It’s hard to believe that a Gold Cup & King George VI winning jockey can still claim 3lb. Sam Waley-Cohen has won both those races, but still gets a useful 3lb for his troubles. He even managed to get down to 9-12, to make full use of his claim, when winning Warwick’s Classic Chase on Impulsive Star.
Impulsive Star , trained by Neil Mulholland, finished 4th in the 4m Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. The 9-year-old made a good seasonal reappearance when runner-up at Plumpton just before Christmas. The horse that beat him that day, OK Corral, won the Listed Novices Chase, which was earlier on the card.
This was the gelding’s sixth start off fences and his first win. What a race to break the maiden tag in. Coming to two out, he was headed, and it looked like the eventual runner-up, Calett Mad, had been produced to win the race. However, after the last, he was headed by Impulsive Star, who had found plenty for pressure, and went on to register a 3 ¼ length victory
Cohen is an amateur jockey who has his own dental business, but he’s also a good horseman, clearly as good as many a professional, as he demonstrated on Saturday.
Derek’s Ok Too
Another amateur jockey grabbed the headlines early on the card. This time it was top Irish amateur Derek O’Connor, who had come over to ride Ok Corral in the 3m Hampton Novices Chase. He gave his mount a lovely ride, getting the 9-year-old settled and into a nice jumping rhythm from the off. He took-up the running coming to the last and only had to be pushed out to win by six lengths. His margin of victory was a bit bigger than it might have been, if runner-up Secret Investor hadn’t made a bad mistake at the last.
Given his age, Ok Corral is fairly lightly raced, this was only his 9 th career start, but that means he remains capable of more progress. The 4m at the Cheltenham Festival has been talked about as a target for him but, on the evidence of both this season’s starts, the Nicky Henderson trained horse wouldn’t look out of place in the RSA Novices Chase come the festival.
BHA Shoe Madness
The big story off the track last week was the BHA’s announcement that, from the start of next month, all horses running under NH rules will have to be fully shod. I have to confess that I hadn’t realised that plenty of jumpers run without shoes on their hind legs.
Veteran trainer Michael Easterby isn’t happy with decision. As he thinks the new rule will be detrimental to horse welfare. Horses that over-reach and hit their front legs will suffer serious injury and perhaps never race again.
Those who support this new BHA rule argued that it brings jumps racing into line with the flat, and is being introduced to deal with the issue of horses slipping. I haven’t got the stats for horses slipping and causing serious injury to themselves.
To me this seems a rule is being introduced for the sake of it. There’s also the risk that an attempt to improve one area of horse welfare could lead to an even more serious injury risk for the horses.
The Henry De Bromhead trained Avenir D’Une Vie was returning for his first run for 12 months in the valuable Dan Moore Handicap Chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday. The 9-year-old ran well for a long way on ground that would have been plenty quick enough for him.
He was still there coming to three out. Lack of a recent-run then took its toll, and he weakened out of contention to finish last of the nine runners that completed. This was a better run than the than the distance beaten suggests, and he should be more competitive with this run under his belt.
This Weeks Stats
Last week I highlighted Sue Smith as a trainer to follow during January and, right on cue, she had a couple of winners last week.
In today’s stats section, I look at a top trainer whose hurdlers, making their debut under rules, are worth backing, and also two trainers who runners at Ascot & Haydock are worth keeping onside.
Nicky Henderson: King of The Unraced Hurdler
Nicky Henderson is arguably Britain’s top jumps’ trainer. So, it’s a bit of surprise to see that certain of his runners are being underestimated by the betting market.
Who are these runners? Well, its his hurdlers that you need to note, but not just any hurdler. The ones to focus on are those horses who are having their first start over hurdles, and have yet to run in Britain or Ireland. They could have had a run in France, or in point-to-points, but not under rules either side of the Irish Sea.
Since the January 1st 2015 such runners have produced the following set of results:
36 winners from 77 runners 47% +59.73 A/E 1.59 48 placed 62%
For a top trainer’s horses to be running 59% above market expectation is pretty good going by anyone’s standards.
Ascot and Haydock Trainers
This Saturday, the best racing over jumps is at Ascot and Haydock. Here are some trainers who are worth noting at both tracks.
Since 2015 Harry Fry is 10 winners from 30 runners 33% +18 15 50% with his hurdlers at the course. Breaking his results down by non-handicap and handicap races:
Non-handicaps – 6 winners from 17 runners 35% +1 9 placed 53%
Handicaps – 4 winners from 13 runners 31% +16.5 6 placed 45%
Robert Walford hasn’t had as many runners at Ascot as Harry Fry, but those who do run usually go well, in particular, his runners in handicaps. Since the start of 2015 he’s had:
3 winners from 6 runners 50% + 35 4 placed 67%.
Anthony Honeyball is another trainer whose runners in handicaps are worth noting. In such races he has: 2 winners from 6 runners 33% +22 3 placed 50%
Jamie Snowden doesn’t send may runners to the Lancashire track, but do note any he does send. He’s had 4 winners from 6 runners 67% +21 5 placed 83%.
Finally, two trainers who have done well in handicap chases at Haydock:
Ian Williams -3 winners from 8 runners 38% +11 4 placed 50%
Kerry Lee – 3 winners from 10 runners 30% +7 6 placed 60%
See you next week.
All the best,
for The Race Advisor