The B2yoR website holds a range of data and statistics relating to 2yo racing including detailed information about Trainers and Sires. These include Summary Statistics for the period 2002 to 2007 which until 2007 were presented as a single page. These pages were linked from the individual Season pages for each Trainer or Sire for those that were active at the time. The historical pages for all Trainers & Sires are linked from the main Index pages for the "Trainers 02-07" & "Sires 02-07" sections. These are options on the top level page menus on the site.
For the start of the 2008 turf season a number of upgrades have been made to these pages :-
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2.1 Stable/Sire Summary - Totals & Ranking
The Summary Tables give the usual data you would expect per season such as number of runnners & winners along with strike rate. For the majority trainers these cover the seasons between 2002-7 when they had juvenile runners. For a good number of major stables the summary data goes back earlier than 2002, to 1996 for R. Hannon for example.
The four less 'usual' details start with 'Winners to Runners %', or what proportion of all the trainer's 2yo runners managed to win a race at some level. The higher the figure the better but at this point it is worth making a point which is valid for every statistic that this article covers. The figures are more reliable the larger the sample is, i.e. the more 2yos are being tested. A trainer with one 2yo per year might normally not get a winner and his 'Winners to Runners' percentage will be Zero. Then he has a 2yo capable of winning and his figure jumps to 100% before going back to the usual zero next year. In this case the low sample size of one each year leads to widely varying results. [The full listings for each season 2005-7 are linked from the main Index Page for the season, e.g. 2007]
If we take a large stable like MR Channon we find a much more consistent set of results. In the twelve seasons from 1996 to 2007 he has run between 47 & 91 individual 2yos and in eleven of those years the Winners to Runners %' has been between 42-49% with 44% a typical return. How does this compare generally? By ranking he has made the top three by number of runners in 2005-7 but his yearly rankings for this measure have been in the twenties, i.e. there have been around 20 trainers each year with figures better than his mid 40s level.
In 2007 he finished 27th but a return of 50% would have made 9th so he wasn't far behind the top ten placers. He finished 10th in this area amongst trainers with more than 10 runners where TG Dascombe was top with 60%. Amongst stables of similar size his figures are at the same level as R. Hannon (whom he worked for) and M. Johnston and a low to mid-40s level is good for these large stables.
The rankings for M. Johnston have dropped from 7th to 30th in the last three years and would indicate a change that would need to be explained. In that period his number of runners has increased 50% (80 to 119) with the bulk of the 'new' batch owner breds for Sheikh Mohammed of variable quality. In effect, with him not being able to implement some form of quality control, as he would with yearlings he bought at the sales himself, the returns have gone down. It will be interesting to track this in 2008 because Sheikh Mohammed has gifted a lot of his horses in training to his eldest son who has chosen trainer B. Smart to handle the bulk of them.
In summary, the larger stables should be aiming for a 45% return. Figures of 50% or better are unusual and should be noted especially for trainers with more than a handful of 2yos. The top of the rankings will tend to be examples of the small stables who produced their one winner this half decade and a 20th-30th placing ok for a larger string. Changes to the normal figure often indicate a change to equine recruitment, as well as M. Johnston trainer BJ Meehan (another former Hannon assistant) dropped to 53rd in 2007 as his number of runners went up markedly. He managed to keep his Strike Rate at a solid level but only by decreasing the average number of runs per 2yo. Perhaps he had more backward 2yos being trained for their 3yo careers than usual? (Discuss..)
The Strike Rate figure is discussed at length in the 2007 Trainer's Review article. The First Time Out (FTO, i.e. the racecourse debut) Strike Rate is a new figure in the table. As a baseline consider that the 2007 figure across all 2yos was 6.8% winning on debut with 20% of races won by newcomers. The main factors which affect the FTO strike rate are quality of runners (good 2yos can win on debut even if not thoroughly prepared), thoroughness of preparation for debut (both physical & mental) and time of year for debuts. The last point is less obvious than the first two but consider that in early season (through to late June) the percentage of races won by FTO 2yos is over the 20% season average (well over in March to May). After that the figure dwindles below 20% to single figures in late season.
