Two Year Olds of 2019

April 30, 2020
Two Year Olds of 2019

Stay at home and wash your hands they said, but they never gave much direction on what to do thereafter. At pace I got through Tiger King, McMafia, and the latest season of Ozark. Hesitant to binge on daytime TV I went to my place of comfort, a spreadsheet, and decided I’d spend a little time summarising 2yo races from 2019.

I probably let it get somewhat out of hand so now that I’ve done the work I felt I might as well share it to give some people who may hold similar interests a little something to get through what we collectively hope is the final big weekend of the current version of our life.

A word of warning before you start reading. The data is correct, or by correct I mean if there is an error it will be a small one. There is an issue for example with who is assigned as a trainer of a horse if that horse changed stable during the year. However, if on your way you find something amiss please do let me know.

Finally, as the respective handicapping teams do not publish performance ratings I’ve used Racing Post Ratings to allow for consistency throughout the work. Additionally, at the moment I only track sales from UK and Ireland which is something I should take the time to correct.

So let us begin… In 2019 across UK & Ireland there were

Headline Numbers

  • 1,367 2yo Races
  • 3,792 Individual Runners
  • 1,032 unique winners
  • 1,974 horses were placed 1,2,3,4 at least once
  • 12,886 starts
  • An average of 9.42 runners per race
  • Each horse had an average of  3.4 starts in the season

Those 1,367 races can be substantially categorised as per below. In recent years there has been a shift away from Maidens towards Novice races in the UK and with so many UK horses now debuting and breaking their maiden in novice races it will make like for like analysis between UK and Ireland a little more challenging as we proceed.

Table 1

Race TypeCount%
Other 201%

Run & Win Distribution

How many winners and losers sit within that 3,792 horses and what lengths did they go to in order to succeed.  Following are the charts which show

  1. Winners, Placed and Unplaced horses and how many runs they had.
  2. Horses per race win distribution.
  3. Horses per races run distribution.

Table 2

Unique HorsesTotal Runs
Winners 1,0324,752
Placed 2nd, 3rd9413,657

The thing to take from this is if you consider a spot on the podium as giving you the warm and fuzzy feeling of success then more owner of horses had a moment of glory than not in 2019. Particularly as unplaced horses had 2.46 runs on average vs winners and placed horses who between them had 4.26 runs on average. Within that bracket of unplaced horses is a tranche of 3yo types gathering some experience at the back end of their 2yo career.

Table 3

# Wins# Horses# Runs

The winning most 2yo of 2019 with 6 wins from 6 runs was none other than Champion 2yo Pinatubo. The next best with 5 wins was Rose Of Kildare who represented first season sire Make Believe and ended her season with a Listed and Group 3 win from a total of 12 runs. She’s surely a good advertisement for her sire, she went to the well often and seemed to thrive on racing with her biggest performances coming after a considerable amount of runs.

Table 4

Number of RunsHorses%Individual WinnersTotal Wins

The couple of things to note from the run distribution is that the aforementioned Rose Of Kildare, who won a listed race on her 11th and a Group 3 on her 12th start, was one of only 20 horses to have 12 or more runs. The extreme point of the table is Comeatchoo (Camacho) who had 15 runs without winning. The first 12 were for Tim Easterby with the remaining runs for Phil McEntee.

A nice postscript is that he finally won a race in January of this year on his 19th start and continued running up to March 5th for a total of 23 runs. I’m not sure racehorses fully understand what is going on with Covid19 presently but I doubt that lack of understanding would take away from the horses appreciation of the enforced break!

Trainer Performance

Taking a look at Trainer Stats in relation to winners, runners, frequency of runners on runs shows the following

  • 405 trainers had 2yo runners
  • 173 trainers had 2yo winners

Richard Hannon tops the charts for individual runners at 126 while Mark Johnston was clear of the field with 51 individual 2yos winning a total of 92 races. Jack Davison, one of the most promising young Irish trainers, had the largest amount of 2nd and 3rd places without a winner at 4 in each category. I am sure he is rueing what might have been with a different stroke of luck however, he can surely take solace that he is doing things right and an uptick in fortunes hopefully exists in the not too distant future.

