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Thread: The thoughts of the handicappers.

  1. #21
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    I'd say that the middling Irish hurdlers are worth maybe 7lbs more on the British handicap scale, but most of the time the British handicappers seem to be aware of this. Plenty of Gordon Elliott's have a higher mark in Britain than in Ireland but are still competitive there.

    The opposite is the case on the flat, though, where UK horses seem generally well treated in Irish handicaps.

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  3. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post

    The opposite is the case on the flat, though, where UK horses seem generally well treated in Irish handicaps.
    I agree completely with that. I just thought it was strange the horse only had an extra 3lbs today.

  4. #23
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    The sample sizes are far too small to form any conclusion about the British Flat horses in irish handicaps.

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    Quote Originally Posted by davidjohnson View Post
    The sample sizes are far too small to form any conclusion about the British Flat horses in irish handicaps.
    The sample sizes are too small to form any conclusion with statistical proof, but you can still use phrases like "might be" and "seem", which is fair enough if you are looking for indicators for a bet, as opposed to reasons to hang a person, for example, or put them in jail.

  6. #25
    SlimChance
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    The sample sizes are too small to form any conclusion with statistical proof, but you can still use phrases like "might be" and "seem", which is fair enough if you are looking for indicators for a bet, as opposed to reasons to hang a person, for example, or put them in jail.

  7. #26
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    I'll agree with you that well-treated British handicappers have a good record in irish handicaps. But they also seem to do well in British handicaps as well. But any suggestion that the British horse population as a whole is rated on a different and advantageous scale to their Irish counterpoints is flawed imo.

  8. #27
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    I suppose with prize money it would make sense to run a well handicapped British flat horse in Ireland but the Irish hurdlers going across to Britian it seems to be to exploit more lenient marks and/or softer opposition.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimChance View Post
    I suppose with prize money it would make sense to run a well handicapped British flat horse in Ireland but the Irish hurdlers going across to Britian it seems to be to exploit more lenient marks and/or softer opposition.
    There's not much point travelling a horse in either direction unless it is well handicapped.

  10. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    There's not much point travelling a horse in either direction unless it is well handicapped.
    Agreed but Gordon Elliot does exploit poor races. So in general there is no concrete evidence to suggest Irish hurdlers are well in when running in Britain?



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    Last edited by SlimChance; 23rd October 2011 at 12:44 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimChance View Post
    Agreed but Gordon Elliot does exploit poor races. So in general there is no concrete evidence to suggest Irish hurdlers are well in when running in Britain?
    .
    Generally the British handicapper bumps them up at least 7lbs compared to their Irish mark, often a good bit more. Cuckoo was put up only 3lbs, hence the Spotlight remark about him being interesting off his British mark.

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    The Timeform View from this weekend, including Camelot and the Racing Post Trophy.

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    I know Timeform get stick for rushing out ratings to gain publicity, but surely it doesn't take the BHA 3 months to put a figure on the Racing Post Trophy.

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    Big guns rolled out as focus changes
    WE'VE reached the time of year where the Flat season draws to a close and the jumps scene cranks up a notch.

    Saturday saw the final Group 1 of the British Flat seasonand Matthew Tester gives his views on whether a star was born as Camelot cemented his position as ante-post favourite for the Derby.

    A handful of the more established names among the jumping fraternity returned to action at Aintreeand Chepstow, and we take a closer look at what they achieved there too.

    IS CAMELOT KING OF THE CASTLE?

    Did O'Brien miss a trick? asks Matthew Tester.

    Saturday saw an impressive winner of the Racing Post Trophy in Camelot. He only had to be shaken up to go from last to first and he won by two and a quarter lengths.But by how far could he have won? Three lengths, four, five? He made a great impression. However, we have all seen other horses apparently cruising but then finding little off the bit. He might have won by a wide margin or he might not. So how does one rate him?

    The problem for the European handicappers is that he has left us to guess. And is it fair to everyone to guess high enough to make him the champion juvenile?

    In my opinion, had Joseph O'Brien asked himto win by the widest possible margin then they might have had the top-rated two-year-old. How high he gets will be decided when we all meet up in December. My international colleagues have expressed a range of opinions. You are going to have to wait for the release of the International Classifications in January to find out.

    READING THE RACE

    Three-runner races have the habit of throwing up curious results- especially if they are very slowly run, writes John de Moraville.

