After his 7 winners on Monday we all know Nicky Hendersonâ€™s string are in fine form, but which other handlers are worth following this week?
JIM BEST (4 winners from his last 6 runners, 67% strike-rate): Based in East Sussex the Jim Best team have been steadily making a name for themselves over the past four seasons and although theyâ€™ve only had 6 winners so far this campaign it could be profitable to know that 4 of those came in the last few weeks, and the most recent on Wednesday. Yes, like a lot of the smaller yards the only downside when they hit a purple patch is that their runners are thin on the ground, but looking ahead at their entries they do have quite a few engaged right up until Sunday to keep an eye on. The final thing to note is that most of their winners come with their hurdlers, and this trend is looking good again this season with five hurdles wins and the other coming in a NH Flat race.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Uttoxeter (4 from 31, 13%), Newbury (0 from 1), Doncaster (1 from 2, 50%) & Leicester (0 from 8)
JOHN RYAN (3 winners from his last 6 runners, 50% strike-rate): Another that doesnâ€™t have the biggest strings and, therefore, not many runners each day, are certainly firing at the moment. Three winners on the spin (25/1, 6/1 & 4/7) was proceeded by a 33/1 third at Lingfield on Wednesday. Yes, looking at their entries theyâ€™ve only got one heading to Wolverhampton next Monday, but it could be worth the wait! In terms of jockeys Kirsty Milczarek and Adam Kirby tend to get booked when available, while of their 12 victories this season 8 have come on the all weather tracks â€“ they have already bettered 2010â€™s tally, but need 8 more to make this their best-ever year.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Wolverhampton (4 from 63, 6%)
MICHAEL EASTERBY (3 winners from his last 7 runners, 43% strike-rate):Â Expect to see them operating over both codes at this time of year, and with recent winners over jumps at Wetherby and Hexham alongside a victory on the level at Wolverhampton its clear theyâ€™ve got their whole string in fine fettle. Starting with their flat stats they are currently on the 37 winner mark, with six coming on the all weather tracks, where they do have plenty of runners. However, pay close attention to anything they send south to Lingfield â€“ in recent years they are 9 from 23 (39%) there. Moving onto the jumps they only had 9 winners last season, so with 5 already they are over halfway to bettering that tally. Looking ahead they do have a couple engaged at Carlisle on Sunday, but they have not had the best of times at that northern track in the past 5 seasons (0 from 17).
Upcoming entries and track stats: Newbury (0 from 1), Wolverhampton (AW) (28 from 241, 12%), Bangor (2 from 44) & Carlisle (0 from 17)
NICKY HENDERSON (19 winners from his last 46 runners, 41% strike-rate): It was â€˜Seven Heavenâ€™ at Seven Barrows on Monday and although the bookies took a pounding they must be thanking their lucky stars it wasnâ€™t a Saturday afternoon. It was back to earth with a bang on Tuesday as Hendersonâ€™s only two runners, both at Lingfield, unseated their pilots, but I think itâ€™s fair to say at least one of those was in the process of dotting up â€“ the other came to grief too early to know. Heâ€™s still trailing Nicholls by a fair amount in the prize money stakes, while Long Run getting turned over by Nichollsâ€™ old warrior Kauto Star didnâ€™t help either. That said, you can expect this championship battle to run and run through the season and with his Binocular odds-on to land Saturdayâ€™s Fighting Fifth Hurdle up at Newcastle then a win there will help. For me, despite all those recent wins I would think Mr Henderson is a tiny bit worried about the jumping of his runners at the moment, so it could be extra training at Seven Barrows in the next week or two. A couple of Tuesday fallers were added to Oscar Whisky taking a tumble on Saturday, while despite winning Mossley and Solix where hardly impressive in the jumping department, while if you wanted to be ultra-critical then you could also add Long Run to that list. Finally, keep an eye on any bumper runners in the coming months â€“ over the last 5 seasons theyâ€™ve had a staggering 92 winners from just 307 runners in that sphere.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Newbury (51 from 221, 23%), Taunton (7 from 33, 21%), Doncaster (10 from 55, 18%), Bangor (12 from 46, 26%), Towcester (13 from 45, 29%), Newcastle (1 from 3, 33%) & Leicester (9 from 19, 47%)
EMMA LAVELLE (11 winners from her last 29 runners, 38% strike-rate): The first of the ladies to feature on this weekâ€™s list after they followed a double at Kempton on Monday with another brace at Lingfield on Tuesday - making it four wins from their last 4 runners. Jockey Jack Doyle has been onboard 7 of the stableâ€™s last 9 winners, but they are also using young Stephen Oâ€™Donovan and taking advantage of his 7lb claim. So far this season they are operating around the +Â£65 level stakes profit mark and with 19 winners already there is a very good chance they can make this their best-ever season â€“ with 30 to beat. They are also prone to the odd NH Flat winner â€“ having already had 3 from just 8 runners this season.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Newbury (4 from 62, 6%), Uttoxeter (7 from 32, 22%), Doncaster (2 from 7, 29%) & Leicester (2 from 10, 20%)
