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28th November 2020

Saturday Racing Tips and Trends: 31st October 2020

It’s jump action all the way this Saturday as the hedge-hoppers take over from the flat horses with the new National Hunt season starting to hit top gear now.

Wetherby and Ascot are where the ITV cameras are at as we’ve seven races spread across the two venues with the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase the feature contest at Wetherby and with some familiar faces lining-up then it’s a must-see early season contest,  while at Ascot the Sodexo Gold Cup heads their bill.

So, as always, we’ve got it all covered here at TQ with all the key trends, plus our verdict, on each of the LIVE ITV races - we’re confident these trends will point you in the direction of a few winners, or at least help narrow down some of the field to highlight the horses that fit the best profile of past winners – So, let’s get going!

 

Ascot Horse Racing Trends (ITV/Sky)

 

1.20 - Ascot Underwriting Chase (A Novices´ Limited Handicap) Cl3 2m3f ITV4

7 previous runnings
7/7 – Aged 7 or younger
7/7 – Irish bred
6/7 – Returned 6/1 or shorter in the betting
5/7 – Yet to win over fences
4/7 – Aged 6 year-old
2/7 – Had run over hurdles at Ascot before
2/7 – Winning favourites

The Paul Nicholls runner – Dr Sanderson – will be popular and made a winning chase debut at Plumpton recently, but I just feel this will be harder – especially giving weight away all round. Copper Coin, Trincomalee and Dorking Boy are others that race well last time out, but I think the Nicky Henderson runner – FALCO BLITZ – can take this. The yard won this race in 2018 and also boast an impressive 28% record with their runners over fences at Ascot. This 132-rated hurdler ran well (5th) in a Grade 3 Hurdle at Kempton, behind the useful McFabulous, last time and is also a past winner over hurdles here at Ascot. He’s gone well fresh in the past too – won first time out last term and will have every assistance in the saddle from Nico De Boinville. Of the rest, the Anthony Honeyball yard are going well at the moment (38% strike-rate at the time of writing), so their SULLY D’OCAA (e/w) might be worth a small e/w play too on it’s first run back from a wind op.

1.55 – tote.co.uk Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 2m1f ITV4

14/17 – Aged 8 years-old or younger
12/17 – Irish (5) or French (7) bred
12/17 – Returned 13/2 or shorter in the betting
11/17 – Had won between 1-3 times over fences before
10/17 – Having their first run of the new season
9/17 – Carried 11-1 or less in weight
8/17 – Rated 130 or lower
8/17 – Unplaced favourites
5/17 – Aged 8 years-old
5/17 – Won last time out
4/17 – Ran at either Ascot (2) or Aintree (2) last time out
4/17 – Won carrying 11-12
3/17 – Winning favourites
4/17 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
3/17 – Trained by Venetia Williams
2/17 – Ridden by Richard Johnson
Diego Du Charmil (13/2) won the race last year

Trainer Dan Skelton is just 1 from 23 with his runners over fences here so his runners, Amoola Gold and Azzuri is over-looked backed on that. The Nicholls and Newland yards have done well in this race in recent years so their Capeland and Caid Du Lain, who are both CD winners at the track, have to be respected, but the one I like here is IBLEO. From the Venetia Williams team that have also had a good time of things in this race – winning it in 2015 and 2013. This 7 year-old has won two of his three starts over fences and last time over 2m4f on heavy ground just didn’t get home so had an excuse. The drop back in trip here will help and he’s a horse that’s won off a break in the past, so the 244-day absence isn’t too much of a concern. The Gary Moore-trained Flaminger, who was a good winner at Fontwell last time can’t be ruled out either off just 10st but this is a step up in grade.

