Saturday Trainer Track Stats and Trends:
Here are some of the keys stats for the races on Chepstow’s Coral’s Welsh Grand National card. I have also had a quick look at the last two aces on the Sandown card, including the Veterans Chase. Fingers crossed that the rain stays away and all three jumps meetings are on.
12:30 – A maiden hurdle gets the Chepstow card underway. Since 2014 there have been 22 races maiden & novice hurdles run on heavy ground. Nine trainers have had have had 15 of those winners from just 30 runners (68% of the winners from just 7% of the runners).
Warren Greatrex – 6 winners from 26 runners 23% + 1.29 in the past 5 years in hurdle races here and he’s 2 winners from 4 runners 50% with his runners in maiden/novice hurdles on heavy ground at the course. He runs Jammin Masters in this who ran well to finish 2nd at Wetherby on his first start for the trainer but has yet to race on heavy ground, sets the standard.
1:00 – A Class 3 Novices handicap chase over 2m 7 ½ f. Since 2014 there have been 33 such races at the track of which 9 have been run on heavy ground and a further 9 on soft ground. A field of only six go to post for the race.
Nigel Twiston-Davies – 1 winner from 4 runners 2 placed with his runners in Novices handicap chases at the track on heavy & soft ground and he relies on Scotchtown who has plenty of hurdle form on testing ground and was second here over C&D on his last start. He was due to run at Wetherby’s abandoned meeting yesterday and is capable of winning a race like this over fences.
1:35 – The Grade 1 Coral Future Champions Final Juvenile Hurdle over 2m. Only five stand their ground for this year’s race. Two trainers with notable records in the race since 1997 who have declared runners are:
Nicky Henderson – 3 winners from 6 runners 5 placed
Nick Williams – 2 winners from 7 runners 4 placed
We Have A Dream trained by Nicky Henderson is the odds-on favourite at the time of writing and comes into the race with just about the best form. Trainer Nick Williams relies on Mercenaire who showed that soft ground held no terrors for him when making all to win impressively at Exeter 41 days ago. Given the trainer’s record in the race and the fact that his runner is capable of more improvement, on just his 3rd start over hurdles, means Mercenaire shouldn’t be underestimated here. Gary Moore runs impressive Sandown winner Sussex Ranger who caught the eye with his jumping last time out and is now 2 from 2 over hurdles. The trainer is 0 wins from 8 runners 1 placed in this race but this looks the strongest contender he has run. Add in Irish raider Famous Milly and maybe the race is more open than the bookie’s odds suggest. I will take the highly regarded Nick Williams trained runner over the favourite on this sort of ground.
2:05 – The Coral Welsh Grand National a handicap chase over 3m 5 ½ f. A field of 20 have stood their ground for this year’s renewal. Eleven of the last twenty renewals have been run on heavy ground. The results contain 11 winners from 191 runners 42 placed. Here a few trends that have caught my eye:
1. Age: 7 to 9-year-olds – 10 winners from 127 runners 32 placed.
Only Mountainous in 2015, trained by Kerry Lee, has won the race aged older than nine.
2. Weight: 10-00 to 10-13 – 11 winners from 123 runners 27 placed
No winner has carried more than 10-13 on heavy ground since 1997.
3. Class Move: Up 2 or 3 – 9 winners from 100 runners 27 placed
4. Last Time Out Placing: Top 6 – 11 winners from 148 runners 39 placed
5. Track Last Race: Chepstow – 6 winners from 34 runners 13 placed – Sandown 2 winners from 11 runners 3 placed
Verdict: There is plenty to like about the claims of the Tom George trained Wild West Wind who is 3 wins from 4 runs on heavy and 2 wins from 3 runs here at Chepstow. He won the Grand National Trial here last month. If he stays this marathon trip the 9-year-old won’t be far away. His weight of 11-3 would make him a bit of a trends buster as far as weight carried on heavy ground is concerned. Ask The Weatherman ticks the boxes marked age and weight and he showed he was all about stamina when winning at Exeter on his seasonal reappearance 60 days ago under top-weight of 12-4. The 9-year-old is 6lb higher than last time but he remains open to improvement over this sort of trip.
As for those at bigger prices. The 9-year-old Buckthorn Timothy has only had nine starts over fences so is another capable of improvement over fences. He has run well here in the past 0 wins from 4 runs 3 placed and his best RPR came over fences here over 3m, he is 3 wins from 6 runs 4 placed on heavy ground and 3 wins from 3 runs in January. He has had two starts this season both over hurdles and he has won both of then the latter on soft ground at Wincanton. Looks on a competitive handicap mark although his stamina for this marathon test has to be taken on trust. His trainer Colin Tizzard is 1 win from 31 runners in the past 14 days which is a slight concern but at around 25/1 he looks a fair each-way contender.
