A claimer at Catterick today and then a break on Friday until the 2yo racing
really gets going again with 3 maidens on Saturday and a Class 4 event
at Brighton on Sunday. Rather than spending time on the claimer it is more
useful to review the trainer performance to date and to look at how overall
ability of a 2yo can be estimated from debut performance. Excluding yesterday's
seller we have had 30 races to date (of around 980 in a season) with 22
won by newcomers and 8 by runners with previous experience including two
dual winners with Mister Hardy
Comparing the start to this season with last year shows that at the broad
level the season has started in a very typical way with the majority of
the major trainers on a typical schedule. The most notable and unusual
'Good Start' has been by JA Osborne
with 5 runners, 3 winners (2 on debut), and the other two runners have
placed second. In 2002 he announced his stable was going to target 2yo
racing and he adapted his training methods and brought in assistance to
help with selecting suitable yearlings. This reaped instance benefits with
a remarkably good 2003 highlighted by the Dewhurst win for Milk It Mick.
Even in that season he didn't get going early and had no winner until May
and Milk It Mick revealed his ability on his April debut by getting left
10 lengths in a huge field and powering through to 7th at the finish and
still going forward.
In 2004 he gave us a fast start with March debuts at Lingfield and Doncaster
and a debut winner in the first week in April. The two years since have
seen later starts, especially in 2006, and just around average returns
over the whole season. With a more precocious group in 2007 he has returned
to his 2004 form and sure handling on the debuts. In recent seasons there
has been a lull with less able 2yos making up at least 50% of the debuts
after the initial 'select' group. A question to ponder is whether the group
we have seen so far are just his normal set of ok 2yos shifted a little
earlier into the season or whether he is set for a good season and the
May debuts will include better than 50% winners to non-winners (W-NW).
Worthy of note under 'Good Starts' would be MJ
Wallace - 3 runners, 2 debut places turned into STO wins and a 40%
strike rate bettering his 37.5% in 2006 although with one less winner.
The very selective way he targets wins with his early 2yos has become a
notable part of the early season. Difficult to make a profit backing his
horses though with his place-on-debut-win-STO style leading to short prices
for the successes. The reliability in turning those places into wins somewhat
offsets the apparently short SPs. An finally a word for Richard
Fahey whose early runners in recent seasons have often looked under-prepared
and his stable has not had a winner prior to May in 2002-6 and only 5 in
total before July in the same period. The later season record - particularly
between July to September has then got to stable's record up towards average
for a season. He has only run Mister
Hardy who has won twice including the Brocklesby. The fact that he
hasn't had another runner rather suggests that much of the credit should
go to the horse being an absolute natural at racing rather than Mr Fahey
changing his methods in a concerted way.
In the 'Not So Good/Slow Starts' category would go JR
Best, KR Burke, BR
Millman & WGM Turner.
John Best has operated a two-speed strategy with 2yos for some years with
an 'Early Team' of more expendable 2yos who runs from season start and
will show up on debut and run often until they find a small race to win.
He's only run Hucking Harmony so far who has been typical of this approach
with two places from two runs but where are the others? Should we be expecting
a couple more 'Hucking' prefixers to debut in the next week who will be
winners of some sort?
Bill Turner has so far failed to have a winner and notably has not had
his early season 'surprise' FTO winner at longer odds. This, for a stable
which pessimistically settles into it's self-chosen role of winning some
duff early season races and then some claimers & sellers later with
apprentice ridden horses in cheekpieces. In this context a bad start for
the stable and perhaps they don't have a better 2yo like Lord Charles in
2006? Given that the 'Racing Post' did it's usual interview with him prior
to the season start as part of getting ready for The Flat what happened
to Goldhill Fair that he talked
up as his best? Unless his 2yos are really useful like The Lord (in 2002)
he doesn't seem to know how good they are in absolute terms before the
season starts so perhaps the 'Racing Post' could talk to someone else next
year. [This what written just prior to the Beverley seller so if Lady Demure
has won at 33/1 - it was late Bill, and not in a maiden, where were you
in the first week in April? Giving us prize nuisances like Lord
Rod Millman has had a winner so has not had a bad start but in the context
of his 2005 ultra fast beginning he's behind schedule. The quality of the
runners seen to date also do not suggest he has a particularly good group.
He used to run his best early 2yo at Nottingham and if Brassini
is as good as he's got then it isn't going to be good season.
Karl Burke has a good record with his 2yos and it has got better as the
numbers have increased since his move of base in 2001. By this stage of
the season he has normally shown us some highly competitive early 2yos.