    Such was the case at Aintree on Saturday when Albertas Run made all the running to land the Betfred Monet's Garden Old Roan Chase.

    Nothing surprising about the winner - dual hero of Cheltenham's Ryanair and past winner of the John Smith's Melling Chase over Saturday's course and distance - given that odds-on favourite Master Minded failed to fire.

    But what to make of runner-up Pure Faith, a modest fourth in a Cheltenham novices' chase the previous weekend yet beaten just a length by Albertas Run from 22lb out of the handicap? And for a few strides he looked like causing a 20-1 shock.

    Saturday's event was run at a crawl - 3.70 seconds slower than the 0-135 handicap won later in the afternoon by Hector's Choice - which strongly implies that Albertas Run, a distant fourth behind Monet's Garden on unsuitably soft ground on his reappearance in the race last season, did not need to run to his 168 rating to win. And that the race-fit Pure Faith was flattered to have run him so close.

    Pure Faith went into the Old Roan with a chase mark of 136, down from the 140 he achieved when impressing in a 2m novices chase at Aintree back in May. The seven-year-old picked up more than £10,000 for finishing second on Saturday - and also a rise of 6lb to 142 - which represents a decent day's work for his shrewd trainer Peter Bowen.

    Paul Nicholls's original plan was to saddle Tataniano in the Old Roan but sent him instead to Chepstow, resulting in a deeply impressive eight lengths victory for this one-time top novice.

    Tataniano looked a future star when blitzing Aintree's Grade 1 Maghull Novices Chase on Grand National day last year, a performance which left him sharing the 2009-10 novice chasing crown with subsequent Champion Chase hero Sizing Europe.

    Training problems restricted him to just two unsuccessful outings last season but, firing again on all cylinders, the seven-year-old, upped 9lb to 169, is back within touching distance of the top two-milers.

    A STAR OF THE FUTURE?

    The jumps season is gathering pace and there were a couple of decent hurdle races at Chepstow on Saturday, writes Chris Nash.

    The most impressive performance came from Fingal Bay who won the Grade 2 Persian War Novice Hurdle. He had won his only bumper race and this was a taking effort on his hurdling debut. He beat Baile Anrai (pre-race rating 121) bysix lengths and had Current Event (pre-race 135) a further 37 lengths back in third, although it is fair to assume that Hard To Swallow would have filled that place but for falling two out. I do not have to give the winner an official rating as hurdlers must run a minimum of two times before qualifying for a handicap mark but it is still necessary to put a figure to the performance.

    This is never easy with the vast majority of runners unexposed and returning from considerable absences so I looked to the following handicap for clues. The Totepool Silver Trophy was run over the same course and distance 35 minutes later. This year's renewal looked highly competitive with 18 runners going to post and it was won in taking fashionby the second season hurdler Arthurian Legend. He had won twice last year and was making his handicap debut off 125 here. In beating Global Power and Robinson Collonges by two and a half lengths and the same I had him running to a figure of 133+ and his mark will be raised 9lb to 134.

    Comparing the races is an inexact science but the splits through the contests were very similar which gives some credence to the comparison - Arthurian Legend recorded marginally the quicker time (the equivalent of a 2-3lb better performance) but Fingal Bay carried 8lb more weight. This suggests that Fingal Bay produced a 5-6lb better performance than Arthurian Legend and so I have pencilled in a figure of 139+ for his achievement on Saturday. This has Baile Anrai producing a career best that will see his rating rise to 133 and Hard To Swallow can be estimated at running somewhere between 125 and 130.

    It is early days for the winner and it will be necessary to see the form of this race tested in the coming weeks but it is fair to say that it would have been difficult for him to have turned in a much better hurdling debut and he is a horse likely to have several high profile engagements this season.
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

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    good call Gearoid

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    Al in the ascendancy in Charlie Hall


    There were no fewer than three meetings on Saturday that staged either graded or Listed action and all feature in this week's blog. Weird Al predictably takes top billing following his step up the chasing ladder in the Charlie Hall, and John de Moraville gives his view on the eight-year-old's prospects of toppling Long Run later in the season.

    WEIRD AL COMES OF AGE

    Weird Al staked an early claim to Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup glory with Saturday's authoritative Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase win at Wetherby, writes John de Moraville.

    The injury-plagued eight-year-old, on debut for the in-form Donald McCain stable, oozed class in giving weight and a comfortable beating to heavily-backed favourite Time For Rupert.

