All I can say after last week is 'must do better' though whether today will be the day I don't know as there's only one chase!
Warwick 14.25 Cl 2 Hcap Hurdle 131 (142) 24f sf – 12 Run
Last year – (26f) 125 (138) sf 14 ran
Tobefair 9/1 7-11-0 (126) by 1.5l from Scotchtown 8/1 5-10-11 (130)
Kris Spin 10-11-5 (135)
26 Nov Cl 3 Hcap Hurdle (63 d) 23.5f hv Uttox (135) 5/1 6l 2/8 off 133
Tracked leaders, mistake 1st, went 2nd 9th until before 3 out, ridden and outpaced before 2 out, rallied to take 2nd when not fluent last, kept on but no impression on winner run-in
Returned to hurdles this season has found his footing again, winning at Ayr and then being runner-up at Uttoxeter in November; has been raised another 2lbs for his latest effort and steps up in class today though.
Plus: class (F); going (W); distance (W); course (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (48 days);
Minus: up 2lbs; up in class;
Verdict: (47) was effective at this level earlier in his career, but not sure that holds true today and not the strongest contender perhaps.
The Organist 7-11-9 (139)
01 Dec Cl 2 Hcap Hurdle (219 u) 24f sf Newb (142) 12/1 1.5l 1/11 off 133
Mid-division until dropped to last pair after 5th, headway approaching 3 out, went 4th before next, 3rd at the last, soon ridden, stayed on strongly to lead final 100yds, driven out
Made the most of his fall in mark when recording a career best in winning a decent HHd at Newbury at the start of last month; raised 6lbs for that but has a good strike rate over hurdles (4/9).
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (W); form run lto (43 days); career best lto;
Minus: course (?); up 6lbs;
Verdict: (45) useful hurdler who has picked up the thread on returning to the smaller obstacles, a contender.
Prime Venture 7-11-12 (142)
12 Nov Cl 3 Hcap Hurdle (91 d) 24f sf Ffos Las (130) 8/11 F 8lo 1/9 off 130
Midfield, took closer order 5th, went 2nd after 3 out, shaken up to lead approaching last, stayed on well, eased towards finish
Continued the promise he’d shown in his first season over hurdles by running out a large margin winner on his return at Ffos Las in November in a career best effort; not surprisingly, he’s been raised 12lbs for that, but there could well be more to come as he steps back up in class.
Plus: class (F); going (W); distance (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (62 days); career best lto;
Minus: course (?); up 12lbs; up in class;
Verdict: (45) promising hurdler, but has a tough task here going up in weight and class, despite his rider’s claim, not the strongest contender perhaps.
Black Ivory 6-10-10 (126)
09 Dec Cl 2 Hcap Hurdle (155 u) 20f hv Aint (139) 13/8 6l 1/4 off 120
Raced in 2nd place from 2nd, travelling well and led 2 out, shaken up approaching last, ridden and stayed on to go clear run-in
Won twice in his initial season but has stepped up in class with a pair of sound efforts at Aintree this time round, the latest when proving strong for Le Breuil over 20f there on hv in a career best; has been raised 6lbs for that, although his conditional’s claim offsets half of that; had previously finished runner-up over 24f at Aintree under today’s rider so appears to stay the distance.
Plus: class (W); going (W); distance (F); trainer (C); form run lto (35 days); career best lto;
Minus: course (?); up 6lbs; back up in trip;
Verdict: (44) yet to win at trip, but looks to suit and a contender.
No Hassle Hoff 6-11-11 (141)
25 Nov Gr 3 Hcap Hurdle (570 u) 23f hv Hayd (156) 8/1 24.75l 4/16 off 141
Midfield, ridden after 9th, steady headway before 2 out, kept on under pressure run-in, never able to challenge
19 Oct Cl 2 Hcap Hurdle (94 d) 23.5f sf Uttox (134) Ev F 1.25l 1/8 off 134
Held up, headway approaching 3 out, chased leader before next, led last, driven out
Useful novice first term and justified the price on his return at Uttoxeter with a career best effort; by no means disgraced stepped up in class, but dropped in trip at Haydock in November, although never reaching the principals.
Plus: class (F); going (W); distance (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); recent outing (49 days); down in class;
Minus: course (?); back up in trip;
Verdict: (40) going back up in trip likely to suit and a contender.
A hurried look through my shortlist suggests that Kris Spin mightn’t be the force he once was and thus he’s the first to go. Joining him on the discard pile is Prime Venture who looks to have it all to do despite his rider’s claim. It’s tight between the remaining three, but I’m going for The Organist from No Hassle Hoff and Black Ivory.
Kempton 14.40 Listed Hcap Hurdle 256 (145) 21f sf – 16 Run
Last year – 228 (153) gd/sf 13 ran
Modus 7/1 7-11-4 (145) by 2.75l from Templeross 7/1 6-9-11 (127)
Bags Grove 7-11-12 (145)
13 Nov Cl 2 Hcap Hurdle (119 d) 21f gd Kemp (154) 2/1 F 1.25l 1/8 off 140
Held up in midfield, pushed along on long run after 3 out, ridden to close 2 out, challenged last and soon led, stayed on well
Won a couple of novice events last season and made a fair return in the Silver Cup at Chepstow in October not being far behind the leaders; followed up with wins at Aintree and over C&D here recording career best on each occasion; has been raised 5lbs for that and has been off the course since mid-November, but seems to be going the right way; wins have come on gd and gd/sf. but has placed form under today’s conditions.