By this point in 2006 we had already seen Chjimes (debut winner, Listed
placed), Precocious Star (dual winner, 3yo Listed success), Monkey Glas
(dual winner) and usable seller runaround Tokyo Jo. It was similar in 2005
with three solid early types in Triskaidekaphobia, Lindus Atenor &
City For Conquest and seller winner Lucys Lady although all four needed
a break and won as a group in late May and early June. His two runners
to date haven't looked ready and not even that competitive long term. Either
he hasn't shown us a better one yet or perhaps Complete Frontline is the
end-May developer type? Either way, interesting to see what he gives us
next since he must have some useful 2yos to bring out soon.
A number of trainers have had more runners than usual - PA
Blockley, CE Brittain,
M Brittain, AB
Haynes & BJ Meehan. Andy
Haynes has just moved to new stables and has had a seller debut win and
a good place from Sinead Of Aglish.
We have learnt that he has some reasonable types in his early group and
has got them ready to compete well on debut. Paul Blockley has run more
than usual but since his 2yos usually show most of what they are on debut
the results have been poor. He's had one debut winning in a dreadful seller
which got a rating of 19 (lower than any winner in recent seasons) and
No Point predictably got ironed
out under a penalty yesterday given that his 2yos do not improve much from
debut (at least not quickly - they might after a break to later season
given the way he has them jumping about FTO).
Clive Brittain doesn't have a good record with 2yos and tends to run a
lot but get wins only where the natural ability of the horse can get the
job done for him. He hasn't had a winner before June in the last 2 seasons
and only 3 runs before May since 2002. He has already run four and all
look like targeted, middling price, 2yo purchases for his long-time supporter
Saeed Manana. The three colts to have run have all shown glimpses of promise
in ok races but on his record you wouldn't want to be strongly of the view
they'll turn that into wins in an orderly manner. There will no doubt be
some flunks at shorter SPs and runs in Group races before they manage to
Mel Brittain has reportedly got around forty 2yos to run this year which
is a notable increase. He's already run 8 and they haven't been competitive
on debut although have improved to their probable peak ability on the second
run. Some places in weak races has been the best return. While they have
mostly been cheapish buys it isn't a good sign. When starting on a new
venture like this most trainers would give us the best of the precocious
bunch before running the useless and/or clueless ones. If we have seen
the best of his 'earlys' then you wouldn't want to be betting on the others.
Each season we get long priced debut wins which appear impossible to find.
They are often possible to dig out if you are on course and just look at
the horses and not at the pedigree, price and connections. They can also
be found with a set of trainers who get their 2yos fit and competent on
debut but either don't bet or aren't confident in sizing up the opposition.
We have already seen the usual long priced debut winners from David Evans
(Vhujon at 33/1) and Mick Easterby (Fred's Lad at 25/1) and a typical ready
first time winner from Paul D'Arcy (Kylane in a weak race). Missing from
the list so far would include trainers like Bill Turner (noted above),
TD Barron, M Dods, A Duffield, JG Given and B Smart. Anne Duffield has
been a particular disappointment so far with her earliest runners being
well prepared but just too small and limited to deliver the long priced
debut success. But perhaps those reverses will mean the SP will be better
when it does come along for these trainers.
We have also had the unpredictable debut winners from trainers who just
do not get them. In particular JS Wainwright (Loch Jipp, 50/1) and JS Goldie
(Primo Heights, 33/1). These are not 'forseeable' in the sense that a long
priced winner for David Evans is because they occur very infrequently and
almost certainly down to unusual ability of the horse. Try looking at the
video of Loch Jipp coming up the
home straight at Pontefract and not looking that organised or comfortable.
But, she's twice the size of anything else and the rabbits can't keep up
even if they knew what they were doing. She was apparently purchased privately
(for around £16,000) in the US by Dean McKeown who is making a name
for himself with these American imports. He also did a lot of the work
in preparing her and these real surprise debut winners often have a non-standard
preparation and/or background by their stable standards (e.g. like John
Weymes debut winner with a breeze-up buy in 2006).
Without wanting to bore anyone if you would like to convince yourself that
the season is on a reasonable course by historical standards the following
trainers are pretty close to their normal pattern as shown by the 'Update'
tables on their 2007 pages - RM
Beckett, MLW Bell, MR
Channon, TD Easterby, PD
Evans, R Hannon, BW
Hills, M Johnston, JS
Moore (minus his normal STO seller win) & KA
Ryan (except for 2 x debuts wins). Which is the bulk of the runners
after all and a demonstration of how the majority of trainers follow set
plans and produce a similar shape to each season. The absence of the majority
of trainers by this stage is also part of the usual pattern of course.
Richard Hannon uses a clear strategy with his 2yo seasons which begins
the previous year with the type of physical specimens he buys at the sales.
