I think the main thing learned from this weekend was that moving the Persian War Chepstow meeting forward two weeks and pushing the Cheltenham Showcase meeting back a week has left a little bit of a gap, in terms of quality, in the early National Hunt skirmishes.
Don’t get me wrong there was plenty of National Hunt racing taking place, it just didn’t seem to build as it should have from last weeks Chepstow action.
That, perhaps, is a tad negative from me and this is no time to be negative, for we have a Cheltenham meeting at the end of this week, and if that doesn’t get the pulse racing a little bit faster then you may just be dead inside friend!
To keep your National Hunt fires burning lets try and find three items of interest from last weekend in this week’s ‘What we learned from the weekend‘ post…
What we learned from the weekend: 17th & 18th October…
1. Neil Mulholland has his string in red-hot form…
A statement backed up thoroughly by his weekend stats…
5/8 | 63% S/R | +£31.57 BFSP – Win & Place 5/8 | 63% S/R (234% above expectation!)
Thumping figures by any stretch of the imagination.
But they ain’t no flash in the pan. No way siree!
Look at his 14 day stats…
12/29 | 41% S/R | +£43.90 BFSP – Win & Place 13/29 | 45% S/R (99% above expectation)
That is one healthy stable he currently has.
Encouragingly for Mulholland all those winners have been aged 7 or younger and that definitely points to a progressive set of horses currently under his care.
One of this weekends winners, FOX NORTON, could well be a stable star in the making.
He went pillar to post at Market rasen in the 2m1f Novices’ Chase and secured his second chasing victory of the season, holding off the classy Golden Doyen (P Hobbs) in the process, a horse he was giving a stone to and a young horse who should make a serious impact over fences. The victory marked a career best effort for the 5yo and marked him out, to me anyway, as a horse with which Mulholland can take on the big boys. It’s easy to forget that he was more than decent over hurdles, winning a G2 as well as finishing 6th & 3rd on his two G1 starts and finishing up his hurdle career with a rating of OR 145.
Interestingly his owner, Brian Dunn, is a full NTF member, and told NTF members that “he’s going to Cheltenham in December, for a 2m 4f race” (the horse, not Brian!). That seems extremely logical to me as they get to test him over the demanding Cheltenham fences and should also get to test him against a couple of ‘bigger guns’.
Keep Foxy on the radar as he has the ability to make a serious splash for team Mulholland.
2. Sam Twiston-Davies is still riding a fair share of winners for dad Nige…
Father and son Twister teamed up on four rides this weekend and won with three of them, pulling in +£17.81 points profit to Betfair SP.
Those 3 winners helped ‘Twister Season’ pump through the +£30 points profit for 2015, despite a slower than usual start to what has historically been the ‘hot’ part of the season for team Twister.
So far this Twister season there have been (up to 19th October) 53 runners from the yard, a huge 33 have been ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies. To my mind that’s a lot for a jockey who is the main rider for the top yard in the country, Paul Nicholls.
Nicholls has far from unleashed the shackles on his string yet, meaning STD has a bit more time on his hands to ride for his dad NTD. However, when the season kicks in proper we have to assume Sam won’t be as free to ride for Nige as he currently is.
All obvious to everyone I’m sure, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.
So what exactly is my point?
Well my point is why doesn’t NTD give his young jockey’s a chance in the saddle. Both Ryan Hatch and Jamie Bargary are outstanding talents and both are available to Nigel Twiston-Davies. Give them a chance to familiarise themselves with the yards horses on the track. They’ve both done a fantastic job when given the chance and have proved themselves more than capable of doing the job when asked.
I have no qualms with STD riding THE NEW ONE, indeed that was one clause with the jockey getting the Nicholls job, that he would be able to ride that horse when called upon. Out with that though I personally think NTD should be concentrating on getting some cohesion in his jockey ranks, letting his young riders bond with the horses on the track. They have the talent, now show some faith and let them develop it.
Time for NTD to loosen the apron strings and start building some solid jockey/horse partnerships in the yard.
…and talking of flourishing trainer/jockey combo’s…
3. The Aidan Coleman/John Ferguson partnership continues to go from strength to strength…
They teamed up three times this weekend and collected a handy two victories to add to their ever growing collection of winners.
Since the start of 2015 the duo have returned the following, and rather remarkable, set of figures…
49/109 | 45% S/R | +£22.78 BFSP – Win & Place 81/109 | 74% S/R
A 45% strike-rate from over 100 runners is an exceptional return, it really is.
To put that into perspective (looking only at combos who have had 50+ runners in the same time-frame) only the Willie Mullins/Patrick Mullins combo has come close, with a 40% S/R. However a vast majority of those winners have come in Irish Bumper races, which are restricted to amateur riders.
The next best combo on the list is the Willie Mullins/Ruby Walsh partnership who ‘only’ return a 32% strike-rate.
That 45% strike-rate from Coleman & Ferguson really shouldn’t be sniffed at.
It’s gets even stronger when you only consider their NON-HANDICAP rides…
39/77 | 51% S/R | +£11.16 BFLSP – Win & Place 60/77 | 78% S/R
…or their runners over a bare 2 mile trip…
30/51 | 59% S/R | +£19.83 BFSP – Win & Place 41/51 | 80% S/R
Granted most of their runners are ‘expected’ to win and don’t go off at prices that will make you rich, however, the job still needs to be done, they need to be prepared fit and well and they need to be ridden to the best of their abilities. So far both those boxes are being ticked on a very regular basis.
Their job now is to keep this level up for when the big boys start firing their own weapons of mass destruction.
Can Coleman & Ferguson keep firing in the winners once the National Hunt season kicks into overdrive?
And the national Hunt season is just about to do that…kick into overdrive!
This weekend we have the first Cheltenham meeting of the season!!
That’s closely followed by the first Aintree meeting of the season, which contains the Old Roan Chase!!!
Yes my friends the National Hunt season is about to unleash all its glory upon us!!!!
And if that doesn’t get you excited then you really can’t class yourself as a National Hunt fan.
Things are about to get very real in the jumping stakes and personally I can’t bloody wait!
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