Cheltenham Look Back
Well, that’s three days at Cheltenham out of the way and an interesting November meeting it certainly was. The bookies had a couple of cracking days on Friday and Saturday as punters found it as hard a slog as the horses found going up the Cheltenham Hill on Saturday. On a personal level, a cracking days profit on Friday but a couple of mediocre days meant we made a small overall profit over the three days. Most of the shocks on Saturday came because the going changed from good to soft to soft bordering on heavy mid-way through the card on Saturday.
The watering that had taken place before the previous meeting had clearly made the water table at the track fairly high and as we know from past experience it doesn’t take much rain on a high water table to change the going. Granted Cheltenham got a lot more rain than had been expected and that allied to the watering that took place last month was of no help to punters.
The BetVictor Gold Cup was won by the Nigel Twiston–Davies trained 9-year-old Splash Of Ginge who was sent off at odds of 25/1. He was a well-handicapped horse at his best, racing off an 11lb lower mark than for his last win over fences in January 2015, also at Cheltenham, and was one of the few runners in Saturday’s feature race who really appreciated the testing conditions.
One of my bets for the race Starchitect ran a cracker to finish 2nd beaten just a neck at the line and if he had jumped the final two fences I think he would have won the race. Jumping is the name of the game though so I can’t have many complaints as I wasn’t expecting him to do that well on the ground.
I will end this short look back at the weekend on a sad note as the Ian Williams trained London Prize, who last weekend had won the Elite Hurdle at Wincanton, was still well in contention for yesterday’s the Greatwood Hurdle when falling two out and unfortunately sustained an injury which meant he had to be put down.
The 6-year-old had also finished 2nd on the flat in last months Cesrarewitch and was developing into a top-class dual purpose horse. He will be a sad loss to connections and those who backed the horse during his short career. For his trainer, who last week must have been on top of the world after wins by Saunter in the November Handicap and London Prize in the Elite Hurdle, it clearly exemplified the real ups and downs of the racing game.
Racing Mourns the Loss of Mary Reveley
Last week hundreds of mourners turned out for the funeral of trainer Mary Reveley. Mary who is still the most successful woman trainer of all time having sent out over 2000 winners on the flat and jumps from her base at Saltburn on the Yorkshire Coast. One of her earliest success stories, and one of my favourite northern sprint handicappers, that grand old servant King Charlemagne.
Back in the mid 80s I wrote to about a dozen trainers asking if they had any Pupil Assistant vacancies. Mary was the only one who got back to me. I can still remember the cold November evening when she called me to invite me up to her stables for a chat. I got offered the job as Pupil Assistant but sadly I was unable to take up the post due to personal reasons. How things could well have turned out differently for me if I had joined her team. Racing wont forget this no nonsense Yorkshire woman and nor will I. RIP Mary Reveley.
One For The Tracker:
I doubt it will be any surprise to readers to find that this week’s horse for your trackers comes from Cheltenham.
Trainer Philip Hobbs must have been delighted with the run of Three Faces West in the 3m 3f handicap chase on Saturday. Having his first run since making all to win at Newbury last December, he once again gave a bold front-running jumping display and gave it his all to three out. He eventually finished just over 17 lengths back in 3rd but given 5 of his 6 career wins have come within 16 to 30 days of his last race, with form figures of 11211, so this run was probably needed.
Indeed he did pull up on his seasonal reappearance last season. He hasn’t been the easiest horse to train as this was only his 12th career start. He remains a horse with potential over fences at 3m + having had 3 wins from 6 runs 5 places. The way he jumps means he can win a race or two this winter if he stays sound.
The action is less exalted than the weekend racing. With jumps meetings at Leicester and Plumpton and Wolverhampton provides all-weather fans with a slice of flat racing. Here are some interesting stats from Leicester and Plumpton.
David Pipe’s horses are going well at present after a fairly quiet autumn and it is worth noting his good record at Leicester. In the past 5 years he has had 15 winners from 34 runners 44% +16.24 A/E 1.49 (profit to BSP +20.57) 17 placed 50% at the course and he has 11 winners from 22 runners 50% +12.83 A/E 1.64 (profit to BSP +15.94) 13 placed 59% when teaming up with jockey Tom Scudamore. The pair combine with two today:
12:50 – Red Square Revival
1:50 – Delface
Trainer Anthony Honeyball hit form with a vengeance with three winners at Fontwell on Sunday and its worth noting he has a good win strike rate at Plumpton. In the past 5 years he has had 13 winners from 42 runners 31% -4 with all his runners here and 4 winners from 10 runners 40% +3 with his chasers. He sends just the one runner to the Sussex track today.
3:10 – Red Sox
One trainer who could do with a winner is Suzy Smith she is very much on the cold list but there were signs with a couple of her runners last week that a winner may not be far away. She saddles two today at Plumpton, her local track, and it’s a track where she has a good record with her handicap hurdlers. In the past 5 years she has had 14 winners from 43 runners 33% +71.38 A/E 2.19 (profit to BSP +92.01) 20 placed 47% in handicap hurdles at the course.
The 10-year-old Invicta Lake holds no secrets from the handicapper but he is now on a tempting handicap mark. Two of his career wins have come at Plumpton and four of his five career wins have come when racing between 16 to 30 days since his last start. He was having his first start for 625 days when tailed off here last month but he will have needed that run and if the trainers horses are indeed coming into form a much better show can be expected.
2:50 – Invicta Lake – 12/1
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.
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