    Weird Al, cashing in on the morning withdrawal of last year's Hennessy hero Diamond Harry (168), took his chasing record to an impressive five wins from just seven starts, in the process boosting his rating by 13lb to 164.

    That still leaves him plenty to find with Gold Cup title-holder and clear ante-post favourite Long Run (182) but, mathematically, Saturday's performance could have been rated higher.

    Over the years, we may have been guilty of over-rating Charlie Hall winners and have taken a conservative view on Weird Al, whogave Time For Rupert (159) 3lb and a beating of just over three lengths. He might prove capable of leaving his new mark behind.

    POURING IT ON

    The Listed WilliamHill.com Handicap Hurdle was run on the final day that form can be taken into account for the Greatwood Hurdle, weights for which are out this week, writes Dave Dickinson.

    The valuable trial did not disappoint, with the majority of the field being in with a chance jumping two out. Two of the co-favourites had quickened seven lengths clear of the rest by the line and with fifth home, Drill Sergeant, seemingly on a going day and used as a benchmark, Brampour and Via Galilei have gone up by 10lband 8lb respectively.

    Both the first and second were high class Flat horses in their time but the younger Brampour may have more scope for further improvement than the horse he narrowly defeated. Via Galilei has already made the frame in major handicaps at Sandown and Aintree and looks a two miler through and through. Brampour, however, was running in only his fifth hurdle and put up very much his best hurdling performance.

    One thing the handicapper cannot take into account is potential stamina. Brampour's Flat win as a two-year-old came over 1m2f and he was placed in a 1m7f Listed race at three. He may well run off his new mark in the Greatwood, maybe under the promising amateur who gave him such afine ride at the weekend, but there is every chance that he will eventually prove better suited by further than 2m.

    SLUMBER PARTY

    The majority of racehorse owners are rarely fortunate enough to have one live chance in a black-type race, but Prince Khalid Abdulla has fantastic strength in depth and owned the first three in the market in Saturday's Listed James Seymour Stakes over 1m2f at Newmarket and they provided him with a one-two-four, writes Greg Pearson.

    The average performance figure achieved by the winner of this race since the year 2000 is 110, although that number is dragged down by 2004-winner Spanish Don, who ran only to 100 and never won another race. The highest level of performance recorded by a winner in recent years is Island House in 2002, who ran to 114.

    I have Slumber running to a figure of 110 (up 7lb) in beating Dux Scholar by one and three quarter lengths, with the runner-up at 111 under his 4lb penalty. Dux Scholar is proving admirably consistent, running to within 2lb of his 112 rating on his last five starts. The veteran Newmarket-specialist Classic Punch was beatenfive and half lengths in third and ran to a rating of 100, which is a 1lb improvement on his pre-race mark, though Jet Away came up some way short of what he'd done at York last time (rated 114, ran to only 100) back in fourth.
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

  17. #36
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    King edges out Pateese as standout performer
    THE jumps handicappers take responsibility for this week's blog and the hurdles team of Dave Dickinson and Martin Greenwood each flag up progressive sorts we could hear a lot more of in the coming months. Also, Mark Olley touches on what proved an excellent Wincanton meeting for Paul Nicholls and gives his verdict on the trainer's one-two in the feature.

    GREATWOOD EXPECTATIONS

    Sandown's Bet @Bluesq.com Handicap Hurdle looked an open enough race on paper but it was turned into a cakewalk by the Philip Hobbs-trained Pateese, writes Dave Dickinson.

    Yes, holes can bepicked in the form, four of the next six home were making their seasonal reappearance and the tape went back at the start with the field not exactly in the best of lines, which meant one or two rivals were not able to adopt the handy position that the winner was.

    The more positive view is that second and third are both lightly raced four-year-olds with their best surely still ahead of them. Add to that the fact that last year's second in this race, Sircozy, ran off the same mark as a year ago but could only finished fifth this time and the form begins to take on a solid enough look for the time of year.

    Pateese was 10-12 lengths clear at the last and was eased significantly on the run to the line. I have put the runner-up, Pantxoa, up 1lb to 130 and Pateese to 143, a rise of 15lb using Paintball as the benchmark but allowing him a pound for the mistake he made.

    Next weekend's Greatwood Hurdle becomes the obvious target, particularly if Overturn bypasses the race enabling Pateese to run from in the handicap proper, so the shortening of his ante-post price seems justified.

