Time for Ben Pauling to start plotting a path with Drumacoo…
OK. Champions Day on the flat is done. It’s in the form book and we can close the door on the flat season now.
No distractions from here on in as from this weekend on-wards we are rolling in the National Hunt stuff!
Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting on Friday and Saturday and then Aintree’s Old Roan Chase meeting on Sunday! What a time to be alive!!
We are likely to see more are more of the big guns hitting the track in the coming weeks and that’s nothing if not a fantastically exciting thought.
Indeed I’ve just supplied my full NTF members with the latest version of the NTF Trend Horses guide and I’m hopeful of seeing a few of the horses on there strutting their stuff in the next few weeks, ideally under their prime conditions (highlighted in the guide).
Creating that guide (100+ horses and counting) has meant I’ve had my head stuck deep in my own personal stash of horse notes for a considerable amount of time (I’ve not been counting the exact time myself but Mrs NTF seems to be keeping a tally!!!) and although plenty of horses haven’t made the cut for the Trend Horses guide it does mean I’ve sharpened my notes on vast array of National Hunt runners.
It’s vital to me making this game pay that my notes are up to scratch and although it means plenty of late nights and hours stuck in front of my computer screen it’s well worth it. The ducks need to be in line before the season is in full swing and as it stands I’m more than happy with the line my ducks are making!!
An up side of this exhaustive approach is that I uncover a raft of, what I consider to be, well-handicapped horses.
I’ve already supplied you guys with three of those types (if you missed the first instalment you can read that here) and today I want to add to that three with…
Three more well-handicapped National Hunt horses you need on your side…
CALIPTO (P Nicholls) 6yo
Current Handicap Mark – OR 139
This 6yo quite simply has to be better than OR 139.
As a juvenile hurdler there is every chance he would have won the 2014 Triumph Hurdle. He was still tanking coming down the hill but in a cruel twist of fate his stirrup leather broke as they approached two out and there was precious little jockey Daryl Jacob could do to assist the horse thereafter. The fact he was only beaten 8L come the line in 4th shows just how costly that equipment mishap was. He then followed that up with decent third in the Aintree version. The season after he spent handicap hurdling, with limited results, before switching his attention to novice chasing last term.
He put in an eye-catching display on chase debut at Fontwell before having his sights raised for the remainder of the campaign, finishing a close third behind Garde La Victoire in a G2 at Cheltenham and third again at Exeter, this time behind future G1 winner Tea For Two, who he was giving weight to. Garde La Victoire is currently rated 151 over fences and Tea For Two is rated 153.
He then had a spell away from the track until Sandown on the final day of the season where he finished a slightly disappointing 8th of 11 in a competitive novice handicap chase. Nicholls had been throwing everything at that meeting though, in an attempt to secure his trainers title, and it’s not unfair to say that you can draw a line through the form of plenty of his from that day. It was a case of getting numbers on the track and picking up as much prize money as he could.
I’m also inclined to think that Calipto isn’t as comfortable on Right-Handed tracks as he is on Left-Handed/Figure of 8 tracks.
He’s run 3 times on RH tracks, returning form figures of P38, being beaten 10L & 11.5L on the two completed starts.
His LH/F8 form figures read 114424613 (3/9).
Two of his four chase starts to date have come Right-Handed.
It’s limited evidence so far but it may just explain those ‘below-par’ Exeter and Sandown performances.
He’s still very much unexposed as a chaser and as a relatively fresh 6yo I’m confident there is still plenty to come from him.
CALIPTO Ideal Conditions – Handicap Chase | Left-Handed/F8 tracks | Cut underfoot possibly ideal
DRUMACOO (B Pauling) 6yo
Current Handicap Mark – OR 143
Two chase starts to his name. One thumping victory. One disappointing performance.
He started his chasing career with a 38L romp at Huntingdon and then duly started as 7/4 fav for the G2 Reynoldstown at Ascot. For me, however, that was too quick a step up the chasing ladder. It’s a big leap from a Class 4 Huntingdon Novice Chase to a G2 at Ascot, especially when that Huntingdon race was your only chase start to date. His inexperience caught him out big style at Ascot and in some ways it was noteworthy that he only ended up beaten 11L at the line.