In summary, the level of the FTO % data should be compared against the 6.8% average and in 2007 the top 45 ranked trainers (out of 327) managed figures of 10% or more. Stables with higher quality 2yos will be able to beat this average figure without thoroughly preparing them. Of the larger stables R. Hannon has a variable record and only just above average despite the quality he has and the early season debuts. He isn't a 'FTO Trainer' except for a few targeted debut wins at particular times of the year. MR Channon is similar while M. Johnston has a much better record with figures between 10-18% in recent years. He has had his 2yos fitter and more ready in recent seasons but he isn't a wind-them-up-for-debut type either. He has a lot of quality 2yos that make their debuts in moderate, Northern course, maidens which take little winning. Mr Hannon by comparison had only 3 debuts north of Warwick in 2007 and is generally competing in a tougher set of maidens.
Figures above 10% mean that the trainer is worth considering as one that prepares the 2yos quite thoroughly and may get targeted FTO winners because of it. Consider the records of TG Dascombe (figuring well in another category in 2007) M. Botti & EJ O'Neill for example. The interplay between quality & preparations perhaps show up in comparing MR Stoute & SB Suroor. The first has a lot of quality but doesn't have 2yos 'prepared' for debut so he gets percentage figures in the mid-teens. Mr Suroor has become less of a fit-and-ready-on-debut type (which use to show up in fiery behaviour by the horses in many instances). However, he still gets an average 25% figure because he allies the quality to a higher level of readiness of his debut runners than Stoute.
The new 'Wins Per Winner' is produced by dividing the number of wins by the number of winners. A figure of 1.0 results is all of the winners managed only a single success and figures above that when one, or more, of the winners produced multiple successes. The final figure is therefore an indication of the trainer's ability to plan and implement a '2yo career' for his runners which maximises the number of wins. For a horse with ability do they see winning a maiden as 'job done' or have they got an eye to how another win might be gained after the maiden. Leaving out trainers who only had a single winner in 2007 (the top six ranked) the figures range from 1.7 down to 1.0. The 'Big Three' trainers of Hannon, Channon & Johnston (usually in that order) sit in the 1.5 to 1.2 range which could be labelled from good down to acceptable for stables of their strength. Figures above 1.4 are good in general for stables with 10+ runners and a figure close to 1.0 would indicate a trainer who is not targeting multiple wins or does not know how to engineer them.
In the current race planning & structure getting multiple wins is difficult and the main reasons they occur are with:-
The most notable trainer in this general area is JA Osborne who ranked 7th in 2007 on a figure of 1.7 and first amongst those with more than one winner. Although he seems to need a lot of planning to produce these results it is the third time in the last five years he has ranked high up. M Prescott used to be the star in this area but has produced two lacklustre years in 2006-7. The following trainers regularly sit in the good 1.5 to 1.7 range and it is instructive to think about the similarities in their approach to 2yo racing and how 'canny' a set of trainers they are - KR Burke, NA Callaghan (handed over to his son Simon for 2008), BR Millman, KA Ryan, B Smart & MJ Wallace.
The 'Average Number of Runs per Runner' figure is produced by dividing the number of runs by the number of runners. The range in 2007 for stables with more than 10 juvenile runners was from 5.7 (PD Evans & JS Moore) at the top end down to 2.0 for CF Wall and with M Stoute just above on 2.1. For comparison, the Big Three trainers show distinct differences in this area with R Hannon typically consistent around the 4.4 runs per 2yo level. M. Johnston would be less targeted on 2yo racing and have more horses suited to longer distances and 3yo careers and his normal level is around 3.3 runs. Channon is an interesting trainer in this area and ranks highly with 5.0 runs being typical and 5.3 in 2007. He is the most notable member of the multiple-wins-through-persistence club and has a good record of keeping early season debut runners going over long careers. The 2008 Dubai Carnival contained a notable number of older horses who had made early season debuts for Channon as 2yos but were still competing at advanced years for himself and other trainers (even Machynleth - say, didn't you use to be racehorse - made an appearance).