For trainer performance I like to take a look at the winners to runners ratio. It’s not the only worthy stat and may not even be the best one, but it’s the one I’ve gone with here. I’ve isolated trainers who have had 30 or more individual runners in 2019 to see who amongst the volume trainers performs best. Anything above 40% in that stat, particularly with 30 or more runners, is a hell of a performance and if you fall into that bracket you are most definitely sitting at the top table. The names that feature will be no surprise.

Table 5

W/RRunnersWinnersTotal RunsTotal WinsRuns Per HorseWins Per Run
Charlie Appleby0.575632142432.540.30
Archie Watson0.567341309664.230.21
G M Lyons0.494120118262.880.22
Tom Dascombe0.493517160274.570.17
K R Burke0.466128252364.130.14
A P O'Brien0.4510346330643.200.19
Mark Johnston0.4411651458923.950.20
Richard Hughes0.444118155213.780.14
Mrs John Harrington0.425925185343.140.18
Roger Varian0.425523135282.450.21
John Gosden0.418736188402.160.21

The remarkable thing for me is the performance of Charlie Appleby. He hits the back of the net most often and does so with the greatest efficiency. It is no hindrance to him that he is training for Godolphin, but that’s not a given to success and he still has to produce and place them effectively.

At the other end of the table you don’t want to be operating below 20% and if you are it is often indicative of bad luck, environmental wellbeing issues in the stable (A good old fashioned bug or virus) or in the alleged words of one of Sheikh Mohammed’s former trainers you are pre-training bumper horses for John Ferguson which are more colloquially known as slow maturing types.

So with those caveats in place do view these stats through that prism. However, trainers with 30+ runners who have sub 20% winners/runners is a small list and consists exclusively of Jim Bolger (17%), Tim Easterby (15%), David Simcock (14%), Richard Spencer (13%) and surprisingly to me at least propping up the table is Dermot Weld (10%).

I always like to take a look at the winners/runners stats of trainers with sub 30 horses as within that you will typically find some gems. Smaller trainers, buying more commercial yearlings, who don’t benefit from the patronage of larger owners or breeders. These people are often fighting in the trenches so if they are standing out here it’s not by accident. They are doing a good job buying, training and placing their horses. You will frequently find younger up and coming trainers down here and the stats can give an indication as to where they might be in a few years.

Unfortunately for this piece I’ve got to apply some arbitrary numbers so I exclude trainers with 5 or less runners, so I am looking at trainers with between 6 and 29 runners and I find that a winners to runners ratio of 33% or more is noteworthy in this field.

Table 6

W/RRunnersWinnersTotal RunsTotal WinsRuns Per HorseWins Per Run
William Muir0.57742854.000.18
Simon Crisford0.56251468162.720.24
Rae Guest0.50842342.880.17
Grant Tuer0.50633445.670.12
Andrew Slattery0.451153052.730.17
George Scott0.431465674.000.13
Roger Fell0.43733434.860.09
Paul Cole0.421253873.170.18
Stuart Williams0.401042962.900.21
John Quinn0.392811121154.320.12
Iain Jardine0.38833254.000.16
David Elsworth0.38833133.880.10
Robert Cowell0.361144564.090.13
Keith Dalgleish0.342910144154.970.10
James Tate0.3321759102.810.17
Joseph Tuite0.33933533.890.09
Thomas Mullins0.33933243.560.13
Mohamed Moubarak0.33623035.000.10
Julie Camacho0.33622724.500.07
Heather Main0.33622343.830.17
P Twomey0.33621442.330.29

Nothing outstanding here except for the appearance of a few imposters, notably Simon Crisford, John Quinn and James Tate who most likely wouldn’t rate in the bracket in which they sit here; in my mind at least they are all at the top table.

Like many who follow Irish Racing closely I am not surprised to see Tom Mullins feature and I must to my own fault admit my surprise at Grant Tuer as I thought he trained Hunter Chasers. No disrespect, Mr Tuer, this reflects more on my lack of knowledge than your ability to train horses.

