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Article 08_004_2
24th March, 2008.
2yo Debuts - Profit & Loss Tracking in 2008
  1. Introduction
  2. Trainers to track for All Debuts
  3. The 'Long Shots'
  4. Trainer tracking by debut Month Groups
    1. March to May
    2. June to August
    3. September to November
  5. Trainer tracking by debut Race Distance
    1. 5 furlongs
    2. 5-6 furlongs
    3. 7 furlongs
  6. Hints & Tips


    The Trainer statistics for the period 2002-7 on the B2yoR website were augmented for 2008 with a second page covering new areas. The first section of these new pages deals with the Profit & Loss, per season, that the trainer recorded. As a reminder a debut run is termed the 'First Time Out' and therefore the three letter acronym FTO is used as shorthand for a debut outing.

    As part of the Race Previews and general reporting for the 2008 season the performance of a number of trainers will be tracked to compare to their previous results in 2003-7. The trainers chosen all have a good record in the specific areas they have been selected for and have shown a profit over the 2003-7 period. Their qualifying debut runners will be identified in the Previews before they run and there will be a Tracking Page to refer to during the season. This will be updated at reasonable intervals.

    The three sections, and their sub-parts, that follow identify the trainers that have been chosen to follow for each area.

[A small aside - feel free to bypass to taste. This article was written just after the conclusion of the Cheltenham Festival. A number of 'Statistics' were "smashed" and "..blown out of the water.." according to some of the pundits, primarily those that did not seem to like statistics. While a 2yo racing site may not be the first place to consider for a (calm) reflection on the Champion Hurdle let's have a think about it. It's just horseracing, after all, and whether statistics are useful or not and thinking about what is occurring.

    To say the statistics were "smashed" because a 5yo wins the Champion Hurdle does two things wrong. Firstly, it sets the stats up as a 'Truth' which no-one should expect them to be. It also misses the point that if 5yos were 0 for 73 before Katchit they are now 1 for 75 and a huge loss. Backing 5yos long-term will still have left you trouserless, as well as shirtless, and with elastic bands stopping the soles of your shoes flapping around (like the punter in the old joke with the bookmaker and his roll of £50s). Statistics are never foolproof guide and are just aids to identifying trends and trying to understand them. The correct view was "It's very difficult for 5yos to win a normal Champion Hurdle" and not "5yos cannot win ...." as the anti-stats team would have it.

    It's more useful to think about why a 5yo could win this year when they normally struggle. It's that way of identifying whether odd results are just that, oddities, or signs of a real trend that can make them useful. In 2yo racing when a trainer who 'never' has a debut winner suddenly has one is it an oddity or a trend? The most common answer is a combination of a useful, and natural, racehorse and a low quality race. The trainer's other debuts that season all fail so it wasn't a trend and the win hints at some really useful information about the horse and the opposition it faced. The stat of "Doesn't get debut winners" hasn't been smashed it's a working template to the shape of racing that the current outcomes can be compared to.

    Presumably, 5yos normally struggle because they come into the Champion Hurdle faced by a strong group of established horses who can run into the 170s by Official Ratings. The majority of 5yos can't reach that level and have less racecraft than the older horses they face. It seems likely that Katchit ran into a weak group of older horses and didn't need to get up to the 170s to win and he's the toughest, most reliable, natural you can have as a hurdler. Five years from now when the Triumph Hurdle winner steps up next year to face a tough group of older hurdlers where's your money? Was Katchit an oddity or the start of a trend?]

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    The following trainers will be tracked throughout the season across all of their debuts. The table below gives a brief summary of their recent record. The links from the trainer's names go to their P&L statistics for the period 2003-7.

    Update to Article on March 24th, 2008 - Just prior to the start of the 2008 turf season trainer E. J. O'Neill and owner J. C. Fretwell parted company, presumably unamicably given the timing, and O'Neill left the Averham Park Stables. The trainer was included in this section because of his record since moving to be salaried trainer for Fretwell and therefore he has been removed from the tracking. Fretwell had not announced a replacement by the season commencement and had suggested that his horses might be spread around other traners. Therefore E. S. (Ed) McMahon, son of Fretwell's previous main trainer & current bloodstock advisor Bryan, has been added to the tracking.