2.2 The Sire Story
The sire statistics are presented in the same way as those for the trainer. The obvious difference over the results is that they have no direct control over the 2yo preparation, careers and choice of races. However, it is worth looking at the data for the new measures to identify ranges for good and bad performances. In the 'Winners to Runners %' figures there were 213 stallions which had at least one winner and a good working average for this area would be 34% winners to runners with 105 sires bettering that level.
The top rankings are, as you would expect, for runners with one or two representatives in the same way that trainers with very few runners can produce '100%' results at times. The more notable performances start from 28th ranked Van Nistelrooy who had 5 winners from 6 runners including two Group race winners. He has made a similar impact with his first US runners and his covering fee has gone up markedly in 2008. Champion First Season Sire Acclamation did best of those with large crops with just over 50% and 48th place on the list.
At the other end of the scale it is useful to consider Sadler's Wells who recorded 22% for 172nd place and a typical year for him. He isn't an important sire of 2yos in general despite the occasional high class winner. It is also interesting to consider the records of three more notable '2yo Sires' with Mujadil, Royal Applause & Tagula whose returns in their early years at stud were high and often above 50% and have dwindled to average levels as their careers have developed. This is partly because they are getting a lower percentage of quality mares to cover because they become less fashionable as they become part of the established sire group. Acclamation is the representative of the 'new kid' who can get 50% in this measure because of the help from the dams he received in 2005 as a fashionable new sire. His career may well develop the same way and his dad - Royal Applause - can mutter away about seeing what his results are five years from now.
Unlike the previous stat the 'FTO Win %' isn't an area the sire can appear to obviously influence. However, if FTO wins are partly caused by higher quality runners then that should have some effect. It is also worth considering whether some sires pass on some traits which make them easier to prepare for debut runs. Remember that the average figure for all 2yos is 6.8% so the sire's results can be compared against that. To pick out two notable positive performers both Green Desert & Elusive Quality have managed double figure regularly in recent seasons. In general though the results are much more variable than with trainers and it can be very difficult to draw conclusions from a single year. Noverre, for example, had a 26% return in his first season in 2006 and followed that up with 2.5% in 2007.
With the 'Wins per Winner' measure the better figures are again in the 1.5 to 1.8 range and with 'Runs per Runner' an average figure is around 3.3. It is interesting to consider how consistent the 'Runs per Runner' figures tend to be unlike a number of the other sire statistics. Perhaps an indication that once a sire has settled into a niche at stud he is seen as a particular type of producer so receives mares to match that and his yearlings tend to be bought by particular types of trainer.
2.3 Other Notes
Section 3.1 which follows contains a discussion of how much the Market knows about the ability of a stables 2yos before they run and how ready the horses are for their debut. The existing information on Page 1 of the Trainer Stats contains two sets of data which can be used to investigate this further. The 'Debut Wins-Runs By Starting Price Group' tables show the number of wins per runs the trainer gets at different SP ranges for their newcomers.
Assuming the market knows which are the yard's better runners you would expect the wins to be grouped at the lower SPs with no, or very occasional, winners at longer SPs, certainly not at 10/1 or higher. If the Market and racecourse 'whispers' are really working well together then the very shortest SPs, at 2/1 and less should show a high success rate. This would indicate a trainer that knows the ability of his 2yos before they run who prepares them well enough to expect them to perform to that level FTO. It also indicates some combination of them being a betting stable or being leaky with information towards a gambling group or bookmaker.
