Sir Mark Prescott: The legendary trainer's record scrutinised
Wayne Bailey examines the record of the trainer with nearly 40 years in the game...
In response to a reader request, we give the low-down on the legendary trainer, Sir Mark Prescott...
Edward Heath was British prime minister, the Elvis classic 'The Wonder Of You' was number one, and the building of the World Trade Centre was finally completed. The year was 1970.
There was another significant event that year however... Mark Prescott gained his first training licence. As a baronet, he inherited his knighthood, but the fact that he's still firing the winners home 38 years later definitely entitles him to be called 'Sir'!
I think the stacks of form-books would collapse on top of me if I tried to analyse every runner he's had, so here's a breakdown of his record for the past eight years only!
Prescott has had 464 winners from 2062 races (22.5%) in the past eight years, and backing every single horse would have shown an average loss of £1.64 for every £10 staked.
When you see a Prescott horse at Musselburgh, sit up and take note. With a strike rate of 40%, backing all of his horses here showed a return of over £390, for every £10 staked to Betfair prices (£173 to official SP). Other courses that show both profit and high strike-rates are Folkestone (33%), and Sandown (35%).
Avoid Ascot at all costs. Prescott has had no winners here in the past eight years. Other courses that show low strike-rates are Kempton (9.5%) and Redcar (9.8%)
Time of year
Prescott saves his best for high summer and July is almost always his best month. The layers have long since wised up to this little 'system', so the value is all but gone now.
Prescott's ability to 'beat the handicapper' is well renowned. His decades of experience ensure he puts the right horses in at the right time. Simply backing all of his horses in handicaps actually shows a small profit, and a healthy strike rate of 29%.
Many punters shy away from lower class races, but don't be afraid to get involved if you see a Prescott horse. Blindly backing his horses in selling, selling handicap, claiming and amateur races shows a combined profit of £490 to £10 stakes at Betfair prices (£340 to official SP). One the flip side, Sir Mark has a poor record in both maiden and group races.
Don't limit your betting to the UK however. I checked out five years of data in Ireland, and was very impressed to find 13 winners (out of 26 races), and a profit of over £50 to £10 stakes.
It's fair to say that most of Prescott's best bets are found on the turf. Out of the four all-weather tracks, Kempton fairs the worst with only six wins from 50 races. I'm not suggesting avoiding the all-weather completely, but greater selectivity is the key. For example, the form-book tells me that his all-weather horses that have won at the course before, have a 42.7% strike rate and show a return of 113% to the backer, so it may still be possible to make some cash here.
Some trainers have fantastic records with debut horses (Saeed bin Suroor springs to mind), but Prescott's record is poor. With a record of 9.7%, laying his debut horses is certainly not out of the question.
Known for being incredibly loyal, Prescott famously quipped: "I have looked at many another woman, but I have never looked at another jockey".
George Duffield spent 30 years as stable jockey before retiring in 2005, and clocked up well over 800 winners in that time. Presently, joint champion Seb Sanders has the retainer, and he's expected to keep up winning ways in 2008. It's worth following Sanders' mounts in mid-distance races (1m - 1m5f), which show a 34% strike-rate and a return of over 120% to the backer. When in Ireland, his horses are usually ridden by top class jockey, Declan McDonough, who has proved very successful in the past.
So in summary...
• Back his horses at Musselburgh, Folkestone and Sandown
• Avoid or lay his horses at Ascot, Kempton and Redcar
• Back his horses in handicap, selling/selling handicap, claiming and amateur races
• Avoid or lay his horses in maiden/group races
• Back his horses when they run in Ireland
• Be very selective when backing his horses on the all-weather
• Avoid or lay his horses if it's their first time out
• Back his horses in mid distance races (1m-1m5f) when Seb Sanders rides
As usual, we love to get feedback on the articles, so feel free to comment, be it good or bad!
If you have a favourite trainer or jockey whose record you'd like scrutinised, post a comment and we'll provide the data.
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