3.05 – Sodexo Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race) Cl1 2m ITV4

16/16 – Aged between 4 and 6 years-old
16/16 – Had won over at 2m or 2m1f over hurdles before
14/16 – Never raced at Ascot before
13/16 – Won between 1-3 times over hurdles
9/16 – Having their first run of the season
9/16 – Unplaced last time out
8/16 – Placed favourites
7/16 – Winning favourites (1 co, 2 joint)
6/16 – Ran at Huntingdon (3) or Aintree (3) last time out
6/16 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or more
6/16 – Won by a French bred horse
4/16 – Ridden by a conditional jockey
3/16 – Won by trainer Alan King, including two of last 3 renewals
2/16 – Won by the Pipe stable
2/16 – Won by trainer Paul Nicholls
2/16 - Won by trainer Nicky Henderson
7 of the last 11 winners were aged 5 years-old
Gumball (11/2) won the race in 2020
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 13/2

Another good race over the years for the Paul Nicholls yard so their Scaramanga and Malaya have to be considered – the later is also the only CD winner in the field. However, both also have a bit to prove based on recent runs so despite having the ability to win this I’d rather see a return to form on the track. Northern raiders – Dear Sire and Caius Marcius – are others that can go well but with ALL of the last 16 winners aged between 4-6 years-old these 8 and 9 year-olds might just get done by some younger legs. Henderson hasn’t given up on the McManus-owned Countister so that suggests he feels this horse has more to come, but is another of the older brigade in the race at 8. So the two I like are the 6 year-olds HANG IN THERE and KID COMMANDO. The former ran some nice races last season – including winning the Supreme Novice Trial at Cheltenham last November. He didn’t quite get home over further in his last two races so the drop back in trip will help and should be a lot fitter for a recent spin at Fontwell. Then Kid Commando hails from the in-form Anthony Honeyball yard and he returns after last being seen running well in the Grade Two Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton back in February. He won first time out last season too, so the break is more of a plus than a negative and – as mentioned – the yard have started the new season in great form.


3.40 – Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) Cl1 3m ITV4

15/15 – Had won a chase race over at least 2m4f before
12/15 – Didn’t win last time out
11/15 – Had run at Ascot before (5 won)
10/15 – Carried 10-10 or more
9/15 – Had won at least 3 times over fences before
9/15 – Unplaced favourites
9/15 – Aged 8 or older
8/15 – Had won a chase race over at least 3m before
9/15 – Having their first run of the season
9/15 – Unplaced in their last race
9/15 – Winning distance – 4 lengths or more
6/15 – Officially rated 135 to 138 inc
5/15 – Returned a double-figure price in the betting
3/15 – Won by the Pipe stable
4/15 – Winning favourites
2/15 – Trained by Gary Moore
2/15 – Ran at Sandown last time out
2/15 – Ridden by Aidan Coleman
9 of the last 10 winners were aged 9 or younger
Vinndication (2/1 fav) won the race in 2019
Go Conquer won the race in 2017 and was third in 2018
The average winning SP in the last 10 runnings is 11/1

This could be the last time we see the classy Might Bite in action, but it’s interesting that Henderson is persisting with this 11 year-old. Off a mark of 152, then he would, of course, be very dangerous considering he was rated as high as 172 just a few seasons ago, but he’s not won now since April 2018 (8 races ago) and has looked a shadow of his former self in recent races – certainly capable, but would take a brave punter to pin their hopes on him fully. A similar thing applies to the Skelton-trained Blaklion, who’s last win came in the 2017 Becher Chase at Aintree. 10 of the last 15 winners carried 10-10 or more – so that’s a plus for the top 8 on the card, while 9 of the last 10 winners were aged 9 or younger – of the 14 runners that is a negative for six. However, one of those older runners – REGAL ENCORE (e/w) – does love it here at Ascot and was a decent second in this race 12 months ago. Yes, he’s now a 12 year-old and is 3lbs higher than last year, but the Honeyball team are in great order at the moment and it’s interesting he’s had a wind op over the summer too – he might just have one more big race left in him! CD winner Mister Malarky was 12th in the race last year and could just be a tad high in the handicap for me – his last win came off 4lbs lower. Militarian,  Townshend, Walk In The Mill and Valtor are the other CD winners in the field so can’t be ruled out, while the Richard Johnson-ridden Whatmore was an excellent fourth at the Cheltenham Festival behind Imperial Aura last time out and that run also came having lost a shoe in the race. Off just 10-3 in weight he looks dangerous, but does have to prove himself over this sort trip for me – the light weight will certainly help on that score though! So, the other pick is going to be last year’s third – BLACK CORTON. This Paul Nicholls runner has been around the block, but is still only 9 years-old and is the top-rated in the field. They pulled off a similar feat with Frodon last weekend winning with a big weight and Corton is actually rated 2lbs lower when running in this race last year. His regular pilot, Bryony Frost takes the ride.

