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What we learned from the weekend: 13th, 14th & 15th November…

The ground rapidly turning swamp like now seems to be a theme at the Cheltenham November meeting, with this year being no different, although on the plus side at least we got all three days this time round 😎

Things continue to crank up a notch or two this weekend, with high-class cards at Haydock & Ascot waiting for us on Saturday, albeit it looks like the feature races – The Betfair Chase, The 1965 Chase and The Coral Hurdle – will all be small, nay tiny, fields…which is always a shame. Some high-class horses entered, no doubt about that, but just not enough of them, sadly…

At least the Betfair Stayers Handicap Hurdle at Haydock should have it’s usually girthy field to keep us entertained. 🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞

Not much we can personally do about the small fields, unfortunately, we just got to play the cards the declarations deal us…so enough moaning on that front, let’s look for some future clues/pointers from the weekend action that has just entered the form book…

What we learned from the weekend: 13th, 14th & 15th November…

1. The form of the 2020 Brown Advisory Plate is looking shaky…

SIMPLY THE BETTS was one of the more fancied horses for Saturday’s Paddy Power Gold Cup and although his 13L 6th was hardly an abysmal effort, it does have me thinking that his current mark of OR 157 is above the ceiling of his abilities. 

The 7yo had a superb first season chasing in the 2019/20 season, but it’s worth remembering that he started his handicap chase career on OR 125 and unless he was/is a Grade1/Grade 2 horse in waiting there was always going to be a time where he was parked on a mark that stopped his progression.

Now don’t get me wrong, he could yet turn out to be a top of the table player and not every horse lives and breathes by it’s handicap mark (Frodon being an excellent recent example) but as things stand I’d just be starting to side on the thinking that Simply The Betts is possibly stuck in that horrible no-mans-land between top class handicapper/graded performer. Those types can become hard to place after they gone on a winning streak.

I’d also begin to question how strong a renewal of the Brown Advisory Plate he won last year at the Cheltenham Festival (without wanting to knock his achievements in the process). Of the 23 horses that lined up that day for the race, 20 of them have since run again and only ONE of them has managed to find themselves in the winner enclosure (faller Imperial Presence, who has won twice).

The overall form of the race now reads…

41 runs, 2 wins, 8 places (one horse accounting for those 2 wins)

…the first ten home in the race are a cumulative 0/16, 4p

…it just isn’t looking like all that strong a renewal and that just makes me question the lofty mark Simply The Betts now finds himself on.

The chances are that on that day he was simply a well-handicapped improver, racing against a bunch of horses that were either running from marks that were above the ceiling of their abilities or in a race that was above the level they are able to compete at (maybe both in some instances).

Be wary of the Brown Advisory Plate form…

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2. What’s the deal with Defi Du Seuil?

Two poor efforts in a row now for the 7yo and Sunday’s PU in the Shloer Chase (I’m sure they change the spelling of that race every year?!?) was the first time in 20 starts that he had failed to complete.

He’s being written off in some quarters but I reckon there are enough reasons to excuse him the poor run on Sunday…

For starters he is a horse that can need a run to get the fires going again…

Form off a break of 50 days or more = 147514P (2/7)

Form off a break of 49 days or less = 1121121111111 (11/13)

Sunday was his first run for 249 days and there’s a pretty good chance that he needed the outing. Incidentally, his ‘blow out’ in the QMCC last year came off a break of 53 days, so maybe, just maybe, that explains that run…

It’s also worth noting that the Hobbs yard are not quite firing on all cylinders just yet, with form so far in November of…

2/35 | 6% S/R – 59% below expectation

Their Win & Place strike-rate sits at 40% so they probably aren’t too far off ‘form’ but you’d be hard pushed to call them a yard that is banging in the winners!

Naturally there are only so many ‘excuses’ you can make for a horse but looking at the wider picture of Defi Di Seuil’s form I think it’s fair enough to suggest he wasn’t fully tuned up for Sunday’s outing and more can be expected of him next time out (providing he returns within the next 7 weeks).

Don’t be giving up on Defi just yet…

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3. Did Gary Moore unleash the next Goshen at Fontwell? 

