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Handicaps

Irish Trained, Course winners, Prep races.

Irish trained horses have won 21 of the 40 handicaps over the last four Festivals. G Elliott top invader with nine wins in that time.Total number of handicap entries in 2020 was 928 of which 340 were Irish trained (37%). The highest ever number of Irish trained handicap entries ever.

In 2020 there were 229 total runners in the h'caps, 74 Irish trained (32%). Gordon four, Willie also won one making it 5 wins (50%). Improved from 2019 with 21 of the 40 total places (52.5%) Hurdlers better than chasers 14 places to 7, four wins to one. Eleven contenders in each of the County and the Martin Pipe. 20 Irish Trained runners priced 11/1 and under.

In 2019 it was 226 runners to 68 (30%) Irish trained. They again won 5 (50%) and gained 15 of the 40 total possible places (37.5%). 13 runners in the Coral Cup, 9 in each of the Close Bros, Fred Winter and County 9 down to only Minds Eye PU in the Grand Annual.

IRISH TRAINED HANDICAP CHASERS (not the Cross Country). There are a maximum of 112 runners over the five chases. Percentages of total runners is close to no of qualifiers. With lots of bookmakers offering up to 6 places in these, the Irish returns can be even bigger.

Year |||2020 |||2019||| 2018||| 2017||| 2016||| 2015||| 2014||| 2013||| 2012||| 2011

No of Irish Trained ||| 23||| 24||| 16||| 22||| 17||| 21||| 9||| 10||| 15||| 10

Winners||| 2 ||| 2||| 1||| 3||| 2||| 0||| 2||| 1||| 0 ||| 0

2nd, 3rd or 4th||| 5||| 2||| 2 ||| 3|||4 |||6||| 3 |||2 |||4 ||| 3

Highlights

2020 - Milan Native and Chosen Mate won, places for Discorama, Galvin, The Plan Of Attack, Eclair de Beaufeau and Us and Them. All priced 10/1 or less. For those who can get those extra places Ben Dundee 5th, Fitzhenry and Mithouka 6th, the latter at 33s.

2019 - Again two winners, A Plus Tard and Any Second Now, Tower Bridge and Ben Dundee placed in the Close Bros. Measureofmydreams unpld 3/1 Irish fav in Kim Muir.

2018 - 16 came. The Storyteller won at 5/1 fav, Mall Dini and Squouateur placed (Three Stars 5th).

2017 - Tully East, Road To Respect 16s and Rock The World all won, places achieved by Noble Endeavour, Powersbomb, The Last Goodbye (5th) and Dandridge. Two Irish BFs were Diamond Kingin Mildmay and Squouateur in Kim Muir both SP priced 5/1.

2016 - Two wins with Empire of Dirt 14s and Cause Of Causes and four places

2015 - Larger than usual raiding party of 21 tried over the five h'caps. Returned with 6 of the 20 places, no winners but placed at 28s, 25s twice and 20s.

2014 - 9 came, two winners Spring Heeled and Savello, two seconds and a fourth.

2013 - 3 from 20 possible places achieved including Alderwood 3/1F winner of Grand Annual.

2012 - 15 triers (14%), 4 placed (20%). Glam Gerry best at 33/1.

2011 - 10 runners (9.5% of total runners), 3 placed (15%) Askthemaster and Deal Done at 50/1 and 20/1 respectively would probably have paid your way had you backed all 10.

Previous Irish handicap chase winners were Finger On The Pulse (Nov H'Cap) and Tiger Cry (Grand Annual) in 2008. Their prices are getting shorter each year but obviously worth investigating.

KEVIN BLAKE - Lovely fella. Read the sage's opinion. The less Kevin complains, the more the Irish are thrown in. Confirmed to me in 2019 that he 'wasn't as sanguine as 2019, but it's not all doom and gloom.' Last year, 'there's some good news and some bad news.' Didn't see that much bad, myself.

HANDICAP HURDLES - last time placed horses, beaten favourites and course winners - Diego Du Charmil 13/2 2016 Fred Winter joined Whisper in 2014 and Ted Veale 2013 to become the only winners since Silver Jaro (County Hurdle '08) of the last 101 handicap hurdles to have been a beaten favourite last time out. Diego had been a BF in France. 13 didn't win last year. 17 qualifiers in 2019. None won, including two beaten favs here. Ballyandy closest to success, 3rd in the Coral Cup. 18 over 2018 and 2017, none successful. L'Ami Serge came close, but then he always did.

Only 18 of those 101 winners were placed 2nd or 3rd last time out. None last year from 27 qualifiers last year but two from 5 in each of the previous three years. Ch'tibello and Early Doors in 2019. 45 qualifiers out of a max 122 runners (37%). 3 of the 5 breaking it in 2016 from 39 qualifiers or 32% of runners. 25 qualifiers in 2015, only Killultagh Vic won, 39 qualified in 2014 only Whisper won. Once again it has become a lot more difficult to 'lay' one out as trainers want to guarantee getting in for a run?

