First uppers (part two)

Last week’s article looked at resuming horses and the relative importance of market rank, track condition, days since last run and whether they had a first up win to their name.Let’s now look at other important factors:Distance You might think that the shorter the better for first up horses because fitness should be less important. This theory holds true for races under 1000m, but for other sprint races the market tends to factor that in so there isn’t a significant edge either way.
However it’s interesting to note that you could make a profit simply by backing first up horses over a mile or more. Admittedly it was a small sample size, but clearly the adoption by some local trainers of European-style training methods has had an effect that the market is yet to fully recognize.AgeThe following table suggests that 3, 4 and 5 y/o horses can be relied upon to race well when resuming.

Older horses racing first up have a poor record and this makes sense because they tend to take longer to come to hand.At the other end of the age scale, 2 y/o’s resuming were a poor proposition. This could be because they can’t always be relied upon to pick up exactly where they left off last campaign and because the horses they are now up against are likely to be bigger and stronger.Sex There appears to be a simple general rule related to a horse’s sex and that is if they are male and ‘intact’ then they are not a good first up betting proposition. Geldings, fillies and mares performed much better first up and this won’t surprise too many punters or trainers.

Best and worst trainersWe’ll finish off by looking at the record of resuming horses by trainer, but only those that had at least 100 starters in this three year period.Most profitable first-up trainers – D&S Brunton (11% profit on turnover), D P Smith (39%), D Payne (8%), D Harrison (37%), D Jolly (15%), G Ryan (15%), JB Cummings (8%), J P Taylor (12%), M Nolan (18%), M Price (8%). The appearance of JB Cummings in this list may surprise you considering his reputation as a very patient trainer, but again it comes down to perception. So many punters write off the chances of a Bart Cummings first-upper that they actually represent good value. Now I will look at the trainers whose horses racing first up had the worst record from a punting perspective. Bear in mind that this is not necessarily the trainers fault, because (a) they don’t control the betting market; and (b) many trainers don’t want their horse to be at their very best first up because their main goal is further into their preparation and they would rather use a race or two to bring them to their peak. Least profitable first-up trainers – Brian Guy (-43% profit on turnover), C Waller (-12%), D Weir (-14%), G Portelli (-18%), G Waterhouse (-19%), K Lees (-15%), M Moroney (-16%), M Kent (-20%), MW&J Hawkes (-22%), N Parnham (-17%), P Perry (-22%), P Moody (-12%), P Messara (-16%), P Snowden (-16%), R Griffiths (-34%), R Smerdon (-23%). Even a casual punter would know that Moody, Hawkes, Snowden, Waller and Waterhouse are five of Australia’s most successful trainers throughout the last decade or two. The problem is that punters love these big names and back all of their runners, even when it’s very clear that having a horse at their peak first up is not part of their training stategy. Quick summary To succeed as a punter you must find value, which means that at times you will need to be a contrarian. You must have the courage and confidence to pull the trigger when you are getting overs, instead of just worrying about being on the Sportingbet market mover. If you merely follow the herd you’ll run right over the cliff. So here are three quick ‘takeaways’ to remember: (1) Favourites that are first up have a far better record than those that have had a recent start, as do 2nd/ 3rd/ 4th /5th faves. (2) Horses that have never won first up before have a much better record than those that have. This may sound counter-intuitive at first, but the fact is the market overbets proven first up performers. (3) For a few good reasons to consider backing first uppers remember ‘FFF’: favourites, firm tracks and females.