OK, far too early to making those kinds of statements, I agree. Nevertheless it was impossible to not be impressed by the yards latest juvenile hurdling recruit NASSALAM, as he romped and smashed his way to an eased down 59L victory at Fontwell on Sunday, the exact same race that Goshen kick-started his hurdling career in last season.

Whether or not Nassalam turns out to be anywhere near as tasty as last year’s juvenile superstar remains to be seen, but what the French bred youngster did highlight was the impressive record of Gary Moore in Fontwell Juvenile contests, especially at Class 4 level when ridden by son Jamie Moore

Gary Moore/Jamie Moore | Fontwell C4 Hurdles | 3yo’s

16/36 | 44% S/R | +£72.98 BFLSP – W&P 21/36 | 58% S/R

55% above expectation

They quite clearly are not messing about in those races with their juvenile hurdlers and sure as hell Nassalam won’t be the last one to be scoring under those conditions for the yard.

Don’t ignore those Moore youngsters at Fontwell…

Cheers – Ben (NTF)

Haydock & Ascot both come under analysis for full NTF Members this weekend

Majority of stats sourced from Proform Professional Database

15 responses to “What we learned from the weekend: 13th, 14th & 15th November…”

  1. Hi Ben
    I was astonished by the ITV coverage on Sunday 15th November – especially with their predictions regarding Defi Du Seuil.

    Having seen his abysmal run at the Cheltenham Festival, it seemed apparent to me that Defi Du Seuil did not like the heavy ground. It therefore seemed logical to me that he was never going to win on Sunday (in fact was surprised Defi Du Seuil even ran) given the obvious similarity in the ground.

    Now I live in Gloucester (which is around 12 miles from Prestbury Park) and so the level of rain we received across Friday, Saturday and Sunday would surely have ensured that the going conditions were Heavy and not Soft. I betted on the basis that the ground conditions were Heavy (not Soft) and had five winners on the Sunday.

    • You could make the opposite case he needs pretty soft ground to win at 2 miles…. Humped by Lalor in first chase on good… disposed of by 4 by Chacon on yielding.

      TBF I have doubts how good his form is overall. I was surprised people were so enthusiastic of Altior when UDS got within 4 2018. i.e. Janika and UDS and Marracudja not exactly markers 19/20.

      Arguably best form last year in hindsight was first up too beating the eventual champ in the Schloer [rec 3]. A race run in a very similar time to the Queen Mum and marginally faster than this year’s grape juice.

      I think given the trainer [no fan of the so called ‘master trainer’] and his current form, breaks given trainer[!] and that he’s a horse who’s only 7 one not to be too dogmatic about but questions to answer.

      • Hi Stephen/Jon

        I think DDS is relatively adaptable with regards to the ground. Heavy ground when returning off a break, admittedly, was a bad option, but I wouldn’t let heavy put me off him in future.

        A couple of minor question marks hanging over him for now, yes, but he’ll be better judged on his next start…

        Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  2. Always enjoy the Monday morning analysis from NTF, especially during the National Hunt season. So many pundits tritely trotting out beforehand what a “hot” race Simply the Betts won at the festival – not knocking the horse having backed him at the festival – but your post race stats are telling. Perhaps not as strong a race as once was thought.

    Also what did people make of the Abracadabras / Saint Roi clash in Ireland and the manner in which Easyland & Tiger Roll blew out in the Cross Country at Cheltenham. Given how easily Easyland won at the festival in March his was the most disappointing return at the weekend imo.

    • Thanks Alan, glad you enjoy the weekend round-up/best of post, much appreciated.

      Abracadabras/Saint Roi race was pretty damn messy, think you could run that a few times and get a different result each time. I think Saint Roi will ultimately be the best horse in the long-term but Abracadabras certainly has his place and deserves his seat in the top races.