As an aside at this point it is worth considering whether a betting stable would show up in any usable way for the average punter. The Hannon stable expects to get a few debuts wins each year from their best runners but they runners aren't highly tuned FTO and will need to beat lesser athletes on natural ability. This means they need to know the quality of the opposition before they start betting on one of their runners. Mr Hannon has said in interview how valuable he finds it that his jockeys (Hughes, R. Moore & P. Dobbs) find out as much as possible from the other jockeys before the race. This perhaps explains why the successful punts on his newcomers often show a shortening of price after the horses have gone to the start. The Hannon team don't know whether they can win the race when they arrive at the course because, quite rightly, they don't feel confident about how good the opposition is. [Even with that background the tables show that the last six 2yos, covering 2005-7, which started at 2/1 or less have failed to win.]
In general looking at shortest and longest SP sections of this data will give an indication of how much the market knows. Does the trainer get shorter priced newcomers at all? Are their 2yos mostly grouped in a single block indicating the Market respects them but doesn't know which are the good ones? Does the trainer get longer priced winners and places?
To go back to Hannon he has had 62 FTO wins 2002-7 and 8 (13%) started at 10/1 or more including at 33/1 & 14/1 (shortened late from 33/1) in 2007. 25% have started at 8/1 or more and 50% at greater than 5/1. The median SP across all his debuts in that period is 11/1 and his record with debuts at 2/1 or less is 9 from 25 (36%) and a 3 point Level Stake Loss. It is notable how many of those shorter SPs are in small fields, perhaps his jockeys need to work a bit quicker so they can size up some bigger fields and cut out the double figure winners (the 2007 longshots were in fields of 18 & 15).
The 'Debut Runs Grouped By Finishing Postion' tables can be used as an indicator of how ready a trainer has his 2yos for debut. The table splits the debuts in each finishing position group by those that won in the season and those that did not. A trainer who goes in for a thorough preparation of his 2yos would expect to get an above average number of debut wins (check his 'FTO Wins %' figure) and most of the later winners will make places and the first four places at worst. They aren't going to have lots of juveniles who transform from bumbling around in midfield or lost debuts to winners.
SB Suroor would be instructive to look at and his record in 2006 is a total of 16 winners of whom 12 won on debut, 3 made places and only Group winner Ibn Khaldun worse than that in 4th FTO. Here is a 'What you see on debut is what there is' trainer and looking for latent ability as a 2yo amongst the no-shows isn't going to be that fruitful. [It is interesting to consider Ibn Khaldun who clearly wasn't thought highly of before he ran and was beaten in an ordinary maiden as a 100/30 shot. He developed through nurseries and probably surprised the stable with how much race ability he had.]
If we take Hannon as a comparison again he has his debut runners much less ready and probably counts as a below average 'FTO Win %' trainer given the quality of the 2yos and the methods he uses. Here's a trainer you have to work harder with to spot the potential. Around 45-50% of his 2yos that place on debut don't convert that into a win - he runs so many 2yos, and so early in the season, that some will place in duff events by accident FTO when they really aren't much good. The group that make 4th-6th range will be large and include close to a 50-50% split of season winners to non-winners. Those that finish worse than 6th FTO will include 25-33% later winners and in 2007 accounted for more nearly a third of his 47 total winners. Those that finish well back really could be 'anything'.
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3.1 First Time Out Profit & Loss
Whenever a racing pundit is writing about a 2yo maiden race with newcomers in it and has nothing worthwhile to say about a runner the fallback is the "A check in the market should be useful" or "The market will guide". The implication is that the mythical 'They' that know everything will already have been able to size up each individual in the race and produced a Betting Market whereby the price is a good reflection of their ability. This is nonsense to a large extent and the pundit would be more helpful to the average punter if they were to say "I don't know anything worthwhile about this one". At least this is not actively misleading.
The 'market' knows not much more than a committed amateur follower of juvenile racing would and will not take account of a number of important factors. This, to a large extent, will suffice because racing only has a limited amount of variation within it. There are only so many "Stories of a Race" and the market can get by with this. It rarely factors in the paddock review of the 2yos properly as one example of the limitations.