Plus: class (F); going (F); distance (W); course (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (61 days); career best lto;
Minus: up 5lbs; up in class;
Verdict: (40) seems to be going the right way and a contender.
River Frost 6-11-12 (145)
14 Oct Gr 3 Hcap Hdl (285 d) 19.5f gd/sf Chep (150) 16/1 2l 5/18 off 142
Tracked leaders, ridden and effort before 2 out, stayed on from last without landing a blow
Twice won here last winter and after finishing 9/25 in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham made a promising return when 5/18 in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow in October; Bags Groove (-9) was a further 1.5l back in 8th; meets the latter on level terms today, BG having won his 2 subsequent starts; wins have come on gd and gd/sf, but was handling hv when falling 2 out at Wincanton last February.
Plus: class (F); distance (W); course (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto; down in class;
Minus: going (?); 91-day break;
Verdict: (40) looks an improving hurdler and if fit after his break, a contender.
Red Indian 6-11-1 (134)
18 Nov Cl 3 Hcap Hurdle (125 u) 21f sf Chelt (137) 5/1 F 6.75l 3/16 off 133
Held up in midfield, progress 3 out, ridden and outpaced after 2 out, kept on to take 3rd after last, never able to challenge
Not been out of the frame in 4 hurdle starts, although only success came in Ffos Las NHd on his debut; fair enough return at Cheltenham in November with yet another career best, but up a long way in class today and will need marked improvement to feature here.
Plus: going (W); distance (F); trainer (C); form run lto (56 days); career best lto;
Minus: class (?); course (?); up 1lb; up 2 classes;
Verdict: (38) improving sort but more needed here and not the strongest contender perhaps.
Diese Des Bieffes 5-11-2 (135)
26 Dec Cl 2 Nov Hurdle (125 u) 16f gd/sf Kemp (139) 4/1 5l 2/8 off 128
Tracked leaders, lost place and pushed along after 3 out, rallied from 2 out, chased winner last, stayed on but no chance
Won first 2 hurdle starts before being runner-up to If The Cap Fits over 16f here on Boxing Day in a career best; way that he stayed on suggests the longer trip could well suit; has never tried softer than gd/sf though.
Plus: course (F); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (18 days); career best lto;
Minus: class (?); going (?); distance (?); up 7lbs; up in class;
Verdict: given trainer could well run well, but too many questions to be considered a strong contender.
Dentley De Mee 5-10-6 (125)
27 Nov Cl 4 Hcap Hurdle (65 u) 21f gd/sf Lud (114) 4/1 0.1l 2/8 off 114
Always prominent, led 3 out, ridden flat, headed towards finish
Just the 3 starts over hurdles winning at Taunton in early November and then just denied on handicap debut when upped to this trip at Ludlow later in the month in another career best; handicapper obviously liked what he saw as he’s raised him 11lbs; he’s also rising 3 classes today, which suggest connections have faith.
Plus: distance (F); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (47 days); career best lto; stable has won 3 of last 7 renewals;
Minus: class (?); going; course (?); up 11 lbs; up 3 classes;
Verdict: (29) like DDB there are plenty of questions, but given the stable’s record, a longshot contender for the frame.
Looking at others that are perhaps worth the effort, both William Henry and Topofthegame are returning to hurdles after disappointing forays into the chasing ranks this term, of the pair I would go for the Nicholls entry, nut neither excite at the price. Among the outsiders, meanwhile, Le Patriote has his first run for the good doctor, while a first-time tongue-tie is affixed to Wishfull Dreaming on his debut for Olly Murphy – he won with a similar debutant earlier in the season.
All in all though it’s the sort of race I love to hate, and yet we’ve had 4/10 winning favourites and all 10 starting at less than 10/1. Add to that every winner had previously run in a Cl 1 hurdle, won a hurdle with at least 10 runners, and won a hurdle on a RH track and lo and behold, only River Frost comes through. Another interesting pointer is that a claiming rider has finished in the first two in every renewal of the race in its current format. So applying that sort of reverse logic to my shortlist, I can’t see Red Indian as a strong contender, not in all honesty can I see Bags Grove reversing Chepstow running with River Frost, especially on today’s terms. Nor for that matter can I fancy Diese Des Bieffes with his question marks when Dentley De Mee is nearly five times the price with similar questions. So in a race I don’t view as a sensible betting medium, I’d go for River Frost with perhaps a tiny e/w wager on Denteley De Mee.