      Easyland…hard to say with the French…could well just have the one target in mind and everything else is a lead up to that (X-country at festival) or he may well have just have needed the run. Also probably doesn’t want the ground as fast as that (it was Good), with his best form coming on much softer ground. I wouldn’t be too down on his run myself…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  3. I had similar thoughts on Simply The Betts. I couldn’t see how a hike of 9lbs was justified considering the proximity of the runners.
    Certainly Defi looked under cooked and a first fence mistake probably didn’t help. I assume a tilt at the Tingle Creek is the main target before Cheltenham.

    • Hi Kevin

      It was certainly a hefty raise he was given after the win in March, handicapper seemed to lump an extra couple on just because it was Cheltenham 🤨

      First fence mistake certainly had DDS on the back foot, yep, last thing they needed if he wasn’t quite at full fitness…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  4. You can’t honestly believe he lost the champion chase because of 4 days over his 49 day limit? It wouldn’t surprise me if some physical issue came up, maybe his back as the way he jumped funny.

    Also DDS as not ran a fast time over 2m chases to indicate he is a champion chase winner ,despite decent paces,he failed to beat ptko time on the same card last year and a slightly faster time at sandown against the Henry VIII winner esprite du large ,worth 3 lengths.edl is hardly top class is he ?

    Hobbs took advantage of a weakened 2m chase division last year’s with altior out the way and a ageing uds who was retired mid season.he had only half penalty in last year’s shloer chasee win as well which you can argue made the difference for a 1.5l win carrying 3lb less than politologue and he also managed to win first time out as well last season.

    • Hi Rob

      Correct, I don’t believe the reason he didn’t win the Champion Chase was solely because he was returning off a less than ideal break…but I do believe it could have been a contributing factor.

      Could possibly be a physical issue, for sure, although he is a horse that has his own way of getting over some obstacles so that’s not an easy one to take a guess at…

      2m division may have been weakened but at the end of the day DDS is a 7-time G1 winner, so he clearly knows the time of day at the top table. If he is indeed slightly below top-class then Hobbs has worked wonders to find 7 G1 winning opportunities for the horse…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

      • he is indeed a 7 x grade 1 winner and i followed him during his novice chase season and backed him in the jlt ,so was surprised to see him drop back to 2m next season,but hobbs played it smart imo with what was going on in the 2m chase division.

        of the 7 grade 1 wins,5 were in juvenile and novice company.in fact juvenile and novice form reads 1111111512112 (5th was first ever chase start) but those 2two 2nds were to future grade 1 winners and in open company it reads 471114p and i’m not betting he can improve on that unless he drops out of top company.

        • Hi Rob

          Not unusual for a horse to tally up a sequence of victories at the novice levels before the wins thin out further in open company, that’s to be expected.

          Also worth noting that five of his seven starts in open company have been off breaks of 53 days or more (form line of P4174) whilst his form off his preferred break of 7 weeks or less (49 days or less) is 11 (both G1’s).

          The DSLR angle isn’t a definitive answer, it’s simply a potential explanation as to why he’s run poorly in some races whilst shown better form in others…

          Ben (NTF)

  5. I would not put a line thru the Brown Advisory Plate form yet; Spiritofthegames ran a cracker in the PP, and was followed home by Kauto Riko and both of those should come on for the run.
    Wayward Lad

    • Hi Ian

      I wouldn’t be putting a line through it, no, but certainly not one of the stronger renewals of the race.

      Spiritofthegames ran a solid race in PP, yes, but not sure how much he’ll come on for run, he’s 4/6 off a break of 61+ days compared to 0/14 off breaks of 60 or less so I suspect he was as fit as could be on Saturday. I just think he’s one of those that just needs to drop a few pounds before getting fully competitive again…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  6. Great food for thought everyone, I just wondered myself as he’s been
    around a while now and has stopped so quickly if he would benefit
    from a wind op. Just a thought, regards Steve C.

    • Hi Steve

      Could be a wind issue, maybe, certainly worth exploring if there is a physical issue at play (although you would hope they’ve already had a good look down that route).

      Interestingly Hobbs hasn’t sent all that many of his for wind-ops (since records became available) with only 27 of his string having a breathing op. Even more interesting is the fact only one of that 27 has seen enough improvement from the op to win…

      Ben (NTF)

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