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Trainers, Jockeys and Breeders to Follow

Who’s bringing home the Tote Favourites?

This is the first in a 3-part series on SA Horse Racing Statistics for the 2019/20 Season! In this blog, The Punter analyzes Trainer and Jockey stats to see who’s winning on the tote favourite this season.

Long-term clients of The Punter’s SA Horse Racing Tips will know that I generally prefer to beat a tote favourite rather than back it.

It’s a fact that more tote favourites lose than win. You’ll notice in the stats below, that a good Trainer/Jockey strike rate on favourites is anything from 33% upwards, and rarely higher than 50%.

By taking a closer look at what the stats reveal about tote favourites, we see some very useful trends for punters to keep in mind.

Before we dig in, here’s a note on how to interpret these SA Horse Racing statistics:

  • Stats are merely a guide, and can never substitute for in-depth form studying. Every race has its own unique conditions and factors to take into account.
  • We can expect these stats to change as the season progresses. So far, we’ve completed the Cape Summer season, with the bulk of the Highveld and KZN Champions seasons ahead of us. Stats for certain trainers and jockeys will benefit from the shift in focus to these provinces.
  • The stats are useful for favourite backers, but they’re also valuable for exotic bet construction. We all need to decide where to go light in our PA’s and Jackpots, so it’s helpful to know which trainer and jockey combo’s are proving most reliable. You can read more about The Punter’s betting philosophy here.

Now let’s take a look at the trainers, jocks and partnerships most reliably bringing home the favourites so far this season.

Trainers by winning Tote favourite %

The Top 10 Trainers with the best strike rates for favourites are listed in the table below. To get a decent sample size, I’ve only included trainers who’ve ended up tote favourite ten or more times this season.

I’ve used shades of blue as a visual aid to show low and high numbers or percentages.

SA Horse Racing Trainers winning& on tote favourite
SA Horse Racing Trainers with the highest winning percentages when tote favourite.
[Data Source: Sporting Post]

Up-and-coming Cape trainer Adam Marcus tops the table with a 53% win record when tote favourite. This yard is proving a growing force, having bagged the Grade 1 Queen’s Plate with Vardy back in January (most will remember that unplaced Hawaam was tote favourite that day!).

Marcus has quite a small sample at 15 favourites, 8 of which have won. There are two other trainers in the top 10 with smaller samples. Tony Rivalland has a 50% strike rate from 12 tote favourites, and Michael Roberts is on 45% from 11. Both are based in KZN.

Several of the top Trainers have larger samples to work with, sending out 20 or so tote favourites this season.

These range from Gary Alexanders solid 52% favourite strike rate on the Highveld, to 45% each for Eric Sands (Cape) and Gareth van Zyl (KZN); and 43% each for Dennis Bosch (KZN) and Roy Magner (Highveld).

A special word on the Drier and Spies stables

I want to reserve a special commendation for Dennis Drier (48%) and Corne Spies (47%). They have the highest sample sizes in our Top 10, at 31 and 32 starts respectively as tote favourite. Despite more opportunities to get beat, their strike rates are amongst the best.

The Drier yard is KZN-based, with an annual summer raiding trip to the Cape. Jock Sean Veale is the stable-elect. The yard also makes occasional use of Keagan De Melo, Gavin Lerena and Anton Marcus, amongst others.

The Spies yard races just about anywhere, and must be one of the stables with the most travelling miles on the clock. The stable uses a range of jockeys, more about this below.

An honourable mention for the Forbes Stable

There are a couple trainers who narrowly missed my Top 10 due to being just under the sample threshold of 10 starts as tote favourite.

I thought it important to specifically highlight Lezanne Forbes (KZN) for her 6 out of 8 favourite winners. This is an impressive 75% strike rate! With a bigger sample, Forbes would’ve topped the log – one to watch.

Jockeys by winning favourite %

Now let’s take a look at the jockeys. I’ve again included only those who’ve been favourite on at least 10 occasions. The shades of blue show low to high numbers for ease of interpretation.

SA Horse Racing Jockeys winning& on tote favourites
SA Horse Racing Jockeys with the highest winning percentages when tote favourite.
[Data Source: Sporting Post]

The first thing one notices about this table is that the Top 5 is entirely made up of jockeys with limited opportunities to be the tote favourite. But take note of this bunch despite the small sample size. That’s because there’s some serious strike rates involved.

Top Workrider Joe Gwingwizha has by far the highest favourite strike rate at 77% (10 out of 13 favourites). Almost all of those wins came for the Sean Tarry stable. This is a combination to watch when the money’s down.

Improving KZN jock Serino Moodley (64%) has brought home 7 out of his 11 favourites. He is showing form for the Garth Puller and Lezanne Forbes yards, amongst others.

Appy Dylan Lerena has earned 57% strike rate entirely from 14 opportunities for Flamingo Park trainer Sarel von Willingh Smit. Sherman Brown has also helped his 54% strike rate along with some good rides for the Spies stable on the Kimberley sand.

Capable appy Jabu Jacobs (45%) rounds off the top 5 with 5/11 winning rides for various stables in KZN.

The Punter’s Top 5 Jocks bringing the tote favourite home

The table above is a fairly long list, so I wanted to highlight my top 5 picks. These are my impressionistic, personal picks.

I’ve gone for jockeys who’ve all brought home a sizable number of favourites for good overall strike rates. These are the guys most likely to provide a consistent service to the regular punter.

Free Horse Racing Tips

My first pick is Greg Cheyne, with a 40% strike rate from 196 tote favourite rides. A great many of these were for trainer Alan Greeff in PE.

My second pick is Warren Kennedy, who’s been favourite a whopping 241 times this season, the highest of all. Despite so many rides atop the boards, he maintains a solid 37% strike rate. His most successful favourite win record has been for Paul Peter, followed closely by rides for Gavin van Zyl.

Up-and-coming jock Denis Schwarz is my third pick. He has run up a healthy 42% strike rate from 36 rides. Watch him for Gary Alexander, but this lad’s stats show he’s doing the business for more than one yard.

My fourth pick is Keagen De Melo. He’s been favourite 98 times this season for a strike rate of 36%. He’s a busy jock who’s riding for various trainers in multiple centres these days. His best record on favourites has been for trainer Johan Janse Van Vuuren – 50% strike rate from 10 starts.

And finally…

Finally, my list wouldn’t be complete without top jock Anton Marcus.

Marcus has the third highest number of rides as favourite this season, at 176. His favourite strike rate of 34% is only slightly lower than others on my list with far smaller samples. And his rate would most certainly be higher if he wasn’t backed into favourite so regularly on name brand alone!

Watch the Marcus / Brett Crawford partnership, which is one of the best in the land overall.

Ready for more SA Horse Racing analysis?

I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I enjoyed preparing it for readers, clients and subscribers.

You can read more in Part 2 of The Punter’s 3-part series on SA Horse Racing stats: Trainer-Jockey Combo’s to Follow.

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All the Best,
The Punter

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