Specifically related to the "The market will guide..." garbage is the implication that the trainer knows how good their 2yo is and to what level it will perform. Further, it assumes that they are a betting stable and will influence the Market in a visible way. Yet further that they may well have shared that information with a wider circle and that they have a good understanding of the quality of their opposition to back up their estimation of a value bet. The lack of credibility in this extended reasoning is starting to get the author's blood up to whatever temperature blood needs to be to move into a gaseous phase.
The 'Market' and 'They' know what they know and this is well short of the full picture. There are lots of things they do not know and the prices available on many horses will fail to reflect their ability - both by under- and over-estimating it. The biggest factor in this is fashionability of trainers and reducing analysis 2yo debut runners to how good you 'believe' they are (i.e. not how good they actually are) will get you a long way. This is because assuming stables that have been successful before will probably have a similar level of success this season works quite well for many stables in the 'Closed System' of the 2yo season.
But, even the best trainers have more losers running for them each year than winners and many unfashionable trainers do know how to get debut winners when they have the right horse. The Market just doesn't take this into account in many cases. This could continue into other areas such as how 'Whispers' for a horse being useful grow from being merely hopeful intonements of "..nice horse, should show up well.." turn into "..this is the next Nijinsky.." by the time it has passed through some intermediaries. Letting the Market guide you in following this stuff will see you disappearing over steep drops more than you need to.
Consider that in 2007 there were 206 FTO winners (20% of all races). Of these 206 as many as 76 (37% of the 206) started at 10/1 or more and 70% at 5/1 or more. Backing every FTO runner would have produced a loss of 561 points to a level stake or 19% of your level stake on every runner. This was much lower than the norm and in 2005 you would have lost 37% of your level stake on every runner on the same activity. So, if a trainer's returns are better than these solid losses over a period their horses are doing better on debut runs than the market expects. If the trainer is showing a profit it is very noteworthy because they are overcoming the built-in loss (for punters) in a Market (the layer's over-round margin).
The FTO P&L data on the Trainer's Extra Page starts with a simple statement of what the P or L was in each of the seasons 2003-7 (when they had runners) for all of their juveniles. If the market knew then the results would be pretty consistent with a loss resulting from backing any of the trainers' FTO 2yos every year. This isn't the case of course and some trainers consistently turn in unexpected profits. Once you are tagged with being 'unfashionable' as a trainer it can be hugely difficult to remove the label. The Market continues to under-rate your FTO 2yos despite the evidence.
A fuller article considers the FTO P&L at length but here are a couple of nuggets. PD (David) Evans is not a fashionable trainer. He worked up from the bottom getting cheap horses very fit and running them a lot in low grade races. He doesn't train in the main centres where there might be reliable workwatchers and, for the most part, he does not appear to be a betting yard. On the other side he likes to get his 2yos very fit for debut and they are often pretty competent mentally. The low quality of many of his horses mitigates against him getting a lot of debut winners but when the ability in there they arrive. But, the Market has not got a clue which are the best ones and his unfashionable status means he gets lots of debut SPs at long odds.
In 2007 his first debut winner was Vhujon at 33/1 who looked as good and professional as he ever did on his first outing. Blasting seven lengths clear after a furlong and only stopping late on but winning comfortably. If he had been trained by Channon he wouldn't have been 33/1 and wouldn't have been as fit and ready and might well not have won. Where's the value here? His other debut winner last year was at 25/1 and with the most expensive horse he has probably trained. Unlike Vhujon he wasn't especially good or professional first up but it was a bad field which broke up under a stiff pace for rabbits. No horse even mildly better than bottom rated 0-45 class should have been 25/1 in that duff race and Bere Davis was a €90,000 purchase who physically did not look out of place when he ran at Royal Ascot.