Trainer (All Debuts) Notes
RM Beckett
  • Good profits across all runners in 2005-7 and across the range of month groups and most distances. Earliest debuts possible area to be wary of and, pretty oddly, hasn't had a 6f debut winner in the period.
  • M Botti
  • Only training since 2006 but has shown himself to be a trainer who doesn't run the 2yos unless they are ready to compete to a high level within their ability range. A 20/1 FTO winner in each season by a filly that won a Group 3 later. The 'Market' is likely to be learning about his tactics but the debut readiness and better 2yos he may have should offset this to some extent.
  • E. S. McMahon
  • Starting training in 2005 when his father, Bryan, retired at a facility close to his parent's stables. His P&L record with debuts has improved in each year after a start in 2005 when he had a range of notably incompetent newcomers. Likely to get an increased number of Fretwell horses following that owner's split with EJ O'Neill.
  • EJ O'Neill (Removed)
  • Took over as salaried trainer at John Fretwell's stables in 2005. Mr Fretwell (lime colours) targets 2yo racing and the trainer has shown himself to be a through preparer and identifies the ability of 2yos before they run. Debuts wins come across most categories although hints that the Market has started taking him more seriously. Generally a lower end 2007 in term of quality and likely to do better in 2008. The debut wins do come and tend to be targeted for specific times of the year. (See RAG tables & notes from 17th June, 2007 preview)
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        The following trainers are all unfashionable and the Market does not take them seriously. They all share the trait of getting their 2yos notably fit and ready for debut. This means that when the right combination of competent horse and lower race quality occurs they will find themselves winning and the SPs are usually long. Unlike the trainers in the previous section they do not get debut winners every season and they are more 'long term' projects but it would be surprising if at least a couple of them didn't produce long-shot debut success this year.

    Trainer (Long Shots) Notes
    M Dods
  • Possibly the star of this section with a 100/1 winner in 2003 and two at 66/1 and 40/1 in 2006. Four other debut wins in the period from 14/1 to 5/1. A quiet operator who trains miles from the Market.
  • MW (Mick) Easterby
  • When he's running around on TV kissing anyone who can't produce a usable sidestep he can cut a comical figure. You have to remind yourself he's a wealthy man, who's trained for ever, is part of a successful training clan and was responsible for the last Northern trained Classic Winner until Mark Johnston came along 20+ years later to do it (followed by Mick's nephew Tim). He doesn't take 2yo racing seriously and his low strike rate figures tell you what you need to know. But, the debut runners are competitive and the earliest debuts often include those that can compete at long odds. A debut winner in each of the last four years and a profit in three of them provided you stick to the March to May period. Any newcomer after that is likely to be moderate and the races tend to be tougher after that.
  • PD (David) Evans
  • 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. Another 25/1 debut win in 2007 and they 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. Another to note in the March to May period 
  • B. Palling
  • Another trainer based in Wales and in general the Market knows a lot less about what's off the usual map. Runners tend to be close to full ability on debut and not improve. Regular double figure debut winners and record would be better but for a 22/1 'winner' being disqualified in 2007.
  • WGM (Bill) Turner
  • In the absence of an really dominant early 2yo trainer still the one that get's picked by the media as the closest to that type. No debut winner in 2007 and his 2yos did not look right in early season. Usually gets one a year and within the first two weeks of the season. Anything starting out after April ignorable.
  • JR Weymes
  • Only started getting debut wins recently but three in the last four seasons at between 14/1 and 33/1. No pattern discernible and winner could come at any time.
  • P Winkworth
  • NH trainer with increasing number of 2yos in the last four seasons. Similar record to Mr Weymes with 3 debut winners at 20/1 (twice) and 40/1. Until 2007 the debut wins came from the first batch of runners and still likely to be these that contain the better 2yos and long-shot candidate.
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        The new Trainer P&L statistics in the 2003-7 period are broken down by three Month Groups on the individual trainer pages. The sub-sections below match those periods within a season.

