horse racing

NTF Festival Files: Donald McCain – Emerging trends for the McCain mob at the Festival…

The final weekend before Cheltenham, the calm before the storm (can you call the Imperial Cup ‘the calm’!?!)…

Today in ‘NTF Festival Files’ we move on to a trainer who just goes from strength to strength each season; Donald McCain…

#Figures sourced from the excellent Proform database – Figures from the 2007 – 2012 Festivals


NTF Festival Files: Donald McCain

The bare figures…

6/58 | 10% S/R | +£33.11 BFLSP – Win & Place 10/58 | 17% S/R

McCain is well on his way to being one of the forces of the National Hunt game and despite his Cheltenham Festival runners not quite being of the numbers of Nicholls, Mullins, Pipe and co he is starting to build up a tidy little portfolio.

Statistically speaking (and using the market as a guide) McCain is over-performing with his band of runners and they are still probably going off at slightly bigger odds than they should be.

But from angles to his winners come from, where are the zones he needs to improve in and can we profit from any section of his squad in particular?

Let’s start digging…

*Note – I would view these as potential emerging trends. Personally I would like to have more to work with although I always think it is beneficial to get an early handle on these ’emerging trends’.


His record at Cheltenham in March is far superior than his record at the track in other months…

Since 2007 McCain has had 7 winners at the track and 6 of them have been at the Festival in March.

Until recently McCain had not saddled even one winner at the track outside of the Festival! The honour of that first victory went to the tough SUPER DUTY at this seasons December meeting. Lets take a look at his non-festival runners compared to his festival runners…

McCain Festival runners  – 6/58 | 10% S/R | +£33.11 BFLSP – Win & Place 10/58 | 17% S/R

McCain Non-Festival runners – 1/53 | 2% S/R | -£49.63 BFLSP – Win & Place 14/53 | 26% S/R

Quite a difference! His runners have been slightly under-performing at the track outside of March; he has gone there with decent chances on a few occasions. I think it was interesting to hear McCain comment recently that he “knows how important it is to have a Festival winner“. He accepts that he is one of the strong yards in the jumping game and the expectations that come along with that. Personally I think the above figures show that whilst he recognizes a winner at Cheltenham (any Cheltenham meeting) is important it’s so much more important for his profile to have one in March. Essentially, don’t let his overall track record put you off as he is more than capable of getting one ready to fire come the Festival.


Look out for his runners that started in the top 2 of the market Last Time Out (LTO)…

5 of his 6 festival winners were fancied in the market on their prep run.

It’s wise to take a note of these runners, take a look at the figures below…

McCain Festival runners – Top 2 in betting LTO – 5/26 | 19% S/R | +£46.10 BFLSP – Win & Place – 6/26 | 23% S/R

McCain Festival runners – Outside top 2 in betting LTO – 1/32 | 3% S/R | -£12.99 BFLSP – 4/32 | 13% S/R

The early signs say you want a McCain runner that was well fancied LTO, the ones that were not well supported in the market probably also don’t have a great chance come the Festival.


His front-runners have not been as potent as they are at other tracks…

I’m a fan of McCain front-runners and they more often than not interest me at others tracks throughout the season. However, they haven’t had quite the same impact (from limited numbers) at the Festival. Lets look at the running styles, split into their separate groups…

McCain Front-Runners at the Festival – 0/12 | 0% S/R | -£12.00 BFLSP – Win & Place 1/12 | 8% S/R

McCain Close to pace runners at the Festival – 5/31 | 16% S/R | +£27.66 BFLSP – Win & Place 8/31 | 26% S/R

McCain Hold-Up runners at the Festival – 1/15 | 7% S/R | +£17.35 BFLSP – Win & Place 1/15 | 7% S/R

Clearly it isn’t a damming statistic but it interests me because we often see a McCain front-runner slamming its rivals through the week in, admittedly, lesser races. Is it a case of a superior class and fitness edge allowing his runners to bully inferior opposition at lesser tracks in mid-week racing? I would say yes, it is. The festival can be a hard place to make all from the front anyway but the above is, at the very, least something to keep in mind.

Can Overturn put one on the board for the McCain front-runners in the Arkle on Tuesday?


None of his Festival Headgear/Tongue Tie wearers have even placed…

All 6 of his Festival winners wore no sort of corrective application.

I’m not a huge fan of runners wearing headgear at the Festival at the best of times but this could be an interesting developing trend to keep an eye on. Here are the figures…

McCain Festivals runners wearing Headgear/Tongue Tie – 0/15 | 0% S/R | -£15.00 BFLSP – Win & Place 0/15 | 0% S/R

There may be something in it, there may not but I’m going to keep an eye on it. 0/15 winners wouldn’t necessarily get my antenna twitching, 0/15 Win AND Place runners suggests there may be something in it…


Outside of the Amateur races Jason Maguire (unsurprisingly!) is the man you want on-board…

An obvious one maybe but, again outside of the amateur races, only one other jockey has even managed to get a McCain horse to place at the Festival, from 15 attempts.

Jason Maguire record at Festival for McCain – 4/31 | 13% S/R | +£40.22 BFLSP – Win & Place 7/31 | 23% S/R

As mentioned this is a fairly obvious angle but nevertheless it is interesting to note that only 1 other jockey has managed to ride a McCain horse into the places (outwith the Amateur races).


Donald McCain – Cheltenham Festival: The Money Shot!

Clearly not a huge amount to work with and you couldn’t say with confidence this will be a ‘money-shot’ to put your mortgage on but…

Taking all of my in-depth Proform searching into account I’ve come up with the following McCain ‘Money Shot’…

Cheltenham Festival | Donald McCain | Top 2 in the Market LTO | No Headgear/Tongue Tie | SP 20/1 or less

5/12 | 42% S/R | +£60.05 BFLSP – Win & Place 6/12 | 50% S/R

This ‘Money-Shot’ has only drawn a blank on 1 of the last 5 seasons. It will be interesting to see if this keeps on producing the goods…


*Figures for this article have been sourced from the brilliant Proform Professional Database.

Check out their website >>


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To secure your place simply pop along to the following page >>> 2013 NTF Cheltenham Service

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Ben (NTF)

4 responses to “NTF Festival Files: Donald McCain – Emerging trends for the McCain mob at the Festival…”


    • Hi Tony

      Many thanks for that and hope you have found them helpful. Fingers crossed the point towards some winners (and this blasted wet weather stays away!!).

      Have a great Cheltenham

      Ben (NTF)

  2. Dont like to use stats blindly always like there to be some kind of reasoning behind them .. Have to say these are all top trainers and the fact its the pinnacle of the whole season its has def reasoning behind it ..I also take note of any trainer that has a winner at the featival and look at any of thier runners at lot more closley ..Following these stats especially the money shot and taking a note of trainers performances over the last week or so in fact the whole season as a whole think is guarenteed some nice profits ..Thanks for your hard work and time ..

    • Thanks Harry, appreciate your comment.

      Trainers are creatures of habit and it is no fluke they produce similar type winners year after year.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

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