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  • Writer's pictureAlan Aitken

Better to come from the freshman trainers

David Eustace's Hong Kong training career is currently four horses and an inability to do anything with them as he waits on the sidelines for his chance to shine in season 2024-25.

Eustace has already been in his new home for a month or two and his list is a couple of "renovator's dreams" transferred from other trainers - he can look forward to more of those before September - and two unraced three-year-olds, one from France, one from Australia.

So it isn't quite a clean slate at this point but it is 99 per cent ahead of him and he has probably been paying some attention to the performances of this season's freshman trainers to give some shape to his own expectations.

How have Mark Newnham and Cody Mo managed at their first attempt?

Well, with Newnham on 26 wins currently and Mo on 17, they are in the lower percentiles in terms of history and they don't have a lot of time left to change that.

Since the turn of the century, there have been 24 new trainers in Hong Kong before this pair and they have averaged just under 31 wins in season one.

Much has changed in Hong Kong racing over that time - more races, bigger stable numbers permitted and some serious changes of owner and trainer intent amongst them - so it isn't always comparing apples with apples.

But, on a raw reading, Newnham is not too far short of the average though Mo is going to be significantly shorter of that mark.

Mo's current tally is ahead of only the first seasons of Michael Chang and Michael Freedman and equal to the debut tally of Me Tsui.

Nevertheless, both Newnham and Mo have made public indications that they are comfortable enough with their performances as a platform to something better in season two.

So, it is what it is - but should they be happy with it?

Well, their expectation of better to come is certainly reasonable in historical terms.

Once again using only the current century, there have been 24 new trainers, before Mo and Newnham, with 15 of them training at least as many winners in their second season as their first.

The average tally was up to 35.5 wins but, without Michael Freedman, for reasons stated below, that is closer to 37.

Some of those who didn't match year one were not disappointing performances all the same - Caspar Fownes and Douglas Whyte both had really excellent debut years with 44 wins, so a minor drop in the second season was hardly a shocker.

And Frankie Lor's debut season of 65 wins was the best of all time - even eclipsing the number that gave John Size a first year championship win - so even matching it in year two was extraordinary.

From last season, Pierre Ng has certainly eclipsed his excellent debut - and might be a second-season championship winner yet - while there is still time for Jamie Richards to improve his first year tally although he needs 4 more wins and the clock is ticking.

For only 5 trainers, the debut season figure was their career-best - Sean Woods, Richard Gibson, Benno Yung, Freedman and Jimmy Ting, and obviously two of those trainers are still active, so it isn't over.

And one of those five, Michael Freedman, doesn’t really belong in the study beyond year one as he left very early in season two, when he already had 4 wins and was well on track to better the modest 14 victories of his freshman season.

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