Following on from the jockey article it seemed only fair to look at the trainers’ records at Royal Ascot as well. “Obviously”, the likes of Sir Michael Stoute, Aidan O’Brien, and so on make a profit – or is that just a mind-set that most punters walk away with based largely on media consumption – but is that really the case?
Aidan O’Brien is everybody’s favourite with pretty much every horse he runs well supported or even starting favourite, and in the last ten years those blindly backing them all regardless of form and price would be sitting pretty with a level stakes profit of £30.42 to £1 stakes. That comes from 217 runners in the last ten years and 39 winners for a pretty impressive 18% strike rate – one nil to the punters so far. He doesn’t have too many runners in the handicaps (no surprise) with two losers from two attempts, but outside of handicap class he seems hard to fault. The big priced wins of Sword Fighter (33/1) and Ishvana (20/1) certainly helped those figures, and with a strong list of entries again the outsiders of their runners could yet surprise again.
Talking of Sir Michael Stoute he does seem synonymous with the Royal meeting but amazingly those who have followed the Barbadian from Freemason Lodge have come unstuck. A handy looking 20 winners from just the 147 runners looks impressive at first glance, but has returned a loss of £20.94 to level £1 stakes despite a 14% success rate, only going to show that the punters are squeezing all the value out of every Stoute runner. He did show a smaller loss in the non handicaps which is no surprise with the talent at his disposal but following blindly appears a quick route to poverty! Big odds winners are few and far between with the 12/1 Hardwicke Stakes victory of Snow Sky in 2015 the best of them and huge prices very much a rarity.
Next on the list is the likeable John Gosden, a true gentleman and a trainer still at the very top of his game. 158 runners over the last decade have yielded 21 winners for a 13% strike rate which is impressive at a meeting of this calibre, but even he has made a loss allbeit pennies (44p to be precise). He did make 56p on the non-handicaps but lost £1 on the handicaps but all in all, not enough of a loss to put anyone off backing his runners on 2017. Ardad hit the heights for his many fans when taking the Windsor Castle Stakes last season at odds of 20/1 under Robert Havlin which altered the figures significantly, but that is not to say he cannot follow up with more winners this season.
Moving North now and Richard Fahey has always been popular with the punters but is Royal Ascot a step too far for the North Yorkshire handler? Admittedly his string is getting stronger year on year but statistically, he has had 105 runners and just the four winners in the last ten years (or 4%), leaving his many supporters facing a loss of £14.50 – not as bad as some, but still not in profit. Considering those figures actually include the shock 66/1 win of Cosmic Sun in the King George V Stakes in 2009, and the overall figures would be an awful lot worse were it not for that one upset.
Continuing down the more popular trainers and ending our five trainer list we have Richard Hannon, who has always been in the limelight (first senior and now junior), with their massive string and numerous runners. A huge total of 267 runners in the last ten years have yielded a mere 17 winners for an modest 6% strike rate and a level stakes loss of £126.12 with -£53.50 in handicaps and -£72.62 in non-handicaps– ouch! He has had some good returns thanks to Mr Aviator (25/1 Royal Hunt Cup 2008), Big Audio (22/1 Chesham Stakes 2009), and Best Terms (12/1 Queen Mary Stakes 2011), but backing the stable blindly hasn’t been overly successful as you can see.
Once again, we need to look for the “surprise” trainers to see if anyone has made a level stakes profit over the last ten Royal Ascot meetings (other than Aidan O’Brien of course), and Yes, there are. Top of the list comes Kent trainer John Best, with 2 winners from 32 runs for a 6% success rate and £103.00 of profit. Those winners were at odds of 100/1 (Flashmans Papers Windsor Castle Stakes 2008) and 33/1 (Kingsgate Native Golden Jubilee Stakes also 2008), which do sway the figures somewhat, but facts are facts and he does head the profitable Royal Ascot trainers list.
American Wesley Ward comes next with 7 winners from just 37 runners over the years for an impressive 19% strike rate and a profit of £35.50. Strike The Tiger at 33/1 was a big one for his supports on either side of the Atlantic when he won the Windsor Castle Stakes in 2009 with Undrafted at 14/1 in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2015 only adding to the profit.
Aidan O’Brien sits in third spot as mentioned above (39 winners from 217 runners for an 18% strike rate and +£30.42), though who would have named Robert Cowell as the next most profitable? Just the 19 runners have seen 4 winners for a 21% strike rate and +£30.00 courtesy of stable star Goldream (20/1 King’s Stand Stakes 2015), Outback Traveller (10/1 Wokingham Stakes 2016), Prince Lir (8/1 Norfolk Stakes 2016) and Prohibit (7/1 Kings Stand Stakes 2011) – not a bad return at all for a relatively small stable.
Obviously, things change from year to year but with the exception of Aidan O’Brien, once again we learn that the bigger stables are overbet and thus provide precious little value for money. John Best may head the list but that is from a very limited sample and with a freak 100/1 winner, but hats off to both Wesley Ward and Robert Cowell who do really well here and look worth following in the long run.