Mark Van Triet is the manager of some of the best jockeys in Australia. He’s responsible for booking their rides, doing form analysis, and assisting them with race tactics.
In this episode, Mark shares some his personal thoughts on his jockeys, how he identifies promising horses and much more.
Punting Insights You’ll Find
- The value of having the right tools.
- Major differences between Victoria and New South Wales racing.
- How Mark picks the right horse for his riders.
- How and why jockeys need to do their own form analysis.
- His personal view of each jockey in his stable.
- Mark Van Triet
Michael’s Closing Tip:
” He’s (Brenton Avdulla) driven, and with the right opportunity he can go all the way. “
Episode 020: Jockey Profiles From A Top Notch Manager with Mark Van Triet
David: Hi this is David Duffield, and welcome to another episode of Betting 360 podcast. Today I’ve got Mark Van Trieton the line, he manages Damien Oliver and Chad Schofield in Melbourne, and also Glyn Schofield and Brenton Avdullaup in Sydney. So his job is to get those four on the best mounts possible, and get them to ride a bunch of winners. So some of the work involves booking of the rides, form analysis, and basically just handling the racing affairs of those four fellas. So let’s have a chat with Mark and see how he goes about it.
David: Thanks very much for joining us today Mark.
Mark: Thanks Dave, it’s a pleasure, thank you.
David: Yeah it’s an all star stable you’ve got there. It’s Damien Oliver, Glyn and Chad Schofield, andBrenton Avdulla.What’s your role in managing those guys?
Mark: Well basically it’s just organising their rides, chasing rides for them, that’s the crutch of it, and you know trying to get them on the fastest horses. So it’s all about managing them really. And look there’s obviously some horses you can’t get them on, but it’s just keeping on top of things, just letting them know where certain horses are going, what races, and just keeping them in check as best I can.
David: And so how do you go about that? Probably you have a database there, because you must have to plan a little bit in advance, and not necessarily even a horses next start, but also where they’re headed to after that. How do you actually track all of that, and keep on top of it?
Mark: I’ve got a database, actually very similar to what your senior form analyst Rick Williams uses and that’s Southcoast racing database. And in that I’ve got Vince Accardi’s times, so I feel as though you’ve got to have the right tools, it certainly helps you making the correct decisions. We don’t get them right all the time. But as the planning, it’s actually, I mean I’ve got two guys in Victoria, and two in New South Wales, and New South Wales is actually done quite a bit different to Victoria. New South Wales they actually work 2 to 3 weeks ahead of schedule, whereas Victoria’s for example, nominations closed today, well for Saturday today. Whereas you do the majority of Victoria in the morning, whereas New South Wales was done this time last week for Saturday, so they actually work a fair way in advance.
David: Right okay, that sounds a little bit like Hong Kong. When we did have a chat with Tommy Berry earlier in the year, and he could tell 2 or 3 weeks out. Obviously a lot fewer races over there, but a few weeks out he knew exactly which horses he was going to be on. So New South Wales leans more that way, whereas Victoria’s a bit more 7 days out is it?
Mark: That’s right. But I think it’s probably because it’s just that both states are structured a bit differently. Whereas Victoria is full on 7 days, where the main days in New South Wales, especially for my guys are obviously Saturday, Wednesday, and Thursday. And then New South Wales is more heavily focused on trials, they have a set of trials at least once a week, maybe twice a week, whereas it’s a bit different in Victoria, it’s mainly you’re racing 7 days. So obviously the programs are different, which explains why New South Wales can work sort of 2 weeks in advance. Whereas Victoria’s basically, it’s really 7 days, it’s a day to day basis.
David: So is a key part of your role similar to a form analyst, in a way in that you’re trying to find the most likely winners of a race, so you get the better rides for your jockeys, but you’re doing it a fair way out from race day?
Mark: Yeah I mean, and you’re working with your jockeys, they might ring me after a race and say did you see such and such in race 5 today, I wouldn’t mind just finding out where it’s going and follow that up. And it’s about trying to pick the right horse, something that might’ve flown under the radar, and you get in early and that’s how you can get some of those big rides.
David: And how important is it to be a good salesman? Because you’re probably selling the trainer, or the owner on why they should book one of your clients.
Mark: Yeah not really. I think it’s, trainers or owners generally are pretty clear who they want, you can’t make them or force them to put your jockey on. In most cases a trainer, they’ll have probably, I would say most trainers would probably have a list of say, you know 3 to 5 jockeys that they like to use. And then outside of that, well it might just, it sort of might just come down to luck. But they generally know who they want, I mean obviously there’s certain trainers I just wouldn’t ring for my jockeys, because you just know sometimes they just don’t use them, for one reason or another.
David: I was going to say one reason or another, what do you think that’s based on? Is it really just the relationship?
