horse racing

What we learned from the weekend: 13th & 14th February…

 Newbury has Mullins by the bollocks!

The website was under a bit of maintenance work at the beginning of the week, hence the reason for the late posting of this weeks Blog post, however, the many of you on the free NTF list will have received this on Tuesday as normal as an email only post.

For those not yet on the free list here is the weeks edition of…

What we learned from the weekend: 13th & 14th of February…

1. Willie Mullins once again drew a blank at Newbury…

Newbury is becoming a bit of a bogey track for Willie Mullins and despite throwing the kitchen sink at Saturday’s Betfair Hurdle (well five runners anyway!) he still couldn’t find a winner.

Indeed he couldn’t even find a placed runner.

Since 2008 he is now 0/20 at Newbury, with none of that 20 even managing to place.

OK that’s not a huge amount to go on but then again this is Willie Mullins we are talking about. The guy that is absolutely dominating this fantastic game of ours.

He currently has the game by the proverbial bollocks!

Except at Newbury.

Newbury has him by the bollocks!

On Saturday he had the red-hot fav for the Betfair Hurdle in the shape ofBLAZER. The JP McManus horse had dotted up at Leopardstown the week before. He was 7lbs well in on official figures as he only had to carry a 5lb penalty in this.

He strolled home a 22 length 9th

Newbury has Mullins by the god damn bollocks!!

This isn’t a recent struggle for Mullins though.

In fact if we take this back to 1997 (as far as my Proform database goes) we get the following figures…

1/32 | 3% S/R – Win & Place 3/32 | 9% S/R

That winner?

Be My Royal in the 2002 Hennessy Gold Cup.

But…um…he didn’t officially win, did he?

He was (much later) disqualified because of a banned substance found in his blood sample.

So officially he’s 0/32 at the track!

Newbury, for whatever reason, doesn’t seem to agree with the Mullins team!

Remember the Mullins/Newbury stats the next time you fancy backing one of his at 3/1 in a 22 runner handicap…


2. Lizzie Kelly added another valuable pot to her burgeoning CV…

She just keeps on bagging those Saturday winners!

Last Saturday the young jockey bagged the Grade 3 Betfair Hurdle at Newbury, smashing the rest of the field by upwards of 11 lengths on the progressive novice AGRAPART.

Yes the horse was well handicapped and totally unexposed, yet at the same time was already a confirmed soft/heavy ground performer, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Lizzie Kelly’s ride. She still had to have the horse in the correct position throughout in one of the toughest handicap hurdles of the season and she still had to press the button at the right time to put the race to bed.

And boy did she damn well do that in style.

Love her or hate her (and, based on the social barometer that is Twitter (!?), there seems to be a lot more of the latter than there really should be, unfortunately) the girl is very much here to stay.

But the mystery still remains as to why she doesn’t pick up more outside rides?

Lizzie has mentioned it herself, as has step-dad Nick Williams.

Of her 157 rides to date 104 of them have been for step-father Nick Williams.

Outside of Nick Williams only Neil King has given her anything like a fair crack of the whip, providing Lizzie with 31 rides. The jockey has repaid that faith with 6 winners (19% S/R) and 4 more in the places (32% win & place S/R).

Next on the list is… Mrs Jane Williams… her mum! She has provided Lizzie with 5 rides, all on the same horse. That, however, was way back in 2011 & 2012.

After that there are only three other trainers who have provided more than ONE ride for the jockey.

So why on earth are the other trainers not picking up the phone to give her more rides?

Her figures stand up for themselves.

Since 2011 she’s recorded the following figures…

29/157 | 18.5% S/R | +£99.73 BFLSP – Win & Place 60/157 | 38% S/R – 23% above expectations

That’s fantastic going in anyone’s book and it’s not as if she has been given a boost by ANY of the major players. Yes Nick Williams has plenty of decent horses but he doesn’t have a huge depth to his string and Lizzie Kelly has amassed those impressive figures from a relatively limited supply of horses.

Looking deeper at her figures tells me that only TWO of her 157 mounts have fallen. TWO! One of those was over the National fences as well.

Deeper still and I see that she has only un-seated FOUR times.

For a young jockey that’s still learning her trade (the 5lb claim tells you that) that’s mightily impressive.

