Mark Johnston: could provide Silvestre de Sousa with valuable winners
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By James Pyman 12:44PM 16 SEP 2016
THE jockeys’ title race is a duel between Jim Crowley and Silvestre de Sousa and, provided both avoid injuries and suspensions, it should be a fascinating climax to a championship that has often produced a captivating head-to-head.
In 2007, Jamie Spencer won the final race of the season to finish tied with Seb Sanders. Three seasons later Paul Hanagan edged a protracted battle with Richard Hughes by two winners and the following season he was pushed to the limit by De Sousa to retain the crown.
There is a school of thought that says the rides of a jockey challenging for the title in the later weeks of the season should be followed, a notion that was given some weight when Crowley rode a 25-1 winner at Chepstow on Tuesday. The booking of a rider going all-out for the title – now truncated to end on Champions Day at Ascot on October 15 – can be an indication that the horse is expected to run well by its connections.
But when you examine the profit-loss figures of jockeys who were chasing the title and battling against one rider, the chances of either Crowley or De Sousa yielding a £1 level-stakes profit to SP with all of their remaining mounts this season seems slim.
For those riders who were involved in the close battles of 2007, 2010 and 2011, Table 1 compares their records in two periods; from the championship start to August 31, and from September 1 to the end of the title race.
Records of title-chasing jockeys in a head-to-head battle
PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS
Four of the six averaged more winners a day from September onwards, but revealingly in this later period all had lower strike-rates and showed £1 level-stakes losses, and the return-on-investment figures were poorer for five of the six.
Interestingly, the profitability of five of the jockeys in the September-onwards period improves when you consider only their more fancied rides, which were deemed to be those returned at SPs of 5-1 or shorter, and in this price band the mounts of Richard Hughes in 2010 and De Sousa in 2011 returned respective profits of £6.85 and £16.65 (Table 2).
These jockeys’ records with rides bigger than 12-1 were generally awful. Sanders (2007) and Hughes (2010) didn’t have a single winner priced at bigger than 12-1 from September onwards.
So inevitably a jockey’s approach to riding winners is more scattergun during a title struggle and, as starting price is proving effective in identifying when such a rider is on a live chance, Crowley and De Sousa strike me as being more likely to show a profit from now on with their fancied mounts rather than when partnering big-priced outsiders.
Getting to the bottom of why Hughes (2010) and De Sousa (2011) were profitable to follow at 5-1 or shorter from September onwards reveals how trainers influence the jockeys’ title, and the form of the stables Crowley and De Sousa ride for could be crucial in determining which jockey prevails.
The main reason Hughes showed a profit in this price range was his performances for principal employer Richard Hannon snr, with 21 of their 66 runners hitting the target for gains of £11.78. Hughes needed the support of this stable, which had supplied him with 86 winners before September, to sustain his title bid.
De Sousa returned a profit at 5-1 or shorter because of his rides for Mark Johnston and it was those winners that allowed the jockey to challenge Hanagan. A Johnston runner is often a force to be reckoned with when the stable is hot and, from September onwards, a remarkable 24 of De Sousa’s 56 rides for the stable who started at 5-1 or shorter rewarded their backers, for a whopping profit of £31.35.
Instrumental in Hanagan holding off De Sousa that season was Richard Fahey’s contribution, with 16 of Hanagan’s 48 post-August winners. Backing Hanagan’s rides blindly for all stables in that period returned a huge loss of £96.93, but his shorter-priced handicap rides for Fahey gave punters an edge, with seven of the 11 shorter than 3-1 winning (+£6.57).
When Hanagan was crowned champion the previous season his
well-supported rides for Fahey yielded a positive return, with ten of the 24 shorter than 4-1 hitting the target (+£8.33). This stable was Hanagan’s main source of winners, but the second-biggest contributor was Kevin Ryan and, curiously, Hanagan’s record after August for Ryan in handicaps at 8-1 or shorter was three wins from eight rides (+£9.50).
In the 2007 championship Sir Mark Prescott was Sanders’ strongest ally. Prescott supplied the rider with more winners than any other trainer before September. After September when the betting suggested Sanders’ rides for Prescott would run well they invariably justified this confidence, with 11 of the 30 shorter than 9-2 proving successful (+£3.41).
Michael Bell (21 wins) and James Fanshawe (18) were the trainers who provided Spencer with most wins before September. After August, three of his six shortest-priced mounts for Bell landed the spoils (+£3.12), while he achieved three wins from seven handicap rides at 7-1 or shorter for Fanshawe.
In the Crowley camp
So trainers will often get behind a jockey chasing the title who has regularly been riding winners for their stable and you might be able to profit from Crowley’s duel with De Sousa by sticking to their mounts prominent in the betting for trainers for whom they have ridden more recent winners this season.
Hugo Palmer, Amanda Perrett and Ralph Beckett are in Crowley’s corner and the sweet spot with his rides for these three stables appears to be in the 5-1 or shorter price region.
In this championship, Crowley’s 13 wins (from just 37 rides) for the upwardly mobile Palmer is more than he has achieved for any other trainer and these mounts have yielded a £1 level-stakes profit of £17.83. An impressive 48 per cent (12 wins from 26 runs) of this combination’s runners priced at 6-1 or shorter rewarded backers for a profit of £15.93. At 5-1 or skinnier his rides are showing respective profits of £2.88 for Perrett (four wins from 15 rides) and +£10.09 for Beckett (6-10).
A trainer assisting Crowley and De Sousa is Paul Cole and again Crowley’s record at 5-1 or shorter for Cole is impressive, with five of his ten rides winning (+£8). His first ride of this championship (which started on April 30) for Cole was on Sunday, producing a success for Count Calabash in a 1m2f handicap at Bath.
De Sousa supporters
Mick Channon, Ed Dunlop, Chris Dwyer, Mark Johnston and Simon Crisford have been staunch supporters of De Sousa this season. Since the start of the championship, the betting has often been informative with his rides for Dunlop (at 7-1 or shorter, ten wins from 30 rides, +£14.79), Crisford (at 6-1 or shorter, 8-15, +£8.07) and Johnston.
We learned earlier how following De Sousa’s fancied rides for Johnston towards the end of the 2010 title race proved lucrative, and before yesterday’s evening racing his mounts for Johnston at 5-1 or shorter in the current title race were yielding profits of £11.31 (nine wins from 21 rides).
It will be a huge boost to his title aspirations if he can get on more of Johnston’s runners. The trainer has principally used Joe Fanning and Franny Norton this season, but Norton is sidelined for around six weeks after breaking his collarbone and De Sousa has ridden for the trainer four times this week, which is the same number of rides he had for the stable in the whole of August.