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Irish Trained, BFs last time, Course winners.

· General Trends

Irish trained have won 16 of the 30 handicaps over the last three Festivals. G Elliott top invader with five wins. Total number of handicap entries in 2020 is 928 of which 340 are Irish trained or 37%. This will be the highest number of Irish trained handicap entries ever.

In 2019 there were 226 runners in the h'caps, 41 (or 29%) Irish trained. They won 5 (50%) and gained 37 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.

WEIGHT CARRYING IN HANDICAP CHASES - 11st or more. 3 out of 5 last year, 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 7 years this weight carrying stat has been 'skewed'. In 23 of the last 31 won by horses carrying over 11st, the bottom weights have been no lower than 10.7. So beware of compressed handicaps. In only one of the 5 handicap chases last year was the bottom weight less than 10st 7 lb. Becoming a little irrelevant as it becomes more and more difficult to get an entry. Thats the skill now.

Irish trained handicap chasers (not the Cross Country). The Battalions are arriving. Last year 24 came 22% of total h'cap runners. Both A Plus Tard and Any Second Now won, Tower Bridge and Ben Dundee placed in the Close Bros. The two winners probably negate the lack of placed. Measureofmydreams unpld Irish fav. In 2018 16 came (16% of total runners), The Storyteller won, Mall Dini and Squouateur placed (Three Stars 5th). That is 15% of places obtained and not a great return. In 2017, 22 came (19% of the total runners in the five h'caps). Tully East, Road To Respect and Rock The World all won, places achieved by Noble Endeavour, Powersbomb, The Last Goodbye (5th) and Dandridge. Two Irish were BFs Diamond King and Squouateur. In 2016 17 ventured across the Irish Sea (15 % of total runners). Achieved two wins with Empire of Dirt and Cause Of Causes and four places (30% strike rate) In 2015 a larger than usual raiding party of 21 tried over the five h'caps (19% of runners). Again returned with 6 of the 20 places available (30%), no winners but placed at 28s, 25s twice and 20s. 2014, 9 came (8% of total fields), two winners Spring Heeled and Savello, two seconds and a fourth. In 2013 10 attended (9%), 3 from 20 possible places (15%) achieved including Alderwood 3/1 winner of Grand Annual. 2012 15 triers(14%), 4 placed (20%). Glam Gerry best at 33/1. In 2011 only 10 runners (9.5%), 3 placed (15%) Askthemaster and Deal Done placed 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. Still worth following.

KEVIN BLAKE Read the annual gauge's opinion. The less Kevin complains, the more the Irish are thrown in. Confirmed to me in 2019 that 'he s wasn't as sanguine as 2019, but its not all doom and gloom.' Got it about right but never mentioned Band Of Outlaws.

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 96 handicap hurdles to have been a beaten favourite last time out. Diego had been a BF in France. 17 qualifiers last year. None won, including two beaten favs here. Ballyandy closest to success, 3rdin the Coral Cup. 18 over the previous two years, none successful. L'Ami Serge came close, but then he always is.

Only 18 of those 96 winners (16%)were placed 2nd or 3rd last time out. This one taking a big hit in recent years. Two from 5 in each of the last three years. Ch'tibello and Early doors last year. 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, Killultagh Vic won, 39 qualified in 2014 Whisper won, 40 out of 127 (32%) qualified in 2013, both Holywell and Ted Veale won. Once again it has become a lot more difficult to 'lay' one out as trainers want to guarantee getting in for a run?

COURSE WINNERS STRIKE BACK - Before William Henry lead home a 1-2-3 (Wicklow Brave 28s -Ballyandy14s ) for course winners running in the Coral Cup, the previous 68 course winners had failed to win any of the 21 handicap hurdles going back to 2014. There was me being smug last year. In 2014 Whisper, Fingal Bay and Lac Fontana all won handicap hurdles having already been previous course winners. All four had won course novice hurdles and Lac Fontana had come from winning that 2m handicap that closes Trials day. 20 course winners have run since William Henry won. All beaten.

That makes 8 winners from the last 104 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. The latter four (and Lac) were winning their second course handicap hurdle in the space of 12 months.

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. 2010, 15 tried, Arcalis, Dee Ee Williams and Radium also placed. (Spirit River, Andytown and Whisper all trained by N Henderson).

49 of the last 101 handicap hurdles have been won by a horse that was winner last time out (from about 20% of the runners) Only only one out of the 5 in each of the last four Festivals (Band of Outlaws, Blow By Blow and Presenting Percy, had been slaughtered by the handicapper, he was). 3 from 5 in each of 2015 and 2014. 20 last time out winners tried last year, 33 in 2018.

CONDITIONS HURDLE LAST TIME 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 44 other handicap hurdles run over the last 11 years, 16 winners had their last race in a non handicap hurdle. Eleven of the 16 were Irish trained (e.g. 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) came from an English Non handicap Hurdle. (At 33s Mohaayed blows this out of the water. But 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 the last two years Irish trained took 2 of the 4 all aged hurdles (and the Fred Winter). 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 ran in Graded Race last time out. (Trying to make 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 last year, Eragon De Chanay unpl in Fred Winter 2018.

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