Cheltenham stages it Festival Trial day this weekend, dear reader, and I've taken a flyer with the big handicap chase on the card. The trends look pretty strong, and I'm reasonably confident of a big run from my selection... I've also got a new poll for you; and another classic Thursday Fun from the comedy archives.
First, let's take a look forward to Saturday's Betfair Handicap Chase, and try to use the profiles of the last nine winners to find this season's primus inter pares. (Apologies for the slight 'ran out of room' issue in the below).
|Year||Winner||Best That Season||Best Last Season|
|2009||The Sawyer||1st Cl3 Hcap Chs, Newbury||1st Cl4 Chs, Chepstow, 24f|
|2008||Maljimar||2nd Cl2 Hcap Chs, CD||1st Cl3 Nov Hcp Chs, Newbury|
|2007||Whispered Secret||3rd Cl2 Hcap Chs, Newbury||4th Cl2 Hcp Chs, Ayr & Stratford|
|2005||Buckby Lane||Seasonal Debut||1st Cl2 Nov Chs, CD|
|2004||Hunters Tweed||1st Cl3 Hcap Chs, Wetherby, 21f||1st Cl3 Hcp Chs, Perth & Haydock|
|2003||Lady Cricket||2nd Cl2 Hcap Chs, Chelt, 16f||1st G2, Newbury, 17f|
|2002||Foly Pleasant||2nd G3 Hcap Chs, CD||2nd Cl2 Hcp Chs, Huntingdon D|
|2001||Young Spartacus||1st Cl2 Hcap Chs, Chepstow, 20f||2nd G1 Nov Chs, Sandown, D|
|2000||Makounji||7th, G2 Hcap Chs, Exeter, 17f||1st G2 Nov Chs, Kempton, D|
|Year||Winner||Last Time Out||Seas Runs||Course?||Distance?|
|2009||The Sawyer||1st Cl3 Hcap Chase||4||No||Yes+|
|2008||Maljimar||4th, Cl2 Hcap Chs, 17f||3||2nd||2nd|
|2007||Whispered Secret||3rd Cl2 Hcap Chs, Newbury||1||Yes||Yes+|
|2005||Buckby Lane||1st Cl2 Nov Chs, CD||0||Yes||Yes+|
|2004||Hunters Tweed||2nd Cl3 Hcp Chs, Weth 21f||3||No||Yes+|
|2003||Lady Cricket||2nd Cl2 Hcap Chs, Chelt, 16f||1||Yes||Yes|
|2002||Foly Pleasant||2nd G3 Hcap Chs, CD||2||2nd||Yes+|
|2001||Young Spartacus||2nd Cl2 Hcap Chs, Uttox, 20f||3||No||2nd|
|2000||Makounji||UR, G2 Hcap Chs, Ascot, 20f||2||No||Yes|
|2009||The Sawyer||130||9||9.00||140.00||RH Buckler|
|2007||Whispered Secret||127||8||8.00||143.00||D E Pipe|
|2005||Buckby Lane||131||9||9.00||144.00||P R Webber|
|2004||Hunters Tweed||132||8||14.00||143.00||P Beaumont|
|2003||Lady Cricket||157||9||4.50||166.00||M C Pipe|
|2002||Foly Pleasant||148||8||4.00||164.00||Miss H C Knight|
|2001||Young Spartacus||138||8||4.00||149.00||H D Daly|
|2000||Makounji||135||6||16.00||148.00||N J Henderson|
The key stats in that spreadsheet-fest are as follows:
|Age Range:||6-9 (average 8.11; 8/9 8 or 9)|
|Official Rating:||126-157 (average 136; 7/9 126-138)|
|SP:||4/1-16/1 (average c. 8/1)|
|Best Run That Season:||7/9 placed in Cl3+ Hcap Chs|
|Best Run Prev Yr:||8/9 1st, or 2nd in Cl2+ Chase|
|Key Races:||Chases at Newb, Chelt (6/9)|
|Weight:||10-00-11-10 (average 10-09; 7/9 10-09 or less)|
|Distance:||7/9 Yes; 9/9 1st or 2nd|
|8 or 9 years old?||1st / 2nd 2m5f+?||10-09 or less?||OR 126-138?||0-4 runs?|
|Seven Is My Number||yes||yes||no||no||no|
|Fit To Drive||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
The strongest trends are around eight or nine year olds winning the last eight runnings; winners having no more than four runs that season (9/9); all having won or finished second over 2m5f (the race distance) or further; and the fact that the last five winners have lugged 10-07 or less (the average for the last decade is 10-09).
This points squarely at Akilak, who was a staying on second in the race last year off a five pound higher mark; and, Fit To Drive, who was looking well placed to notch a four-timer over Saturday's course and distance when tipping up at the fourth last on his previous run. With both stables (Howard Johnson and Brendan Powell respectively) in form, it's difficult to choose between them. Slight preference is for Fit To Drive, available at 14 on Betfair at the time of writing, though at least a saver should be had on Akilak going one better on Saturday.
Selection: Fit To Drive
On a completely different note, I'm conscious that I contact you regularly with what I hope are - at least generally speaking - relevant and interesting communications. And I'm keen to get that right. We all receive myriad emails each week, and I want to optimise your Geegeez experience...
What I mean by that is that I want to know how often you'd like receive emails / blog posts from me. With that in mind, I've got another of my 'one question, two seconds to answer' polls that I'd love for you to complete - it's in the usual place, top right of the blog.
Thanks in advance for your feedback, which you can be sure I will be taking on board.
Time for a very quick reminder that tomorrow, at midday GMT, I'll be briefly reopening the doors to Horse Racing Experts. All the details are in yesterday's post (click here to read that), and if you want in, please be ready at noon tomorrow.
Finally, time for another Thursday Fun, and today I'm going with a 'guilty pleasure' of mine: Steptoe and Son. I used to watch this with my octogenarian uncle on Sunday evenings, and it brings back many a fond memory for me of my late Uncle Ken. (I wasn't alive at the time of this 1963 Royal Variety performance...)Â 😉
I'll be back tomorrow, with an email at midday about Horse Racing Experts, and a blog post later in the day where I'll be previewing the Triumph Hurdle at the fast-looming Cheltenham Festival. Look out for those, and have a great Thursday!