ELLIOTT SET FOR ANOTHER SUCCESSFUL PERTH RAID
I cited in Week Five that Gordon Elliott held a 38.69% record in non-handicap races over hurdles at Perth. He has now improved upon that record after the success of Borice at the last meeting. He has Borice and Braid Blue entered in the opening race on Wednesday at Perth and Braid Blue is the likeliest to stand his ground (Borice is Galway Plate favourite) and will clearly have every chance of improving Elliott’s course strike rate still further.
At Perth next Tuesday the 134-rated Nietzsche (Week Two) holds an entry in the novice chase on the card. At the moment there are two horses also declared that are rated higher than him at the weights.
Go Another One is currently competing off a mark of 144 over fences and his rating was earned in his sole chase start to date at Clonmel in June. Consequently, it is impossible to compare his form with that of the Brian Ellison novice.
Nietzsche would probably be raised to a mark beyond his ability level if winning the race and finishing in front of the John McConnell chaser in the process; something to keep in mind for future reference.
TRAINER IN FOCUS: NICKY HENDERSON
NICKY HENDERSON has enjoyed 18 winners from 68 runners in July over the last five years which equates to a 26%+ strike rate. If we add his August record to those figures he has a 27.36% strike rate (29/106).
We would have made a small loss following every runner in this time period so clearly we need to tread a little carefully when supporting a horse from a stable that will inevitably attract more interest than most.
I thought his runners may be of more interest than usual as he is currently in the middle of a purple patch with, admittedly, a small sample size to consider.
In the last fourteen days Henderson has won with five of his seven horses that have managed to complete the course. The other two runners in that sequence finished second and fourth respectively.
Nicky Henderson has eight horses entered between now (Friday) and next Wednesday and they are all worth a second look.
Haul Away will run in the novice chase at Uttoxeter on Sunday. This leaves Bold Record and Crystal Gazing as his two strongest contenders. The former is entered in the novices’ hurdle at Newton Abbot on Monday and the latter is due to compete in the bumper on the same card.
LOOKING BACK - LUNE UNDONE BY CONDITIONS AT CARTMEL
The combination of the two mile six furlong trip, soft ground and top weight was enough to scupper Wells De Lune’s chances at Cartmel on Saturday. On the plus side he should be dropped a pound or two on his way to the late August fixture at the same venue. He will compete over a much shorter distance in five weeks’ time and won twice in three days at the same meeting in 2018.
Longhouse Sale had previously racked up a seven-timer when competing on a sound surface. The obvious conclusion to draw from his 23-length defeat at Market Rasen last Saturday was that the heavy rain that fell from before the first race did not do him any favours.
This same comment will, no doubt apply to many other horses that ran at that meeting. Consequently, I will bear this in mind when assessing the performance levels of several good ground horses that failed to fire on that day.
With regards Longhouse Sale, it is also more than possible that he was found out by a very flattering mark on his first try in a handicap.
Three days earlier at Uttoxeter the Charles Pogson-trained Bridey’s Lettuce’s bid to follow up his previous course success was thwarted by a 50/1 shot that was gifted an easy lead throughout.
Bridey’s Lettuce was given an awful lot to do on this day and probably did well to get as close as he did at the line. He is best on a decent surface and maybe he will be seen to better effect if dropped back to compete over the minimum trip on another day.
Whatever distance he competes over I doubt that his new rating of 99 will be the variable that will prevent him from being competitive.
I suspect that Dr Richard Newland has done his job especially well in finding two relatively weak contests for Mcgroarty in the last four weeks.
Mcgroarty has won off marks of 139 and 145 respectively and has amassed nearly 30K in prize money courtesy of those two successes. His new rating will be close to 150 which will surely overstate the level of his ability. I doubt his connections will be too concerned about this given the level of success they have enjoyed recently.
On Thursday the Southwell card was brought forward to an 11.25am start due to the extremely hot weather. The meeting was abandoned after five races; however, the limited action still produced a few noteworthy performances.
In the opening handicap chase the Nigel Hawke-trained Tanrudy was supported down to 11/4 favourite for his second start since a wind operation.
He had fallen early on when competing in his first race since surgery and his chances of completing the course did not look obvious here with a circuit to go. He was badly outpaced over this two and a half mile trip and only started to find his stride down the far side before the turn for home.
His jumping suffered as a result; nonetheless, he made up an awful lot of ground from thereon in and can be competitive when stepped up to compete in an equally weak contest over two miles and six furlongs or even three miles.
In the following race on the card – the Sky Sports Racing Sky 415 Handicap Chase -Mr Mafia completed a quick fire double under a 7lbs penalty.
I suspect he looked better in the finish than his performance merited as the second favourite, Home Place, jumped appallingly and looks one to avoid.
Furthermore, the joint third favourite, Wilberdragon was tailed off a long way from home before eventually being pulled up. Mr Mafia will be racing off a mark in the 120s the next time we see him which will probably make life very difficult for him.
Highland Bobby is rated 34lbs inferior to Ballard Down on the flat and yet brushed him aside with consummate ease in the maiden hurdle on the Southwell card. He simply appeared to be a more willing horse in the finish compared to his fellow hurdles debutant.
Highland Bobby may not have beaten a lot in this four runner race; however, he is clearly a lot better over hurdles than he is on the flat and he might be worth following in the short term.
The 11/10 favourite in this race was the Suzy Best-trained Good Time Ahead who never looked happy at any stage of the race. On the basis of this one performance he appears to be a horse to steer well clear of when competing over hurdles until he shows something to the contrary.