Those wins go with two debut winners in 2002, both at 33/1, and two in 2005 at 14/1 & 7/1 along other FTO success at 11/2 and 2/1 in the period. To that can be added eight debut places at between 25/1 to 66/1 in the same period.
Henry Candy came to training via a different, somewhat more priveleged, route by taking over his father's established stables and training for some major owners. But, like Mr Evans, he isn't taken that seriously by the Market and backing his debut runners regularly showed a profit. He prepared his better 2yos well for debut and the earliest FTOs were usually horses selected as being capable of winning at some level. Between 2002-5 you would have made a healthy profit each season backing all of his debut runners because of the mismatch between debut readiness and Market awareness.
In the last two seasons he hasn't had a debut winner from 28 runners because of health problems with his string which he has struggled to resolve. If he does get back to his normal operation the FTO profits are likely to return given that the Market will have his recent poor (but with an identifiable reason) years in view.
The P&L data for each trainer is then split down further by Month Groups and by Race Distance Groups. A single P&L figure across a whole season may well hide the fact that a trainer targets strong debuts in particular circumstances. The idea behind splitting the data into three Month Groups is that trainers operate in different ways and bring their strings to readiness at different times in the year. To have the bulk of your 2yos ready to run by March and April will mean the preparation and training schedule will have started before Christmas and the individuals will have to be forward enough to cope with that. To many trainers that would seem a bad approach and they would target mid-summer or even early autumn.
In this case Evans and Candy are different in that Mr Evans will have the bulk of his string ready to run from season start and the debut wins will come in the March to May period and perhaps leaking into early June. The more old school Candy will hardly have a runner in that period and the odd one he does isn't likely to win FTO. His debut winners come along in from June onwards with most of them in September. In both cases if you avoid debuts outside of their better periods the profits can be increased. With some trainers a loss across the whole season can be split into a successful Month Group along with two losses and again indicative of how the trainer handles 2yo racing.
Both Evans and Candy show better results with their debuts at shorter distances and neither have had a debut winner at 8f recently. In general less horses win longer distance races FTO and it is easier for horses to win sprint events (5-6f and some 7f courses) on preparation and natural ability. Trainers often show up with a tendency to get FTO winners at shorter distances and not at longer ones and again this is an indicator of their training methods. An interesting example in this case would be M. Johnston who gets his best results with 7f debuts (good profits in each of the last three years) and who does get 8f debut winners. He would have more 2yos with staying pedigrees in his yard than the average and his training methods allow this types to win weaker races first time.
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Let's go back to our pundit locked in an office trying to say something useful about a group of 2yos they have never seen. With STO runners they can now talk about the debut performance, the likely quality of it and how much improvement may occur. In theory, with this extra information, the Market should have the matter much more in hand by now and the regular profits less likely. Which isn't how it works of course and judging the merits of 2yo maiden races without being at the course is very tricky and the way handicappers work can add to the difficulty. A large subject which would take us too far off the track here.
Many trainers do not target debut wins and the classical method for many traditional handlers is an educational debut followed by the horse being at peak form STO. These sort of trainers will often target the second run in a winnable race. The pattern of running in a large field at Newmarket first time followed by going North to somewhere like Catterick to win STO. If they can't win on this foray it often means they aren't very good and more of the same trips will follow. With this in mind, knowledge of the pattern and information about the debut outing it would seem likely that profits for this type of trainer in any category of STO run would be rare.
The competitiveness of these larger stables runners on their second outings can produce areas that show a profit if you search. For some reason the breakdown by race distance seems to turn up more of the examples. John Gosden's STO runners over 8f have shown a small profit in each of the last three years for example after a spell when he had his early season STO runners over 5-6f competing better than average (for the Maktoum's and a technique he seems to have dropped).
