Do Trainers With Only One Horse At A Meeting Make Profits?

Training a horse is a very expensive process as well as being incredibly hard work. Basic expenses include bedding, feed, stall rent, an exercise rider, supplements and a variety of other equipment.

Then there is the small matter of transporting the horse to meetings and paying the jockey. In simple terms, trainers are dependent on purse winnings (and betting winnings) to make money.

So how can the punter use this to his advantage when it comes to betting on horse racing?

A useful strategy is to analyse the number of entries a trainer has in each meeting. If a well known trainer has just one horse at a meeting, it is worth sitting up and taking notice.

Once you have shortlisted these horses, the next step is to highlight trainers that have no other runners anywhere that day. It is also worth looking at the distance the trainer is travelling to get to the meeting.

Sometimes the trainer will just be looking to give a horse a run after a long break without the glare of the spotlight but generally speaking, trainers don’t go to all the trouble of travelling hundreds of miles to enter an also ran.

For example, if a successful London based trainer is only taking one horse 315 miles (approximately) to Carlisle, you have to take that horse seriously. Here is what you should do when looking to make money from a trainer’s only runner of the day:

  • Check out the top trainers list and find out which ones are involved in today’s horse racing. Next, look at their performance stats at the racecourse in question.
  • Narrow the list down to trainers who have produced a level stakes profit at the track over the last 5 seasons. It’s best if these trainers have also produced the most course winners during that time frame.
  • If you check the racecard and see the trainer has just one horse at the meeting today, shortlist it. It may well be the case that the horse doesn’t have much form to go on which means you’ll receive fairly generous odds.
  • This strategy works equally well for flat and National Hunt races.

Identifying The Right Trainer In Horse Racing

It’s easy to be lured in by trainers with a seemingly gaudy number of winners but you have to dig a little deeper. There is absolutely no point looking at trainers that have a lot of winners but don’t actually provide you with a level stakes profit.

For example, Mark Johnston has trained 82 winners from 410 runners at the Wolverhampton AW course over the last 5 seasons with a win ratio of 20%. However, your level stakes ROI on Johnston trained horses is actually -59.93%.

In contrast, Ian Williams has a win ratio of 15% (41 wins from 276 runners) at the same venue but your level stakes ROI on Williams trained horses at Wolverhampton would be +9.74% over the last 5 seasons.

Other Considerations

Of course, it’s folly to simply pick a horse based on the fact it’s a trainer’s only runner. Take the time to look at the following:

  • The trainer’s record with a specific type or age of horse at that track.
  • The jockey that has been booked.
  • Whether the horse is one of the first three on the betting forecast.
  • The size of the prize money on offer, this could be relevant as we see below.

If you see the odds of the horse starting to shorten, it could be a sign that the horse’s connections have placed a sizeable bet on it to win.

Remember, the trainer makes money in two ways, prize money and cash from a successful bet. If the prize money is relatively low but a well known trainer has seen fit to send just one horse to a meeting and the odds shorten, you should be able to put 2+2 together.


Basically, if you see that a trainer such as David Nicholls has just one runner at an All Weather meeting today, it’s might well be worth betting on his horse to win once you have taken the other considerations into account. While Nicholls ‘only’ has a 16% win ratio on AW courses over the last 5 years (77 wins from 467 runners), level stakes ROI on his horses is a cool +46.18%.

Patrick Lynch

Patrick graduated from the National University of Ireland, Galway with an MA in Literature and Publishing but decided he would rather have the freedom of a freelance writer than be stuck in a publishing house all day. He has enjoyed this freedom since 2009 and has written thousands of articles on a variety of topics but sports betting is his passion. While his specialty is finding mismatches in obscure football leagues, he also likes to use his research skills to provide punters with detailed winning strategies in horse racing. You can check out his personal blog on or Twitter @pl1982 where he writes content to help small businesses achieve success.


  1. Two other things to consider here apart obviously from this being a old piece and david nicholls the highlighted trainer is sadly dead .The other point is trainers from Newmarket , Epsom , Middleham etc when taking one horse to a meeting often share a horse box with a trainer that is taking 2 or 3 to save money .

  2. Would also strongly recommend checking daily the RP race course data tables relating to Trainers, Jockeys & Owners % success rates. Along with long distance travellers. I would be interested in the strike rate of the single entry trainer who sends his horse a distance beyond 150 miles who scores a high winning % in the course table. (Of course if the horses’s jockey and owner are also rated in the tables it could be refined further). These facts take less than 5 mins to look up whereas those bullet points sited by Patrick (which obviously are of great value) take longer to put together. I find this system throws up at the smaller courses longer priced animals worth backing each way. By & large the principal card of the day gets so much attention and analysis that the SP of a popular trainer fielding only one entry will be short. However I cannot punt regularly so have had no incentive to follow through the stats. In my random shots during the NH season i found Donald McCain had a flair for winning e.w. bets on his one off entries.

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