The Weekend Bulletin (Sat 26th Oct)
You know that the 2019/2020 jumps campaign has started in earnest when we have the opening salvo from Prestbury Park upon us. The two day Showcase meeting welcomes in top class NH action at Cheltenham as the road to the “Festival” begins.
The first race on Saturday card is the Matchbook Betting Exchange” Handicap Chase and usually attracts a mix of second season chasers alongside more experienced ones. With 12 renewals to consider we have dug deep to find the key trends which will hopefully help us hone in a few that have the “winners’ attributes”.
The full trends analysis forms an integral part of the content of the brand new Insiders Club Members Report, Issue 207, along with an insightful piece by Dave Renham on how to profit from In-Play trading on the betting exchanges.
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“Matchbook Betting Exchange” Handicap Chase (Class 2, 4yo+, 3m1f Old) – Cheltenham 2.00pm
The Showcase will be run over the Old Course which has a circuit of 1m4f and is left-handed, galloping, undulating and a testing track with stiff fences and a gruelling uphill finish. The layout places a premium on sound jumping and horses that race prominently often fare well on the chase course.
The Matchbook Handicap Chase carries a £60,000 guaranteed pot of prize money and has been a favourite target of trainer Phillip Hobbs who has who has won 5 of the 12 renewals, although a trio of those were achieved by Balthazar King (2011, 12 & 13).
Hobbs made it four on the bounce with Roalco De Farges in 2014 but since that time his best finisher was For Good Measure (5th of 16) in last year’s race and at the time of writing he has a couple of entries, Rock The Kasbah & Rolling Dylan.
Some other trainer snippets to bear in mind are Neil Mulholland (The Young Master & Shantou Village), who has a win plus two placers from just four runners, whilst Jonjo O’Neill (Minella Rocca), has a win and two placers from 6 runners.
To date only one of the 12 renewals has gone the way of the favourite, although all but last year’s winner, Relentless Dreamer @16/1, have gone off at 10/1 or lower. It therefore follows that all the winners were from the top 10 in the betting, with just 2 placers from 38 that went off 11th or larger in the market.
If we now consider the age profile of the past winners, those aged between 7 and 10 have been the most prevalent, although that age group were responsible for the majority of the runners.
Those aged 6 have achieved 5 placers from just 14 such runners (36%), so should any make the cut, 2 possibles, they need to be added into the calculations.
Given the time of the year in respect to the Jumps season it is not overly surprisingly that 9 of the 12 renewals were won by horses making their seasonal debut, so a quick check of the form book should help hone in on those that have a decent record when coming from a lay-off.
A top four finish last time out has accounted for 7 of the 12 renewals but 3 others had been pulled-up on their previous appearance. A further 4 with a “P” on their most recent run also placed which clearly isn’t a no-no to a decent run in this contest.
The Cheltenham hill takes no prisoners so form over further than the 3m1f they face in this race can also be considered a positive. Time and time again, with fixtures at Prestbury Park, previous course experience has come to the fore and therefore can also be considered a useful attribute when assessing the runners.
In terms of experience all the previous winners had won at least one Handicap Chase, and the sweet spot is between 2 and 4 which accounted for 9 of the 12 and just shy of 30% of the placers.
If we summarise the above we come up with the following bullet points:-
- Trained by Phillip Hobbs/Neil Mulholland/Jonjo O’Neill
- Top 10 in the tissue
- Aged 7yo to 10yo but consider any 6yo entries
- Making seasonal return with record of going well fresh
- A top 4 finish LTO (also note any that pulled-up)
- Raced and won over further than 3m 1f
- Previous winning or placed form at the track
- Won a handicap chase previously
Hopefully the above will help narrow down the field to a select group that possess the “winners’ attributes” and help us start Saturday’s Showcase meeting with a profit.
Read on to find our final selection(s):-
Sat 26th Oct
A duo of main players from the stats perspective have been taken out of the race and at this stage that leaves a reduced field of 17 due to go to post. The going is now soft (good to soft in places) with further rain forecast which will make it a hard slog. Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has been firing in the winners and his runner, Cogry, is back down to the same mark as when winning 3 runs back at the track. He won the 2017 renewal and just missed out last year so as long as he can cope with the underfoot conditions he has every chance of another good run in the race. The Phillip Hobbs trained Rock The Kasbah was pulled up in the bet365 at Sandown last April but may not have fully recovered from his prior run in the Grand National. He has winning form at the track and has form with give in the ground.
Cogry – Gen 13/2 (7/1 in places)
Rock The Kasbah – 10/1 (B365/WH/Uni) – NR
With Rock The Kasbah now a non-runner due to the ground the revised picks are as follows:-
Cogry – Gen 13/2 (7/1 in places)
Mindsmadeup – Gen 16/1 EW (5pl, 1/5)
Together We Can Win in 2019
Darren & Steve