    One word of caution however, the Greatwood has for some years been a pivotal race in the 2m hurdling season and has a habit of being won by horses that become Champion Hurdle contenders. Even off 143, Pateese is surely still some way short of that.

    This time of year I field a fair few phone calls from owners and trainers whose horses are technically qualified for a mark but come Tuesday morning don't get one published. There are a number of reasons why this might happen. For instance, horses that have been beaten out of sight or heavily eased in their races we might wish to see run in another novice hurdle. That is not the sole reason though.

    To illustrate the point, consider my reading of Exeter's 2.20 race on Tuesday, won by 4-9 favourite Jump City. This horse was just over two lengths and 7lb behind the 144-rated Smad Place on his hurdles debut last season and so he now gets a mark of 135. Jump City didn't appear to win the Exeter race with much in hand and only two of the next ten home had run over hurdles prior to this. Unfortunately for me, both are now qualified for marks.

    I have used the winner as my Exeter benchmark for now and that may be correct in the long term but it is flimsy evidence on which to base an opening mark. I have therefore left both horse's rating non-published for now.

    If connections ring up I will explain what I have done and they can use a rating based through Jump City if they wish to. This course of action may generate a couple of phone calls. Publishing the ratings would very probably generate a couple of ‘are you raving bonkers?' type phone calls instead, however, so this route is preferable.

    KINGMAKER

    Easily the most impressive winner in my division this week was King Of The Night, who turned the Pertemps qualifier at Kempton last Monday into a procession, writes Martin Greenwood.

    Racingoff a mark of 143 courtesy of a cosy win off 8lb lower at Newton Abbot on his reappearance earlier in October, King Of The Night travelled supremely well off the pace and sluiced through the field at will to lead at the last and effortlessly pull five lengths clear of the rest.

    It is incredibly difficult to be sure how much is left in the tank in instances like this, but, for now, I have added an extra stone to his rating which is now 157.

    King Of The Night will almost certainly be able to hold his own out of handicap company and it will be interesting to see if connections choose to step up to Listed/Pattern level next time. While he isn't in stable mate Big Buck's calibre just yet, he is certainly a very bright prospect in his own right.

    THE MINACK STEALS THE SHOW

    The Badger Ales Handicap Chase at Wincanton on Saturday rounded off an excellent afternoon for Paul Nicholls as his one-two, courtesy of The Minack and Meanus Dandy, made for his fifth course winner of the afternoon, writes Mark Olley.

    Meanus Dandy was bidding to repeat his 2010 success in the race and as he kicked eight lengths clear going over three out he looked to have the race in the bag. However, the very positive tactics told in the end as The Minack gradually wore him down.

    The Paul Nicholls duo pulled nine lengths clear of the consistent Benbane Head, in third, and I have rated the race around him. Meanus Dandy posted a figure of 138 when winning last year and I have him 2lb better this time with a career high rating of 140. He unseated his rider in the Becher Chase at Aintree subsequently and rather lost his way, but he clearly relishes a flat 3m+ and decent ground.

    The Minack moves to a new figure of 150, up 9lb, and as this was only his fifth chase start there is surely further improvement now he has proven his stamina at 3m+.

    I visited the Minack Theatre, from where the gelding gets hisname, while in Cornwall this summer and had a truly memorable time at this spectacular landmark. I highly recommend a visit to anyone who is in the area and will be keeping a close eye on the horse of the same name from now on too.
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

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    Endeavour shines at great Open meeting
    LAST weekend saw the first of the jumps season's flagship meetings at Cheltenham and it certainly didn't disappoint. The Paddy Power Gold Cup was, as ever, the highlight and Great Endeavour's popular success predictably leads this week's blog. There was some high-quality action amongst the novice hurdlers too, on which Dave Dickinson gives his view.

    GREAT'S ENDEAVOUR

    The Paddy Power Gold Cup has an illustrious roll of honour and Great Endeavour added his name to a list that includes Imperial Commander, Exotic Dancer and Our Vic, with an impressive victory on Saturday, writes Mark Olley.

    Top-weight Poquelin's rating of 170 ensured that around forty per cent of the field had to run from out of the handicap, but Great Endeavour was not one of those and he confirmed his liking for Cheltenham. Last season he could manage only sixth, from a mark of 142, but this time around he demolished a competitivefield from a figure of 147.

