which suggests that he has been unlucky and that this drop off may not be as bad it looks.
  1. Marco Botti has seen a big strike rate improvement with his third career starters. They have won 17.5% of their races compared with 9.1% for his second starters. Sir Mark Prescott sees a similar improvement from a lower starting base (10.7% versus 5.1%).


Knowing about all the facts and figures I have shared so far should help you make a more informed choices when analysing certain horses in 2yo races. As I have said many times before, I am a huge fan of having as much data as possible at our disposal.


2yo Trainer Odds Analysis

I want to move on and look next at some 2yo trainer market data. This can easily be sourced from the Geegeez Query Tool. I have split the market data in three price brackets – shorter priced runners (4/1 or less); mid-priced runners (9/2 to 9/1); and higher priced runners (10/1 or bigger). I want to look at value and to do this I am going to compare the three Actual vs Expected (A/E) indices of each trainer. [For a refresher on A/E and all of the metrics used on geegeez, check out this post]

The table below is not an exhaustive list but it includes many of the trainers who have appeared in this piece so far. To help with analysing the figures I have coloured any A/E index 1.00 or higher in GREEN, as this represents good value. Any A/E index 0.75 or lower I have coloured in RED as this represents poor value.



There is so much to consider when betting and ‘value’ is the most important thing. Of course, it is not always easy to know if you have a value price about a runner, and these A/E indices I am sharing with are based on past data. Thus, we cannot say for example that any Marcus Tregoning runner that starts 4/1 or shorter is good value, but we do know that in the past these runners have proved to be. His 1.39 A/E index shows this.

These odds-based trainer A/E indices are worthy of note. For instance, Charlie Appleby, who we have seen to positive effect in this article (and many times previously), can be seen to have an A/E index of just 0.3 for 2yos priced 10/1 or higher. I, for one, would not be interested in any Appleby runner priced in double figures based on that past data.

The Charlton stable, meanwhile, have excellent figures for juveniles sent off 4/1 and shorter (1.16) as well as from 9/2 to 9/1 (1.12): profits of 12p and 19p in the £ respectively. Their record with double figure runners is less good (0.75), and with those longer-priced two-year-old runners they have made losses of just over 27p in the £.


2yo Gender of horse analysis

The final piece of research for this article is connected with gender or sex of the horse, again sourced from Geegeez’s Query Tool.

There are more 2yo male runners than female ones; male runs have made up 56% of all runners in past six seasons, females 44%. Also males generally outperform females from a strike rate (Win%) perspective – 12.1% for males versus 9.5% for females. Males also have the edge when comparing A/E indices, with 0.88 (M) playing 0.84 (F), and IVs standing at 1.09 (M) v 0.89 (F). Of course it should be noted that not all 2yo races are mixed sex races – around 64% are races open to both sexes while male only and female only contests make up the other 36%.

I thought it would be interesting to see whether any trainer had a gender bias in their 2yo cohort; especially trainers who have fared better with 2yo fillies as opposed to colts/geldings. Below shows the top ten trainers in terms of producing better results with females as opposed to males. In other words those with the highest Win% Ratio of females to males. To qualify each trainer needed to have had at least 60 runners of each and attained a Win% (SR) with female runners of at least 8%.



The two stables that catch my eye are those of the Charltons and Roger Varian. Not surprisingly, perhaps, both trainers made a blind level stakes profit to SP on their female runners between 2016 and 2021.

There are another eight trainers who have turned the male/female edge round the other way. They are shown below:



Teams Crisford, O’Brien (Aidan), Balding and Dascombe all provided positive returns with their female runners to Industry SP. As stated in prior articles, care must be taken with Tom Dascombe since he has moved yards and is no longer retained trainer at Manor House Stables.

In terms of a potential male bias, only four trainers seem to have a strong one; these are Mick Appleby (12.1% v 4.4%), Hughie Morrison (10.9% v 3.7%), David Barron (12.8% v 3.5%) and Alan King (9.4% v 1.4%).

And finally...

This is the last 2yo piece in a series in which I have looked at several different areas hoping to guide you, the reader, to an edge over the crowd. In my next article I’ll begin examining some trainer data related to three-year-old performance, and I am expecting that to stretch to at least two further instalments. I’m heading to the Geegeez Query Tool to start my research right now; maybe I'll see you there?

Until next time...

- DR

Other Recent Posts by This Author:

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4 replies
  1. alex4ander
    alex4ander says:

    I came across your article by accident, as I was just browsing, and was delighted to see your name top up having been a corresponder with you at Punters Profits and Weekender or was it the Handicap Book. Anyway, your analytical mind is obviously still working to capacity. A very well researched, in depth set of articles. I’ll print them off and digest properly.
    Your contribution is brilliant and now I will stay with Geegeez as they have recognised you a skilled journalist and contributor. Well done Dave Alex

    • Richard
      Richard says:

      Wonderful research and a big help. I have recently been looking at second time out, for 2yo’s based on Sire stats. This article shall go along with that, thank you Dave once again.

  2. Davidsteel
    Davidsteel says:

    Excellent piece as usual Dave very informative.

    You mention a couple of external sources that you use, out of curiosity which would those be?



  3. Dave Renham
    Dave Renham says:

    Thanks Alex – kind words. Lots of past articles on here by me too that might keep you busy! Dave

Comments are closed.