Mark: Well it might be just, yeah it might be just where they ride work, they mightn’t ride work at all in that particular training centre. And the biggest stable’s obviously unofficially have their jockeys that they use. Like ChrisWaller has a list, obviously Gai’s got Tommy and Nash, so it can be a pretty close shot for those types of trainers.
David: What about diplomacy as part of your role. Do you have to make the call sometimes to a trainer, and say that one of your jockeys won’t be accepting a ride, you know has accepted another ride in the same race?
Mark: Yeah there’s no nice way of saying no. Sometimes they can take it personally, but at the end of the day we’re running a business, and they’re running a business, but I’ve got to do what’s best for my jockey. So look it’s part of racing, but you know it’s no different for a trainer saying no to me if I’m chasing a particular ride for one of my jockeys.
David: And what is your background in the racing industry, how did you get involved managing these four guys?
Mark: I worked from a young age at the Victoria Racing Club, I was there for 7 to 8 years. From there I was at the Racing ServicesBureau, which does the fields, nominations. And then I got into form analysis, just I worked a little bit for Lee Freedman, and it was through my connection with Lee that he put me in contact with Damien, and it just evolved from there.
David: What was Lee like to work with?
Mark: Very good. He’s a very smart man, very astute. But yeah it was good, it was in the good days, and had plenty of group one winners.
David: Fair enough. I chatted with Michael Rodd last week, and he mentioned that he does a lot of his form work and the speed maps himself. But then he discusses all of that with a form analyst, his father in law I believe. Is that the same for the way your guys operate, or do they like to do a lot of the work themselves, and then compare notes with you, or do they actually want you to do the groundwork?
Mark: Look they do most of it themselves. And I actually heard that with Michael last week, and I agree with what he said. It’s very important that they do it themselves, because they get a good feel for the race. But there are times where they’ll seek a second opinion, whether that’s through me or someone else, but they’re generally all pretty good at doing their own form.
David: Another thing he suggested last week was that, in his belief anyway, track bias can be exaggerated or overrated. And also you know called pretty early on in a meeting when in fact it’s the better class horses, or it might be tempo related, rather than a track bias of itself. How do you feel about that, and also how do you advise your jockeys to handle it if you think there’s a bias there?
Mark: Well generally, I mean with a bias you’re not going to know until after a couple of races are run. I don’t subscribe to the theory that it is overrated, they’re obviously are occasions where there is genuine track bias. Look my guys are very good track walkers, Damien he religiously walks and walks the track before each meeting. Brenton Avdulla is the same,Chad he walks the track, and Glyn as well. So I think you’ve got to be as prepared as much as possible as you can, in today’s racing.
David: You see the jockeys walk in a track pre meeting, and they’re doing the diagonal course I suppose, to see where the better going is. What are they, the ground under foot, but what are they actually looking for when they’re walking the track, what do they do?
Mark: Well it’s probably just if there’s any soft spots, especially like during winter, or you know winter going into spring whether the tracks are drying out. Like certain parts of the track might dry a bit quicker than others, and also wind comes into it as well, especially different tracks. Racing into a head wind, they might want to get cover early, things like that, so they’re looking at those factors as well.
David: Alright. I’d like to get your inside on all four of the guys that you look after if you don’t mind. Firstly Glyn Schofield, he’s very experienced and very successful, but whenever we do the reviews normally about quarterly, on I suppose jockey performance versus market expectation, he’s always underrated. He’s actually a pretty good betting proposition. How would you describe Glyn as a jockey, and also why you think he’s underrated consistently?
Mark: Not so sure. Look he’s very good to work with, again he’s very thorough in his homework. I think Glyn is a true horseman, like he really understands the horse underneath him. But yeah look for me personally, I think Glyn’s a great rider of stows, and he can race them very well out in front.
David: Now we’ve got Chad, and he’s the young gun. Very impressive at this stage of his career, and also he’s pretty aggressive, yeah what are your thoughts on Chad?
Mark: Chad look he’s heading in the right direction, he’s obviously got a great opportunity with David Hayes. He’s obviously quite well documented, he’s experienced quite a few suspensions, but probably just a bit too eager, a bit too aggressive. But look he’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s heading in the right direction, there’s no doubt, he’s a future star of the sport.
David: Yeah how far do you think he can go?
Mark: I think he’ll end up in Hong Kong, one day eventually, I think he’ll reach those heights. I mean look he’s only 19, he’s very privileged to have the position that he’s in. But he works hard, like he ride works 6 days a week and exclusively for David. But he just want to improve, and he’s looking bangles just to get better and better.
David: Okay and what about Damien Oliver, needs no introduction from me. But how do you find working with him?