William Muir and Rae Guest also catch the attention as does Paddy Twomey who sneaks in on the W/R stat but tops the charts in terms of efficiency based on wins to runs. Genesis Thoroughbreds have 5 horses in training with Paddy. Last year when we raced horses under the banner of Sunday Racing we supplied 2 of his 2yo runners – one being Sunday Sovereign, a €30,000 yearling purchase, who is now in the care of Roger Varian. Our other runner was Sunday Sweet, a €42,000 Foal purchase, who was a very unlucky in running 4th on debut. She was sold to stay in the yard afterwards and having being given the benefit of Paddy’s patient handling she remains a very exciting prospect for 2020. We look forward to following their progress in 2020.

Sunday Sovereign defeats subsequent Coventry Stakes winner, Arizona, in the first race staged at the new Curragh racecourse.

Sire Performance

So onto Sire Performance and we learn that

  • 259 Sires had 2yo runners
  • 169 sires had 2yo winners – at 65% that’s probably a little higher than I expected.
  • Kodiac topped the charts with 103 individual runners followed by Dark Angel (79), Dandy Man (76), Gutaifan (76) and Camacho (74).
  • Kodiac topped the winning charts with 36 individual winners followed by Dark Angel (27), Dandy Man (27), Gutaifan (25) and No Nay Never (25).

Winners to Runners seems to be the accepted basic stat for looking at Sire Performance so I am not changing tact here.  The below table sets out the top 20 based on W/R

Table 7

Night Of Thunder (IRE)41130233156%
Gregorian (IRE)15907947%
Charm Spirit (IRE)13456946%
Toronado (IRE)2285101745%
War Front (USA)2787121544%
Dutch Art2589111544%
No Nay Never (USA)60216253442%
Shamardal (USA)225391541%
Starspangledbanner (AUS)41171162339%
Siyouni (FR)3692141639%
Oasis Dream39127151938%
Sea The Stars (IRE)2966111238%
Due Diligence (USA)43178162837%
Dabirsim (FR)11294436%
Cable Bay (IRE)55231203036%
Gleneagles (IRE)44118162236%
Requinto (IRE)2211281236%

I’ve again filtered for sires with 11 or more runners. Night Of Thunder at 56% W/R is the standout performer with many other sires of note putting up credible performers. The two to note are Gregorian who grabs 2nd place on the basis of just 38 live foals so a very credible stat. The other big standout for me is Sea The Stars with a 38% W/R with 11 winners from 29 runners – we don’t associate him with 2yo performers but as the greatest racehorse of all time we should never really be surprised by anything with him.

Only 1 stallion with 10 or more runners failed to record a winner, that was Ruler Of The World. Despite being responsible for multiple Group 1 winner Iridessa his other runners have failed to impress and he has found himself relocated to France.

Striking as it was to me that Gregorians standing on that list is off the back of a relatively small book I thought I’d take the time to layer the Weatherbys Return of Mares data on top of this table. There is an anomaly here as imported pregnancies vs imported live foals or yearlings make it look that a stallion like Karakontie had 1 live foal as per return of mares data but had 7 runners. I will correct for and exclude this where possible as it becomes meaningless. I will also exclude for stallions with 10 or less live foals.

Anyway, what these tables are going to tell us is

  1. How likely is a stallions progeny to race at 2 – Runners to Live Foals
  2. How likely is a stallions progeny to win at 2 – Winners to Live Foals
  3. I will also include the table sorted for largest live foal crop – Live Foals to Runners

Table 8

Live FoalsRunnersRunners/Foals
Society Rock (IRE)362878%
Clodovil (IRE)151067%
Dandy Man (IRE)1157666%
Bungle Inthejungle382566%
Fast Company (IRE)352366%
Starspangledbanner (AUS)634165%
Brazen Beau (AUS)684465%
Ivawood (IRE)794759%

Table 9

Live FoalsWinnersWinners/Foals
Night Of Thunder (IRE)892326%
Starspangledbanner (AUS)631625%
Dandy Man (IRE)1152723%
No Nay Never (USA)1082523%
Society Rock (IRE)36822%
Bungle Inthejungle38821%
Due Diligence (USA)791620%
Clodovil (IRE)15320%
Dutch Art551120%
Charm Spirit (IRE)30620%

Table 10

Live FoalsRunnersWinnersRunners/FoalsWinners/Foals
Gutaifan (IRE)151762550%17%
Dark Angel (IRE)146792754%18%
Zoffany (IRE)139662247%16%
Galileo (IRE)130642149%16%
Dubawi (IRE)127531842%14%
Dandy Man (IRE)115762766%23%
Lope De Vega (IRE)115501643%14%
Cable Bay (IRE)109552050%18%
No Nay Never (USA)108602556%23%
Casamento (IRE)10232631%6%

Now that we have established the above the next exercise I did was to take a look at who the best stallion is. {Joke} What I did was to take the maximum performance rating for each horse, map that back to the stallion and average it out – so which stallion had on average the best performers in 2019. Some familiar names on show.

