Nursery Races - 2yo Handicaps

8th Jul 2001
races / age
Article is over 10 years old. Stats may have changed since.

Mid July sees the return of handicap races for 2yo horses - nursery races. To qualify for a nursery race a 2yo must have had at least 3 runs or won its first or second race.

Some punters avoid these races because, due to the lack of form, they just seem too hard to fathom out. But bookies have the same problem too and in general offer odds slightly better than other handicap races.

Average Overround in Handicaps Races

Handicap Races Avg Overround
2yo 129%
3yo 130%
3yo+ 132%

The average overround for 2yo nurseries during the sample period was 129%. Bookies aim to make a 29% profit on those races but in 3yo handicaps the profit rises to 30%. In 3yo+ handicaps they attempt to make 32% per race. You may think that the overrounds are bigger in the older races because there are more runners, but the following table shows that nurseries often comprise of large fields.

Runners Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
1 to 10 Runners 335 2586 13% 1.50 -483.15 -19%
11 - 16 Runners 262 3451 8% 0.88 -1079.60 -31%
> 16 Runners 118 2257 5% 0.61 -833.04 -37%

Nursery races are clearly popular with trainers. Most of the races contain more than 10 runners and over a quarter of nursery races contain 16 or more runners.

Gender Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
Colts 306 3111 10% 1.14 -753.16 -24%
Fillies 295 3924 8% 0.87 -1427.71 -36%
Geldings 113 1256 9% 1.04 -217.92 -17%

Fillies are the least profitable gender group. they account for nearly half of all runners in nurseries yet they only win 0.87 their fair share of races.

SP Pos Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
1 175 714 25% 2.84 -56.91 -8%
2 136 714 19% 2.21 20.37 3%
3 95 714 13% 1.54 -99.25 -14%
4 85 712 12% 1.38 -44.00 -6%
5 46 702 7% 0.76 -273.00 -39%
6 47 678 7% 0.80 -139.00 -21%
7 38 636 6% 0.69 -134.00 -21%
8 19 567 3% 0.39 -277.00 -49%
9 16 500 3% 0.37 -234.00 -47%
10 13 449 3% 0.34 -204.00 -45%
11 13 380 3% 0.40 -142.00 -37%
12 8 316 3% 0.29 -151.00 -48%
13 9 266 3% 0.39 -96.00 -36%
14 2 224 1% 0.10 -181.00 -81%
15 3 197 2% 0.18 -124.00 -63%
16 5 156 3% 0.37 -28.00 -18%
17 3 118 3% 0.29 -50.00 -42%
18 1 84 1% 0.14 -50.00 -60%
19 0 62 0% 0.00 -62.00 -100%
20 1 42 2% 0.28 -8.00 -19%

The favourite wins 1 in 4 races and returns a slight loss of 3%. If you are going to bet in nursery races it will pay to just concentrate on the first 4 in the betting.

SP Range Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
Fancied 131 546 24% 2.78 -79.62 -15%
Moderate 285 1912 15% 1.73 -169.67 -9%
Not Fancied 299 5836 5% 0.59 -2146.50 -37%

Just 6% of all runners are fancied, whereas nearly 70% are unfancied. You can forget looking for big priced winners because there are so many runners that are big prices you'll be hard pressed to find the winner amongst them.

SP Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
upto 15/8 52 140 37% 4.31 -15.76 -11%
2/1 to 9/2 229 1076 21% 2.47 -85.03 -8%
5/1 to 9/1 253 2268 11% 1.29 -363.00 -16%
10/1 to 18/1 144 2879 5% 0.58 -936.00 -33%
20/1+ 37 1931 2% 0.22 -996.00 -52%

Because field sizes are so large it is rare to find short price runners. Just under 2% of all runners were less than 2/1. Once again this table shows that nearly half the runners are in double figures so that its near impossible to find the right double figured winner.

Last Ran Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
1 to 7 days 85 705 12% 1.40 -73.35 -10%
1 to 14 days 318 3147 10% 1.17 -665.00 -21%
1 to 28 days 583 6352 9% 1.06 -1672.50 -26%
29+ days 132 1942 7% 0.79 -723.29 -37%
57+ days 25 475 5% 0.61 -232.50 -49%

The last ran table clearly shows that those runners with a recent run perform the best. If a trainer has waited a couple of months to enter his horse then it will has little chance and will need the race.

Weight 1 Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
9-4+ 197 1429 14% 1.60 -309.89 -22%
8-8 to 9-3 317 3329 10% 1.10 -660.79 -20%
upto 8-7 201 3536 6% 0.66 -1425.11 -40%

Like all handicaps the weight spread is biased. The best horses will congregate at the top and the no hopers down the bottom.

