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Apprentice Jockeys And Favourites in Horse Racing

Here's what may be an interesting angle. Or, it may be nothing more than a statistical freak. Heaven only knows I've chased down a lot of those over the years.

When you're looking at results day after day, week after week, as I've written before, you start to notice patterns emerging in sub sets of data that you haven't really taken much notice of before. (I know - I need to get out more!)

But what I have been noticing lately is the number of favourites that get beaten when ridden by apprentices. Now this is not to say that apprentices have no ability, BUT, when the statistics start telling you something about this game, you better start listening.

We all know that favourites win between about 30% and 32% year in, year out. If ever there was a statistic drummed in to every punter's head, that just about takes the cake. So what happens when you start looking at data about favourites ridden by apprentices?

Well here's the interesting thing - BUT - (notice there are always buts in all this stuff?) - these are early figures and not, in my opinion, absolutely conclusive. Come to think about it, when was the last time you ever saw absolutely conclusive figures about gambling of any kind? And can there be such a set of figures - I digress.

Stats_bannerBetween January 1 and January 14 of 2011 there were (give or take a couple) about 500 races you could have bet on in Australian main stream racing. Naturally there were around 500 favourites or equal favourites (duh) of which 93 were ridden by apprentices - claiming or otherwise.

They won 24 of these - or - 25.8%. This is markedly lower than the average strike rate of favourites ridden by non apprentice riders.

Anyone that's been around the traps for more than 5 minutes knows that the 5% margin at the end of the year - if it proves to be that in the long term - can make a huge difference to your overall annual result. Now it may be, as we said, a statistical freak, but 14 of these 24 came in the first three days of the month. The last 10 came from 54 rides - WELL less than the average favourites strike rate.

Had you been laying these between Jan 4 and Jan 14 you'd have made a "motza". (The old story isn't it? If only you'd been here yesterday!)

The bottom line is that if you had been laying these favourites on Betfair, and we can only "guesstimate" here as to the prices you would have laid them at, let's say Victorian TAB closing prices as there is no other way of doing it, your total payout for those 93 events (Jan 1 to Jan 14) would have been just 64.7 units - a positive margin of 28 units (less Betfair %).

Again, this could be a statistical freak but, with that sort of margin, we will continue to research this angle as we get time ( a rare event!).

Perhaps, if you are working at the "pointy" end of the market, you may like to do the same. It could be financially beneficial.

If you do that research and would like to share the results with others, I'm sure we'd all be pleased to hear about it and I would be pleased to publish it.

ADDENDUM (26.2.11)

A person we'll call John (mainly because that's his name), and obviously a man with good intent and kind spirit sent me the following data which he believed may be helpful to all of us on the same subject.

Data period: 3375 meetings (Australian one assumes) - last 13+ months

Win Strike Rate/Seln. : 30.1%

Plc Strike Rate/Seln. : 43.0%

Average Win Dividend : $2.82

Average Plc Dividend : $1.51

                                    WIN               PLACE

Races Bet:                2423              1727

Races Won:                729               1042

S.R./Race:               30.1%               60.3%

Outlay($):              2423.00             1727.00

Return :                2055.80              1570.08

$ Profit :                 -367.20              -156.92

% P.O.T. :               -15.2%                -9.1%

All very interesting grist for the mill!

© 2011