Mark: Very driven, like he’s probably one of strongest people I know mentally. Not much, he hasn’t let anything get to him, you can’t break him that’s for sure. Yeah he’s very good and tactically he is amazing. Just conversations you can have with him about certain races and he, it’s almost he can get into the other jockeys minds, he knows where they’re going. You know he can sort of plan a race pretty good before it’s actually happened.
David: So is that how Divine Calling came about on the weekend, it seemed like he had, well he gave it every possible chance put it that way.
Mark: Divine Calling, he actually rode that in work 7 days prior. He was pretty quick on the phone to me Saturday morning, the morning he rode at work, and he actually said he’d suggested this race, that race to Gai to run at him. And he said to me early doors, it sort of felt like a Derby horse coming, whether or not it gets that far I’m not sure, but he was very keen on it and he was proven correct.
David: Exactly. And what about Brenton Avdulla, a lot of people think he can reach the upper echelon as well, do you think that’s realistic, and also how soon do you think that might happen?
Mark: I think definitely. Again Brenton’s pretty young, Brenton’s only 22. He’s riding in a pretty tough market in Sydney, he hasn’t got a major stable behind him which makes it difficult. But the opportunities Brenton gets he makes the most of them, but yeah look Brenton’s a very strong rider, I mean he moulds himself a bit on Nash. Look again he’s driven, and you know with the right opportunities yeah he can go all the way.
David: So you mentioned he’s a strong rider, do you mean physical strength? Because comparing to Nash that would be a style a lot of other jockeys would like to have, in that he can almost throw them over the line at times. But is that was he’s aiming for?
Mark: Yeah physically he’s strong, and that’s pretty much what he’s aiming for yeah. I mean if you look at his style, like he has moulded a lot on Nash. But I’ve seen Brenton’s got a pretty good record in tight finishes, you know he can get them over the line, so he’s very head strong in that area.
David: And as far as I understand he’s also willing to listen to different people to try and get better to improve. You mentioned that you subscribed to Vince’s data, and place a fair bit of importance on that. I understand Brenton’s done a little bit of work with Vince as well?
Mark: Yeah he has. Look you know I sort of mentioned certain things to Brenton regarding Vince, and he actually took a strong interest in it. And he asked as you said, you know do you think Vince would mind if you gave him a call, and just sort of had a chat about certain races every now and then, when he was on the way to the races. And he’s only recently just started doing that, and he feels as though Vince is actually a big help to him. He actually gets a better feel for the race, how races will be run, and even coming down to the positioning horses, with Vince’s insight he’s actually felt he’s gained that little edge. There’s been cases where he thought he’d go forward on certain horses, and Vince has given him some advice, to say well maybe if you just rode it a pair or two back you’ll get the ultimate out of this particular horse, and he’s done that a few times and it seems to have worked.
David: Okay. Do you think a good jockey can handle all types of horses, or are there some that you think are more suited to say a leader, or you know a flighty 2 year old, specific horses like that?
Mark: I think a good jockey can handle all types of horses. But certainly there are jockeys that do have, they’re stronger in different areas, and I think that’s just only natural. Like I think I touched on it earlier, I think Glyn’s a great rider on stayers, and he’s very good at racing horses out in front. When Brenton, you know he’s a strong rider, and he might suit horses that really respond to a strong whip rider, and that’s where he comes into it.
David: Sometimes punters read quite a bit into a jockey switch, either a well-known jockey jumping on or off a horse. But there can be more to it than meets the eye, what are a few reasons why the jockey switches might occur?
Mark: Yeah sure. Look it’s, sometimes you’ve got to look where they’re going, the particular horse. Like one horse that might be, it might be pretty limited say over a sprinting trip. Whereas a jockey might switch to something else where he believes that it’ll take him further, deeper into the carnival, you know the horse will get stronger over more ground. So it’s more about the bigger picture rather than short term. Especially come spring, like we’re in the spring carnival now, if you see a dramatic switch, a jockey switch, that horse could be their Cup horse. You know take them to the Caulfield Cup, or a Cox Plate, something along those lines.
David: So speaking of the spring, are any of your four locked in to Cox Plate or Cup rides at this stage?
Mark: Not at this stage. Things get a bit more interesting after this weekend, but certainly they’ve got a couple of options there, but nothing’s been locked in at this stage for the Cups.
David: And Ollie likes to keep his options open doesn’t he, I know with the imported horses there can be some talent amongst those, so he doesn’t like to have himself locked away too early.
Mark: Well yeah there’s a couple of reasons for that. But look, we haven’t got an import at this stage, if anything it’ll be a local I would say. But again nothing’s locked in or confirmed.
David: Fair enough. Alright we’ll leave it there for today Mark. I really appreciate your time for coming on the show, and all of the best to all four of your guys for the spring.
Mark: Thanks Dave, appreciate it, thank you.
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