Safe to say it was pretty testing at Ffos Las on Sunday. The winning distances of the races (excluding the bumper) were 18l, 24l, 8l, 38l, 12l and 10l; strung out like the washing as they say!
Amongst the mud, however, there was one runner that went straight in my notebook as one I would hope to see in the winners enclosure sooner rather than later…
NTF 1 to follow from the weekend: Howdy Doody Bob’s your man!..
BUFFALO BOB (K Bailey) – Sunday 3.20 Ffos Las – 2nd in the 2m5f Class 4 Handicap Chase
It looked like this 10yo was going to lead pillar to post in this contest and record his first victory since last March (he reached a low of 1.21 in-running) however he didn’t quite have enough in reserve to fend off the rejuvenated SEIGNEUR DES BOIS (T George). It was certainly no disgrace to go down to the George horse by 8 lengths, given it looks a very well handicapped individual and George has clearly unlocked it’s potential (first run for the yard since moving from Ferdy Murphy). It was 43 lengths back to the 3rd horse and although the ground had a major part in the finishing distances it has to be said that BUFFALO BOB is also partly responsible as he kept up a stern enough gallop for a majority of the contest and simply didn’t allow most of the field to get a look in.
Although the underfoot conditions were fine for BUFFALO BOB (4 of 5 career wins on Soft or Heavy) I would have expected him to have needed this run. Yesterday was his first run for 52 days and his previous form tells us that he is a much better animal when returning within 25 days of his last start…
Form when running within 25 days of last start – 3-5-2-7-5-1-2-3-1-5-1-1
Form when returning 26 days or longer after last start – P-7-6-4-7-6-5-UR-2-4-1-7-2
Whilst we are on the horses preferences we should also look for him to be running on left-handed tracks (like Ffos Las); all 5 of his career wins have come on LH tracks and he is 0 from 10 on RH tracks.
The other most appealing aspect of this horse is his current handicap rating. He finds himself on a chase mark of 118, a mark that is 2lbs lower than his last 2 victories and 8lbs lower than his 3rd last victory. He has been as high as 134 in the past (a mark where he ran a decent 4th in a competitive handicap at Cheltenham) and as such he very much looks primed to strike from 118.
The horse is at its most comfortable when it is allowed to gun it from the front (like yesterday at Ffos Las) and 4 of its 5 career wins have come from the front. With that in mind I would personally like to see Jason Maguire back in the plate, a jockey who would be high on my list of expert front-running jocks. I have nothing against Nick Scholfield whatsoever but if we compare him with Maguire, basing the comparison solely on running styles, there is only one man for the steering job on BOB…
N Scholfield on front-runners since 2009: 28/170 | 16% S/R
J Maguire on front-runners since 2009: 173/ 570 | 30% S/R
Granted Maguire has had plenty more opportunities and despite the fact Scholfield is very marginally outperforming on front-runners based on market expectation, I would still want Maguire in the plate to gun Buffalo Bob to victory from the front. For the record Maguire is massively outperforming market expectation on front-running horses.
Providing there are no ill-effects from this race then I would be hopeful of BUFFALO BOB finding himself in the winners enclosure in the near future.
BUFFALO BOB ideal conditions – Left-Handed tracks | Returning within 25 days of last start | Soft or Heavy ground (Good to Soft at a push) | Preferably Jason Maguire in the plate | On or around current mark of 118
*Figures taken from the excellent Proform database
Who were the runners that caught your attention and went in your own notebook as ones to follow from the weekend?
Did you see any future Cheltenham or Aintree champions among the weekends runners?
What were your thoughts on the racing from Ascot and Haydock on Saturday?
Drop me a comment below and share your runners to follow from the weekend with the NTF readers.
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Ben – (NTF)