Paul Nicholls is making sure he pulls in the early season profits as he defends his trainers crown…
And just like that the jumping action is back in the groove!
Chepstow served up a double delight of weekend action for us National Hunt devotees and I think we can all agree the action did not disappoint.
Sure there were no superstars on show but there were plenty of familiar names hitting the track, a barrel-load of exciting novices’ (Hurdlers & Chasers) and the major players wheeled out a chunky enough slice of their battalion for us (and them) to get an idea of where they were at in terms of fitness.
Indeed the powerhouses of Elliott (18 runners), Nicholls (16 runners) and Hobbs (9 runners) really got stuck in at the weekend and it’s one of those guys that I want to focus on first in this weeks ‘What we learned from the weekend‘ post…
What We learned from The Weekend: 8th & 9th October…
1. Paul Nicholls stamped his authority in dominating fashion over the weekend…
The trainers championship went right down to the wire last season and judging by the way Nicholls dominated this weekends action he’s in no mood to let that happen again this term.
These are his stats from Saturday and Sunday…
5/16 | 31% S/R | +£10.86 BFLSP – Win & Place 6/16 | 38% S/R
41% above expectation
Easily the most winners of any yard over the two days and despite him having plenty of runners to achieve those winners you can’t knock the 31% strike-rate he rolled in. Indeed of the trainers who saddled 5 or more runners over the weekend only Rebecca Curtis with her 38% strike-rate (3/8) topped the master of Ditcheat.
As already mentioned there were no superstars on show although Nicholls Persian War Hurdle winner EL BANDIT is well worth keeping on the radar.
This win brought up the four-timer for the 5yo and he really dug deep down the home-straight to land this valuable pot and considering he’s been doing his winning over slightly longer (21f+) it’s maybe no surprise he had to get down and dirty here. He loses his novice status at the start of Nov and there is talk of him going chasing and that’s maybe not a bad move. He’s by Milan out of a Un Desperado mare and that’s a breeding mix that can produce decent enough chasers (Apache Stronghold, Double Shuffle, Green Flag…). Prior to this win he had been smashing up weaker opposition in maiden, novice and low-grade handicap events so the fact he was able to dig deep and fend off challengers over and after the last flight significantly enhances his reputation. The likes of Blaklion, Fingal Bay, Silviniaco Conti, Reve De Sivola and Monsignor have landed the Persian War previously and it can be a strong pointer towards horses with serious future potential and although this lad has some way to go before matching those types he’s certainly well on the right path at the minute.
Nicholls clearly wants to assert his dominance as early as possibly this year and wants that trainers crown wrapped up long before the final race on the final day of the season!
2. Rebecca Curtis unleashed a potential chasing star at Chepstow…
That horses name is DEFINITE OUTCOME.
Chasing was always going to be this boys game and apart from his flop in the Albert Bartlett at the festival last term (ground likely to quick) he’s always been a horse that has shown immense potential and a jumping action that screamed future chaser.
He used his big frame to good effect over the fences at Chepstow on Sunday and made a lovely shape at most of his obstacles, looking by far the most natural chaser of the five runners. He only won by a neck in the end from his fast closing stable-mate Aurillac but I would be convinced his Jockey Jonathan Moore always had things under control and connections wouldn’t have been keen to push him too hard anyway on the Good ground. His previous victories had come on Soft ground and he had already been pulled from an engagement earlier in the week due to quick ground and ultimately he does look like one that will want/need at least Good to Soft to be at his best.
This race was double delight for me as both Definite Outcome & Aurillac are members of my ‘Alternative 20 to follow‘ list and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. Definite Outcome looks the classier of the two and he should be contesting some of the top Novice Chase contests throughout the season whilst Aurillac looks more of a grinding battler who will really come into his own when entering staying handicap territory.
Both horses look to be powerful strings to the Curtis novice bow but Definite Outcome looks the real star to me and I would be hopeful of him really kicking on with his career now he’s faced with the larger obstacles.
There’s definitely a big outcome ahead for this chasing newbie…
3. Nigel Twiston-Davies may well have a serious World Hurdle contender in his yard…
…and that horses name is BALLYOPTIC.
He first really burst onto the scene when thumping a novice hurdle field at Uttoxeter by upwards of 10L in March then following that up by gunning down the dual Grade 1 winner Bellshill in the Grade 1 Sefton Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree. Bellshill backed up that form next time out by landing his third G1 with a cosy victory at the Punchestown Festival.
On Saturday they stepped back in trip with Ballyoptic for the valuable Silver Trophy Handicap at Chepstow and he again showed his grit and determination in a finish to win by a going away 1.25L, with his class also shining through when it mattered. He’s now recorded RPR ratings of 149, 154 & 152 on his last three starts and Proform speed figures of 68, 78 & 78. On the ratings front he definitely heading the right way.
On the Dosage front, and the World Hurdle is a strong Dosage race, he’s bang there as well…
BALLYOPTIC – 2-0-8-4-0 (14) | 0.75 | 0.00
Those figures stick him comfortably in the Dosage ‘Green Zone’ for the race and I totally get why they are heading down such a route with him.
For me, however, it’s a bit of a shame they stick hurdling with him as I think he’s a ready-made chaser and could be even better over fences. He’s by Old Vic out of a Un Desperado mare so the breeding is definitely there for chasing and his point-to-point efforts showed he was more than capable of jumping fences (some tweaks needed maybe but that would come with age/experience) and there is every reason to believe he will make a serious impact when sent chasing.
For now, however, it looks like hurdling is the name of the game and although he still has a bit to go to match the Thistlecrack’s of this world he’s certainly heading the right way and the potential is definitely there.
Keep Bally on-side, he has the potential to rule the world (hurdle)…
NTF Weekend Notes [Free taster guide]
The weekends action just past also gave me a great opportunity to fire back into the ‘Weekend Notes’ section of the NTF subscription service.
Indeed there was so much to cover that the weekend notes I dropped in the NTF Members Area yesterday stretched to a chunky ELEVEN pages!
I like to leave no stone un-turned when it comes to making my own private notes, a lot of my personal profits come from my note-taking and it’s not in my best interests to cut any corners. The benefit of that for full members is that every Monday they get a super in-depth guide packed with juicy thoughts, trends, stats and pointers that they can utilise for the weeks and months ahead.
It’s a section of the service that a lot of you are maybe not overly familiar with so I’ve created a small taster version for you guys below…
- NTF Weekend Notes 7th, 8th & 9th October
NTF Weekend Notes 7th, 8th & 9th October - FREE taster version
Even in that small section of the guide I think there are some excellent pointers that you will be able to take away with you.
If you want the full guide, plus all the benefits that come with being a full NTF member, then simply slip along to the following page…
Cheers – Ben (NTF)