Probably the most remarkable record that shows up is for Peter Chapple-Hyam. He used to have a record as a debut preparer trainer whose 2yos would win FTO. He seems to have changed his approach in the last three years and the debut wins have come with the very best runners and losses overall. The market hasn't got to grips with how strongly his STO runners competed in 2005-7 and a good profit would have resulted from backing everything and an especially good record in later season.
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This section is the first attempt to bring together two strands in a publishable form and needs to be considered as a 'work in progress'. The first of these strands is to produce a set of 2yo ratings during the season that reflect the actual ability shown in the race and not the likely ability using classical race standardisation methods. The reasons for this and the reworking of the 2007 B2yoR [Estimates] is covered in a separate article.
A main driver is to enable the performance achieved by 2yos on debut to be used to assess how much ability they actually have. This is an extension of the 'Class will out' thinking. Even for a trainer who underprepares 2yos for debut, so that they all run moderately in performance terms, those horses with more ability should perform less badly than the trundlers. If we have a set of ratings that reflect real ability shown FTO then analysing this area becomes more of a possibility whereas standard ratings will often blur the underlying class. The articles written in 2005 & 2007 on spotting the potential shown on debut of JL Dunlop's runners provides a good introduction to this area.
All 2yos that run during a season are classified into Winner & Non-Winner groups so that the circumstances of their debuts can be assessed. For this analysis the 2yos were split up by the best placing they achieved during their 2yo career into Winners, Seconds, Thirds, Fourths and Unplaced (5ths & worse). The reworked estimates for the FTO runs of all 2yos in each best position group were then averaged. It should be noted that for trainers with only a few 2yos the figures will be less reliable because of the small number of representatives in each position group.
If we consider the 'Big Three' juvenile trainers
(BJ Meehan threatened to break into this in 2007) then here are their average
FTO [Estimates] for season Winners and Unplaced horses.
|[2007 Season]||Season Winners Ave FTO [Est]||Season Unplaceds Ave FTO [Est]|
The difference that shows up is encouraging and shows that the figures may well be useful for analysing future debut runs. For example :-
The [Estimates] are further broken down by Month Groups and Race Distances, in the same way as the P&L data, to see whether any differences in trainer approach show up. The caveat about small sample sizes is even greater here because for a single season even these larger stables may have few qualifiers in some areas. However, some trends may show up. For example all three trainers show an increase for the average FTO rating achieved by season winners for the Sep-Nov period over Mar-May. This is probably what you should expect with horses having had more time to develop physically and more time in training. But it shows how the single figure for all runners might be misleading if used for a debut runner in mid April for example.
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Firstly, let us define a 'Debut Index'. If a trainer has, for example, ten 2yo debuts in a season you can order them from earliest to latest as 1 to 10. This numbering is the 'Index'. A 'Slice' then refers to taking a percentage of the Index, from the start, to analyse. In the case of the trainer with his ten 2yos a '50% Debut slice' would refer to the first 5 of his juveniles that made their debuts during the season.
So why would you want to do that? The primary reason is that we should always be looking for clues as to when trainers run their best and also the competitive 2yos. If there was no pattern to this then this type of analysis would be uninformative and 50% of the season's winners for every trainer would be, on average, in the first 50% of debuts and 50% in the second slice.
But, it doesn't tend to work like that. The most common technique that shows up is that trainers identify the better and competitive 2yos and run them in the early batches. The later debuts are often stuffed with moderate and backward 2yos and very few season winners. Some trainers will sprinkle in some 2yos lacking scope and ability into the early debuts and some only run the competitive ones. Other trainers show up with long tails of moderate 2yos which they debut later which means you can ignore the last 50%, for example, of their horses to appear. Including ones that might have been expensively purchased and with good pedigrees.
The Index is not tied to a time of the season of course and is an abstract listing. If you study the 'Winners to Non-Winners by Month of Debut' table on the first page of the Trainer 02-07 statistics in conjunction with this Debut Index data you can get a good feel for the trainer's methods.