    4.1 March to May

    Trainer (Mar-May) Notes
    MG Quinlan
  • Another trainer notable for ready debuts who produced profits for this period in 2003-5. Less good 2yos have led to no debut winner in the March to May period in 2006-7 with a late start in 2006 contirbuting to the record. However, debut places in those years with the competitive 2yos, although they lacked strong ability, suggest he still will get the debut wins with the right horses.
  • B Smart
  • A stable growing in strength and importance and boosted by juveniles for Sheikh Mohammed's oldest son in 2008. 3 out of 5 profitable seasons in this Month Group and it would have been four but in 2007 he had thee debut success leak into the first 13 days of June. 

  • 4.2 June to August
    Trainer (Jun-Aug) Notes
    H Candy
  • A regular in the debut profits sector until 2006 and the last two seasons have been poor with his horses beset with illness problems. But, a good trainer who has to come right sometime and you have to take a risk at times. Could have figured in the Sep-Nov Group because his better record in likely to be between Late July and into September.
  • JHM Gosden
  • The cleverest man in racing, apparently, and one whose debuts can be hard to fathom with Raven's Pass 20/1 success as stable third string on debut in 2007 not untypical of the difficulties. But, a good profit with all debuts in this Month Group in each of the last three seasons and the sheer quality in the stable means the debut wins will come along. Treating them as a group removes the need to be baffled as 2yos with similar profiles and SPs perform at different ends of the performance range as newcomers.
  • TP Tate
  • Building a good record with debut winners through to 2006 as the number of 2yos increased. The debuts began earlier in 2007 in May (outside of this Group) and the wins were absent. But those early debuts proved to be winners later with development. One to check for when he starts running his 2yos and preferably into this Month Group on his previous record.

  • 4.3 September to November
    Trainer (Sep-Nov) Notes
    BJ Meehan
  • Large increase in 2yos in 2007 and an unbalanced record with some highlights but a less than solid 'middle' of quality types. Illness issues meant he started a range of 2yos later than normal and allied to some good quality produced a much better FTO win percentage. Unlikely to match that in 2008.
  • Not a ready FTO trainer unlike many in this article and has recently tended to get debut wins at two times of the year. In May to June with the best of his precocious naturals and notable for sending his best 2yos to Newmarket FTO. But also worth watching out for his late season debuts which have produced profits in three of the last four seasons. 
  • D Nicholls
  • A noteworthy trainer for not pressing on with the best of his sprint 2yos in the first half of the season. The majority of the winners in the last two years have been in the second half of his 2yo debuts. The three debut wins have been in later season and amongst the last of his 2yos to appear.
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    [5.1] 5 Furlongs

    Trainer (5f) Notes
    RA Fahey
  • 10 debut winners in the last four seasons and 9 of them at 5f (the other was a 6f and at 50/1 though which is a bit of a tester). Debut wins at 5f would normally be associated with a trainer who has his 2yos ready to compete from early season but that isn't the case here. The earliest 5f debuts are often short of readiness and the only debut win prior to May 23rd in the 2004-7 period was Mr Hardy's splendidly untypical win last year. 
  • If you put that to one side as a product of the horse's unusual precocity then he usually start with the debut wins from late May.
  • JG Given
  • B2yoR has used the phrase 'Show Or Nothing (SON)' at times to refer to a trainer whereby what you see on debut from their 2yos is what they are capable of. Mr Given would often be used as the exemplar of that approach and had his 2yos near peak FTO. 
  • He has drifted a little way from that and probably doen't target sprint 2yos as much but these traits still show up with the right horse as Tia Mia showed in 2007 when winning clearly after a punt. He's due a longer priced 'surprise'.
  • KA Ryan
  • One of the surprises from the P&L work has been the record of Kevin Ryan. His rise to prominence over the last few years would instinctively make you think the Market would probably over-rate him if anything. But he has managed to squeeze out profits in early season over 5f in three of the last four years. The odd year was in 2007 so perhaps the market has caught up but worth tracking anyway.

