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Frequent Flyer Miles – Can You Trust Trainers and Jockeys with Vast Experience at a Particular Course?

Experienced horse racing punters know better than to take strike rates at face value. Although a jockey or trainer (or perhaps a combination of the two) may have an excellent strike rate at a specific track, it means a lot less when their horses are primarily short-priced favourites. Likewise, having a low strike rate doesn’t mean avoiding a bet because these runners may mainly consist of rank outsiders.

Strike rates becoming meaningful when linked to expectation, which is typically reflected in the betting odds. In simple terms, if a jockey or trainer is profitable for a punter at a particular course, it means that they are underestimated in the market. As a result, it becomes more likely to find value. Eventually, the market catches up, the selection no longer becomes value, and you’re left searching for a new angle.

It is also critical to only look at relatively large samples, and discount freak results. Therefore, I would not recommend focusing on any jockey or trainer at a specific track unless they have more than 100 runs across the last five years, and have shown a profit in at least three of those years.

Incidentally, it is always worth looking at trends that offer close to 0% profit consistently because you can use them at starting points in racing analysis. 

In any case, this article will look at trainers & jockeys who are involved in a lot of races at specific tracks AND turn a profit for the bettor. As it is National Hunt season, I’m focusing on jumps tracks. All data relates to UK races only since the beginning of 2014 unless otherwise stated. 

Trainers for Courses

I had hoped to begin with Nicky Henderson at Aintree because backing all 150+ of his entries would have yielded a profit of 22%. Alas, all of the profit came in 2014 and 2015 with non-stop losses ever since. 

Instead, I found out that Daniel Skelton enjoys Worcester:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
187 57 30.48% 28.25%

Skelton has been sending more runners to the track each year: From 13 in 2014 to 46 in 2017 and almost 90 so far in 2018. He has shown a profit in each of the last three years, including a profit of over 60% so far this year. For higher profit, stick with his Hurdle entries as the ROI rises to 53% with a win rate of 32.17%. Best of all perhaps is the outstanding A/E rating of 1.31 which shows that his horses are often overpriced. 

It is fair to say that P J Hobbs is a fan of Worcester! Here are his stats:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
122 34 27.87% 186.27%

It is an incredible profit, and 2015 was the only year of losses. Backing all of Hobbs’ NH entries at Worcester in 2018 would have yielded a profit of 114%, although the 600% profit achieved in 2017 will take some doing. Again, these bets also have a high A/E of 1.24. 

Donald McCain Jr. is a huge fan of Bangor and sends dozens of horses there each year:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
320 63 19.69% 34.82%

Although his strike rate is not as gaudy as the other two trainers, 2018 has been the worst year in the last four with a profit of ‘only’ 18%. The A/E on the bets is 1.08 which means McCain Jr horses are overpriced despite his success at the track. 

Here are some more successful trainers at specific courses:

Trainer & Course Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
P Bowen @ Worcester 105 22 20.95% 214.97%
Gordon Elliot @ Cheltenham 147 23 15.65% 87.82%
Sue Smith @ Catterick  100 30 30% 104.86%

Others to look out for include Bowen and Evan Williams at Chepstow, Nicky Henderson and Alan King at Doncaster, and Daniel Skelton at Market Rasen. 

Jockeys for Courses

It is not just trainers who have a preference for racecourses. There are also jockeys who do their best work at a specific track. Let’s take a look at a few. 

You wouldn’t expect a champion jockey to offer value, but that’s what happens when Richard Johnson rides at Chepstow. 

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
179 40 22.35% 30.4%

Johnson’s record has really picked up in the last three years with a profit of 68% in 2016, 18% in 2017, and 80% so far in 2018. Even more surprising is the fact that the A/E value of these bets is 1.09. For the record, Johnson performs best in Chase races with a profit of 67%. 

Aidan Coleman has a solid record at Fontwell:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
108 28 25.93% 34.16%

Once again, the A/E on these bets is high at 1.24, and with Coleman at Fontwell, you would have earned at least 13% in four of the five years. However, it is best to stick to Chase races only, because the ROI soars to 102%!

Brian Hughes has been a consistent operator at Sedgefield:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
355 79 22.25% 21.16%

2018 is the first year where he has been unprofitable for bettors. The A/E for his bets is 1.04 which means you get value for money.

Here are a couple of extra jockeys who perform well at certain courses. 

Jockey & Course Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
Nico De Boinville @ Cheltenham 103 20 19.42% 20.65%
Noel Fehily @ Exeter 116 26 22.41% 33.54%

Final Thoughts

It is a rare thing indeed to find trainers or jockeys with an affinity for a specific racecourse who also provide us with an opportunity to make a profit. The trainers and jockeys outlined in this article often appear at the tracks mentioned, and most importantly, they are consistently successful. Even when the strike rate isn’t particularly high, if the A/E value is greater than 1.00, it is a clear sign that you’re getting value for money with your selections. 

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