horse racing

What we learned from the weekend: 25th & 26th October…

Now the National Hunt game is rolling!

BANG! Old Roan Chase. KAPOW! Persian War Hurdle!

Just that pesky Breeders Cup thingy over in the States and then that flat stuff can properly be put to bed!

But that’s by the by, today all you need to be concerned about is…

What we learned from the weekend: 25th & 26th October…

1.Paul Nicholls has had a fair old clearing of the ‘dead wood’ in his yard over the summer…

Yes, in the first installment of this seasons Paul Nicholls Betfair column the Champion trainer stated “More than 50 horses that were in last season’s team aren’t here anymore – I had my biggest-ever clear-out in the summer – and they were replaced with good quality, young horses who will need time and who I won’t be in a rush with.”

Nicholls also says his yard won’t really be ready to roll until November. That’s a believable statement, it’s clear to all that some of his yard are not quite fully tuned up for their early season outings.

Still, October hasn’t been all that bad for the champion trainer. This month he has saddled 9 winners from 42 runners. That’s a 21% S/R. 43% (18/42) have also managed to place. Backing all his runners this month would ‘only’ have left a -£4.50 hole in your pocket. I’d say that’s not too shabby given the fact they “aren’t quite at concert pitch yet”. Hell, imagine what the figure will be like when he CAN get some proper work and schooling into them! Once Nicholls can fully get after his youngsters at home we could see team Ditcheat ripping through the National Hunt meetings on a daily basis.

I for one will be keeping a close eye on Nicholls’ embryonic team. I suspect once they hit form they will REALLY hit form! …and I want to be in a position to cash in on that.

Going back to the ‘clearing out of dead wood’ statement (that’s my comment by the way, not Nicholls’) Nicholls did mention that “Rebel Rebellion is the oldest horse in the yard at 9yo”. That begs the question…

Where the hell is AL FEROF?

He is also a 9yo, which would make him joint oldest in the yard with Rebel Rebellion. Indeed I checked their actual dates of birth and Al Ferof is a month older than Rebel R. Technically Al Ferof is the oldest, IF he is still there.

Have I missed something? Was Al Ferof retired at the end of last season? Did he move on to another yard? I know he was struck into in the Ryanair Chase (his last start) but I can’t find anything suggesting his current whereabouts? I’ve even checked the horse’s Wikipedia page?!? Nothing there either!!

What has happened to the grey boy? Is he still at Ditcheat? Come on Paul, we want to know!!

Keep a look out for the Nicholls runners really starting to fire, it could be a profitable time for trainer and punter alike. (And if you’ve any news on Al Ferof do let me know ).


2.The Donald McCain yard hasn’t quite sparked into life yet…

McCain actually had the most runners of any trainer of this weekend past. He sent 14 to the track but only one returned a winner, giving weekend figures of…

1/14 | 7% S/R | -£9.21 BFLSP – Win & Place 2/14 | 14% S/R

Average returns for a yard of his stature without a doubt.

It wouldn’t be a huge worry, however, that McCain isn’t fully firing yet as it’s unlikely his serious players will have hit the track yet. That does, however, make me think…

Does McCain really have many serious players on his books this season?

Nothing really springs to my mind from last season. I suspect if there is to be a star in the yard it will come in the Novice ranks, probably the Novice Hurdle ranks. Who that could be I really don’t know, it may even be one we’ve not seen yet.

The McCain yard did use to start the season with all guns blazing however last term there was a bit of a shift in that approach and there were signs that he was taking a more slowly, slowly catchy monkey style approach and just letting his squad come to the boil a bit slower than usual. That method certainly bore plenty fruit during November & December last term and any McCain followers were paid handsomely during those last two months of the year. In November the McCain yard fired at a 25% S/R and provided +£56.52 points or profit, in December they scored at a 22% S/R and provided +£34.63 points of profit. They were the only profitable months during 2013 for anyone following McCain blindly and two of only three months were the yards runners fired at a strike-rate of above 20% (May was the other month with a 21% S/R).

This ‘quiet’ spell may be a deliberate ploy from McCain to give his runners more longevity during the harsh winter months of the National Hunt season, sacrificing the early season races for more lucrative pots as the season progresses.

Make sure you are live to the possibility of the McCain yard bursting into life during November and December again this year.


3. It’s clear the Old Roan Chase wasn’t the plan for UXIZANDRE…

Clearly this was not the plan. I was concerned pre-race about the lack of cheek-pieces but I’m also sure Geraghty took a bit of a pull mid-race on the beast, probably for legitimate reasoning, he maybe felt the horse hitting a flat spot or thought it was going a bit too free to last home, we will never know, but he most certainly reigned him back mid-race. I didn’t expect them to get into a prolonged pace dual with Kie but I did expect them to sit close enough on his tail. However as soon as Geraghty pulled him back to 4th at halfway I knew this was not a race he was due to win.

He wasn’t pushed to his max in this and they seem intent on going for the Paddy Power Chase at Cheltenham in a couple of weeks. I suspect he will score well enough on my figures for that race and he may well make the shortlist but that OR of 158 will make life tricky. Indeed in the past 17 renewals only two horses have won from a mark above OR150 – AL FEROF (you know, the missing Paul Nicholls horse!) from OR 159 & CYFOR MALTA from OR 154 – from the 55 that have tried. Indeed only 12 of that 55 have managed to place.

It’s not impossible to win from such a lofty mark but it is bloody difficult!

Did connections sacrifice a winning opportunity in the Old Roan Chase for a shot at the Paddy Power Gold Cup?


NTF Members Area – Promo Offer starting tomorrow [Wednesday 29th October]

I know a lot of you are new to NTF, you are just getting to grips with my work and you’re still not 100% sure what the NTF Members Area is REALLY about.

Well here is your chance to give it a spin.

Starting tomorrow I’m offering up 50 places on a week long trial so you can see EXACTLY how the NTF Members Area works.

For only £10 you can gain a week long pass to the NTF Members Area. You will get the same info that full members receive during that time and it will give you a fantastic overview of how the full service works; from the race guides (there will be FOUR during that trial slot), through to the weekend notes and any UTR Squad info that may occur during that time.

Details will be sent out tomorrow so keep an eye on your inbox’s.

If you are not on the free updates list then head here – – and get your name down [picking up a shed load of FREE NTF guides at the same time].

Ben (NTF)

8 responses to “What we learned from the weekend: 25th & 26th October…”

    • Hi Sean. Yeah I’m guessing the grey boy just slipped his mind when talking about his older horses.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  1. I agree with you on uxizandre. Didn’t want to win. I backed him that day and thought exactly like you. He’s capable tho.

  2. Al Ferof is still at the yard and may run in the Amlin chase or the Peterborough chase before heading to the King George, according to the Attheraces website

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