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Trainer Sweet Spots – Are the Forums Right?

It is a well-known fact that some trainers have a clear preference for specific courses. For example, in his career, Paul Nicholls has a 56%-win rate over jumps at Southwell, a 40%-win rate at Leicester and win rates of 35% at Fakenham, Perth and Musselburgh. Meanwhile, he struggles at Market Rasen (17%), Haydock Park (17%), and Towcester (12%).

We also know that some trainers do well in the month immediately before a major festival, as I outlined in a previous article. However, are there trainers with a strictly seasonal performance? After perusing multiple forums, I have seen people adamant that Michael Winters does badly in December and January but fares well in September and October and Nigel Twiston Davies loves September. Meanwhile, trainers such as Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson are more consistent with no apparent ‘sweet spot’. In this article, I will check to see if we can profit from these alleged hot streaks.

Are There ‘Hot’ & ‘Cold’ Months for Trainers?

I’m aware that forums are not everyone’s cup of tea but you can glean some crucial information from knowledgeable horse racing lovers. First of all, let’s look at the Michael Winters claims. First, here is his record in December and January since 2008. Please note that Winters is an Irish trainer and most of his runs take place in Ireland so I am only including those statistics. 

Month Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
December 84 3 3.57% -65.98%
January 56 3 5.36% -84.61%

There is no doubt about it, Winters fares very poorly in Irish NH races during these months. If you laid his December entries, you would earn a profit of over 55%. If you laid his January horses, you would earn a profit of over 75%. In fact, January 2011 is the only time he has won more than one race in either of these months. 

Now, let’s see if he performs as well as they say in September and October.

Month Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
September  69 15 21.74% 67.16%
October 67 15 22.39% -5.68%

The difference in September is incredible. You would only have had two losing years since (including) 2010. However, October is an odd one because even though he has a slightly better win percentage, you would actually lose money. One possibility is that the bookies start slashing the odds on his horses after his inevitable September wins. 

Another suggestion is that Nigel Twiston-Davies fares well in September. Let’s check it out. Once again, this data goes back to September 2008.

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
269 61 22.68% 26.95%

If this looks good on the surface, it is even better when you analyse it a little deeper. You would only lose in two of the last ten years backing all of his NH entries in September with a profit of 24% in seven of those years. 

Davies also has an excellent record in August:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
172 40 23.26% 36.16%

You would be in profit in seven of the ten years and 2008 was one of the three years where you would have lost money. However, it is October where Twiston-Davies really shines:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
633 128 20.22% 44.43%

Only 2012 was a year of loss; you would have earned 20%+ in eight of the ten years. It is important to note that he has far more entries in October. Combine August, September and October and you end up with the following:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
1074 229 21.32% 38.73%

As is the case with Winters, there are times of the year where seemingly everything goes wrong for Twiston-Davies. His worst months appear to be May and December.

Month Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
May 354 40 11.3% -31.42%
December 710 84 11.83% -23.53%

December is a fairly poor month for him and with such a large amount of entries, there are probably some good laying opportunities. In fact, if you laid all 710 horses, you would earn a profit of 15.7% over the last decade. Backing his horses to win in December would lose you money in seven of the ten years.

May is even worse with a very low strike rate and losses in the last nine years. Meanwhile, laying his horses would have earned you an overall profit of almost 24% and at least a sliver of profit in the last nine years. 

One last person worth looking at is Stuart Williams who appears to be the very epitome of a seasonal trainer when it comes to All-Weather races. The difference between his March to June form and his July to September form is quite extraordinary (since 2008):

Month  Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
March 175 22 12.57% -38.89%
April  65 4 6.15% -65.58%
May  33 0 0% -100%
June 33 1 3.03% -86.36%

Here are the combined stats:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
306 27 8.82% -56.13%

Overall, he has won fewer than 9% of races in that timeframe and you would earn a profit of 49.72% from laying all his horses. Moreover, you would earn a profit in nine of the last ten years; the only exception was 2016. Indeed, Williams has won just 5 out of 131 races from April to June in 10 years. So, it may be worth steering clear in March.

Laying all his horses in those three months would earn you a profit of 73.46% and profit in all of the last ten years. The worst year is 2016 where you would ‘only’ enjoy an ROI of 16.7% by laying all his horses.

Now, take a look at how Williams fares in AW during July, August and September:

Month  Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
July 39 5 12.82% 49.43%
August 64 13 20.31% 94.74%
September 124 25 20.16% 20.04%

It is hard to believe we’re talking about the same trainer. Here is how these three months look when combined:

Bets Wins Strike Rate ROI (BF)
227 43 18.94% 46.15%

Although the statistics look pretty on the surface, Williams is actually patchy during these months. You would have earned a profit in five of the last ten years. Even so, his strike rate is almost quadruple what it was in the previous three months. 

Final Thoughts

It is abundantly clear that certain trainers excel at specific times of year and absolutely stink at other times. You should perform your own research to see if any other trainers have certain sweet spots during the year. If they do, you can profit by laying them during the bad times and backing them when they hit a hot streak!

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Patrick Lynch

Patrick graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with an MA in Literature and Publishing but decided he would rather have the freedom of a freelance writer than be stuck in a publishing house all day. He has enjoyed this freedom since 2009 and has written thousands of articles on a variety of topics but sports betting is his passion. While his specialty is finding mismatches in obscure football leagues, he also likes to use his research skills to provide punters with detailed winning strategies in horse racing. You can check out his personal blog on www.lynchthewriter.com or Twitter @pl1982 where he writes content to help small businesses achieve success.

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