A fairly low-key weekend on the racing front, not really surprising given the feast of racing over Christmas period. Sandown hosted a race to warm the cockles of the most cynical racing heart. Yes, it was the Veterans’ Series Final.
The race, and its series of qualifiers, have quickly found favour with jumping fans. As a battle-hardened group of old handicap chasers take centre stage. A field of 17 went to post for this year’s race and, if you are like me you, will have backed plenty of the runners at least once, if not more. Looking at the runners, it was the first race where I had backed each of the runners sometime during their career and several on multiple occasions.
Just like last year’s renewal, the race didn’t disappoint. It was a great to watch these old favourites jumping on one of the best chase courses in the country. The race itself was won easily by the Venetia Williams trained Houblon Des Obeaux. Once the 12-year-old took up the lead coming to the 16th fence, he just gradually drew away from his rivals to register a 15-length victory, and his first win since winning over C&D back in November 2017 off a 6lb higher mark than he was running off on Saturday.
It might have been a different story had last year’s winner Buywise not fallen at the last, when just a couple of lengths down on the eventual winner. Buywise was finishing his race off to good effect between the last two, and I think he might well have won the race if he had stood up. It was a great relief to see him get up after what looked a very nasty fall.
Last year there was some talk of the Veterans Chase being moved to the Cheltenham Festival. Not for me. It’s found it place in the racing calendar on a quiet Saturday when these old warriors can have their day in the sun.
It was the Veteran’s race that also provides this week’s horse for your trackers.
Halo Moon , trained by Neil Mulholland, the 11-year-old was having his first start since May, and a competitive race like this was always going to be tough to win, even without such a long absence. He only finished 7th, beaten 35 lengths by the winner, but this was still a respectable effort with the rest of the season in mind.
Granted, he hasn’t won since racking-up a hat trick in Jan/Feb 2016. He returned to action after a long absence last season and, interestingly, put in his three best performances according to RPR’s in the early part of 2018. The dry ground also wouldn’t have been in his favour as all his career wins have come on soft ground.
His career record is 4 wins from 18 runs 22% with 9 placed at 50% but, if you look at his record on soft ground between December & February, he had 4 wins from 5 runs 80% +4.77 with 1B111.
On a winnable mark, there is a handicap chase in the gelding this season when his sights are slightly lowered.
This Weeks Stats
Which trainers should be noting in the coming week?
Here are three trainers, two jumps and one all-weather, who traditionally have their horses go well in the month of January.
Since 2015 the month has been a profitable for trainer Sue Smith. In the past four years she has been operating at 13%-win strike rate, but each January that has improved to 24%.
Her results in January are:
29 winners from 121 runners 24% +56.95 A/E 1.26 53 placed 44%
Indeed, in the past five Januarys you could have backed all her runners in the month and you would have made a profit each year. The trainer has already had one winner this year when Midnight Shadow won at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
For those looking for an angle for the trainer’s runners, you could probably do worse than focus on those that were previous course winners. They produced the following set of results:
12 winners from 38 runners 32% +25.29 A/E 1.51 18 placed 47%
That said, it is a brave punter who rules out any of her runners in the month of January, as they clearly seem to hit peak fitness at this time of year.
The second trainer to note in January is Donald McCain. Since 2015 he’s been operating at 15%-win strike rate with his chasers. In January that record improves to 30%.
His record in chases is:
23 winners from 77 runners 30% +31.62 A/E 1.61 32 placed 42%
Eighteen of those winners over fences have come at six courses: Ayr, Haydock, Kelso, Musselburgh, Newcastle & Sedgefield. These runners have produced the following results:
18 winners from 38 runners 47% +32.62 A/E 2.04 21 placed 55%
The final of our trio of January trainers is Michael Easterby and his handicap runners on the all-weather. The Yorkshire based trainer operates at 16%-win strike with such runners, but in January that already decent record improves to 25%.
His full January record in AW handicap races is:
15 winners from 61 runners 25% +17.01 A/E 1.46 27 placed 44%
As with the previous two trainers it is best advised to take note of all of his runners in the month, and look for an angle. Those of his runners going off 6/1 & under in the betting have produced:
14 winners from 38 runners 37% +23.01 A/E 1.64 21 55%
Richard Johnson at Chepstow
Champion Jockey Richard Johnson has a 24%-win strike rate at Chepstow since the start of 2015. No less than 50% of those winners have come at 2m 7f/3m:
16 winners from 45 runners 36% +32.92 A/E 1.55 20 placed 44%.
They race at Chepstow today, so if Richard Johnson has a ride at around that distance make sure you have it on the shortlist. However, this is a stat worth noting at the course between now and the end of the season.
Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle Trainers
On Saturday Kempton’s feature race is the historic Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle over 2m 5 ½ f. Three trainers have dominated the race in the past ten years. Nick Williams, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson. These three have provided 80% of the winners between them from just 22% of the total runners.
Nick Williams – 3 winners from 5 runners +15
Paul Nicholls – 3 winners from 12 runners +5.75 6 placed
Nicky Henderson – 2 winners from 14 runners 4 placed
Any runners they have in this year’s race will be worth keeping onside that’s for sure. But if you want dig a bit deeper all eight winners shared the following:
Odds: 8/1 & under
Runs in 90 Days: 1+
8 winners from 17 runners 47% +34.75 10 placed 59%.
See you next week.
All the best,
for The Race Advisor