horse racing

What we learned from the weekend: 1st, 2nd & 3rd December…

Ya b*st*rd Total Recall, ya b*st*rd…

The Ladbrokes Trophy/Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury is easily one of my favorite handicaps of the season. The large field and end to end gallop, involving a large slice of second season staying chasers, makes it a fantastic race to get involved in from a punting and trends perspective and an even better one from a viewing perspective.

It’s always been a race that has proven strong for my race trends and this year again proved to be a similar story, with the three trends-toppers on my figures being WHISPER, A GENIE IN ABOTTLE & TOTAL RECALL. Now unfortunately I talked myself out of Total Recall and plumped for the first two named so I’m still a bit ‘tender’ after the result! I genuinely thought Whisper was going to run away with it jumping two out, but oh no old Willie Mullins had other plans and decided to spoil my party right at the death! God damn you Mullins…

Cracking race though!

There was plenty else going on apart from the Ladbroke Trophy, however, meaning there was juicy variety of National Hunt action for me to cherry-pick from for the latest version of ‘What we learned from the weekend‘…

What we learned from the weekend: 1st, 2nd & 3rd December…

1. Thistle was well and truly cracked on comeback…

Sure it was Thistlecrack’s first run since January and sure, the Long Distance Hurdle wasn’t the be all and end all for him but even his most ardent of fans must have been disappointed with his 13L 5th of 6 on Friday.

Pre-race Colin Tizzard waxed lyrically about having him fitter than he’s EVER BEEN for his seasonal debut. Really? Or did he mean to say ‘this is a warm up for the King George, he’s been off with injury for 10 months, we just want a clear round’?

It was a strange one for sure but without those ‘bullish’ pre-race comments I’m sure most of us would have thought it was a satisfactory enough run on his first start for 307 days. But the things is we KNOW they expected more and the horse simply didn’t deliver. The facts are it was a disappointing effort, resulting in his lowest RPR figure since running in the Imperial Cup at Sandown in 2015.

All roads still, however, lead to the King George Chase on Boxing Day and that’s no surprise, he was an impressive winner last year and connections obviously want to defend their crown.

However, let me float the following stat out there…

19 of the last 20 King George winners had finished in the top 3 on their final prep run before winning the Xmas showpiece

Those that didn’t are 1/54 (Kauto Star being the only one to defy the stat)

Now it’s only one trend and there is plenty more to consider when looking to find the likely winner of the Christmas Grade 1 but the facts are that a disappointing warm-up (outside the top 3) is NOT the usual route of King George winners.

Can Thistlecrack bounce back and defy the trends?


2. Rose Dobbin continues to quietly improve her string…

Rose Dobbin isn’t a trainer that makes the headlines much and it’s safe to say she skips under most folks radars. But she shouldn’t, she should be bang on your radars!

She wouldn’t have the biggest string to go to war with but she’s making the most of what she’s got, highlighted by her figures from last weekend…

3/7 | 43% S/R | +£14.75 LSP

Winners coming at Newcastle, Carlisle and Doncaster, suggesting she knows where to places her horses to best utilise their abilities.

Those figures are no fluke either, she’s been a consistent trainer for the last few years as she looks to hone her training skills and start to move up the training ranks. Something I feel she’s on the cusp of achieving.

The last four seasons have seen her return the following winners…

2013/14 = 15 

2014/15 = 16 

2015/16 = 16 

2016/17 = 16

As I said, pretty damn consistent!

This year, however, she’s already fired in 11 winners and all being well should smash through her season best tally with minimum fuss.

And there are two horse in her yard that really catch my eye…

One is the Graded winner JONNIESOFA, who I’ve covered on here a few times in the past.

The other is one of her winners from the weekend COOLE HALL.

Coole Hall is starting to put together some decent form on the north circuit and he remains one to keep on side in the short and long term. He’s a tough battling type who has already visited the winner enclosure twice from three start this term and it would be no surprise to me to see him fire in another couple of victories before going Novices Chasing next term. He will be very interesting when going over fences in the 2018/19 season and is one of a number in the Dobbin yard that will continue to propel her up the trainers table.

Rose is a trainer that’s really starting to blooming…


3. They need to stop running Flying Tiger in conditions races…

…and right now!

Not because he isn’t good enough, far from it, but because they are in danger of blowing his handicap mark.

The Fred Winter winner currently sits on OR 140 and to me that looks an exploitable mark waiting to be exploited!! The mark won’t last long, however, if they keep running him in races like the Elite Hurdle and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and he continues to finish 4L off the winners, especially when he’s likely to be chasing the likes of the Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air home.

They got lucky after this last effort as the handicapper has decided to leave him on the 140 mark after the run but you couldn’t have blamed him if he had seen it fit to put the 4yo up a few pounds for finishing within hailing distance of the winner.

There are any number of valuable Handicap pots they could plunder off OR 140 before putting him back in against the best and we know that Nick Williams is more than capable of readying one for such contests, just think of the likes of Diamond Harry, Aubusson, Tea For Two and Agrapart, so come on team Williams, just hang fire a bit and plot a route to chunky Handicap prize, without blowing his mark on the way there…

The Tiger can fly high in handicaps if handled with care…

Ben (NTF)

p.s. there will be no ‘What We Learned from the Weekend’ next week

5 responses to “What we learned from the weekend: 1st, 2nd & 3rd December…”

  1. Hi Ben

    I think it was a shrewd move to run flying tiger there,don’t know how rich the owners are but 11k for third in a race that was bound to cut up ,the horse was obviously ready to run as he had been a non runner in the greatwood and the stewards did ask why he ran here on soft but was a non runner at soft at Cheltenham , Williams wasn’t prepared to run him twice on testing ground.

