Two-year-old or juvenile races, especially those staged early in the season, tend to feature unraced or lightly-raced horses, about which the betting public knows very little. Typically, the only useful information available is the pedigree of the horse in question, its purchase price, the weight it is due to carry, its trainer, its jockey, its current or likely odds and, if the horse has raced, limited form.
However, the pedigree of a young horse can be informative with regard to distance and going preferences and precocity, or otherwise, while its purchase price, although hardly definitive, is usually a fairly reliable guide to its potential. Some sires are well-known as sources of precocious, speedy youngsters and it’s also worth remembering that, logically, a two-year-old foaled in the early months of the year will be more mature, physically, than one born later.
Similarly, some trainers, including Richard Hannon and Mark Johnston, are renowned for their strong record with juveniles, early-season or otherwise, and it’s worth keeping an eye on their runners, especially if the subject of market support. Indeed, if you’re considering an unraced two-year-old, unless you’re privy to ‘inside’ information, which isn’t in the public domain, the betting market may be your only guide to its chances.
If a two-year-old has already raced, speed ratings, such as Topspeed ratings in the Racing Post, can help you to identify a potentially smart youngster before the level of its ability becomes public knowledge. If an inexpensive juvenile with unfashionable connections records a persuasive speed rating, don’t be afraid to back it against newcomers from major yards, who’ll need to be above-average ability, and forward enough, to beat it. Likewise, an expensive juvenile, with powerful connections, may win by a wide margin on its racecourse debut, in a slow time, but still be ‘hyped’ out of all proportion on its next start.