 

Wetherby Horse Racing Trends (ITV/RacingTV)

 

1.35 bet365 Handicap Chase Cl3 (4yo+ 0-125) 2m3 1/2f ITV4

Just two previous runnings
2/2 – Winning favourites
2/2 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies won the race in 2019
Trainer Charlie Longsdon won the 2018 running
Trainer Iain Jardine has a 50% record with his chasers at the track
Trainer Kim Bailey has a 45% record with his chasers at the track
Trainer Neil Mulholland has a 40% record with his chasers at the track
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has a 26% record with his chasers at the track
Trainer Philip Kirby has a 26% record with his chasers at the track

Course winners Minella For Me and Well Smitten are interesting, while the Neil Mulholland yard have a decent 40% record with their chasers at the track so their Dandolo Du Gite is another runner to have on your radar. However, this prize went to the Nigel Twiston-Davies camp last year and in GUY they look to have another big chance. This 5 year-old should be fitter than most after winning at Huntingdon a few weeks ago on his reappearance. Yes, a 12lb hike for that win looks a tad harsh, but he did win by an easy 13 lengths and at just 5 years-old should have more to come. Of the rest, another yard that often do well with their chasers at the track is Kim Bailey – they run HE’S NO TROUBLE (e/w). This 7 year-old showed promise during the early part of last season but lost his way a bit after. He’s had wind surgery since and is only 3lbs higher than when last winning. He can also be forgiven his last two runs as they came over 3m and seemed to not stay – the drop back in distance is another positive and the yard are in great order at the moment too.

 

2.10 – bet365 Mares´ Hurdle (Listed Race) Cl1 2m110y ITV4

13/13 – Had won over at least 2m1f over hurdles before
11/13 – Had between 2-5 previous hurdles wins to their name
11/13 – Having their first run of the season
9/13 – Never raced at Wetherby before
8/13 – Finished unplaced last time out
8/13 – Placed favourites
8/13 – Had won a NH Flat race previously
6/13 – Aged between 5-7 years-old
5/13 – Winning favourites
4/13 – Ran at Punchestown last time out
2/13 – Trained by John Quinn

No Lady Buttons, who has won the last two runnings of this, as she’s now retired, and that should pave the way for the Nicky Henderson-trained VERDANA BLUE to take this race. This 8 year-old is the clear top-rated in the field at 155 and that’s around 20lbs superior to the other runners in the line-up. A recent run, when second to Silver Streak, should have her spot-on for this and it will be a shock if she’s not adding to Henderson’s 2012 win in this race. Of the rest, Whitehotchillifili looks best of the rest, from the Harry Fry yard, while any below-par runs from the principles then the likes of Midnights’ Gift, Desaray Girl and Mrs Hyde will be there to take advantage.

 

2.45 – bet365 Hurdle (West Yorkshire Hurdle) (Grade 2) Cl1 3m26y ITV4

18/18 – Had won over at least 2m3f over hurdles before
17/18 – Had won at least 3 times over hurdles before
16/18 – Returned 8/1 or shorter in the betting
15/18 – Won this on their seasonal reappearance
15/18 – Failed to win their last race
13/18 – Officially rated 149 or higher
12/18 – Placed favourites
12/18 – Aged 6,7 or 8 years-old
10/18 – Finished unplaced last time out
9/18 – Ran at either Aintree (5) or Cheltenham (3) last time out
7/18 – Had won at Wetherby before
4/18 – Winning favourites
3/18 – Trained by Philip Hobbs
3/18 – Trained by Paul Nicholls
2/18 – Ridden by Paddy Brennan
The Worlds End (7/2) won this race in 2019

