For punters who like to focus on handicap races where juicy prices lurk, then it can often pay to keep on the right side of unexposed runners yet to have shown their full hand to the handicapper – a skill certain trainers have proven particularly good at prior to their handicap debuts. Take Nigel Twiston-Davies for instance, who boasts a creditable record of 20-102 with all his handicap debutants to a +£29 level stakes profit since 2013.
Several other yards also came out well with their unexposed handicappers facing such company for the first time, as can be seen from the following list, which also highlights the conditions over which they excelled.
Nigel Twiston-Davies: 20-102 (20%) +£29
Novice last time: 14-65 (+£39)
Rebecca Curtis: 12-61 (20%) +£24
Class 3 or Class 4: 12-44 (27%) +£41
Warren Greatrex: 12-64 (19%) +£17
Class 3 or Class 4: 11-49 (22%) +£24
Nicky Henderson: 31-147 (21%) +£15
2m-2m5f: 30-125 +£34 Hurdle: 29-131 +£23
Paul Nicholls: 30-167 (18%) +£11
Hurdle: 26-142 (18%) +£25 Maiden or novice last time: 25-124 (20%) +£20
Certain yards are known for having their string ready early for the “proper season”, which gets underway from October onwards, suggesting it may pay to keep an eye on the following names should they start to have a winner or two, as that could signal the start of a good run. The strike-rates some of these yards displayed at this time of year may not be the greatest, but the profits remain impressive.
October & November 2012-2016 (minimum of 10 winners)
Fergal O’Brien: 47-312 (+£59)
Mrs L Wadham: 21-115 (+£59)
Graeme McPherson 17-150 (+£57)
Tom Symonds 22-157 (+£51)
Miss Venetia Williams 70-432 (+£46)
Richard Lee 18-97 (+£44)
Maurice Barnes 19-153 (+£38)
Henry Oliver 15-109 (+£37)
Robert Dickin 15-159 (+£36)
First Time Out
Another interesting angle punters should consider during the coming weeks when a majority of runners will be having their first outing since last season, are those trainers who traditionally have their runners finely-tuned for their reappearance. With this in mind, investors can take confidence if a runner they fancy on their return hails from one of the following yards.
Absent four months or longer (minimum of 10 winners since 2013)
Mrs L Wadham: 13-88 (+£82)
Miss Rebecca Curtis 37-175 (+£49)
Miss Venetia Williams 63-383 (+£46)
Henry Daly (+£39)
Paul Nolan (+£35)
David Pipe 74-412 (+£34)
Graeme McPherson 10-115 (+£33)
Miss Sheena West 10-60 (+£31)
Ben Pauling 17-94 (+£26)
David Bridgwater 19-130 (+£22)
Tom Symonds 10-99 (+£21)
There are plenty of names above for punters to look out for with their fresh horses in the coming months, including Miss Rebecca Curtis, who came out the blocks flying during the last two autumns for a combined total of 19-81 (+£46).
Second Time Out (minimum of 10 winners since 2013)
While the above handlers show a sparkling record with runners first time up, there could be even more value in siding with the next list of trainers that habitually see their runners step up from their first outing (four-month or longer break) to their second run – in other words, they leave a bit to work with following a pipe-opener.
Graeme McPherson: 15-107 (+£93)
Chris Grant 10-110 (+£64)
Philip Hobbs 95-433 (+£41)
Ted Walsh 10-35 (+£36)
Chris Gordon 16-103 (+£29)
Mrs Carolina Keevil 11-72 (+£29)
Gary Moore 33-229 (+£26)
While Philip Hobbs has a fair record with runners first time up, those that made their second outing following a break proved more profitable. A further vital clue also shows that runners who were beaten more than 2l on their first run after four months off for Hobbs improved next time for a return of 64-309 (+£77) since 2012 – 38 of those winners came in October, November and December.