They then drew stumps with him for the season, with Pauling stating that “the decision was based on what connections felt was best for the horse’s development at this stage of his career”.
I can see the logic in that although I wouldn’t have minded had they found an easy little race for him somewhere first, just to get him a bit more experience of jumping fences. Still the upshot is that he starts this season on what looks a workable mark (OR 143).
He’s by Oscar out of a Be My Native mare so he’s certainly got the pedigree to jump fences and I do expect him to improve for a summer on his back, there was plenty of potential shown in both his chase starts and hopefully the avoiding of the 2016 Festival (he had been due to contest the RSA or the 4 miler) will have been a smart move.
On the conditions front and due to his running style I am inclined to think he may be best suited to smaller fields…
Form of 11411 in fields of 11 or less
Form of 024 in 16+ fields
…although it’s best to remain flexible on that for the time being.
There is also a chance that he’ll prove to be at his prime in the October to January period…
Oct-Jan form of 11101
Feb-Arp form of 424
…although again, at this stage, it’s best to remain flexible.
All in all he looks a horse that has the ability to improve beyond OR 143 and it’s best not to be put off by his Ascot mis-fire, he was in at the deep end quickly there and he will have learned plenty for the experience.
DRUMACOO Ideal Conditions – Handicap Chase | October-January period | Possibly best in smaller fields (11 or less) | 3m+ may prove to be ideal
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DEFINITLY RED (B Ellison) 7yo
Current Handicap Mark – OR 142
This lad has been mixing it in top company for most of his career, with 10 of his 14 races to date coming in Listed company or above.
He started last season off with a fine second in the 'Fixed Brush' handicap hurdle at Haydock, which is often a race used as an intermediate step for trainers looking to send their charges over fences in the season ahead.
Ellison did indeed send him over fences after that and he started his chasing career with a cosy victory at Catterick before only finding Black Hercules too good at Warwick and Blaklion too good at Wetherby. In both races, however, he looked a serious threat down the home-straight before the undoubted class of his opponents took over.
He was then sent up in trip for the 4 miler at the festival but came down two out after never really looking at home in the hustle and bustle of that contest.
He then rounded the season off by scooping a valuable Listed pot at Ayr's Scottish National meeting, racing back down at 2m 4.5f for the first time over fences.
He clearly does stay 3m+ trips but he could well be at his best over those 2m4.5f and shorter trips...
Form of 111711 (5/6) over 2m4.5f & shorter
Form of 221P221F (2/8) over 2m6f+ trips
He is also clearly up to Graded level but again he may just be stronger in those Listed level & below races...
Form of 112F12111 (6/9) at Listed & below
Form of 2127P (1/5) at G3 level+
His forceful racing style also dictates that he’s at his best in smaller fields...
Form of 1112111221 (7/10) in fields of 10 or below
Form of 7P2F (0/4) in fields of 16+
He's also possibly not the most natural of jumpers (although he is improving in that respect) so the smaller field also helps on that score.
OR 142 doesn't look beyond him and he could well have a decent pot in him somewhere.
DEFINITLY RED Ideal Conditions – Handicap Chase | 2m5f & shorter | Listed level & below | Fields of 10 or less
I’m extremely hopeful that these three can pick up handicap pots at some stage during the 2016/17 campaign and prove to be some way better than their current marks in the process.
NTF Full Members Service
The NTF members service 2016/17 is just about to click up a few gears as of this week!
Cheltenham and Aintree are on the horizon and the NTF Trend Horses have been posted in the Members Area.
It's about to get serious!
I've done all my prep work and the serious stuff is on it's way...and I can't wait!
I don't keep the doors to my service open very long, that's no gimmick or anything, I'm a one man show and I need all of my time to concentrate on doing what I do best and that's analysing the National Hunt game using my tried and tested methods.
I'll be closing the doors come the end of the month, possibly before. I have a cap on the number of members I take on and places are filling up on a daily basis. Doors have been open to previous members for a couple of weeks and to my own free list for about a week.
The time is NOW to get on-board NTF 2016/17...