    Due to the ease of victory, I allowed 9lb for the seven-length winning margin and that takes Great Endeavour to a career high rating of 157. He has few miles on the clock, this being only his ninth chase start, and he'll look well in should he take his chance in the Hennessy under a 4lb penalty.

    Martin Pipe won this race eight times and son David was notably moved to register the stable's first success since he took over the licence.

    Quantitativeeasing and Divers, who fought out the finish to the Centenary Novices' Handicap at the Festival, filled the minor places and maintained the good record that second- season chasers have in this race. Quantitativeeasing moves up 1lb to a new mark of 145, while Divers, who raced from 5lb out of the weights, is now on 142.

    Wishfull Thinking was backed into favouritism, but probably did too much out in front and didn't jump in the spectacular style that was a trademark for much of last season. Philip Hobbs reported afterwards that he thought he would benefit from the race.

    NOVICES START TO SHINE

    Steps To Freedom's win in the Grade 2 novice hurdle on day one of the Open Meeting came in the equivalent race that Cue Card had taken 12 months earlier and in far more eyecatching style, writes Dave Dickinson. The times of the two races are almost identical but Cue Card's was on officially slower ground.

    The first two home on Friday both boast some quality Flat form in the past and rating them through Ohio Gold and Absolutlyfantastic gives them figures of 147 and 142 respectively, setting a decent but not insurmountable standards for later novice events.

    French import Hinterland won Saturday's Grade 2 JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial in some style and, assessed through Jackies Solitaire, Secret Edge and Bradbury, goes to the top of the current juvenile tree with a tentative figure in the low 140's. Promising as he was, he did not string his rivals out in the same manner his stable-companionSam Winner had in the race a year earlier and his time was over a second slower on officially identical ground.

    KNOXVILLE

    Last week I commented on a fast improving Paul Nicholls-trained gelding in King of The Night, and this week another Ditcheat inmate took a big leap in the ratings in the shape of the ex-Howard Johnson-trained The Knoxs.

    Now successful in five of his seven completed starts, The Knoxs put behind him some dodgy jumping over fences for his former stable (he still managed to win two of his four starts in novice chases last season) and reportedly some shoddy schooling over the larger obstacles at his new yard switched back to hurdles.

    Despite his lack over prowess over fences, he possesses an awful amount of ability and justified short odds from a mark of 132 in the latest Pertemps qualifier at Exeter last Wednesday in impressive fashion.

    Tanking along from the outset, The Knoxs came through to lead before the home straight and, despite jumping less than fluently, had only to be nudged along to pull around five lengths clear of stable-companion Five Dream, the pair nearly thirty lengths clear of the rest.

    The winning distance didn't do justice to the superiority of the performance, and for now, he has been raised 18lb to 150. Goodness knows what he will be capable of if and when he learns to jump with acumen!
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

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    Two weekends, two Champion contenders
    THERE'S a lot to cover in this week's blog, with the period top and tailed by showcase weekends at Cheltenham and then Haydock and Ascot. Kauto Star's heroics are dealt with separately in Phil Smith's Head of Handicapping blog but pretty much everything else is covered from a week of informative clashes, from Brampour's Greatwood success to Master Minded and Overturn's big days at Ascot. Read on...


    YOUNG GUNS MAKE THEIR MARK

    Last Sunday's Greatwood Hurdle had the sort of finish that you look for as a handicapper, at least it would have if Pateese had not been officially 10lb well in, writes Dave Dickinson.

    The aforementioned Pateese started favourite but, acknowledging he was denied a clear run and less than fluent at the final two hurdles, nevertravelled like a horse with 10lb in hand. Pantxoa did nothing to let Pateese's Sandown form down when perfectly competitive in a decent race at Ascot on Friday so room for manoeuvre is somewhat limited. I have dropped Pateese 3lb to 140 to allow him a drop in class to reboot his career.

    The Greatwood itself produced a pulsating finish with Brampour staying on strongly fromsome way back to gain the day. I used Via Galilei - so close to Brampour at Ascot previously - as my benchmark, moving Brampour up another 9lb to 158. To put the run into context, last season there were five horses within eight lengths of the winner Menorah (who won the race off a 2lb higher mark than Brampour), this year there were eight. Taking a strict line through Olofi, who ran well in both contests, Brampour comes out roughly 5lb inferior to Menorah. And come Champion Hurdle day, Menorah came up short. One rider to this, I remain of the opinion that Brampour will thrive when there is a greater emphasis on stamina.

