I'm an admirer of this trainer - and here's why....

Last Updated: 13.09.2021

Monday, 13th September 2021

I’m an admirer of this trainer - and here’s why….

The rains came at Doncaster ahead of Saturday’s card….

Jawwaal – my Portland selection – was pulled on account of unsuitable soft ground….

That would have disappointed his owners….

It means the horse might have missed his opportunity to land a proper big handicap pot this term….

The 6yo needs a genuine or faster surface to produce his best….

With half of September already in the rear-view mirror, I wonder what his chances are of getting those optimum conditions now….

  • No favourites.... 

Jawwaal’s no-show also meant that trainer Michael Dods wasn’t able to improve on what has been a stellar season for his yard in our niche – the C2 handicaps….

I don’t back favourites. Nor do I have favourites when it comes to trainers. I’m in nobody’s camp but my own in this game….

Race to race I back or oppose horses I consider right or wrong for the job at hand – regardless of the yards they run out of….

But I’m an admirer of Michael Dods. He’s a talented target trainer who flies under the radar….

He’s not a ‘big gun’ in the training ranks – but he holds his own and more besides. He does a lot with a little in our niche – and pound for pound he’s a player in my book. That’s my take….

  • A flip through the metrics.... 

This season, nobody’s saddled more C2 handicap winners than Mark Johnston….

He’s had 16 (two in races worth £50k+ to winning connections) and 22 placers. Good numbers on the face of it…

But it took 170 overall runners to bank them. That’s win strike rate of just 9.4% and a total place strike rate of 22.3%....

If you’d backed all those runners to win to level stakes, you’d have lost7 9.4 points – a return on investment of -46.7%. In other words, volume doesn’t always get the job done for punters….

Andrew Balding’s figures are better….

His 84 qualifying runners produced 13 winners (three in £50k+ races) and 18 placers. That’s a win rate of 15.5% and a place rate of 36.9%....

Boil it down to the money – money is the bottom line – and Balding’s qualifiers produced a surplus of 29.8 points backed to win to level stakes – a 35.4% return on investment….

Those figures put Johnston in the shade. And they illustrate a stark difference in approach – the sharpshooter versus the sawn-off shotgun merchant….

John Gosden – in partnership with son Thady this term – has proved a better sniper still….

His 13 winners (just one in a £50k+ race) and 12 placers from 58 qualifying representatives equate to a win rate of 22.4% and a place rate of 43.1%....

Backing them to win to level stakes would have led to a profit of 38.2 points – a healthy 65.9% return on investment….

  • Doing a lot with a little.... 

My man Michael Dods doesn’t have the same volume of ammunition as those guys….

This calendar year (in all races) Johnston has called on the services of 222 horses. Balding and the Gosdens have raced 161 apiece. Dods has raced just 91….

It’s fair to say that the smaller the pool of horses you start with, the smaller the proportion of quality you’ll have at your disposal compared to handlers with more options (unless you get lucky)….

Maybe Dods is lucky. Or maybe – as I believe – he’s a talented handler who squeezes maximum juice from the best oranges in his care….

Whatever, it’s been a fantastic season in our niche for the team up at Denton Hall….

He’s had just 25 qualifying runners – supporting the viewpoint that he’s working with less quality than some of his opposition….

But that small pool of smart handicappers has landed 6 wins and 6 places between them – including a win in the Stewards’ Cup at Goodwood (one of the most valuable and prestigious handicaps on the programme)….

The yard’s seasonal win strike rate in our niche sits at 24%. The place strike rate is a healthy 48%. Had you backed them all to win at levels you’d be 18.8 points ahead….

That doesn’t sound like much. But looked at in terms of turnover, it amounts to a return on investment of 75.3%. And that’s right up there with numbers even the most optimistic or hopelessly deluded punter has any right to expect….

  • A good week to have Dods in mind.... 

Like I say, Dods holds his own with the big boys in our niche. He’s been doing it for a few years. But never with the success he’s enjoyed this term….

Had the ground remained on the sound side at Doncaster on Saturday, I reckon Jawwaal had solid claims of adding more polish yet to the Dods record. But it wasn’t to be….

No matter. Racing is nothing if not a test – of horse, trainer, jockey, punter, and the sanity of each….

And there’s always another big race on the road ahead. This week we get three really good ones to work on – with the Bronze Cup, the Silver Cup and the Gold Cup being run at Ayr on Friday and Saturday….

It’s a good weekend to have Michael Dods in mind. His record in these races is one that demands respect….

His last 38 runners in this group of races produced a winner and 14 places – with other participants producing competitive efforts without hitting the money. He’s in the habit of sending ‘live’ ones – and you could make the case that he’s overdue another winner….

Dods likes Ayr. He’s saddled more winners at the track than at any other with the exception of Newcastle. His horses will be on my mind this week….

  • The final word….

That’s all for today. Back tomorrow. Meanwhile….

Anything to report? Anything to say? Anything to share? Contact me at: nick.pullen@oxonpress.co.uk

Until next time. Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd