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Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Review of Paul Nicholls stable

In today’s blog:-
Review of the Paul Nicholls Stable-tour in the Weekender of 6th October 2010
Today’s Horseracing

There was no blog selection yesterday as there was no jump racing.

Review of the Paul Nicholls Stable-tour in the Weekender of 6th October 2010

In last weeks “Weekender”, there was a stable-tour of the Paul Nicholls yard. I will try and pull a few nuggets of information from that tour which may point us in the direction of a few winners.
The first winner was quickly pointed out, and that was ESCORT’MEN, who won at Chepstow on Saturday. Two bits of info on this one; Nick Mordin (who I greatly respect) rates this top juvenile hurdler (who will be a 5yo next March) a potential Champion Hurdler. I would not go that far, but he is clearly classy, and held in great respect by his trainer who suggests in his appraisal of the horse that he is likely to go chasing before the end of the season. A horse of this quality, going novice chasing, means only one thing – the “Arkle" for which he's 33/1.
Former Champion Hurdle hope, the 6yo CELESTIAL HALO is definitely going novice chasing (he’ll probably run at Exeter next week), but Nicholls reckons that he’ll need more than 2-mile to show his best. That suggests he may end up as the stable RSA entry, and not be in the Arkle where he is the ante-post 2nd-fav at just 12/1; you have been warned!
Another novice chaser who did not run well on his debut is the 6yo PEPE SIMO. He met the 1st-fence all wrong at Fontwell and thereafter never settled on this figure of “8” course where Nicholls has a tremendous strike-rate in non-handicap chases (36 winners from 82 runners). It says a lot that Nicholls still considers him to be a nice prospect (in a yard choc-full of “nice” prospects) and the faith remains intact. He deserves another chance.
Another horse considered a nice prospect is the 4yo SANG BLEU. However, Nicholls thinks this horse still needs time to grow into his frame and I would be surprised if the horse went novice chasing this season if Nicholls thinks he may need another year - yet he's just 16/1 for the Arkle!
It may be better to consider another 4yo described as a “real nice prospect” SIRE COLLONGES. As yet unraced in the UK, he will likely go hurdling with a decision on going novice chasing taken in the Spring. It is unusual for a horse to win the “Arkle” on the back of a light (and late) novice chase campaign, but not impossible.
One horse I thought was outclassed as a novice chaser was THE NIGHTINGALE, but Nicholls has him pencilled-in for a campaign of raids of Ireland’s chases. If he’s a “high-class chaser in the making” then that puts the likes of Weird Al and Burton Port right in the Gold Cup frame!
Another of his senior ranks chasers is WHAT A FRIEND. Unfortunately, he’s had a breathing operation (something that’s also happened to MASTER MINDED). He’s considered ‘delicate’ and won’t take much racing, he’s also behind with his work which, to me, suggests he may be best in the Spring. Even so, in order for him to be a genuine Gold Cup contender, Nicholls needs the breathing operation to bring about some improvement, probably about 10lb, and it seems a bit of a gamble for connections to take with a horse that won’t take much racing whatever the outcome.
As such, it seems that the stables long-term Festival hopes again revolve around the “3-musketeers” of KAUTO STAR, DENMAN and BIG BUCKS. Do the stable have a D’Artagnan?
Personally, I was a bit disappointed that there was no word about FREE WORLD who is on my alert list of Chaser & Hurdlers to follow this season. I am hoping this was just an oversight given the number of quality horses in the stable and that it is not something more ominous, such as an injury.

Looking at Nicholls stable analysis statistics over the past 10 years, I was amazed that the track where he’s had the most runners is Cheltenham; 777 with 116 winners (14.90%). At only one other track (where Nicholls has sent at least 100 runners) does he have a worse strike-rate, and that’s Aintree (36 wins from 310 runners; 11.60%). Despite Nicholls having a well-earned reputation for sending out chasers, it is his hurdlers that do best at Cheltenham; 48 winners from 265 runners (that’s 18.1%).

There are a good number of tracks where Nicholls rarely ventures. Most are a long-way-off (Market Rasen, Kelso, Sedgefield, Cartmel, Newcastle, Carlisle and Musselburgh) from the stable base at Ditcheat in Somerset, but some are fairly close-by such as Towcester and Ffos Las. Of the remainder, pay close attention to any runners he sends to Folkestone (33.90%), Plumpton (31.0%), Perth (33.3%), Leicester (38.1%), Southwell (50.0%),and Fakenham (43.9%).

At only 4 tracks (other than Cheltenham and Aintree) does Nicholls have a strike-rate below 20%; they are Ascot (15.5%), Ayr (15.1%), Haydock (15.5%), and Ludlow (17.6%)

Whatever you do, pay close attention to anything Nicholls sends out for the remainder of October. Outside of the summer months, which really don’t count, October is the month when he has his highest strike-rate, 30.60% with 159 winners from 519 runners producing his smallest losing margin; a loss of just £13.70 to a £1 level stake.

Today’s Horseracing

There is only a single jump meeting today at Huntingdon.
I cannot see the novice chase SWINCOMBE ROCK being beaten, but he’ll be at prohibitive odds so I won’t be tempted to have a wager. The 3m2f handicap hurdle at 3:20 will be a real stamina test, and I feel that the likely fav Thai Vango could be found out. He’s never won at trips beyond 2m6f in 7 attempts (4 x 2nds at 3-mile) and he’s one-paced which suggests he does not stay it. That cannot be said for INGHWUNG who looks every bit a stayer, especially her win at Fontwell in Apr-08. She was off for 18-months then (injury?) and has been highly tried since. Her latest run showed she’s coming back to her best and she has been given plenty of time to realise her potential. She is only 4/1 tho’ and I would prefer some slightly longer odds. If you can get 11/2 or more, then an eachway wager is the way to go, otherwise no bet.

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1 comment:

  1. SWINCOMBE ROCK won in a canter (but needed a few cracks 3-out) @ 4/11. As for INGHWUNG, she was 2nd @ 4/1 but finished lame. As expected, Thai Vango the 100/30 fav did not stay the trip and was being ridden 3-out.