The debuts usually come in a set of stages and we are currently in the
'Early 15' part which covers the 2yos from the start of the season through
to the end of the first week of May. For reference here are some notes
on what to expect from this group :-
The earliest of this set will include some of his best 2yos of the season
and often some Group class
The very earliest debuts, often 1 of the first three, will include a real
dud who struggles at seller level.
The duff to moderate runners in the first 15 often show up by an SP above
the 8/1 to 10/1 range.
The 15 will include around 10 who are capable of open maiden wins (the
06 season saw a number of irritating placers with this ability level)
There will be 1-2 debuts wins from his best early 2yos (Cav Okay and Sonny
Red later in the period in 2006 for example). In general the stable only
gets debut wins at three set points during the season and this 'Best of
the Earlys' is one of them.
The 5-6 horses that make their debut as the 10th+ of the early 15 will
include 2-3 non-winners. Note that his record with pre-May debuts in 2003-6
is 37 winners to 12 non-winners. His May record is 40 winners to 46 non-winners
and the early May debuts show this switchover from 80% future winners with
naturals to <50% winners and may as well get the duffer ones on course
The table below shows the first 14 debuts in 2006 (up to that break point
of first week of May) along with the debut ratings (FTO = First Time Out)
they achieved, the final ratings at the end of the season (along with the
improvement in brackets) and any pertinent notes. The right half of the
table shows the beginnings of the same information for the debuts so far
along with STO (Second Time Out) ratings where applicable. Mr Hannon is
pretty much on schedule with Party In The Park making his debut 3 days
before Benchmark did in 2007 in relative terms.
To check on some of the rules above the first debut - Fat Boy - is probably
close to his best early 2yo and Higgys Boy probably the early duff one
(although an ok physical type and presumably 'holed' somewhere). He's already
had a couple of debut wins with what looks his best early colt and filly
which fits the pattern - both in soft races with slowish times which holds
the ratings down. The only debuts above 11/2 have been the latest 3 in
major maidens and while Party In The Park is a better type it doesn't bode
well for the two fillies Romany Princess & Quick Sands. In general
the first 9 debuts have the usual top & bottom raters but the 'middle'
looks less strong than 2006 depending upon what you make of Cracking &
||Lost 5 lengths start debut, 10 lengths adrift halfway
||Favourite & Won
||(48 STO), 11/2 debut, 33/1 STO
||(55 STO), Jockey Easy Debut
||Little Big Boy
||Probably seller class
||Favourite & Won
||Debut race over-rated
||Aggressive ride, Fade & Eased
||Solid dual winner
||16/1 with Romany Princess
||Form deteriorated after STO
||14/1 missed break
||Solid dual winner
||Party In The Park
||16/1 & 3rd
||Debut race over-rated, injured STO
||Debut with Whipchord in over-rated race.
Having satisfied ourselves that Mr Hannon hasn't thrown the 'Rule Book'
away and started doing peculiar things let us take this a bit further and
look at the actually performance levels on debut. For those that have read
the articles on the site about spotting potential from debut runs relating
the John Dunlop this will not be a new idea. Now, Mr Hannon doesn't have
his 2yos as fit on debut as Mr Dunlop and they are not thoroughly drilled.
But, they will have had a consistent preparation and will tend to make
their debut at a similar level of readiness as judged by Mr Hannon (by
eye as he stands on the gallops of an early morning apparently but no particular
reason why that shouldn't be as consistent as weights, biological tests
and timings given the thousands of 2yos he's dealt with). Which means that,
in theory, the performance they give on debut should be a good indicator
of what they are capable of and where they stand in relation to other Hannon
A word of caution is obviously needed in that the circumstances of an actual
race needs to be factored in by Video review of the race. If the 2yo fluffs
the start and loses 10 lengths and ends up rating 30 (all figures in this
Review are to B2yoR's scale) then we cannot dismiss them as a seller animal,
for example. One particular point to note with Hannon 2yos is the idiosyncracies
of jockey Richard Hughes who thinks he's Lester Piggott and often let's
2yos drift home waiting for tomorrow. He does that peculiar thing where
he pretends to be pushing at the horse's neck with his arms and hands when
he's actually just letting the head and neck move his arms. It's
possibly called 'looking busy'. If Pat Dobbs rode all the 2yos this sort
of analysis would be much easier and part of the reason why that jockey
often finishes in front of the 'preferred' Hannon 2yo in races with 2+
of their runners. When Mr Hughes is actually interested in a horse and
thinks they have something he works much harder to get them involved. So
far in 2007 the two debut winners sat close up in the first three places
through the race. Party In The Park led and Cracking was given an aggressive
ride by Hughes to cross in front of the field and press the leader. So
the three we know are better types, plus Cracking who remains a question
to answer, were all hustled into the race and the others were midfield
or worse with Hughes doing the 'Nodding Donkey' bit to some extent on most
The B2yoR ratings are targeted at assessing the actual level of performance
that a horse has achieved on debut, not 'what seems likely for a race of
that type'. This is necessary because if you don't attempt this then answering
questions like 'How much do horses improve from debut?' becomes
an entirely pointless activity. If you've spent your time reading Xxxxrform
ratings for the last 20 years you'll probably be convinced the majority
of 2yos peak on their debut run for example. Even with this mind-set it
can be hard to stop the ratings drifting upwards because it was Newmarket,
with all the right trainer involved, for example.