Another at a big price who could outrun his odds is the Evan Williams trained On The Road. The 8-year-old is 3 wins from 5 runs 4 placed over fences and looked a progressive chaser open to further improvement when last seen winning over fences at Sedgefield in March. He should be suited to this race as he jumps well and is a bit of a grinder. Consistent, all his wins have come on soft or heavy and he can go well.
2:45 – A class 2 handicap hurdle over 2m 7 ½ f with ten set to go to post for this race. A trainer to note over C&D on heavy or soft ground is Warren Greatrex – 2 winners from 4 runners 2 placed. He runs Shantou Bob who caught the eye when staying well on to grab 4th at Cheltenham on his last start. The 10-year-old won this race last year off 8lb higher but he should be ready to run another big race with Tom Greatrex taking 7lb off the top weights back. He has yet to race on heavy but three of his career win have come on soft so he should be able to handle it.
3:20 – A 2m 3 ½ f Class 2 handicap chase. This race has cut up and only seven are now set to go to post. There have been 16 handicap chases over 2m 3 ½ f or 2m 4f since 2014 on soft or heavy ground. Notable trainers over C&D on soft & heavy ground:
Venetia Williams – 4 winners from 8 runners 5 placed
Peter Bowen 1 winner from 1 runner
Both trainers have runners in the race. Peter Bowen relies on the inform Play The Ace who won on heavy at Aintree on his last start and bids for a 5th successive win. Meanwhile, Venetia Williams who has won the last two running of this race relies on Pressurise who is 3 wins from 5 runs on heavy and 1 win from 2 runs here at Chepstow, including C&D. The 12-year-old is lightly raced for his age and will be having his first start for 286 days. He has only had two starts since winning off 1lb lower back in Class 2 company in March 2016. He ticks the boxes marked going, distance, course and class and if he retains his old ability looks the one to beat despite his advancing years.
3:00 – 32Red Veteran’s Series Final, a handicap chase for horses aged 11 years +. A field of 15 stand their ground for this year’s race which is good news although one O’Faolains Boy is likely to go to Chepstow for the Welsh Grand national instead. Since 2014 trainers with notable records in all veteran handicap chases with declared runners are:
Tom George – 5 winners from 16 runners 10 placed
Fergal O’Brien – 2 winners from 11 runners 3 placed.
In these veteran races, I tend to focus on the younger horses. Perfect Candidate was a battling winner at Cheltenham on his last start and even off 4lb higher he can go very well here of top-weight of 11-12. His trainer Fergal O’Brien has an exceptional strike rate with his runners at Sandown having had 8 winners from 18 runners 44% +32.96 in the past 5 years. First run here at Sandown but he has won going right-handed and five of his seven career wins have come on soft or heavy going.
The Tom George record in these type of races means his runners always need respecting. He saddles the 11-year-old No Duffer. The previous C&D winner was pulled up on is only start of the season at Chepstow back in October. Most of his best runs have come on a sounder surface but he has placed form on heavy and arguably his best performance came in the Newbury qualifier back in March when he was beaten just 2 ½ lengths 2nd Just A Par on soft ground, now races off 2lb lower. An 83-day absence shouldn’t be an issue as he’s 1 win from 2 runs 2 placed when returning from 60 to 90-day break. He looks competitively weighted on his best form and can outrun his odds if he handles the heavy ground?
3:35 – A 2m Class 2 handicap hurdle closes Sandown’s Saturday card and a field of 10 are declared to go to post. Notable trainer records in C&D handicaps on soft or heavy ground since 2014.
Nicky Henderson – 2 winners from 5 runners 3 placed
Nicky Henderson saddles Call Me Lord. The five-year-old won on heavy when trained in France before winning a good ground handicap hurdle on good ground over C&D in April. He was well beaten, at odds-on his seasonal reappearance in the Michaelmas Handicap Hurdle at Huntingdon on his seasonal return 53 days ago. Something may have been amiss that day and he remains capable of better.
Chepstow – 1:35 – Mercenaire (win)
Chepstow – 2:05 – Ask the Weatherman and On The Road (each way)
Sandown – 3:00 – No Duffer (each way) & Perfect Candidate
Sandown – 3:35 – Call Me Lord (win)
Until next time. Good luck with all your Saturday bets