How to Bet on Two-Year-Olds: Key Factors

How to Bet on Two-Year-Olds

When sifting through the racing cards, many punters immediately shy away from the contests restricted to two-year-olds - being put off by the lack of form and immediately turning to a more fathomable event to invest in via one of the top new betting sites.

This apprehension is particularly prevalent when faced with a Maiden contest, where many runners may be making the first racecourse start of their career. In many ways, that trepidation is perfectly understandable. After all, it can be tough enough to pick out the winner of a handicap with years worth of form to study, never mind an event where some or all of the runners are making their debut.

However, whilst there may not be much form to call upon, previous racecourse outings represent only one part of a racehorse's profile. There are many other factors to consider and - if approached in the right way - two-year-old races can become a useful weapon in your punting armoury. So, instead of moving swiftly on from the next Maiden event, why not delve into the following factors? You might just find that a profitable punting opportunity emerges from the stats.

The Sire

There are many Sires in the world of horseracing – quite literally thousands – but not all are created equally. In general terms, the more talented a horse was at the track, the more talented his progeny will be. The good news with sires is that they tend to be very prolific in the breeding shed – producing 100+ foals per season in many cases – leading to a vast amount of statistical data. When analysing the stats of a sire, there are two main things to look for:

  • Average Rating of Progeny - The top racing sites provide a comprehensive list of all of a stallion's offspring, complete with the peak rating they received at the track. The higher the average rating, the better as far as punting is concerned.
  • Suitability to Conditions - If a sire excelled over a certain distance or on a certain type of ground, the chances are good that his offspring will display similar preferences. One good example of this is the high-class Arc winner Montjeu. Brilliant over 1m4f, Montjeu’s offspring boast a solid 14% strike rate over that 1m4f trip. However, at sprint distances of 5f-6f, this decreases to a well below average 4%. When assessing a sire, look for a balance between overall quality and suitability to the conditions of the race in question.

The Dam Sire

Of course, a Sire only contributes to one-half of a racehorse; we also need to consider the Dam side of the pedigree. The best starting point – again due to the large amount of statistical data available – is with the Dam's Sire.

All of the comments relating to Sire analysis apply again here. However, it is important to remember that the Dam Sire accounts for only one-quarter of the horse's make-up, so more weight should be placed on the Sire stats when assessing the merits of each runner.

The Dam

And then we have the Dam herself. Due to the wonders of mother nature, Dam stats can never be quite as robust as Sire stats. Whereas a Sire may produce hundreds of offspring during their time at stud, it would be rare for a Dam to reach double figures. Nevertheless, an examination of the Dam can often prove the deciding factor when making your selections. If faced with a close decision between runners, always favour the horse whose Dam either:

  • Displayed strong form at the racetrack. -
  • Has already shown an ability to produce talented foals. -

The Trainer

No matter how talented a horse is on paper, they would struggle to impose their own fitness regime to ensure they are in peak condition when they take to the track. That job falls to the trainer. And whilst some trainers like to have their two-year-olds super fit and ready to roll from day one, others opt to bring them along more slowly – effectively using Maiden and Novice events as a fitness exercise, or simply to impart some much-needed experience into their runners.

The common-sense approach applies here, in that we should always favour those trainers whose strike rate in two-year-old races at least matches their overall strike rate across all races. Again, all of this information is readily available at the best online racing sites.

Sales Price

Money talks, or so they say, and that phrase certainly seems to apply in horse racing. There are, of course, exceptions, with rarely a season going by without a fairytale story of a horse bought for “pennies” going on to big success, but on balance, the more expensive a horse, the better they will be at the track. With prices in the hundreds of thousands the norm, those purchasing the runners know what to look for and aren’t in the business of wasting their money.

One sales figure that can be particularly useful is if you notice a runner has been purchased at a “breeze-up” rather than at a standard auction. At a standard auction, the buyers can view the pedigree and see the horse trot around the ring, but at a breeze-up, they actually get to see the horse run. As such, a high breeze-up sales figure can be worth paying close attention to.


As much as we analyse the stats of a runner, it is the horse's trainer who remains in the best position to judge their talent. After all, it is the trainer who witnesses how well a horse is working every day and their overall level of ability. This information can be hard to come by, but a trainer may tip their hand via the entry system. When assessing a race, scan through the future entries, and make note of horses with entries for Listed or Group class contests later in the season. If the owner and trainer have seen fit to stump up the entry fee for these events, the chances are that the horse has at least been showing something to catch their eye on the gallops.

In truth, all of the above represents a mere starting point regarding the intriguing world of two-year-olds but serves to illustrate that, when weighing up a race, there are many elements to consider other than the form in the book.

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