    Another race to leave a smile on this handicapper's face was Saturday's Betfair Hurdle (for four-year-olds only), won by Grandouet. Runner-up Marsh Warbler (148) gave 8lb and a length beating to Domtaline (140), who I was about to drop to 139 anyway. Domtaline himself was seven lengths ahead of Rigidity (132) and another eight in front of No Planning, yet to be published but whom I had running to 124 on his winning debut. No need looking for a benchmark here, I've got four! The problem is estimating just how far Grandouet could have won if pushed out right to the line. My take on that was another eight lengths so Grandouet goes up to 164.

    So two four-year-olds with Champion Hurdle pretentions but they could not be more different. Grandouet looks to have speed to burn and any Champion Hurdle doubts for him revolve around the fact that many of us thought he was the most likely winner of last season's Triumph going into the race. He duly led going to the last only to get run out of it up the hill.

    BAYWATCH

    Some promising types lined up in the Grade 2 Neptune Investment Management Hyde Novices' Hurdle over 2m5f on the Sunday of Cheltenham's Open meeting, writes Martin Greenwood.

    Favourite on the strength of his victory in a similar event at Chepstow on his hurdling debut, Fingal Bay kept his unbeaten record intact and put himself on the top of the embryonicstaying novice hurdle list in the process. Fingal Bay, who we had performing to around 140 at Chepstow, bettered that form by beating the much-improved Barbatos by three and a half lengths, staying on very strongly in the closing stages having taken up the running at the fourth last.

    The time comparison compared with the handicap earlier in the afternoon suggests 144, as does the average standard covering the last five renewals of the race, and with the third horse, the 132-rated Polisky, being beaten five lengths and receiving 7lb, the winner looks to have 144 written all over him, for now!

    STILL THE MASTER

    On a day Kauto Star's owner Clive Smith and trainer Paul Nicholls will never forget, their Master Minded set the Ditcheat bandwagon rolling in sumptuous style in Ascot's Amlin 1965 Chase, writes John de Moraville.

    By giving 4lb and a convincing three-lengths beating to old rival Somersby, the dual Queen Mother Champion Chase winner repeated his 2010 victory in the 2m 3f feature and banished the memories of his lacklustre Aintree comeback.

    The placed horses, Somersby (166) and Medermit (157), split by nine lengths at level weights, ran their races to the pound indicating that Master Minded, who went into Saturday's showdown with a rating of 178, had performed to a mark of 175+.

    That is the eleventh occasion that the remarkable eight-year-old, now bound for Boxing Day's King George and a possible clash with his even more illustrious stable-mate, has recorded a performance figure of 170 or more.

    WHISKY TURNED OVER

    The feature hurdle race oflast weekend in Britain was the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle run at Ascot on Saturday, writes Chris Nash.

    It saw the return of Oscar Whisky, who had finished third in the Champion Hurdle last season before winning the 2m4f Aintree Hurdle. He arrived with a pre-race rating of 165 and looked to have a task on to give 8lb to the 164 rated Overturn. Going to the last flight it looked as if there would be a terrific scrap between them up the run-in but Oscar Whisky fell leaving Overturn to waltz home.

    Opinions will be divided as to who would have prevailed but I am sure it would have been a close finish. If Overturn has run to his mark of 164 then Oscar Whisky would have run to 170+ and thereby bettered his efforts of last season. Although this is not impossible (the race produced a course record time despite the winner being eased when left clear) I am happier to take the more reserved view for now and suggest that Oscar Whisky ran to his rating 165 and Overturn to just 157. However the race is interpreted it is fair to say that both horses put up decent performances and high profile races will remain firmly on their agendas.
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

  20. #39
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    Sivola De Sivola takes advantage in Pertemps

    We have some variety on offer this week with both Flat and jumps covered. The highlight of the week was of course the Hennessy meeting and a feature on the big race itself can be found in Phil Smith's Head of Handicapping blog. In this section you can find articles covering more action at the Hennessy meeting, as well as the FightingFifth Hurdle and even something from abroad!

    For the fourth consecutive year, the favourite has triumphed in the Pertemps Hurdle Qualifier on the Friday of the Newbury Hennessy meeting, writes Martin Greenwood.

    Normally I would be a little agitated at such a stat. Why are the majority of the punting public managing to find the winner in a supposedly competitive race?

    The bare facts, however, hide a crucial point. Three of those winners had already been raised in the ratings by the handicapper in question [me] but they were all allowed to run off their previous inferior marks.

