SECRETS OF WINNER-FINDING PART 4: THE TRUTH ABOUT TRAINERS: To know your horse you need to know your trainer: you rely on the horse’s form but you must also rely on the stable to get the best out of him. There’s more to come on this subject next week, but we start today with the suggestion: rate the trainers as well as the horses. The series so far..
➡️ Part 1 TUESDAY in the Archive: Nearly Horses
➡️ Part 2 WEDNESDAY: Form Is Simply What You Beat
➡️ Part 3 YESTERDAY: Hype and How To Ignore It
🗓️ TOMORROW: What the Irish Lincolnshire probables revealed.
🗓️ NEXT WEEK: Ghost Of A Grand National: what do you think would have won? What have been the best winners of the race?
YOU NEED TO RATE THE STABLES
Racing is all about class. Every single racehorse is assessed by the handicapper and his computer.. and every single trainer knows it only too well!
The structure of graded racing means that each animal has a rating and it is at the handicapper’s discretion to increase or reduce the rating, according to the performance of the horse.
In future parts of this series, we will look at how to do your own ratings, how to question the handicapper’s version and how to turn base ratings (yours or his) from the form as it stands into ‘future ratings’, which is how to adjust them to the race you are analysing.
We’ll come back to all that, and about the class of horses, after my Ghost Grand National next week!
Trainers: At this stage, let’s just agree that racing is also about the class of trainer. I don’t mean whether he is Cardew Knox-Snooty who has owners with millions or Fred Floggem who has owners with donkeys.
No, it’s what class of animal he handles that is important to you, and – Snooty or Floggem – how skilled he is at nurturing them, assessing them, training them, placing them, prepping and trialling them, and getting them fit for anything from a Derby to a seller.
That’s a whole arsenal of skills required, without even mentioning veterinary ability, social skills (Snooty has ‘A’ levels in that), stable management and so on and so fifth.
Talking of the Flat, a trainer for his lordship, or for a famous stud, will deal largely with Classic animals or those likely to race only in conditions races, where all run at level weights or nearly so. This is where those ratings I was talking about become absolutely vital to you.
The penny must have dropped already that you clearly need also to rate the trainer! But it’s no good just following the Press and online tables of how much prizemoney he wins or how many winners he has.
They must be relative to what could be expected; how good he is over different distances; at which tracks he has winners; what time of year..
One of my mentors, pro-punter Murray Dwyer, came over from Australia and I helped him with an in-depth study of English form.
When Richard Hannon won the 2,000 Guineas, that thing called Hype made the colt favourite for the Derby. ‘You can back it with me,’ said Murray, ‘Hannon doesn’t train winners beyond a mile!’ On the day at Epsom, the colt faded and finished unplaced.
Don’t talk to Hannon Jnr about it! He strongly rejects the view that the yard has a problem with stamina horses, an attitude still prevalent today. Answer? Check him out, and make sure you don’t back middle-distance horses and stayers from stables that can’t handle them.
Here’s another story but this time I might incur more than the wrath of R. Hannon from the famous trainer in question, though it is known to some ‘inside racing.’
I heard that there was a very special colt doing excellent work on the Heath. He would likely win the Derby, so I checked nearer the time with George Robinson at Newmarket, the best tout in the business. He was keen all right, and said: Ring me back after their final gallops on Sunday.
When I called him and asked about the colt, he said: No chance. The trainer galloped him on Sunday morning the full Derby distance. He left the Derby behind on the Heath!
I had horses in my name or in syndicates with Bill Elsey, David Elsworth, Guy Harwood and Sir Michael Stoute but my success as an owner came with small Midlands stables which were on the up.
They proved so capable that the trainers won races at the Cheltenham Festival and in the autumn double, yet their fees were tiny compared with the glamour yards.
I also had horses with female trainers at a time when they were tolerated but not much appreciated, so I reckoned their runners would be bigger odds than they should be.
I’ll tell you who won what but first: who would you choose among young trainers today, Flat or Jumps, to make their mark and train your horse to win races? I will continue this series with my own view.. unless I win the lottery, then you’ll find me down the gallops with my new trainer!
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