Previous Course Winners strike back - Big change last year. Dame De Compagnie 5/1F, Sire du Berlais 9/1 and Indefatigable 40s to 25s all won handicap hurdles for Course Winners (C), in Dame De Compagnie's case, her third win. In 2019 William Henry lead home a 1-2-3 (Wicklow Brave 28s, Ballyandy14s ), all course winners in the Coral Cup. Before that the previous 68 course winners had failed to win any of the 21 handicap hurdles going back to 2014. And there was me pre Coral 2019 being very smug. In 2014 Whisper, Fingal Bay and Lac Fontana all won handicap hurdles having already been previous course winners. Those three and W Henry had won course novice hurdles and Lac Fontana had come from winning that 2m handicap that closes Trials day. 20 course winners ran between William Henry and Dame de Compagnie. All beaten. Nicky Henderson has won 4 Coral Cups, all since 2009. All with previous course winners.

That makes 11 winners from the last 109 handicap hurdles had a capital C beside their name. The previous ones were Buena Vista '11, Spirit River '10, Andytown '09 and Master Tern '00. Those four (and Lac) were winning their second course handicap hurdle in the space of 12 months. Dame De Compagnie and Sire du Berlais likewise, Sire repeating Buena's success in the Pertemps. Both Dame De Compagnie and Indefatigable had previously won Mares Listed Novice Hurdles on course in the 2019 April Mares meeting. Now pays to back course winners in h'cap hurdles. Aargh..

In 2013, 27 or (21%) were previous course winners, none won, 3 gained one of the 20 places available. In 2012, 26 of the h'cap hurdle runners (20%) were previous course winners, only Edguardo Sol gained a place. In 2011 18 tried, apart from Buena Vista winning, First Point also placed in Conditionals.

53 of the last 106 handicap hurdles have been won by a horse that was winner last time out (from about 25% of the runners) 27 qualifiers over the five hurdles last year, four won. Dame De Compagnie, Aramax, Saint Roi and Indefatigable. Only only one out of the 5 in each of the previous four Festivals (Band of Outlaws, Blow By Blow and Presenting Percy, had been slaughtered by the English handicapper, he was). 3 from 5 in each of 2015 and 2014. 20 last time out winners turned up in 2019, 33 in 2018.

Conditions Hurdle last time out, now in a handicap hurdle? - Since 2008 none of the Fred Winter winners had their last race in a handicap. Very few of the runners in that will actually have competed in one. Of the 48 other handicap hurdles run over the last 12 years, 18 winners had their last race in a non handicap hurdle. Twelve of the 18 were Irish trained (e.g. Saint Roi in a maiden hurdle, Early Doors in a 3 mile Graded, Blow By Blow Killultagh Vic and Don Poli in Graded Novices, Diamond King in a rated hurdle), Aux Ptit Soins came straight from a French 4yr old hurdle, Kayf Aramis won a Warwick Novice, Andytown last of 4 in a Novice Chase. Only Mohaayed 3rd in the G1 Xmas hurdle, Pause For Clause (U in a G2) and Indefatigable a Mares Listed, came from an English Non handicap Hurdle. So beware eye catching English trained coming to a Festival h'cap from an Eng Novice Hurdle or big runs in the Relkeel/National Spirit at Fontwell? In each of the last three years Irish trained took 2 of the 4 all aged hurdles (and the Fred Winter). Sire du Berlais, Delta Work and Bleu Berry had last raced in handicaps. In 2017 the four all aged handicap hurdles all won by Irish trained. All bar Presenting Percy had competed in a Graded Race last time out. (Making it hard for the English handicapper).

CARRYING A PENALTY - Only one handicap chase winner since 2000 ran in the 14 days before (Holmwood Legend in the Mildmay 2011 and therefore the only one who could be winning under a penalty. Call The Cops carried a 5lb penalty to win Pertemps H'cap Hurdle in 2015. Huntsmans Son and Oh Land OBloom unplaced 2019, Eragon De Chanay unpl in Fred Winter 2018.

WEIGHT CARRYING IN HANDICAP CHASES - 11st or more. 4 out of 5 last year. 3 in 2019, 4 of the 5 normal h'cap chases in each of the previous five years, only one out of 5 as far back as 2013. 'Normal' means not cross country, now a conditions race. In the last 8 years this weight carrying stat has been 'skewed'. In 27 of the last 36 won by horses carrying over 11st, the bottom weights have been no lower than 10st 7lbs. So beware of compressed handicaps. In only the Ultima last year was the bottom weight less than 10st 7lb. Becoming a little irrelevant as it becomes more and more difficult to get an entry. That's the skill now, most of the time. The 2020 Ultima was the easiest handicap to get into with Ice Cool Champs actually meant to carry 9st 10lbs. 15 of the runners with less than 11st. In the other four h'cap chases only 12 horses in total carried less than 11st.

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