    You may well ask why this situation is allowed to happen and for those of you who are not up to speed with how the system works, I will enlighten you.

    Any horse who runs on a Sunday to a Saturday inclusive and has its rating altered has got until the following Friday to run under its old mark (or under a penalty in the case of a winner).

    The recent winner of the Newbury race, Sivola de Sivola, is a good example. He ran his best race to date (at that time) when fifth to the highly promising Fingal Bay in the Grade 2 novice on the Sunday of the Cheltenham Open meeting (on the 13th November).

    I raised him from 122 to 128after that run, but the horse's connections had until the 25th November to take advantage of his old mark, and he duly obliged at 7-2 by five lengths, earning himself a new rating of 132. Obviously if he had to carry an extra 6lb, then both his starting price and the result would have in theory been much more competitive.

    The 2010 and 2008 versions of the same race had very similar patterns. Ballydub had 7lb in hand when winning the latter at 5-4 having finished second at the same Cheltenham meeting, while Barafundle came good last year after chasing home Grands Crus at Haydock, and again was due a 7lb raise in the ratings.

    While I can gain some solace from the fact that I was right to raise each of the three winners, it is slightly irksome that a race as supposedly competitive as the one at Newbury is rarely run on a level playing field.

    Connections of the winners, of course, won‘t care a jot. Connections of the beaten horses may well be left rueing the way the system works.

    NEWCASTLE'S STAR TURN

    Newcastle's stanJames.com Fighting Fifth Hurdle became another notch on the bedpost of the extraordinary Overturn, who in the process became the first horse to complete the Northumberland Plate/Fighting Fifth double at the Gosforth Parktrack, writes Dave Dickinson.

    Add to those wins a Galway Hurdle and a Chester Cup and Donald McCain's seven-year-old is approaching the legend stage in terms of true dual-purpose horses.

    Has he improved this winter? Very probably, and he reversed January's Christmas Hurdle form with Binocular by around eight lengths, his rating going up to a career-high 168.

    He showed real determination at Newcastle on ground that has in the past seemed slower than ideal, jumping well, and while he may not be best suited to Cheltenham (a course which hardly favours front runners) he has surely earned the right to have another crack at the Champion Hurdle. Connections will no doubt hope the ground is as quick as is safely possible come the big day.

    There are often pieces in the press regarding the small fields for conditions races such as this. Two Northern-trained outsiders took their chance, both rated 113 going into the race against three rivals rated in the 160's.

    They fared differently. Kosta Brava was well tailed off after pulling too hard but StormyWeather appeared to run really, well finishing only ten lengths behind Celestial Halo, who had won a handicap last time out off his mark of 160.

    Their new marks? Stormy Weather stays on 113 and Kosta Brava drops three to 110. Both sets of connections can be very pleased with their afternoon's work, having pocketed four-figure sums in place money.

    RIFLES STILL FIRING

    One of the main jobs for some of the team at present is working on the various drafts of the top Flat horses for discussion at the World Rankings conference, which takes place in Hong Kong early next month, writes Stewart Copeland.

    I put the finishing touches to the sprint draft last week, which includes all British-trained horses we believe worthy of a 110+ performance.

    At least I thought I'd made the finishing touches, because a late contender for thelist popped up in the shape of Eton Rifles, a six-year-old gelding now in the care of Stuart Williams.

    It's been a tremendous season for Eton Rifles; hewon a handicap at Goodwood in August and was an excellent second in the Ayr Gold Cup the following month. That was soon followed by a Listed success at the Curragh.

    However, his second success in Listed company, the six-furlong Prix Contessina at Fontainebleau, is arguably a career-best effort. His two-length defeat of Fred Lalloupet, a consistent performer at Listed/Group level in France, equates to an improved rating of 111 (he was rated 106 prior to the race in France).

    A tough and genuine individual, he seems well suited by plenty of give in the ground - both Listed successes were on soft - and he could well make his presence felt in Pattern company next year, particularly if the heavens open.

    In a usual British summer that's almost a given!

    This blog appears courtesy of britishhorseracing.com
    Ah! but a man's reach should exceed his grasp......

  21. #40
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    Thanks for putting these up, Colin, I enjoy reading them.

    Overturn must be a dream to own. The Galway Hurdle and Fighting Fifth, Northumberland Plate and Chester Cup, are all hugely popular races and full of local lore.

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