Top 2yo trainers: Archie and Hugo have very different approaches

Two-year-old A/W Debutants, Part 1: Trainers

A couple of weeks ago (seems much longer, doesn't it?), I kicked off a series of research pieces with a fairly simple analysis of trainers to follow on the flat with their two-year-old debutants, writes Chris Worrall.

Now I'm going to look at whether the same approach can be taken on the All-Weather here in the UK. The way I've approached this ahead of the resumption of racing, which will hopefully be here as soon as it's deemed safe to do so, is to look back over the previous five full calendar years to get a list of trainers to potentially follow in 2020. With that in mind, I then applied the following criteria to the long list of trainers with such runners since January 1st 2015:

  • a minimum of 30 2yo debutants
  • a minimum strike rate of 10%
  • profit over the five years at Betfair SP
  • and profitable in at least three of the five years

Applying those filters reduces the list to a far more manageable five trainers:

Ralph Beckett, Hugo Palmer, Sir Michael Stoute, Roger Varian and Archie Watson.

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None, admittedly, achieved five profitable years - in fact all bar Beckett scored three from five - giving us some cause for caution. Ralph Beckett did manage to make profit in four years, but his success also carries a cautionary note as his runners went 0 from 19 last year!

Archie Watson has been profitable in 2017, 2018 and 2019, after only having one runner in 2016, so he couldn't really have done any better.

Their collective figures, pulled from the excellent, over the last five completed years look like this...

A near one-in-six strike rate and an ROI at Betfair SP in excess of 45p in the pound is something about which to sit up and take notice, even allowing for earlier caveats and a relatively small sample size. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority (almost 75%) of juveniles make their debuts on turf, so we're always going to be working with smaller numbers.

The yearly breakdown since 2015 is as follows...

The first thing I noticed was that 2018 wasn't as strong as the other years and this was replicated in my study on the Flat, so there may well be something to look at regarding 2018's two-year-old crop as a whole.

And here's how the runners were broken down by trainer...

The smaller sample sizes involved make me reluctant to draw down trainer by trainer and I think I'd either cautiously follow all five in a blanket portfolio approach or I'd have to be ruthless and discard Messrs Beckett and Stoute, because their strike rate doesn't appeal. I'd also jettison Roger Varian, because a 17% ROI at Betfair SP might well be steady, but it's not exciting and it did actually reflect a loss at Industry SP, not that any of us use that, surely?

That means I'm left with Hugo Palmer & Archie Watson going forward, whose numbers read as follows...

It's not an angle that is going to keep you busy, but if you're looking for 2 yr old debutants to back on the UK All-Weather scene, then my two go-to trainers are going to be Hugo Palmer & Archie Watson this year with a near two-in-nine strike rate generating more than 55% ROI over the last five years.

I intend to back up this starter piece with a more detailed analysis of each of my five originally highlighted trainers to analyse which of their two-year-old debutants to back based on criteria such as track/track location, surface, distance, jockey, time of year and so on.

- CW

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7 replies
  1. winderman
    winderman says:

    Thanks for that Chris. I hope were back up and running soon.
    I noticed A Watson, last seasons 2yr olds debutants over 5F won eight of there nine races.

  2. David
    David says:

    Back Archie Watson and Hugo Palmer. I like it, keep it simple. A lot of people couldn’t even execute a simple strategy like this because it seems too easy. Most would quit after the first five losses just before the 7/1 winner in the 6th race which gives the profit. Sometimes just staying in the game puts you ahead of 50% of people.

  3. Xub
    Xub says:

    After analysing 2yo debutants, I noticed there’s no 2yo debutants which ran in either January or February. That’s obvious for as far as the Flat is concerned, but found it remarkable with an eye on the AW. Is there a rule that stipulates 2yo debutants are only allowed to run from March and onwards?

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Correct Reno. Historically the first 2yo race of the season was the Brocklesby at Doncaster in late March (at the Lincoln meeting, the first of the year). But more recently there have been a handful of 2yo races in the preceding week to the Brocklesby. That’s it though.

      Keep in mind that most 2yo’s are barely two by late March and that they will have been in training since the previous autumn. It’s my opinion, for what it’s worth, that they’re encouraged to race too early; but at least they don’t race any earlier than the end of March.

      Hope that helps,

  4. galexmac
    galexmac says:

    I would refine the Palmer 2yo’s by excluding those debuting at Lingfield. Those are 0 from 15 with place strike-rate only 13.3% as against average place strike-rate of 37.3% at the other AW courses. Additionally, I’d be careful with the higher priced Palmer 2yo debs which at BSP > 25.0 are 0 from 22.

    Similarly with the Watson 2yo’s, higher-priced runners don’t do well with 0 from 12 at BSP >= 20.0

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