Were short-priced favourite backers winners or losers in 2016?

We've crunched the numbers to find out how short-priced favourite backers got on in the 2016 Flat season.

Were short-priced favourite backers winners or losers in 2016?

The curtain came down on the 2016 Flat racing season on Saturday as Prize Money landed the final big pot of the campaign, the November Handicap at Doncaster.

The day itself provided 23 winning favourites or joint-favourites, but how would punters have got on backing short-priced horses throughout the season? We’ve crunched the numbers to find out if backing favourites really was a road to riches in 2016.

Let’s start with a broad overview of how short-priced favourites (at SP) performed during the Flat season in Great Britain, which began on April 2 and concluded on November 5.

During this period, 740 horses were sent off at Evens or shorter and 426 of them won (57.6%). However, if you had backed them all to a £1 level stake, you would have ended the season £22.09 down. Here they are broken down by month.

Wins Runs % £ Level Stake
April 38 82 46.3% -£20.15
May 58 98 59.2% -£0.21
June 73 122 59.8% £4.36
July 83 130 63.8% £9.74
August 101 164 61.6% £6.07
September 40 82 48.8% -£14.62
October 28 52 53.8% -£5.32
November 5 10 50.0% -£1.97

The above table highlights the importance and relevance of time of year when backing short-priced horses. The opening month of the Flat season turned out to be graveyard for short-price backers with 44 of the 82 horses that went off evens or shorter getting chinned.

138 horses were sent off at exactly Even money through the season, with precisely half of them winning (69), leaving backers no richer or poorer for their enterprise.

What about breaking short-priced favourite down to age range? Two-year-old's, perhaps surprisingly, performed well with a 59.4% strike-rate (170-286), but backers still ended up the campaign with a -£3.81 loss. Three-year-old's had a lower strike-rate than their juniors, winning only 66 of 124 races where they were sent off evens or shorter. That resulted in a level stakes loss of £12.48.

How about horses that were sent off between 4/6 and 6/4 (inclusive)? Well, 1214 horses fitted the criteria but only 532 (43.8%) were successful, leaving backers in deficit to the tune of £105.48 (£1 level stake).

Aidan O’Brien carried all before him in 2016, winning 22 Group One races around the globe, but the Ballydoyle trainer has saddled EIGHT short-price losers (from 17 runners) in GB and Ireland Group One contests this term. The Gurkha was responsible for two of those reversals - the highest profile of which came at Sandown in July, where he was outgunned by Hawkbill in the Coral Eclipse despite being sent off a heavily-backed 4/6 chance.

2016 was the year that Jim Crowley landed his first Flat Jockeys’ Title. Crowley finished the season 16 winners clear of nearest pursuer Silvestre de Sousa and with a level stakes profit of £36.91 from his 759 rides. When it came to short-priced winners, Crowley posted a strike-rate of 53.3% (16-30) from mounts that went off evens or shorter, with a level stakes loss of £3.73.

Thirty three of Frankie Dettori’s mounts through the season were sent off even money or shorter, but 15 were vanquished, including Lady Aurelia in the Cheveley Park Stakes, providing an overall loss of £4.31.