I’ve excluded stallions with 5 or less runners and the table shows all stallions who fall in at average RPR per runner of 75 or more. The mid and lower extremes of this table make for very interesting analysis particularly when mapped against mares but I will keep that to myself for now.

Table 11

HorsesAvg Max RPR
War Front (USA)2781.7
American Pharoah (USA)980.1
Shamardal (USA)2279.7
Karakontie (JPN)779.0
Charm Spirit (IRE)1376.8
No Nay Never (USA)6076.6
Night Of Thunder (IRE)4176.0
Galileo (IRE)6475.9
Siyouni (FR)3675.0

Maiden Races

Now that I am through the preamble I am going to look at the interesting sub section of races. The 2yo Maidens. If your modus operandi is to buy commercial yearlings, turn them into maiden winners, and sell them then this is the area of interest. Of course how you define a commercial yearling is equivalent to how long is a piece of string but for me it’s one I can buy on spec and syndicate – so we are talking of up to about 50k total purchase cost for me, for others that will be 200k and so on. Anyway, let’s look at the maidens.

The analysis of Maiden races will carry more weight when looking just at Ireland as the race program has changed towards novice races in the UK in recent years hence why the ratio of maiden races between UK and Ireland looks a little askew. For that reason I will omit the UK from some of the analysis that follows. Regardless, when looking at Maiden races it remains that 357 took place across the UK and Ireland with    


  • 154 Races
  • 106 Open
  • 47 Auction
  • 1 Claiming
  • Won by 73 Colts, 75 Fillies and 6 Geldings


  • 203 Races
  • 150 Open
  • 53 Auction
  • Won by 111 Colts, 77 Fillies and 15 Geldings

Performance Ratings

On average an Irish maiden winner will achieve an RPR of 83.7

  • An Open Maiden winner will achieve an RPR of 84.3
  • An Auction Maiden winner will achieve an RPR of 82.7
  • The one claiming maiden in Tipperary was won with an RPR of 67

On average a UK maiden winner will achieve an RPR of 79.6

  • An Open maiden winner will achieve an RPR of 81.3
  • An Auction maiden winner will achieve an RPR of 74.8

Then let’s take a look at the different tracks and what, in 2019, winning a maiden at these tracks achieved in terms of a performance rating. One year of stats are somewhat meaningless however, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t somewhat interesting.

Close followers of Irish Racing will know that Gowran Park throws up some quality performers with the likes of Highland Reel, Circus Maximus, Battle Of Marengo, Together Forever, Rekindling, Trading Leather and Success Days just a selection of 2yo maiden winners from the track in recent years so it is not at all surprising to see it rank so highly.

I’ve also included a handful of the top UK tracks along with the bottom 3 to give a flavour.

Table 12

Avg Winnng RPRAll# RacesOpen# RacesAuction# Races
Gowran Park (IRE)89.5890.5686.52
Thurles (IRE)88.0188.010.00
Curragh (IRE)87.22087.71784.03
Bellewstown (IRE)85.8587.5284.73
Navan (IRE)85.61187.4782.54
Leopardstown (IRE)85.21684.91286.04
Naas (IRE)84.41984.31685.03
Tipperary (IRE)84.0685.7390.02
Galway (IRE)84.0883.8584.33
Sligo (IRE)84.010.0084.01
Roscommon (IRE)82.0381.5283.01
Cork (IRE)81.9782.7677.01
Fairyhouse (IRE)81.8683.0380.73
Dundalk (AW) (IRE)80.72680.21781.79
Killarney (IRE)79.5279.520.00
Listowel (IRE)79.2579.0279.33
Down Royal (IRE)79.0578.5481.01
Limerick (IRE)78.4585.0176.84

Table 13

Avg Winnng RPRAll# RacesOpen# RacesAuction# Races
Newmarket (July)85.6785.670.00

Maiden Trainers

105 individual trainers saddled a maiden winner in 2019, I have the stats on maiden winners/runners but the issue being that comparing UK & Ireland data is not like for like due to the UK racing program including so many novice races which provide an ideal starting point for a 2yo.