Chapmanshype is a fast-improving hurdler, that has won five of his last six, but four of those successes came at Fontwell and this is another step up in grade and trip. He could be up to the task, but I’d like to see it on the track first. The useful mare Roksana gets a handy allowance – 7lbs from most and 13lbs from Lisnagar Oscar so that gives her a big chance. But, for me, she’s a horse that seems to just get placed more often than winning at the moment – his last win came at the Cheltenham Festival in March 19. Copperhead, who did well over fences in the first half of the season, but was last seen falling in the RSA Chase is interesting back over hurdles. However, he’s not won first time out for the last three seasons, so might just improve for this and you feel the Tizzard camp are probably just trying to get some confidence back into him before heading back over fences. Next Destination, who was 4th in the 2017 Cheltenham bumper, is the dark horse in the race – this former Willie Mullins runner is now with Paul Nicholls and has won four of his five starts over hurdles. He’s clearly had issues since as has not been on the track since beating Delta Work in a G1 Novices Hurdle at Punchestown in 2018! He’s still only 8 years-old though and looks a top recruit to the Nicholls yard – on his best form he’d be a serious player here, but you can’t help coming back to the 920 day absence from the track. So, the safer call at this stage looks to stick with last year’s Cheltenham Festival Staying Hurdler – LISNAGAR OSCAR, who is the top-rated in the field (160). Yes, he has to give away 6lbs being a G1 winner running in this G2, but he’s got a chance this season to prove that last big win wasn’t a fluke. He’s still only 7 and has also run well off a break in the past and the Curtis camp have been amongst the winners recently which is another good sign.

 

3.20 – bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (Grade 2) Cl1 3m1f ITV

16/18 – Rated 151 or higher
15/18 – Were having their first run of the season
15/18 – Returned 7/1 or shorter in the betting
15/18 – Had won over at least 3m over fences before
13/18 – Aged 8 or older
12/18 – Had won at least 4 times over fences before
11/18 – Ran at Ayr (3), Aintree (6) or Cheltenham (2) last time out
11/18 – Aged 8 or 9 years-old
10/18 – Placed favourites
8/18 – Had run at Wetherby before (4 won)
7/18  - Finished 1st or 2nd last time out
4/18 – Winning favourites
4/18 – Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies (6 wins in total)
2/18 – Trained by Evan Williams
Nigel Twiston-Davies has won the race in 1992, 1994, 2005, 2007, 2017 and 2019
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 7/1

All eyes here will be on the Paul Nicholls-trained Cyrname, who is still rated a massive 176 and the clear top-rated in the field. He’s clearly a very useful chaser on this day and lowered the colours of the mighty Altior last season on his return run, but, for me, he’s still got a bit to prove after flopping in the King George and then falling when beaten at Ascot last time. I think this 3m trip stretches him a bit and even though this looks a good place to start him off I suspect the rest will try and exploit his potential stamina doubts by making this a true test. Of those, we’ve also got last year’s winner – Ballyoptic – in the race and hailing from the Nigel Twiston-Davies yard that have a top record in this race, then he’s hard to ignore. He’ll be looking to becoming the first back-to-back winner since See More Business in 1999 and 2000. Vindication is certainly a contender to topple Cyrname too. This 7 year-old had won first time out for the last three years and the Kim Bailey yard couldn’t be in much better form. He’s won 50% of his 6 chase races and looks the sort to kick on now this season in these better staying chasers. However, I’m going to take a chance on the former useful staying hurdler – SAM SPINNER – remaining unbeaten over fences. He’s 3-from-3 over the bigger obstacles and with two of his three wins over fences coming here at Wetherby that track experience is a bonus. Any more rain would also be a plus and he looks another very decent staying chaser in the making. Of the rest, Definitely Red is another CD winner, but at the age of 11 and the fact he was a well-beaten 4th (26 lengths) in this race last season suggests he’s got a bit to answer on his first run back. Of those at bigger prices, Mister Whitaker, Keeper Hill and previous course winner La Bague Au Roi have the past form to get involved if in the mood.

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