I am big fan of Sean Bowen, the son of trainer Peter Bowen, and brother of James. Indeed, I have praised his riding a few times this jumps season. Well there is no doubt he’s riding at the very top of his game now.
At Kelso on Saturday, Sean’s talents were once again showcased. Bowen won the first two races on the Kelso with two contrasting rides. The first was an all-the-way win on the Paul Nicholl’s trained Kupatana. Once again, this ride highlighted what an excellent judge of pace he is.
The second, on Winston C, was even better. Granted the strong gallop suited Winston C, who likes to come from off the pace and weave past horses. Still, coming to the second last, the 5-year-old was almost at the back. It took plenty of bottle to wait for the gaps to open, but open they did, between the final two hurdles. The short run in after the line at Kelso wasn’t going to stop the momentum the horse had built, and he managed to get his head in front when it mattered, right on the line.
After the race the unassuming jockey said that the horse got him out of trouble. Not for me. I think Sean got the pace of the race spot-on and timed the horse’s winning run to perfection. The winner is trained by Harry Fry, and he’s been using Sean more often this season. With the retirement of Noel Fehily could we be seeing a link-up between jockey and trainer next jumps season. I do hope so, as it could develop into a great partnership.
Chaos Reigns at Kelso
The Michael Scudamore trained Some Chaos continued his progression over fences with a win in the 3m 2f Class 2 handicap chase. The 8-year-old made it four wins from six runs over fences with this win. The drying ground was in his favour, as his improved form this season has come on a sound surface. The handicapper had put him up 11lb for an impressive win at Wincanton on his previous start, but his rise in the weights was no handicap to success.
He had jumped pretty well at Wincanton, but the same couldn’t be said here, as he made plenty of small mistakes. He was always travelling better than his rivals, but coming to two out, his backers, including me, must have wondered if those mistakes had taken their toll. We needn’t have worried as he took it up coming to the last. A good jump there, and a good battling attitude to hold-off a determined runner-up, saw him win by 2 ¼ lengths at the line.
Watching the race on ITV, it was good to see trainer Michael Scudamore watching the race alongside Ed Chamberlain & Mick Fitzgerald. Talking about the horse’s chance and commenting in-running. This has been a good innovation by ITV Racing, which will hopefully continue over the summer. Mind you, it does help when you have a highly articulate and media savvy trainer like Michael Scudamore doing the talking!
Juvenile Hurdle Ratings
It’s that time in the jumps season, just after the Cheltenham Festival when the juvenile hurdle ratings cause controversy.
The British handicapper seems to inflate the ratings of the juvenile each season. Last year, he gave the Alan King Trained Gumball a rating of 144, after winning a couple of minor juvenile hurdles in the autumn of 2017, and ended off last season rating him at 149. Not surprisingly, he found handicap company much too tough, off that sort of mark, last autumn.
The mare Apples Shakira managed to get a mark of 146 after her first three wins in juvenile company last season. We Have Dream started this season off a mark of 156, which was crazy. Last year’s Triumph Hurdle winner, Farclas, has really suffered this season from the lofty mark of 150, which he received for winning that race.
This year doesn’t look like it will buck the trend either. This year’s winner Pentland Hills has been given a mark of 153 for his recent win in the Triumph. Compare that with the 157 given to Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner Klassical Dream. Considering the 8lb age allowance, the handicapper has him beating the older horse. It really doesn’t make much sense to me.
In contrast, the Irish handicapper seems to have taken a more realistic appraisal of the race, rating the runner-up, Coeur Sublime, at 138. The Irish handicapper has the 2nd Coeur Sublime on 143 and GOB, 140- this seems a little more reasonable as it would leave PH around 146 or 147. That’s a 15lb difference for just 3 lengths. Now the winner is an improving horse, who probably won with a bit more in hand than the official margin suggests, but surely that not that much. I consider that Pentland Hills is rated at least six or 7lbs higher than he should be.
The real inflation of the juvenile handicap ratings comes into play next season, when they start to take on the older handicappers. It seems that this year’s juveniles, like last season’s, will find themselves at a disadvantage once again later in the year. The British handicapper really needs to reconsider his juvenile hurdle ratings, as he seems to be over-rating them by 5 or 6lb.
The Irish flat turf season got underway at Naas on Sunday, and next weekend it’s the turn of the British with Doncaster’s Lincoln Meeting on Saturday.
So which trainer’s runners should we be looking out for at this year’s two-day Lincoln Meeting?
Since 2014 the top trainer numerically has been Richard Fahey. Fahey has had 10 winners from 79 runners 12% +12.5 A/E 1.23 24 placed 30%. That’s five wins more than his nearest rivals, Richard Hannon and David O’Meara.
Interestingly, all ten of his winners were sent off at odds 12/1 & under. Nine of his ten winners came in handicap races.
All his handicap runners, starting 12/1 & under, produced the following set of results – 9 winners from 42 runners 21% +42.5 A/E 1.86 19 placed 45% (each way +58.50).
Three other trainers, who are worth noting should they have runners at this year’s fixture, are:
Roger Varian – 4 winners from 8 runners 50% +2.16 A/E 1.56 6 placed 75%.
Saeed Bin Suroor – 3 winners from 4 runners 75% +5.45 A/E 2.24.
Mark Johnston – 3 winners from 8 runners 38% +2.8 A/E 1.59 4 placed 50%.