Interestingly all four unseats and the two falls have come over fences. Maybe that’s an area (chases) that she does need to improve? She does have a better strike-rate over hurdles (21%) than fences (15%) but that will come with experience and she has had more than double the amount of rides over hurdles than over fences, it’s perhaps no surprise she is slightly more polished (for use of a better word) over the smaller obstacles.

Those fall/unseat stats suggest she is incredibly well balanced in the saddle and produces her mounts at their obstacles with pinpoint precision time and time again. She’s also incredibly confident in her own abilities and has a fantastic amount of self-belief, traits that shine through in the saddle.

The fact she is a women is so far down the scale of factors to consider (and let’s be honest, it’s 2016, it really shouldn’t be a consideration) it’s laughable.

She’s not doing it for women all over the world, she’s said that already, she’s doing it for herself. And damn she is doing it well!

Already on her CV she has a Haydock Fixed Brush Hurdle, a Lanzarote Hurdle and a Betfair Hurdle. Those are three of the hardest handicaps, out with the festival, to land. Within 14 months, however, she has nailed all three.

When exactly are the other trainer going to wake up and give the young jockey a leg up?

There is a 5lb claim going to waste and she’s already proved these big field handicaps hold no fear for her.

Mind you I’m sure Nick Williams isn’t complaining, the more the other trainers ignore her the more he gets to make use of her claim!

Ignore Lizzie Kelly in those big field handicaps at your pearl…   


3. Philip Hobbs has an extremely exciting bumper horse on his hands…

…and that horse’s name is WESTEND STORY.

He’s been sneaking away at the lesser tracks to date, building his confidence and learning his trade, both times under the watchful eye of Richard Johnson.

On Sunday the 5yo romped away with the closing bumper at Exeter, winning by a comfortable 18 lengths under his penalty.

That made it two from two for the Westerner gelding, who won on rules debut at Huntingdon by 6 lengths on Boxing Day.

The horse caught my eye that day at Huntingdon as he was Philip Hobbs’ only runner at the track that day and it was notable that Richard Johnson had also chosen to ride at the track as well (away from higher profile meetings taking place elsewhere).

Was this horse the reason?

He looked a little bit green on that debut run but there was none of that on show on Sunday as he gradually turned the screw down the Exeter home straight and won in the manner of a very exciting prospect indeed, sluicing through the hock heavy ground better than almost anything else on the days card.

The 4yo is a beautifully bred individual who looks to have a serious future ahead of him and he should make into a well above average hurdler, and potentially chaser, in the coming years.

He may well even bag one the end of season bumper pots as well at this rate…

Keep an eye on Westend, he could have some major stories ahead of him…

Ben (NTF)

Stats sourced from the excellent Proform Database

Proform Racing | The professional Formbook

2 responses to “What we learned from the weekend: 13th & 14th February…”

  1. I’ve always been fascinated why certain trainers do poorly at certain tracks ,I can’t think why Newburys track configuration causes Mullins horses to run poor.

    Is the majority coming at certain meetings, namely the Denman chase meeting ,just a month away from the festival were we could assume he’s not fully wound his runners up pre festival for example or is this at all Newbury meetings throughout the season?

    Ruby Walsh staying in Ireland I think was another clue ,thought the lure of a 90k hurdle with 4 choices plus 2 other grade 2s on the card if he knew he could have a realistic chance of winning would of saw him make the trip over as he as in the past come to this meeting (think he’s only missed the 2014 meeting) in recent times.

    • Hi Rob

      Could be any number of reasons for trainers and their poor records at certain tracks, would certainly be difficult to pinpoint exacts and although I do like to try and figure out ‘why’ sometimes you just have to accept it happens and roll with it. Like you I find it fascinating but sometimes you just have to take it that it happens and leave it at that.

      As for Mullins it’s almost an equal split between the Denman Chase meeting and the Hennessy meeting, the only two Newbury meetings he has came over for in recent times.

      Good point re. Ruby and his staying at home, can’t imagine Sempre Medici was enough on his own (who ran at Gowran that day) to make him want to stay away from the meeting, he clearly didn’t fancy (rightly so) any of the five that made the journey over for the Betfair Hurdle.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

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