I’ve included a table with only Irish maiden winning trainers as the data shows us it’s a tougher task to win one in Ireland. I’ve stacked it based on winners and you can do your own perusing.

I will restrict myself to highlighting Kieran Cotter who had 3 winners from 6 runners. He has a good link up with Danny Murphy who seems to buy most of the horses. 3 from 6 is good going by any stretch but 2 of those winners, Daughter In Law and Kondratiev Wave, won Curragh maidens while George Cornelius was a devastating winner of a Dundalk maiden. The latter is now gelded and in the care of Karl Burke and I look forward to him once racing resumes – he could well make into a black type sprint performer.

Table 14

Row LabelsMdn WinnersIndiv RunnersWinners / Runners
A P O'Brien38990.38
Mrs John Harrington24590.41
Joseph Patrick O'Brien17650.26
G M Lyons15400.38
M Halford6230.26
M D O'Callaghan5220.23
J S Bolger5330.15
Andrew Slattery4110.36
K J Condon4160.25
D K Weld4380.11
Kieran P Cotter360.50
J A Stack3170.18
W McCreery3170.18
J P Murtagh3310.10
P Twomey270.29
Thomas Mullins290.22
Aidan Anthony Howard120.50
Brian Nolan120.50
E J O'Grady120.50
Gerard O'Leary120.50
Matthew J Smith120.50
Mrs D A Love120.50
Henry De Bromhead130.33
Adrian Paul Keatley140.25
Aidan F Fogarty140.25
Gerard Keane140.25
Ross O'Sullivan150.20
Anthony Mullins170.14
A Oliver1110.09
John C McConnell1110.09
John M Oxx1130.08
Noel Meade1130.08
Ms Sheila Lavery1170.06

Sires of Maidens

Looking at Ireland there are not many surprises – Galileo is the standard setter with No Nay Never, Zoffany, Gleneagles and Holy Roman Emperor next on the list while Camelot, Footstepsinthesand, Australia and Starspangledbanner not far behind. Spot the common theme? All are resident in Coolmore. They are not the preeminent force in world bloodstock by accident after all!

If there are surprises of sorts they are Kodiac with just 2 domestic winners while a very strong mention must go to Irish National Stud resident, Free Eagle who secured 3 domestic maiden winners from his first crop – surely we can expect his 3yo runners to take a step forward. A generous nod should also go the way of Epaulette with 3 domestic maiden winners one of which went on to win a Group 3 at the seasons end.

I’ve ranked based on Irish totals but have left in the corresponding UK number for those sires as well.

Table 15

Galileo (IRE)18119
No Nay Never (USA)8513
Zoffany (IRE)7310
Gleneagles (IRE)6511
Holy Roman Emperor (IRE)505
Dandy Man (IRE)4711
War Front (USA)426
Dark Angel (IRE)3811
Free Eagle (IRE)325
Siyouni (FR)325
Epaulette (AUS)303

Black Type Performers

There’s not a lot to be learned by looking at performance ratings of Group winners however, a cursory glance at league tables is always interesting. So let’s take a check on group winning sires and trainers.

This table shows group races won by sire so to help read the table, Shamardal has 3 Group 1s and 1 Group 2 – that’s a total of 4 races, not 4 horses as we know they were spread between Pinatubo and Earthlight

