Betfair Handicap Chase Preview – 12/1 Winner?

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
2006 ------ ------ ------
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+
2006 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
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
Average: 2.11
Year Winner OR Age SP Weight Trained?
2009 The Sawyer 130 9 9.00 140.00 RH Buckler
2008 Maljimar 126 8 5.50 147.00 Nick Williams
2007 Whispered Secret 127 8 8.00 143.00 D E Pipe
2006 ------ ------ ------ ------ ------ ------
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
136.00 8.11 8.22 149.33

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?
Barbers Shop yes yes no no yes
Seven Is My Number yes yes no no no
The Sawyer no yes yes yes no
Akilak yes yes yes yes yes
Tartak no yes no no yes
Consigliere no no no no yes
Exmoor Ranger yes yes no no yes
Fit To Drive yes yes yes yes yes
Gwanako no yes no no yes
Idole First no 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

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Alternative: Akilak


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...)  😉

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!


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6 replies
  1. Avatar
    ron.goodall says:

    to matt
    steptoe @ son where great i watched that performence keep taking
    me down memory lane mill house winning the gold cup then came
    along the greatest arkle i was only ninteen when in the 1966 hennessy stalbridge colonist receiving 35lbs beat him their was
    mist in my eyes those were the days ron goodall

  2. Avatar
    james says:

    hello re -matt bisingo like all this type of thing and years of trialing yet to find long term site that produces the goods – punters like me must find it very difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff – who is who and do they multi-task –
    recent two guys from manchester callin themselves PENNINE BLOODSTOCK AGENTS wanted mug punters to place heavy bets for them as they said jockey club forbids them doing this themselves – it scams like this that makes it difficult for genuine people

  3. Avatar
    Peter says:

    Hi Matt, you wished me a good weekend in your e-mail and I’ve just had the best days racing of my life on Saturday at Cheltenham. I did a £3 treble on baccalaureate 100-1 ,
    hey big spender 5-1 and taranis 16-1 which gave me £30,906. It’s a day which will live long in my memory. Isn’t it wonderful when everything goes right for once.
    Best wishes Pete.

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Good grief Peter, that’s absolutely amazing!

      Very well done Sir. 10,301-1 treble is staggeringly good. Have a beer for me! 🙂


  4. Avatar
    Paul says:

    Hey Peter!

    Absolutely fantastic well done mate,

    It’s news like that that gives hope we’ll have our payday one day.


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