Monthly Mayhem October: Finding the Best Trainers Each Month

In what I hope becomes a monthly segment, I would like to help punters by outlining the trainers most likely to be in form (or out of it) at a specific time of year. In this edition, I wish to look at the best and worst trainers in October. As the National Hunt season doesn’t begin in earnest until November, it is best to focus on Flat trainers.


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It is impossible for a trainer to be on-form all year round so they pick and choose their times to peak. While the likes of Aiden O’Brien prefer to focus on major events and peak in the build-up, others like to look at quiet times of the year as an opportunity to pick up a few wins.

October is one such period. Although there is the Dubai Future Champions and QIPCO British Champions days, neither is classified as a festival. Also, we are just leaving the busy month of September which featured the Sprint Cup, St. Leger, and Ayr Gold Cup meetings, along with the upcoming Newmarket event. Let’s see if we can find three trainers worth focusing on in October.

All stats are from UK Flat races since 2013 so that’s five Octobers’ worth of data. We take all return-on-investment (ROI) data from Betfair (BF) since we can access such stats through Betfair, but feel free to apply these strategies wherever you bet on racing online.

Charlie Appleby

Appleby is a moderately prolific trainer in UK Flat racing and is having an excellent season so far. At the time of writing, he was closing in on 300 entries and is enjoying a splendid strike rate of almost 29%. Moreover, 52% of his horses are placing which is very encouraging.

He also happens to have a decent October record:

BetsWinsStrike RateROI (BF)
1553120%25.69%

With Appleby, you would have earned a profit in three of the last five years including a staggering 81% profit last October when 37.5% of his horses won. His worst year was 2016 with a loss of 49%.

In handicap races, the profit increases to 38.73% but is far more volatile with losses in three of the five years. On the plus side, his two good years (2015 and 2017) saw profits of 129% and 202% respectively.

Michael Bell

Bell ends up on the list because his dismal October record ensures that he offers excellent laying opportunities! In the season to date, his strike rate is already rather low at 16% but things take a turn for the worse when you factor in his October record over the last few years:

BetsWinsStrike RateROI (BF)
1461610.96%-36.44%

If you elected to lay all of Bell’s entries, your 89%-win rate would yield a profit of 29.22%. You would profit in three of the last five years and the other two years would result in a minor loss only. Bell’s record has deteriorated even further in the last two years with a win rate of just under 8%.

His record is even worse in non-handicap races.

BetsWinsStrike RateROI (BF)
6669.09%-54.79%

Laying all his non-handicap race entries in October would bump up your win rate to almost 91% and increase your profit to 48.35%. Best of all, you would have profited in four of the last five years. Although 2014 would have seen a substantial loss as 30% of his horses won, it was an anomalous month because Bell has just one October win in 37 races since!

When you go back 10 years, Bell’s poor record in non-handicaps more or less holds. Aside from a good year in 2012, 2008-2011 was an abysmal period for the trainer as only 3 of his 85 entries won. He has noticeably reduced his October entries in recent years but had 16 runners last October.

Ed Walker

After going through the records of dozens of trainers, it became apparent that October is not a favourite for many. Ed Walker has had over 50 winners this year but at a strike rate of just 14%, you won’t get rich backing him. However, his October record makes for better reading:

BetsWinsStrike RateROI (BF)
891719.10%118.47%

When Walker has a good October, it is pretty exceptional. Although you would only have profited in three of the last five years, Walker has been the toast of punters in the last two years with a profit of 110% in 2017 and an incredible 568% in 2016, obviously including a few huge priced winners.

His non-handicap October record is even more eye-catching, at least on the surface:

BetsWinsStrike RateROI (BF)
42819.05%178.80%

In a year-by-year analysis, Walker’s non-handicap record is even crazier than his overall one. In 2013 and 2015, he managed no wins from 15 but with 3 wins in 8 in 2017, he would have provided a profit of almost 101%. In 2016, he also won 3 from 8 but with a profit of 1010%! In simple terms, your eight x single unit stakes on Betfair would have returned over 88 units.

Final Thoughts

In the process of writing this article, I looked at a large number of trainers and found it nearly impossible to find one with a consistently good October record.

I would recommend looking at Ed Walker and Charlie Appleby, however – especially the latter as his recent record is excellent. In contrast, Michael Bell has a terrible record in October so consider laying his entries. Other trainers with poor records at this time of year include Jonathan Portman with 5 wins in 73 in the last five years, and Nigel Tinkler with 2 wins in 66 races in the last five Octobers.