I don’t know about the ‘weather-bomb’ that was meant to hit us over the festive period but we certainly experienced a ‘racing-bomb’!!
I mean wow! We were pummeled with top class race after top class race and plenty of fillers in-between!
Performance of the festive period? I would have to go with SILVINIACO CONTI capturing his second King George Chase. Credit must be lavished upon his jockey Noel Fehily who set out to smash the others stamina reserves to pieces by gunning it from fence to fence from the front. When he asked his mount for more in the home-straight there was sure as hell more to come! Outstanding performance.
The downside of these festivities and the multitude of racing is that I’ve no idea what day it is today?!? I’m sure you are the same, yeah? I think it’s Tuesday…but I wouldn’t bet on it!
So let’s try and restore a bit of normality and plummet head long into this weeks ‘What we learned from the weekend’…
What we learned from the weekend: 27th & 28th December…
1. Venetia again comes out on top in a staying handicap chase when the mud is flying…
This time it was in the Welsh National with the uber-tough Emperor’s Choice (and this is a sore one to write about as I was on the short-head runner-up Benvolio!).
Without doubt Venetia Williams has been cleaning up in recent seasons under the following conditions; 3 mile+ handicap chases, soft or heavy ground.
Without doing any in-depth digging you would indeed think those are the conditions you want to be backing her horses.
And if we do a bit of digging do the figures back up that thinking?
Hell yeah they does!!
Here are her figures since the start of 2010 in 3m+ handicap chases when the ground is officially Soft or Heavy…
36/200 | 18% S/R | +£27.03 BFLSP – Win & Place 76/200 | 38% S/R
21% above expectation
Not bad huh?
Well we can improve those figures considerably if we only look at the same conditions from the start of 2013 only…
32/124 | 26% S/R | +£65.26 BFLSP – Win & Place 54/124 | 44% S/R
48% above expectation
Wow! 32 of those 36 winners have come in the last two years! Has she changed something at home? Upgraded her gallops? Changed personnel in the yard? Started a new training regime?
Whatever she has done (and is still doing) is clearly working and there are no signs of it stopping anytime soon.
All hail the Mud Queen!!
Watch out for those V Williams staying chasers when the mud is flying….
2. The exceptional Bryan Cooper reminded us why he was made the No.1 jockey for Gigginstown House…
There were 12 Grade 1 contests run over the past four days. Bryan Cooper won four of them (from only seven rides in Grade 1’s).
His wins came on DON POLI, ROAD TO RICHES, LIEUTENANT COLONEL and CLARCAM.
What’s remarkable about that? They were for four different trainers!
Only one of them started as favourite as well.
He had one other winner at Leopardstown over Xmas; Identity Theft for Henry De Bromhead. Making it five winners for five different trainers!
There is one connection between those five winners though; they were all owned by Gigginstown House.
The Cooper/Gigginstown House partnership are growing stronger by the month. One feels this may only be the start of things to come.
Cooper is the right man in the right job, expect him to keep proving that for years to come…
3. AL FEROF just doesn’t stay 3 miles…
That’s not to knock his fine third in the King George though. That was a credible effort.
That was class that got him there though, not staying power.
His record over trips of 2m5f+ now reads 35323 (323 over 3m+, beaten 14.5L, 25L & 9.5L).
His record over shorter trips (2m to 2m4.5f) reads 311141211F311131. That’s where his class really comes to the fore.
His record over 2m & 2m 0.5f is 311141211.
Paul Nicholls is now in a battle of wills with the horse’s owner John Hales as to where the horse is targeted at going on from this.
Nicholls wants to go down the Queen Mother Champion Chase route. The owner wants to stay over longer trips.
Personally I hope Nicholls wins!
That’s smart thinking from the champion trainer to my mind as that race (the QMCC) looks a mess this year.
Sprinter Sacre heads the market at 2-1 after his demolition job yesterday in a racecourse gallop….excuse my language as I slip back into abusive Scots mode here… GET TAE F**K!! That’s crazy!
It’s an almost impossible task to get back to the top of the tree once you have fallen off due to a sustained period of injury. Racing is littered with fallen champs who have never been the same again after time out at their peak with a major problem. Sprinter Sacre will be no different. He isn’t a machine. He won’t be the same race horse. He will be susceptible at any level if he ever comes back. I doubt he will make it back myself but if he does you have to be looking to take him on. I obviously hope I’m wrong but history tells us I’m mostly likely right.
Next in the QMCC market is SIRE DE GRUGY, last year’s fallen champ. He hasn’t been seen since winning at Sandown on the last day of last season. He is also out with injury. He also may not line-up.
AL FEROF is next in the market.
Behind him is CHAMPAGNE FEVER. He surely will not go down this route.
Behind the Mullins horse is the current bunch of rag-tag two milers who seem keen to take turns at beating each other. They are a decent enough bunch but are they proper QMCC material? I’m far from convinced.
This race is extremely open for AL FEROF.
The grey does have a certain degree of stamina and it isn’t hard to imagine him sitting close to the pace in the QMCC and then turning the screw from half-way and putting the others under endless pressure to the line. Bit like Conti did in the King George. With that in mind Fehily would be a good man to have on-board to deploy those tactics in the QMCC…
Let’s hope Nicholls wins the battle of wills with Hales, the race is open for the grey, racing is always open for another One Man…
I hope you all have a great New Year and like myself will be looking forward to some fantastic National Hunt racing in 2015!
Happy New Year Punting – Ben (NTF)
*Stats sourced from the excellent Proform Professional Database