In 2006 Mr Hannon had 42 debuts rated at 50+ which included 24 winners,
3 x 65+ rated placers (i.e. form capable of winning an open maiden), 10
placers (including several over-rated debuts), 3 unplaced all later runs
and 2 who did not run again. So, 37 of the 40 who ran later managed to
at least place at their level although clearly work to do to improve the
ratings to pick up those over-rated debut races.
He had 45 of his 2yos rated at less than 50 which included 15 winners,
16 placers (all less than 65 seasonal ratings), 14 unplaced and 9 who had
one run (mostly moderate or backward later season types). The 15 winners
were mostly lower class but included 3 Listed winners and two useful types.
The reasons for the low ratings were sometimes clearly visible like Gilded's
bungling antics in March but some were a little more gossamer with a touch
of 'not today' about them. So, not quite as transparent as some trainers
but still enough structure to suggest some rules :-
60+ ratings are typically an indication of at least an average maiden winner
and often better class.
Debuts rated 50-59 includes mostly future winners and placers and other
factors (SP, whether shows up in first 4-5 places early, etc) can clarify
along with Video review.
40-49 will include a number of winners but they may be lesser types and
probably not up to an average maiden win unless there was a reason for
the low rating.
Below 40 will typically indicate later moderate placers and unplaced runners
unless there is a clear excuse for the low rating.
What can we say about the 2007 debuts against this? Fat Boy (58 in a race
with a moderate pace) and Party In The Park (62) both got involved throughout
their races and both recorded ratings which suggest they are capable of
better class performances. Their physical reviews support this. The debut
winning filly Cake rated only 48 but had to do little to beat poor types
and showed an ability to quicken. She is probably short of the level of
the two colts and probably a Conditions race type at best.
The ratings for the others range from 26 to 43 and contribute to the weaker
looking 'middle' than in 2006 when Resignation, Top Royelle, Grand Prix
& Benchmark proved to be up to average maiden winner class or better.
Higgys Boy improved to 48 STO but that is likely to be close to his best
and he would need to run in a claimer. You could be kind and say Avertitop
was inexperienced on debut from a wide draw and Hughes didn't work very
hard to keep him in the race but he only improved to 55 STO with the full
up-and-at-them ride so he's probably a 60ish at best and beatable next
time by a solid newcomer.
Cracking was at an SP of 9/2 on debut and was pressed on with to get into
the race and then allowed to fade notably. Although rated 36 on debut performance
he's probably capable of 60+ and much better STO. Quick Sands and Romany
Princess both look to be struggles to win on what they achieved on debut.
The second had an excuse with a missed break but was so easily outpaced
late on she is probably more of a development project over further than
Keep all this in mind for the next few debuts through to the end of the
first week of May for Mr Hannon. In general many 'nice intro' trainers
still show some pattern in debuts in that 'class tells' debut ratings can
be a good indicator of what ability a horse has. There aren't that many
entirely 'lost' debuts with very low ratings showing no correlation to
ability. Below is a similar table to the one for Mr Hannon but for Mick
Channon who has a similar approach and achieves similar figures although
with a slightly lower debut win strike rate. For example both trainers
get around 33% of their debut runners placed (Channon a little higher),
both get around 45% winners across all their 2yos and even have the same
average SP across all debuts (14.7/1 for both 2002-6).
As a very rough & ready guide you could say that for these type of
trainers the 2yos will improve between 10-18 points from debut unless there
was some excuse for a low debut rating. The very best can improve more
because they only require 55-65 to win on debut and aren't extended to
show their full potential and win by further. Try looking at Mr Channon's
2007 debuts against last year to see if you can see any patterns. What
quality do you think the horses who made their debuts after Splitthedifference
are in the longer term?
||(59 STO, inexperienced both races)
||Broke leg 3rd outing
||(45, Hangs in races)
||(53 STO claimer win)
|Queen Of Narnia
||Eased halfway debut
||Debut win, best early type