Let us take some examples to make the point. H Candy has already been discussed for his preparation of 2yos and selectivity over when they run. Despite his relatively poor returns overall in 2006-7 the same habits have shown up. In each season the first two debuts have been trial runs from lesser types and none of that four have won. The next 2-3 debuts have have included 4 winners and one solid placed horse from the six horses. The remaining 17 debuts across the two seasons have produced a single winner and it is likely that Corryborough in 2007 had his debut delayed for some reason.
James Fanshawe is an even more thorough preparer and like Candy has a low 'Runs per Runner' figure around 2.2 indicating a trainer who is selective over 2yo representatives and outings. In 2006 he ran only 10 juveniles and the two winners were the first two to make their debut in the season. In 2007 he ran far more with 25 horses which produced six winners. Three of the six were his first three runners and the later 32 debuts included just three winners and the last 13 to see the racecourse were all non-winners.
A more unusual record is that of David Nicholls who has made his name by developing older sprinters and taking time to do it. He doesn't pack the early debuts with the competitive 2yos and he is one of the few trainers where the first 50% of runners in 2006-7 season included less than 50% of the season's winners. He seems to bring his 2yos on more slowly and to peak in later season, even with sprint 2yos that another trainer might get going in early season. In 2007 he had a good record of 7 winners from only 12 runners. The first six debuts produced only 2 of the winners and the last six had five winners. This later season peak also shows up with his debut successes. In 2006 he had one FTO winner which was his last 2yo to see a racecourse in October. In 2007 he had two debut winners and they were two of the last three to make their debuts in late August and September. Those 2007 FTO successes were at 28/1 and 33/1 to produce a large profit and more evidence that the Market can be pretty much in the dark.
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The data in this section has been trialled before on the site as part of the 'Trainer Dashboards' in the 2006 season. The information shows the number of runners and winners the stables has achieved each season with runners sourced from the sales (split by price group) and by owners sending the trainer horses they have bred themselves. As background it is worth considering the sales price groups. The recent yearling sales have been quite buoyant although the current received wisdom is that 'good individuals' can make premium prices but it is difficult to clear moderate ones.
A horse bought for 5,000 guineas (5k) or less would be a real basement purchase and probably a poor specimen. Little would be expected from purchases at this level and a win in a seller a good outcome. 5k to 10k would have a slightly higher expectation of an individual that could compete at low level outside of selling level. From 10k to 20k you would have reasonable hopes of an horse that could compete at open maiden level or in nurseries but the horse would still count as 'cheap'. Between 20k to 40k would be the average level for competitive 2yos who didn't have items which would put them into the premium quality. Somewhere at the upper end of this level the relationship between price and physical type breaks down and the prices escalate quickly for indivuduals perceived to have superior conformation, pedigrees etc. 40k to 60k would be the start of the expensive bracket and you would expect to be buying an above average physical specimen. From 60k to 100k would be the best physical types who perhaps lacked something in pedigree terms and above 100k would be horses that had the full package.
The quality of the owner breds can be variable and the trainer has no control over it other than to befriend Owners who have high quality mares and send them to better stallions.
The figures are therefore useful for assessing the strength of a stable and how reliant it is on owner breeders. It is also informative to see whether the trainer gets winners with 2yos from all quality levels. For example, it is quite common for a trainer not to get a win with relatively expensive 2yos for the stable. The probable reason is that they go easy with the expensive horse because they do not want to make a mess of the opportunity by pressing too hard at 2yo. Some trainers are very good a getting wins out of their cheap 2yos, say 10k or less, whereas others do not manage to wins with these. The reasons for this may well go back to the equine recruitment ability and whether the trainer and advisors can pick out usable 2yos from the basement group.
Comparing the figures year to year also allow changes in stable strength to be identified. For example, if a trainer has got an increased number of debut winners it may be because he has changed his preparations. But, it could also be because he has a more expensive group of 2yos which has more quality and a check in this table would show that up.
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