  • [5.2] 5-6 Furlongs
    Trainer (5-6f) Notes
    KR Burke
  • A good trainer with an increasing number of 2yos and an interesting approach. Profits in the last three years over 5f (8 of 10 debut wins) and one in profit over 6f (2 at longer odds). Does get the odd debut win in very early season but very notable is his record in late May & early June.
  • Has shown a profit on all of his Second Time Out (STO) runners in each season 2003-7 and especially in the period June to August. This fits with his stable coming into peak form in midsummer and the debut wins coming at the start of that period with the selected 2yos.
  • WR Muir
  • An inconsistent record and not a convincing 2yo trainer. However, gets the odd 5-6 debut win after mid season and they tend to be at long odds.

  • [5.3] 7 Furlongs
    Trainer (7f) Notes
    M Johnston
  • When putting these lists together B2yoR wanted to avoid the biggest stables. One problem is that you have lots of qualifiers and the targeted pointfulness of the exercise can get lost. But Mr Johnston's record with 7f debuts is bafflingly good so had to be included. You would think that a Big Ogre of a stable like his in weaker Northern maidens would lead to the SPs being too short and poor value. 
  • But a 25+ point profit for 7f debuts in each of the last three years and profits with 8f debuts (that is rare for trainers of any sort) in two of them. Whatever the training regime he uses it seems to suit the 'stayers' well.
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    6.  HINTS & TIPS

        The information presented and the tracking through the season is not a 'System' as such. The tracking will be for all qualifying horses and backing every one of them shouldn't be painful. It is worth remembering that a single season is a relatively short period to judge a long term approach like following debuts, especially for the 'Long Shot' trainers. However, all of the trainers have been chosen because they regularly produce FTO profits so if large losses accrue then something very odd is going on (..but at least we will be aware it is occurring).

        Following the debuts will almost certainly have as much value in the discipline it instils and the understanding of 2yo racing that will follow. With the information on this page we have a good model for how the debuts ought to progress and we will get good winners along the way and perhaps a profit overall. But, even if that isn't the case it will be because something has changed and we will learn more about trainers, debuts, the Market's development amongst other things.

        Part of this learning is to remember that trainers can change their approach and other circumstances can change. The text above hints at likely changes with H Candy & BJ Meehan's 2008 record depending upon the control they have over 'the virus'. Along with the decree that "5yos shalt not win the Champion Hurdle" might well have gone the one about GA (Alan) Swinbank & PC Haslam not getting debut winners. The first of those had four debut wins in 2007 and a big profit and the second had three for a small profit.

        In both cases their approach is developing and changing, in Mr Haslam's case probably partly because his son Ben takes more of a role in the yearling purchases and gets more precocious types. Again, the fact that we have a set of statistics isn't a hindrance in tying one to a set of idealistic views. It is a model of how the world works so we can assess what the likelihood of an outcome is and that we can identify when the world is changing, or we are wrong about it and our model needs amending. [To finish the Katchit aside some pundits who set up 'Stats' as a target to knock down because one horse wins suggested the 'Form' was the ideal to adhere to. This is nonsense and believing that Form is some 100% correct decree with all the answers is as daft as the notion that stats should be treated as all-or-nothing guides. Form is just another model of how racing works and produced by a someone who has taken a view on the previous happenings and may be right or wrong to varying degrees.]

        A final word of caution would be to follow the advice above and do not treat the Groupings above as absolute cut-offs. Nothing would be more annoying than backing all of Mick Quinlan's debuts in March to May while they had places at best then seeing him have a 50/1 success on June 2nd. The balance should be shifted towards blurring the edges a little and looking kindly on those debuts close to qualifying.

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