Horse Racing tips: 4 UK trainers to follow for the winter game

These four have been shifting gears in recent years.


Fergal O’Brien

Fergal O’Brien (below) enjoyed an outstanding season in 2019/20 by just about every measure. With his 63 winners coming at a 19% strike rate, it was his best campaign numerically, and, but for its premature end, it could well have been the best in terms of prize money as well.

More sophisticated measures back up those impressive basic numbers, and, among trainers who sent out more than 100 runners in 2019/20, O’Brien features in the top 10 by both run-to-form percentage (50%) and percentage of rivals beaten (63%).

The trainer has quickly picked up where he left off in the opening months of the 2020/21 season, too, with his 36 winners coming at an impressive 29% strike rate. His prize money total puts him top of the trainers’ championship at this very early stage, and, while he’ll struggle to stay there when the other big yards get rolling, O’Brien looks set for another career-best haul at the very least.

Horse To Follow – Imperial Alcazar

There is plenty of substance to the useful form achieved by Imperial Alcazar in his first season over timber, with every indication that he’ll make an even better chaser, especially once tackling staying trips.


Richard Hobson

The 2019/20 National Hunt season may have been brought to a premature end, but that didn’t stop Richard Hobson enjoying his best campaign yet, both in terms of number of winners (13) and total prize money won (£185,476). His strike rate of 27% was the fourth best in Britain among trainers who had at least 25 runners, while he also featured prominently by other measures, most notably a run-to-form percentage that came in at 57%, putting him behind only Tristan Davidson (61%).

Hobson has a particularly good record at Newbury, where he has saddled five winners from 17 runners since the start of the 2015/16 season, resulting in a 29% strike rate. He also shows a 13-point profit at Newbury, so look out for his runners there in the months ahead. It is very much a yard going places.

Horse To Follow – Discko des Plages

Discko des Plages was very well backed prior to winning a Doncaster handicap hurdle in good style when last seen and ought to be able to win races over fences this season.

Tom Lacey

Tom Lacey has proved himself a master at placing his horses since saddling his first winner over jumps in February 2013, consistently operating at a strike rate above 20% in recent seasons – 21% in 2016/17, 25% in 2017/18 and 21% in 2018/19. Admittedly, that figure was down slightly during the latest season, but he has made up for that since the restart, with his 12 winners during the summer months coming at a 24% strike rate.

You would also be showing a 36-point profit if backing every one of Lacey’s runners since the start of the 2015/16 campaign, and you would be doing especially well at Chepstow, the scene of this weekend’s big National Hunt meeting in Britain.

With 11 winners from 40 runners, Lacey has the best strike rate (28%) among trainers who have had more than 30 runners at the track, those winners returning a 59-point profit.

Horse To Follow – Adrimel

Adrimel has all the ingredients to develop into a useful novice hurdler in 2020/21, and, with his trainer’s record, it’s safe to assume he’ll have a campaign mapped out long before he steps on to the track for his hurdling debut.


Anthony Honeyball

Anthony Honeyball is another trainer who surpassed his previous-best tally of winners in a season in 2019/20, with 36 already on the board before the last six weeks were lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

That tally only consolidated Honeyball’s position amongst the leading trainers in Britain given how impressive his overall results have been since the start of the 2015/16 season. Indeed, he features amongst the top 10 during that period by both strike rate (20%) and run-to-form percentage (46%), each of them factors that help to identify trainers worth following for their consistent excellence.

Honeyball has been most prolific at Fontwell, the venue where he has had more runners (89) and more winners (30) than anywhere else in recent seasons, operating at an eye-catching 34% strike rate.

His 33-point profit at that track is also worth noting for punters.

Horse To Follow – Gustavian

Some horses give the impression they’ll be seen to much better advantage in handicaps than maidens/novices and Gustavian falls into that category, his trainer a dab hand at making the most of potentially lenient opening marks.

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