There was plenty of top-class racing at the weekend. We had Altior winning the Tingle Creek and the National fences were in action for the first time since April.
You can see my thoughts on the Saturday action, as well as stats for the upcoming Cheltenham two-day International Meeting inside this week’s column….
Altior Simply The Best
Before looking at those all-important Cheltenham Stats and of course Monday’s selection. Let’s take a look at what's been making the weekend's racing headlines.
The Tingle Creek Chase was a spectacular race wasn't it? It's what jumps racing is all about. Sandown racegoers and those watching the action on TV saw some marvellous jumping by both Altior and Un de Sceau. The latter has never jumped better than he did on Saturday and went down on his shield. He was just beaten by a magnificent horse who once hitting top gear is impossible to hold off.
The sport needs superstars like Altior and we're privileged to be able to see him race. When fully fit there's no horse that can beat him. We won’t see him in this year’s King George VI but how far would he win that race?
The National Fences Are Back
It’s always good to see the Aintree National fences in action and we had two races over them on Saturday. The Becher Chase was won by Walk In The Mill, who held off the running on Vieux Lion Rouge. The winner and runner-up will no doubt be lining up in the National in April.
Bowen's Warrior Ride
Of the two races it was the 2m 5f Grand Sefton Handicap Chase, that I enjoyed more. A strong pace was set from the off by Brandon Hill from who was jumping really well out in front. He was still in the lead after the last but was then joined by Warrior’s Tale who battled on well to prevail by 1 1/2 lengths.
Sean Bowen who won the British conditional jockey championship in the 2014-15 season, when attached to the Paul Nicholls stable, was in the shade last season due to the exploits of younger brother James. However, this season Sean is riding as well anyone in the country and I don’t think there is a stronger jockey in the saddle.
He rode the perfect race on Warrior’s Tale. In mid-division in the early part of the race he slowly brought the horse into contention and produced the horse with a perfectly timed challenge to overhaul the long-time leader after the elbow.
For those of you who like your jockey stats you will like this one. Sean Bowen is a jockey who really excels when the mud is flying. Since 2015 he's had 32 winners from 119 rides 27% +95.16 A/E 1.61 45 placed 38% when heavy is in the going description.
My Tent Or Yours Retires
On Sunday Nicky Henderson announced that My Tent Or Yours is to retire. Time has finally caught up with the 11-year-old who must rank as one of the best hurdlers never to have won a Champion Hurdle.
He was runner-up to Jezki in 2014, beaten just a neck, and returned from a mammoth 703-day break to occupy the same spot behind Annie Power in 2015. His great efforts in the race hadn’t finished because in 2017 he was runner up to stablemate Buveur D’Air in the 2017 renewal.
It was an emotional Nicky Henderson who greeted My Tent Or Yours after he had won the Grade 2 International Hurdle at Cheltenham 12 months ago. It was the horse's first win since February 2014 and you could see what the win meant to his trainer.
After all his good efforts in defeat you couldn’t say he didn’t deserve one final moment in the sun!
Cheltenham International Meeting Stats:
Friday December 14th to Saturday December 15th
The figures are from 2013 to 2017 and consist of 70 winners from 603 runners
Runners in the top three in the betting have produced 46 winners from 219 runners A/E 0.88 or 66% of the races from 36% of the total runners.
Clear favourites are under-performing with 17 winners from 59 runners 29% -21.85 A/E 0.78 31 placed 53%.
Runners sent off at odds 18/1 & bigger are 3 winners from 148 runners 2% -46 A/E 0.67 19 placed 13%
Previous course winners have produced 28 winners from 151 runners 19% +13.29 A/E 1.09 51 placed 34%.
Runners returning from a 60+ day absence are 5 winners from 63 runners 8% -27.37 A/E 0.65 17 placed 27%.
The top five trainers numerically have won 44% of the races from just 25% of the total runners:
Nigel Twiston-Davies – 8 winners from 37 runners 22% -6.52 A/E 1.24 13 placed 35%
Jonjo O’Neill – 6 winners from 21 runners 29% +41.58 A/E 1.73 7 placed 33%
Philip Hobbs – 6 winners from 34 runners 18% +24.57 A/E 0.99 17 placed 50%
Colin Tizzard – 6 winners from 25 runners 24% +15.75 A/E 1.64 12 placed 48%
Nicky Henderson – 5 winners from 36 runners 14% -20.37 A/E 0.59 15 placed 42%
Jonjo O’Neil’s profits are excellent and as the A/E figure shows his runners are under bet. Colin Tizzard is another trainer with a good win strike rate and solid profit figures whose runners are under bet.
It may also pay to watch out for any runners from the following three trainers:
Anthony Honeyball – 2 winners from 3 runners 67% +9.5
Martin Keighley – 3 winners from 13 runners 23% +22 5 placed 38%
Evan Williams – 3 winners from 18 runners 17% +39 7 placed 39%
Trainers To Avoid?
Tom George – 1 winner from 19 runners 5% -13.5 A/E 0.38 8 placed 42%
Paul Nicholls – 4 winners from 50 runners 8% -15.25 A/E 0.47 13 placed 26%
Kim Bailey – 0 winners from 10 runners -10 1 placed 10%
Willie Mullins – 0 winners from 7 runners -7 1 placed 14%
David Pipe -2 winners from 19 runners 11% A/E 0.70 2 placed 11%
In the past two seasons Paul Nicholls has had just 1 winner from 18 runners with just three placing.
David Pipe’s two winners have come in non-handicap races and he’s 0 winners from 13 runners 0 placed in handicaps. His last winner at the meeting came in 2014.
Tom George has had plenty of runners here in recent years. The trainer has had plenty of solid placed efforts and his 42% win & place strike rate indicates his runners need respecting.
Last Monday’s selection was a winner. Can we have another one this week?
2:00 – The Gipper – You have to go back to February 2017 for the 8-year-old last win but he now runs off a 19lb lower mark.
Twice a winner on heavy, his other two career wins have come on soft. He really needs testing going to be at his best so underfoot conditions should at least be in his favour today.
He also ticks the distance box all four of his career wins have come at around 2m. Leighton Aspell has been booked for the ride and he's got excellent record when teaming up with trainer Evan Williams – 10 winners from 29 rides 34% +37.24 A/E 1.81 16 placed 55% (+50.30).
I think we could see a decent run from the gelding today. Of course, he could just as easily fall out the back of the telly. Still there’s enough to think he looks worth an each-way interest at the 16/1 available with Paddy Power at the time of writing.
The Gipper – 12/1 or bigger – each way
Until next week
Get all of John Burkes weekend selections every week for just £12.99 per month – https://www.oncourseprofits.com/victor-value