Allowance Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
0 lbs 581 6386 9% 1.06 -1729.71 -27%
3 lbs 60 718 8% 0.97 -128.12 -18%
5 lbs 43 686 6% 0.73 -309.79 -45%
7 lbs 31 504 6% 0.71 -228.17 -45%

Dist Wins Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
0 474 6291 8% 0.87 -1893.07 -30%
1 192 1680 11% 1.33 -463.65 -28%
2 40 273 15% 1.70 -36.07 -13%
3 5 39 13% 1.49 -17.50 -45%

Having won at the distance is advantageous.

Course Wins Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
0 670 7938 8% 0.98 -2321.68 -29%
1 42 346 12% 1.41 -78.61 -23%

CD Wins Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
0 688 8106 8% 0.98 -2365.97 -29%
1 25 182 14% 1.59 -32.82 -18%

Runs Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
2 56 287 20% 2.26 18.43 6%
3 172 2182 8% 0.91 -904.85 -41%
4 150 1832 8% 0.95 -655.45 -36%
5 125 1364 9% 1.06 -236.45 -17%
6 77 953 8% 0.94 -303.56 -32%
7 61 635 10% 1.11 19.38 3%
8 27 393 7% 0.80 -123.42 -31%
9 18 235 8% 0.89 -54.50 -23%
10 28 409 7% 0.79 -158.37 -39%

This table shows how many runs the horse has had previously before todays nursery race.

If a horse has only had 2 runs then it must have won at least 1 race so that it could qualify to race in nurseries. Surprisingly these runners then went on to win 20% of the time and return a profit of 6%.

This indicates that the handicapper under estimates the rating of horses that qualify by winning a recent race. This contradicts with our weight analysis article which indicated that the handicapper is best at assigning 2yo ratings. We conclude that the handicapper is only good at his job lowering ratings but does indeed under estimate the potential of winning 2yos.

The weight analysis article also states that the handicapper is 'wrong' most with 3yo races. This proves our theory that trainers use 2yo races to lower their horses ratings ready for a good 3yo campaign.

LTO Position Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
1 176 1282 14% 1.59 -326.75 -25%
2 119 909 13% 1.52 -146.49 -16%
3 89 951 9% 1.09 -200.50 -21%
4 74 987 8% 0.87 -400.21 -41%
5 57 780 7% 0.85 -322.67 -41%
6 48 704 7% 0.79 -236.67 -34%
0 152 2680 6% 0.66 -761.50 -28%

Good Runs Last 3 Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
0 118 2251 5% 0.61 -782.34 -35%
1 258 3176 8% 0.94 -1001.36 -32%
2 252 2174 12% 1.34 -452.38 -21%
3 87 693 13% 1.46 -159.71 -23%

Penalty Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
0 687 8119 8% 0.98 -2354.24 -29%
5 5 36 14% 1.61 -11.74 -33%
6 9 70 13% 1.49 -20.75 -30%
7 14 65 22% 2.50 -5.06 -8%

Overweight Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
0 698 7890 9% 1.03 -2203.79 -28%
1 9 213 4% 0.49 -97.00 -46%
2 3 99 3% 0.35 -75.50 -76%
3 3 46 7% 0.76 2.00 4%
4 2 32 6% 0.73 -7.50 -23%

LTO Type Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
614 6822 9% 1.04 -1777.51 -26%
Claiming 18 298 6% 0.70 -148.50 -50%
Conditions 36 357 10% 1.17 -102.62 -29%
Selling 47 817 6% 0.67 -367.16 -45%

Horses coming from the lower class races do the worst. Avoid horses that previously ran in claimers and sellers.

LTO Race Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
All Weather 27 400 7% 0.78 -165.30 -41%
Turf 688 7893 9% 1.01 -2229.49 -28%

Class Change Wins Runs Win% I.V. £1 Win ROI%
Up 1 Class 182 2104 9% 1.00 -757.28 -36%
Up 2 Class 68 1048 6% 0.75 -475.92 -45%
Up 3+ Class 22 344 6% 0.74 -157.87 -46%
Down 1 Class 161 1631 10% 1.15 -302.49 -19%
Down 2 Class 49 502 10% 1.13 -83.00 -17%
Down 3+ Class 16 134 12% 1.39 -34.50 -26%

A few years ago Nick Mordin examined nursery races (Sporting Life Weekender 17-Jul-93). He found that horses going up in class returned slightly less profit than those dropping in class. But these days class risers are returning much bigger losses.

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