Warwick 15.35 Gr 3 Hcap Chase 427 (139) 29f sf – 14 Run
Last year – 342 (152) sf 20 ran
One For Arthur 14/1 8-10-11 (137) by 6l from Goodtoknow 25/1 9-10-10 (136)
Russe Blanc 20/1 10-10-1 (134) was 36.8l 9th
Emperor’s Choice 40/1 10-10-8 (135) was PU before 10th
Milansbar 20/1 10-11-3 (143) was PU before 8th
Ballycross 12/1 6-10-8 (134) PU before 17th
Sir Mangan 10-11-11 (138)
15 Nov Cl 2 Hcap Chase (163 u) 24f sf Bang (144) 9/2 1.25l 1/8 off 134
Tracked leaders, 3rd going well 4 out, went 2nd after 3 out, shaken up and led 2 out, ridden and 1 length clear last, ran on well under pressure run-in
Was making first chase start since joining the Skelton yard in September 2015 when recording a career best in making a winning return at Bangor in mid-November; has been raised 4lbs for that and goes up in class, but likely more to come over fences on only his 10th start over the larger obstacles, plus won beyond 24f earlier in his career.
Plus: going (W); distance (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (59 days); career best lto;
Minus: class (?); course (?); up 4lbs; up in class;
Verdict: (44) relatively unexposed in this field and a contender in conditions that suit.
Krackatoa King 10-11-0 (127)
26 Dec Cl 3 Hcap Chase (128 u) 25f hv Winc (125) 7/2 F 0.1l 2/11 off 125
Tracked leaders, disputed lead 15th, ridden when headed after 3 out, rallied gamely to challenge as, soon took narrow advantage, stayed on, headed close home
Has put up some consistent performances over 24f and beyond on sf and hv ground, winning at Uttoxeter in November and then just being denied at Wincanton on Boxing Day under today’s rider; has been raised 2lbs for that and is up 2 classes, but looks to be an improving sort that the stable dos so well with.
Plus: going (F); distance (W); course (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (18 days); career best lto; progeny of Kayf Tara (1/1/4);
Minus: class (?); up 2lbs; up 2 classes;
Verdict: (43) in form and a possible contender despite the rise in class
Cogry 9-11-11 (138)
02 Dec Gr 3 Hcap Chase (1424 u) 26f gd/sf Newb (165) 14/1 PU/20 off 139
Chased leaders, pecked 3rd, mid-division and struggling 15th, weakened after next, pulled up 17th
28 Oct Cl 2 Hcap Chase (313 d) 25f gd Chelt (154) 13/2 4/1 1/16 off 132
Travelled well, always prominent, led after 3 out, clear next, in command when reached for last, stayed on well
Not always the surest of jumpers, but very capable on his day as he showed when runner-up in the Scottish National under today’s rider and when winning at Cheltenham on his return in October setting career best on each occasion; however, old habits returned when PU in the Ladbroke at Newbury last month; has been dropped 1lb, but will need to cut out the errors to succeed here.
Plus: class (F); going (W); distance (W); course (W); trainer (14d); trainer (C); recent outing (42 days); recent form run (77 days); down 1lb; progeny of King’s Theatre (0/3/6) ;
Verdict: (42) not without a chance on his best form, but a career best needed to be a strong contender.
Cresswell Breeze 8-11-10 (137)
09 Dec Cl 2 Hcap Chase (310 u) 29f gd/sf Sand (148) 8/1 3l 3/10 off 137
Tracked winner, challenged and upsides usual 3 out until outjumped last (usual 2 out), no extra and lost 2nd final 100yds
Good staying mare who put up a career best when winning on her return at Fontwell in November under today’s rider; improved on that in the London National at Sandown last month when 3/10 to Benbens with Topper Thornton (-5) a further 3.5l back in 5th; ground suits and appears to stay this far.
Plus: class (F); going (F); distance (W); course (F); trainer (14d); trainer (C); form run lto (35 days); career best lto; progeny of Midnight Legend (0/2/3);
Minus: (39) up in class;
Verdict: up in class but runs off the same mark and a contender with Bowen returning to the saddle.
Others worthy of note include Missed Approach who ran well for a long way in the Ladbroke in first-time blinkers and has been dropped 6lbs today to the lowest he’s ever been over fences. However, Only Hey Big Spender with 11-12 in 2012 has carried more than 11-07 to victory, and it was gd/sf that day. Goodtoknow was runner-up last year off 2lbs lower, but although he won his next start at Hereford, he’s failed to finish 3 of his 4 subsequent, including this season at Wincanton and Aintree. On balance, Krackatoa King looks the most likely of the stable’s three entries (2016 winner and bottom weight Russe Blanc the other). Twiston-Davis also runs Ballycross, but although he’s shown some promise over the larger obstacles, only twice in nine starts has he recorded a form run. Today’s first-time cheek-pieces thus have a lot of improvement to bring if he’s to get off the mark over fences.
Turning to my shortlist and considering past trends, we’re basically looking for a horse that has run within the past 50 days and has had 17 or less career chase starts. While a 1 to 3 finish is desirable in the last completed start, no more than 3 chase wins, of which no more than one in handicap company is what we’re looking for. Nevertheless, a chase win over at least 24f and LH is normally required, as is a previous start in class 1 company. Trying to work that into sorting out my shortlist, sees me suggest that Cresswell Breeze from Krackatoa King with Cogry and Sir Mangan filling out the frame.
Any comments on today's racing. Please don't just put in selections ... please add some reason why you think a runner will win
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