horse racing

Three under the radar runners to take from the 2016 Aintree Festival…

Rule The World – The National is some place to break your chasing duck!

You can’t beat a bit of post-Grand National family texts…

“Holywell didn’t get far did he!’

“I only backed Rule The World because it’s my favourite Take That song!”

“Do I get paid out on 6th place???”

You get the picture I’m sure…

Anyway I’ve survived the barrage for another year, have picked through replays with a fine-toothed-comb and sourced three under-the-radar runners for you to stick in the notebook…

Three under the radar runners to take from the 2016 Aintree Festival…


ASO (V Williams)

6th in the Manifesto Novices’ Chase

The 6yo was out of his depth here and he very much looks like one that Venetia is priming for a handicap campaign next season.

He’s currently running under conditions that don’t play to his strengths, something that will only help protect, or indeed reduce, his handicap mark. The ground at Aintree was very much against him as he is now 3256 (0/4) on G/S, with all 4 wins on Soft or Heavy, and this run also took his Feb-Oct form to 030563 (0/6), he’s much happier in the Nov-Jan period where he has form of 12231211 (4/8).

He was beaten far enough here (60L) that it could see his handicap mark slip a bit (ran here off OR 145) and I’m sure that will help Venetia when it comes to placing him in a handicap in the 2016/17 season.

Overall his form marks him out as holding a fair bit of class under the bonnet as three starts ago he finished 2L behind Gods Own (who has since finished an 8L 4th in the QMCC and then won the G1 Melling Chase) and two starts ago he finished a plugging on 14L behind Douvan in the Arkle. Prior to those two runs he beat the Ian Williams trained Ballyalton, who has since landed the 2m4.5f Novices’ Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.

A handicap chase in the November-January period with plenty cut underfoot will make him of plenty interest, ideally away from very undulating tracks (form line of 305 on such tracks), and he looks sure to land a decent pot somewhere.

I’m sure Venetia already has a plan in place for him…


BALLYKAN (N Twiston-Davies)

17th in the Topham Chase

The 6yo has been set some fairly tough tasks since landing a beginners chase and a novice handicap chase back in September and although he’s failed to follow up on those victories he is a horse with plenty still to offer.

The ground would have went against him in the Topham as he is now 402P0 (0/5) on G/S or softer compared to 121114 (4/6) on Good ground. The large field may have also been against him as he is now P400 (0/4) in 12+ runner fields compared to 1114221 (4/7) in fields of 11 or less. To date he is also yet to prove he’s up to C2 level+ (form of 4P400 (0/5) compared to 112112 (4/6) at C3 level & below) although I would expect him to develop into a C2/Listed handicapper in time.

This season has all been a valuable learning experience for him but his 4th in the Betbright Chase at Kempton hinted at plenty of ability and I have no doubt that his current handicap mark of OR 133 is well within his capabilities.



3rd in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle

The 6yo was thrown in at the deep-end here but he showed up well in his first start at G1 level and his first start over 3 miles.

Jockey Leighton Aspell was niggling at his mount from a fair way out in this but he kept responding and dug in well down the home-straight for a solid third-placed finish.

He’s actually yet to finish outside the top three in his seven starts to date and although he can clearly cut it as a hurdler it’s fences where we are likely to see him really come into his own. He looks a deep-bodied and burly 3 mile chaser in the making and although I doubt he has a G1 or G2 in the locker he certainly looks the type that could land a valuable staying chase at some stage.

He already has some serious form on his CV, none-more-so than his excellent second behind Champion Bumper winner Ballyandy at Cheltenham in November, a race that incidentally has worked out very well since (8 wins from 27 subsequent runs, 9 others placed).

The form of his 2nd at Sandown in March has also started to work out exceedingly well with 4 winners from 7 runners and a further 1 placed.

His trainer Lucy Wadham does remarkably well from limited runners and I would expect this one to pick off a few novice chases before going onto hunt down some bigger pots in the handicap sphere. There is a real chance this one turns out to be the next stable star for his shrewd trainer.


The above trio are all better than their Aintree run suggests and I would expect all of them to be picking up victories over fences come next season.

Ben (NTF)

3 responses to “Three under the radar runners to take from the 2016 Aintree Festival…”

  1. If I owned a horse and my trainer was running it “under conditions that don’t play to his strengths, something that will only help protect, or indeed reduce, his handicap mark” I would very quickly move it somewhere else. Venetia Williams horses seem to have an awful lot of P’s against their name compared to other top trainers (maybe there is an analysis to be undertaken there?) – then they pop up with a win! Sorry Venetia – when I become an owner I’ll not be giving you the call!

    • Hi Alan

      Sometimes it is necessary to get a horses mark down as once they go above their ceiling they simply are not going to win.As punters it makes sense for us to spot when this is going on so that we can take advantage when horse gets correct conditions and is on a winnable mark.

      Rightly or wrongly handicapping by trainers goes on all the time.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

      • Apologies for lobbing another contribution in but almost all handicappers have a sine wave for form. If we were cheating with my fella we would have done much as what happened as we discovered slowly he needed a breathing aid (63 to 53) and latterly as trainer tried to get him to improve with a training method (66 to 49) that failed initially.

        The difference with a Venetia or Col’ is that they win when prizemoney is best – little evidence either is an especially gambling stable. Indeed they continue to win often at decent prices. I saw a perfect Tizzard (post race!) I noted his horse broke its maiden in a 12K race which was the most valuable of it’s 12 or so starts. Mouse Morris could probably point to Rule The World’s 2 best chase performances in 2 best races he raced!

        Whilst I accept there is little skill in getting a horse down the ‘cap and winning. Whereas Nicholls will find prizemoney with horses you would think were badly ‘capped. There are a lot in between who can’t win in turn when their horses are well ‘capped or who will blow a mark to put a win stat up. Or convince owners a 6 yo starting in a bumper in April tailing off will be a chaser in time.

        I’d argue when choosing stable the syndicate and the enjoyment are key but if getting a return is high up requirements Williams is on my list.

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