Table 16

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Listed
Shamardal (USA)31 2
Galileo (IRE)1321
First Defence (USA)11 1
Starspangledbanner (AUS)1  1
Kitten's Joy (USA)1   
No Nay Never (USA) 212
Gleneagles (IRE) 2 1
Footstepsinthesand 2  
Slade Power (IRE) 2  
Society Rock (IRE) 2  
Bated Breath 11 
Bungle Inthejungle 1  
Cappella Sansevero 1  
Iffraaj 1  
Lethal Force (IRE) 1  
Sea The Moon (GER) 1  
Zoffany (IRE) 1  
Due Diligence (USA)  22
Lope De Vega (IRE)  21
Make Believe  2 
New Approach (IRE)  2 
Australia  12
Kingman  12
Night Of Thunder (IRE)  12
Cable Bay (IRE)  11
Holy Roman Emperor (IRE)  11
War Front (USA)  11
Camelot  1 
Dandy Man (IRE)  1 
Dark Angel (IRE)  1 
Declaration Of War (USA)  1 
Dutch Art  1 
Epaulette (AUS)  1 
Golden Horn  1 
Karakontie (JPN)  1 
Born To Sea (IRE)   1
Coach House (IRE)   1
Deep Impact (JPN)   1
Dialed In (USA)   1
Dubawi (IRE)   1
Fastnet Rock (AUS)   1
Free Eagle (IRE)   1
Harbour Watch (IRE)   1
Heeraat (IRE)   1
Outstrip   1
Requinto (IRE)   1
Siyouni (FR)   1

Table 17

Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Listed
Charlie Appleby21 3
A P O'Brien1655
Mrs John Harrington1211
G M Lyons11 2
Andrew Balding1  1
A Fabre1   
Roger Charlton1   
Richard Hannon 31 
Mark Johnston 232
Roger Varian 211
Simon Crisford 2  
Clive Cox 12 
Hugo Palmer 1  
K R Burke 1  
Joseph Patrick O'Brien  21
Tom Dascombe  21
David Evans  11
John Quinn  11
Richard Fahey  11
Saeed bin Suroor  11
James Tate  1 
M Halford  1 
Ralph Beckett  1 
Roger Teal  1 
Thomas Mullins  1 
Charles Hills   1
Charlie Fellowes   1
David Simcock   1
Iain Jardine   1
J A Stack   1
Jonathan Portman   1
Keith Dalgleish   1
Robert Cowell   1
W McCreery   1
William Haggas   1
William Muir   1

Sales Stats – Sourcing Winners

Many people dream of getting their hands on a champion. It’s no easy task to find a maiden winner so sourcing a champion is the stuff of fantasy. Even sourcing a Black Type winner is a serious challenge. Anyway, let’s look at the opportunities that passed us by.

Black Type Winners

  • Group 1 – you could probably have guessed this but all of the 2019 Group 1 winners were homebred.
  • Group 2 – Of the 19 Group 2 winners you could possibly have bought 2 of them in the Tattersalls December Foal Sales ring.
    • Threat sold for 100,000 Guineas to Cheveley Park
    • Arizona sold for 65,000 Guineas to Fairway Partners.
    • Whilst I only look at UK and Irish sales I do know off hand that Arizona was sold as a yearling in Arqana for €260,000. So you had 3 shots at buying.
  • Group 3 – There were 25 Group 3 winners and 8 of them held 9 sales engagements
    • Cayenne Pepper (195,000 Gns), Max Vega (€47,000 – Vendor), and New York Girl (32,000 Gns) all had a walk through the ring as as foals.
    • As yearlings Degraves (92,000 Gns), Roman Turbo (€55,000), Wichita (140,000 Gns), and Max Vega (€25,000) all changed hands.
    • In the breeze Up Market Kenzai Warrior (£45,000) and Valdermoro (50,000 Gns) were yours if you had the selection skills and a chequebook to back them up.
  • Listed – there were 32 individual listed winners in 2019. I am not going to go through them individually but you would have had 11 opportunities to buy 10 of them with Shadn being the only one offered twice. They cost everywhere from 1,000 Gns for Wild Illusion (though I think that was a qualifying sale for auction races) to 300,000 Gns for Summer Romance the Kingman sibling to Royal Ascot winner Rizeena.

So there you have it – 18 of the Black type performers from 2019 passed through the sales ring. That tells you the challenge set to those walking the barns in search of a high level success.

Maiden winners were a little more accessible, but you could spend anywhere from 1,050,000 Gns which MV Magnier paid for Cormorant all the way down to the £1,500 Hamish Macauley paid for Lady Quickstep. I might do a follow up article on where the maiden winner came from at a later stage.

Thanks for taking the time to read. If you enjoyed reading this please share it with others. If you have any feedback, spot any errors, or have suggestions for places to do a deeper dive please get in touch.

Also, if you are interested in getting involved in a horse at any level please feel free to get in touch to discuss it further!

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