Williams and Frost take the weekend plaudits
Trainer Ian Williams had a notable big handicap double on Saturday as he won the November Handicap with Saunter and the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton with London Prize. He surely has to be the best dual-purpose trainer in the country at the moment and he is now chasing handicap chase glory with Ballyalton who is one of the leading fancies for next Saturday’s BetVictor Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
Whilst there is no denying the Saturday achievements of Ian Williams, I think the performance of the weekend has to be Bryony Frost’s ride in winning the Badger Ales Trophy at Wincanton on the Paul Nicholls trained Present Man owned by the sponsors of the race.
It was an apt win as her father Jimmy had won the same race back in 1996. Given doubts about the soft ground Bryony gave the 7-year-old an excellent forceful ride always up with the pace. The horse looked like he might be caught after the last she still managed to hold off the challenge of the runner-up by just a head at the finish.
Clearly, she is well worth her 5lb claim and her boss Paul Nicholls has been using her to great advantage this season. Since the start of the season, the pair have combined for 13 wins from 34 rides 38% +9.38 A/E 1.4 20 placed 59%. As the trainer said after the race “She rides as well as all those lads” and it showed in this ride, that she does.
Present Man could run in the Grand National and it would be great if Bryony can keep the ride at Aintree.
One For The Tracker:
There were plenty of potential tracker horses from the weekend’s action and I have gone for one from Aintree.
Vyta Du Roc trained by Nicky Henderson made a pleasing seasonal reappearance when back over hurdles and finishing 5th in the Pertemps qualifier. The 8-year-old was last seen finishing a close-up 2nd in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown back in April. He showed that day that 3m 5f held no terrors for him so we can expect him to return to that sort of distance when he goes back over fences.
He is all about stamina as he showed when finishing 6th in last years Hennessey Gold Cup. A tilt at the race could be on the horse’s agenda again but he would surely want softer ground to bring out the best in him and maybe the Welsh Grand National would be a more suitable race for him now as would the Grand National. He has won twice on good ground but he is 4 wins from 7 runs 5 placed on heavy and soft.
Racing today over jumps at Carlisle and Kempton and for all-weather fans, it’s over to Southwell for action on the fibresand.
It’s Kempton for today's selection and a horse that I have been waiting to make his return to the track, it’s the Ben Pauling trained Le Breuil.
The 5-year-old was held in high regard for his trainer last season winning novice hurdles at Sedgefield and Newbury. Upped in class to Grade 1 company at the Grand National Festival on his final start of last season. He didn’t really travel too well that day; losing his place at the 8th and was pulled up at the 9th. Something must have been amiss, as I am sure that wasn’t his true running.
Interesting that trainer in his recent Racing Post Stable Tour said, “He'll be a major player in top Graded races. He'll start in a handicap hurdle this week….and I'd like to think his mark of 139 is very fair as he could be top drawer”. If that lofty praise is to be fulfilled he must surely win this even on his first start since April.
The trainer has warned,“He's famous for needing his first run, so beware, but he's a very, very nice horse”. Despite this comment, the selection is 2 wins from 3 runs when returning from a 90+day break. The easing of the ground to good to soft will be in his favour and the stable is running at a 19% win strike rate in the past 14 days.
Kempton – 2:55 – Le Breuil – 3/1
Looking a bit further ahead we have three days of top-class jumps racing at Cheltenham to look forward too with the highlights being the BetVictor Gold Cup on Saturday and the Greatwood Hurdle on Sunday.
One trainer who will be hoping for better luck at the meeting is Venetia Williams who is 0 wins from 29 runners 2 placed at the fixture since 2011, a 7% place strike rate is a bit of a shocker for such a top handler.
Can Venetia come off the cold list this year? Who knows, but it’s a stat to be aware of when looking at any of her short priced runners at the meeting.
On the subject of the BetVictor Gold Cup, it’s traditionally been a good race for the second season chaser and those horses that have had some experience of the track. Paul Nicholls, Jonjo O'Neill and Nigel Twiston-Davies have won six of the last nine renewals of the race so the top trainers have tended to dominate in recent years and I doubt that trend will change this year.
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.
You can benefit from Victor Value expertise and tips every day when you take a trial of his service for just £1 – Click Here