The best race of Huntingdon's season, the Peterborough Chase, will unfold its story at 2pm this afternoon, and there is one obvious trend as well as a number of less apparent profile pointers, to help guide us towards the winner... I hope!
The obvious trend relates to a certain Henrietta Knight and her targeting of this contest. Since 1998, Hen has won this no less than EIGHT times with four different horses.
First, it was Edredon Bleu, who won a phenomenal four Peterborough Chases. Then Best Mate, the megastar of three Gold Cups, added his own Peterborough Chase. After a couple of quiet years (second in 2003, no runner in 2004), Hen was back in 2005, as Impek ruled the roost (geddit? Hen, roost... never mind!).
2006 and 2007 were the Racing Demon years, and that brought la Knight's record to a staggering eight wins in ten years. Crikey. Since then, there have been three barren years for the Knight stable (the only runner being Racing Demon, who was fifth in 2009), but now she's back with another top notcher in Somersby.
But wait. Surely there's more to the Peterborough Chase trends than that?! Well, yes, there is.
Twelve of the last fourteen winners finished in the first five last time (five won, six were 3rd to 5th).
Only one of the last fourteen winners was priced bigger than 6/1, with seven favourites, three second favourites, and three third favourites comprising that triskaidektet (almost certainly not a word, but I've welded the thirteen bit from triskaidekaphobia - fear of the number thirteen - with the group bit from septet - group of seven - to create a group of thirteen. Phew, it's hard going today, dear reader, is it not?!)
Horses aged six to nine won thirteen of the fourteen, but this includes almost all runners in the race each year, so isn't really helpful.
As the Peterborough Chase is a Grade 2, there are various penalties in place for winners of Class 3 or higher contests. It is perhaps not surprising then that horses who are not carrying the penalties (and therefore either not in form or not as good as their rivals) have performed poorly.
Specifically, those carrying 11-04 or less have won three of the last fourteen, from a group of 42 runners, and shown a fat loss to level stakes. Those carrying 11-05 or more are eleven from 44 runners in the last fourteen renewals and show a small profit to level stakes.
Interestingly, those with the top burden of 11-10 or 11-11 have won seven from 26 starters.
Eleven of the fourteen were either not rated in UK, or had an official mark of at least 155. The trio rated lower were rated between 145 and 147. Again, it might be instructive to note that four of the eight horses rated 166 or more won here.
Finally, six of the fourteen winners were running after a break of between a fortnight and a month, with another three coming off a layoff of between one and two months.
So, what does all that mean?
Well, it probably means we're looking for a fancied runner, rated 155+ (preference for those rated 166+), carrying 11-05 or more here, having had a break of between a fortnight and two months, and who ran in the first five last time.
And the winner is... erm, Somersby.
Hen Knight's horse ticks every box going, and looks a very solid favourite over a trip and on ground that are almost certainly optimal. My one reservation is that he does tend to find one or two too good. His record in chases is three from eleven. But he's been out of the first three only once in those eleven starts.
The Nightingale also ticks the trends boxes, and looks likely to run well for the champion trainer, Paul Nicholls. And, despite running disappointingly last time in France, Tartak has course and distance form, and a touch of class on flat tracks like this.
Next Best: The Nightingale
Each Way: Tartak
Click here for the latest Peterborough Chase betting.
Now, I'm pleased to report that after last night's mercy email, I have received enough entries for the prize draw to give out all four prizes! Phew!
And I can also tell you that those entries currently have a 33% chance of winning something!
I've been really surprised at some of the emails I've received, suggesting that it's either a con or too complicated. Actually, and I'm a little sensitive this week, but I've been mildly offended by the first suggestion. I couldn't have been more transparent if I'd announced it on video, naked, in front of a pane of glass. (Now that really is a nasty image to banish from the mind!)
So, for those who thought it was complicated, here are the rules again in full:
1. Go here, and choose an offer with a bookie you're not currently signed up with.
2. Sign up and place a bet, maybe on Somersby this afternoon (best odds currently with 888sport amongst others).
3. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your name and the name of the bookie, so I can check you off.
4. Er, that's it.
I really will be giving one lucky reader Â£250 on Monday. And, as you'll get a free bet when you register, if you were going to have a bet today (or any time between now and Monday) anyway, you might as well do it through a new book and get some gratis bunce to boot.
And I'll be giving three other readers six month memberships to my Winning Trainers service, which is over 120 points up since going live at the start of August.
Or am I just being conniving? NO, I'M NOT!! Strewth.
So, there it is. Hopefully the Peterborough Chase winner, and a pile of cash to be won on Monday. Be there or be square. 😉