GEORGE MARGARSON (4 winners from his last 13 runners, 31% strike-rate): The first of the â€˜flat onlyâ€™ trainers to figure this week and as we enter the all weather season itâ€™s always handy to know which handlers are doing well through the winter months on the sand surfaces. They only had 9 winners on the green stuff in 2011, but with 7 AW victories already then they can end the year on a high. Of the four AW tracks Southwell (24%) and Wolverhampton (23%) are the places they do best, so keep that in mind, while impressive recent winners Excellent Aim and Take Cover could easily go in again if turned out quickly. As well as that pair it could be significant that I See You, who won at Kempton last week, is entered at both Wolverhampton and Kempton later this week â€“ suggesting the yard are keen to run him again soon.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Kempton (2 from 42, 5%) & Wolverhampton (5 from 23, 22%)
JONJO Oâ€™NEILL (5 winners from his last 23 runners, 22% strike-rate): Despite not having the strike-rate that would normally get a trainer an entry in this feature we took a punt on the Oâ€™Neill team last week, as there were a few tiny signs they were coming into form â€“ and we were right! 33/1 and 7/2 winners last Thursday gave us an instant return, while they added another three, including a 14/1 shot at Ffos Las on Monday. Yes, they do have quite a few runners, but 8 of their last 10 have finished third or better, while despite being one of the bigger outfits a lot of theirs can go off at decent prices - backed up with Synchronised (under McCoy) taking Â third last Saturday at 25/1. Jockey Richie McLernon gets a lot of the scraps if the champ is not around to ride, but heâ€™s more than an able deputy and has already ridden four successes for the yard since the middle of the month. In terms of winners theyâ€™ve broken the 100 mark in 7 of the last 10 seasons and after last week are now sitting pretty with 56 successes this term.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Uttoxeter (30 from 271, 11%), Taunton (0 from 28), Newbury (6 from 87, 7%), Doncaster (2 from 24, 8%), Bangor (28 from 186, 15%), Towcester (29 from 132, 22%), Leicester (8 from 47, 17%) & Carlisle (6 from 50, 12%)
DONALD McCAIN (8 winners from his last 38 runners, 21% strike-rate): Heâ€™s already becoming a punters pal in the big Saturday races and with Wymott, Peddlers Cross and Overturn all set to run this weekend then there is every chance theyâ€™ll be bagging a few more high-profile successes. They are another yard that does have plenty of runners, so to maintain this sort of strike-rate is made much harder. Ten of their last 17 runners have finished third or better, while main jockey Jason Maguire has recently returned from injury better than ever â€“ The Grand National-winning pilot is even chartering a helicopter to take him between Bangor and Newcastle on Saturday so he can ride both Peddlers and Overturn! They ended last season bang-on 100 winners, but with 57 already this term then you can expect them to smash that as they move another notch up the training ranks, and with a few more seasons like this it wonâ€™t be long before they are challenging the likes of Nicholls and Henderson. If the last three seasons are anything to go by then you can expect to see them having more winners over hurdles than fences and that trend looks like continuing this term with 40 of their 57 over the smaller obstacles.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Uttoxeter (34 from 222, 15%), Doncaster (5 from 45, 11%), Newbury (4 from 29, 14%), Musselburgh (4 from 36, 11%), Newcastle (7 from 45, 16%), Bangor (51 from 315, 16%) & Towcester (7 from 70, 10%)
This Weekâ€™s Cold Trainers..........
RICHARD PHILLIPS (80 days and 35 runners without a winner): Itâ€™s been almost 3 months now since the Richard Phillips team ended the day with a winner and although they are not the biggest yards they have got a few scattered around the country over the next 4-5 days. True, they had one finish second at Fontwell on Wednesday, which could be a sign of better times ahead, but until they fire in that all important winner the advice is to treat their runners with caution â€“ especially as before that second they also had a run of nine all unplaced. So far this NH season theyâ€™ve only grabbed 1 winner from 49 runners (2%), but with only 8 successes the season before then it hasnâ€™t really looked good for a while now.
SIR HENRY CECIL (40 days and 27 runners without a winner): Okay so if Sir Henry found himself on the cold list for the rest of the year I donâ€™t really think heâ€™ll care after the turf season heâ€™s had (best-ever total prize won this season)! That said, they are still having the odd all weather runner, but based on the fact his horses will always be popular with punters â€“ just because his name is next to the horse â€“ then there could be an angle in the closing few weeks of the year to lay a few of his on the sand tracks.
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