    Using a speed point methodology,I have the festival plate and the Fred winter down as above average renewals using the clock,it was encouraging to see road to respect do well after and fred winter 2nd divin bere give defi du seiul a race at aintree.

    He got stuffed at aintree but he’s a horse that needs cover or he runs to free.

    The county hurdle would be the obvious race , training fees have been covered for this season so he could protect his hcap mark as any other good runs in graded races will mean he goes up then aim him for the county hurdle with a little prep before hand to get the freshness out if him.

    • Hi Rob

      Certainly a shrewd move on the prize money front but had it run a couple lengths closer to the winner I dread to think the damage the handicapper would have done; they got away it for me.

      County Hurdle an interesting option although I was thinking the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury as a likely target prior to that.

      Hopefully he lines up in something along those lines though…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  2. i think he may get a entry at ascot in the wessex youth grade 3 hurdle,big field in that as its worth 85k to the winner.ironically if they waited a week maybe this weeks sandown hcap hurdle would of had suitable good/gdsf ground but you cant tell with the weather.if they run iton soft again surely the stewards will be asking again

    i was gearing up to back him with a sizeable bet for the greatwood but i knew he wouldnt run in he end on that ground.

    on a different note,theres lots of trainer/jockey stats around but one thing that are rare are owner stats. i wonder if you have any?

    im wondering how much owners influence trainers in there targets,im not talking giggisnstown or jp mac but the lesser know owners.

    i know someone who was in a syndicate but pulled out, but he still gets emails and he was offered a share in a horse thats done rather well from another trainer.however it appears the handicapper as caught up with him and he is in the right class barrier and a career high rating and his winning as stopped.

    many of the syndicate members are moaning about the trainer and/or jockey being at fault but he tells me these are new members that really dont understand racing and think there entitled to win every time.

    ive spotted some recent examples

    warriors tale owners seem to be Scottish based. paul nicholls in his betfair blogs did state every time hes raced up north,hes ran poor and may be a bad traveller. hes got a good record at nearby tracks ,especially newbury but i am wondering if hes under pressure to race him more at the northern track so they can watch him?

    kylemore lough seems to have owners which have never owned a horse before from what i can gather from rp database. i couldn’t believe they moved him to harry fry and felt sorry for kerry lee as that was one of the best horses in her stable.maybe something else as gone on but to me she got a class 3 novice chaser to win a novice chase grade season he was touched of in a grade 2 and 2l 5th in big hcap where it seems the handicapper as him. i get the feeling they werent happy he didnt win last year and moved him and even harry fry stated he was under pressure in the betvictor gold cup to get him in peak condition to perform.

    shantou flyer ,a cheltenham grade 3 hcap chase winner last year for his old owner and trainer as a new trainer and owner,a stockport based solicitor ,again ran in the betfair chase,near liverpool but he had the more suitable betvictor gold entry before that. hes entered in the many clouds grade 2 at aintree this weekend despite taking 2 big beatings at graded level recently. richard gibson as said in a interview the owner is very much involved in the horses targets.

    just little things ive noticed recently regarding owners,i try to internet search them if a horse they own seems to appear to be running in a race that doesnt make sense

    • Hi Rob

      I have delved into trainer stats on occasion, yes, Proform has recently imported such stats and there are some interesting little pointers here and there. Not the easiest thing to dig into, however, as owners often appear under various guises so you need to make sure you capture them all when searching (for example Alan Potts is sometimes Alan & Ann Potts and sometimes Ann and Alan Potts, some times A Potts LTD, etc… – McManus isn’t always just JP McManus, sometimes he has a slightly differently registration in Ireland…)…

      I agree though, it is certainly an area that is well worthy of investigation to see if there are angles to spot.

      Warrior Tale a good example and if the horse doesn’t travel that well but the owner wants him running in the north then they really need to put him back with a north based yard!

      There are definitely plenty times the owners are pulling the strings with regards to race placement and the animal ends up simply running in a race because the owner wants a day out, rather than running in the race best suited to it’s winning chances.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  3. this is a area thats intriguing me now,how much owners have a say on what targets and who rides.

    2 examples today,the young master and cloudy dream

    i couldnt believe they bypassed sandown for aintree ,TYM is a horse that as a good record on gdsf or better at 2m7f+ and he was a c/d winner at sandowns 3m5f trip.

    i actually thought he was running until i saw 2nd preference,1st being the beecher chase. hes fell twice over the national fences and the ground was heavy.

    i then realise sam waley cohens father owns half share,in fact from november 2015 and he has ridden ever since bar one race.he obviously likes to go to aintree.

    TYM ran a good race anyway given the fact hes failed to get round here before and heavy ground,he made headway and only 3 out gave way. hes got a ascot entry before xmas where he might still get decent ground there.he was a close 4th in that race a few years back of 150,hes 145 now with a probably rating drop.

    i was also surprised cloudy dream ran at aintree ,but trevor hemmings owns him.he obvious wanted a runner in the race named after many clouds but cant help think they missed a better chance at huntingdon. i thought it was painful to see the jockey trying to hold onto him as long as he could knowing he had suspect stamina and was on heavy for the first time with the one in front of you the definite stayer in the race.

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