Notebooks at the ready…
Below I’ve highlighted a few handicap chasers that it may be worth keeping an eye on in the weeks and months ahead. I enjoy pulling posts like this together and will endeavour to write them more regularly in the weeks ahead.
I’ve dived into my HorseRaceBase account and their ‘hot & cold’ races tool, as my starting point.
My aim has been to find chasers who I think have more wins in them, who may still be progressive and well handicapped. They all have recent runs in races that have worked out well, producing subsequent winners. This helps give substance to the form, their ability and whether there could be more to come from their mark.
As always with everything I do on this blog and with my emails, my purpose is to add to your enjoyment of this great sport.
With any luck you find what follows an interesting read and some of the content may arm you with information that helps in your battle against the bookies, finding a few more winners along the way.
Let’s crack on…
Off You Go
To Ireland I go for the first horse, trained by Charles Byrnes, this 8YO Presenting Gelding won a Grade A Handicap Chase at Leopardstown on 7th February.
This handicap would turn out to be hot hot hot. It’s as good example as you will find of ‘hot form’ and a further example of the growing strength of these Irish handicaps (especially those at Leopardstown). This is something worth remembering, especially as the season develops into the spring festivals.
22 horses lined up in this race, they’ve run 65 times since between them, winning 10. All 10 subsequent winners have come from the first 12.
Three horses have yet to win subsequently from the top 12, including the winner, Off You Go.
He’s 5/22, 8p in his career and now 1/10,2p over fences.
His two runs since have been in The Irish National, where he ran a solid 6th but having yet to win beyond 2m 5.5f, I’m not sure he really stayed, but maybe the ground was quick enough for him. He then ran in the Galway Plate, 114 days later, and didn’t do much three from home.
Both of those races were going right-handed and it may be no coincidence his one chase win has come left-handed. For all they were competitive races also. He has won RH over hurdles, but I think he’s best LH. 3/6, 4p +21 all runs, 1/2 chasing. He’s now 0/8,1p going RH over fences.
Given the form of this Leopardstown win and his lightly raced chase profile (especially handicap wins) I can only think another decent pot will drop his way in the coming season, maybe over 3m but he clearly stays a strongly run 2m5f. That win was arguably the first time his jumping has really clicked in a competitive race and he’s clearly smart when it all slots together.
He had Minella Times (Grand National winner next start) and Live Love Laugh (Topham winner) chasing him home – solid form. Scoir Mear, Goose Man and Uisce Beatha were not far behind and subsequently won.
He will win another handicap chase when it clicks again – especially when his jumping is on song.
Other horses worth noting from this race, who have yet to win since but whose performance in this handicap, and since, suggested they should do soon…
Farclas – was 4th in this handicap and has run twice since including a 3l 2nd at The Festival when bumping into The Shunter. He ran there like a horse who should do some damage off 146 at some point. I don’t think he has any strong ‘profile pointers’ but over fences he is 3/3 on ‘good’ ground, 3/4 going right-handed (but 0/4,3p LH) , 3/3 in fields of 11 runners or less (which ‘could’ be linked to his habit of sometimes hitting one, fewer runners may help, but he has more experience now). After Cheltenham he then finished a 30L fifth in The Grand National. I wonder if he will be aimed at the Irish National this season. I think decent ground may be important for him to show his best. He has a decent handicap chase win in him this season.
Crossed My Mind – Arthur Moore’s 9YO was 8th in this handicap, 3rd two out, ridden to challenge before last but no extra after the last up the Leopardstown hill, over 2m5.5f. He came into this one the back of a facile win in a 17 runner Grade B at Navan over 2m4f – maybe that’s as far as he wants. He then ran over hurdles and in a Grade A at Punchestown, where he didn’t run that well. He’s only 2/8,3p over fences (2/4 in handicap chases) and that Navan win, and the Leop effort before the last, would suggest he could have another win in him this season. He won on his seasonal return last year at Thurles, before that Navan win in December. Maybe he’ll be aimed at the same race again. It could be he’s best fresh, on his first couple of runs after a break.
Anthony Honeyball’s Getaway 8YO has unfinished business this winter season I feel. He returned after 330 days off last November, hacking up over 26f in heavy at Carlisle. He had 9 subsequent winners in behind him that day and was clearly duffing up well handicapped horses. Of course it was an early season race, which is always to be treated with more caution given some of the opposition may well have needed the run, but still. Sam’s Adventure would be pulled up that day but would bounce back emphatically next time in the Tommy Whittle Handicap Chase. Sojourn chased him home there, form which was franked given Sam would go on to win The Eider Chase. Solid form.
Sadly he only ran once more, pulling up in The Grand National Trial back at Haydock, shaken up before 3 out, before being pulled up. He hasn’t been seen since, which would indicate he injured himself.
However, it could be that he’s just best fresh. Indeed, off breaks off 121+ days he’s a perfect 3/3 so maybe his first run back will be the time to catch him. Given that record and Honeyball’s ability to place his horses to best effect, he could just be worth ‘backing blind’, odds allowing of course (cue being put in at 6/4) There should still be room in this mark, and 26f in deep ground looks ideal. He should be going close somewhere when the mud is flying.
Another horse who’s clearly had his problems, not seen since November 21st but thankfully still listed on Harry Whittington’s website as a horse in training. (as is Sojourn above)
This 7 YO Gelding by Dubai Destination ran a blinder on his seasonal return at Uttoxeter (7.5l 3rd, first run 222 days) in a hot Novice Handicap Chase which has worked out so well (Class 3, 2m6.5, ran on 16th Oct 2020 – this year’s renewal could be worth keeping a very close eye on)
18 runners lined up this day. They’ve run 81 times since, with 16 subsequent winners.
Demachine won this race and would win again (and is a chaser worth following this season also, he surely has a half decent 3m+ pot in him)
Morning Vicar was 2nd and won twice that season, the 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 11th, 12th and 15th placed horses would all win at least once last season. Clearly it was a race packed with unexposed and well handicapped chasers, as you’d expect given the race type.
Following this Uttoxeter run he chased home Demachine again at Ascot, 5l back to the third. It could be he did too much on/near the front end that day. He’s 4/10, 9 places in his career, nothing but consistent with a decent attitude, and provided he’s over whatever his injury was, will hopefully be winning again over fences at some point. His form suggests he should be from his mark and they’ll be far less competitive chase pots to plunder than those he was running in. Many a C3 chase that won’t have a Demachine etc in them.
Back to Ireland and Gordon Elliot’s 6YO Grey looks worth keeping on the right side of this season. He won a heavy ground Thyestes Handicap Chase in January (usually a competitive race), beating stablemate Run Wild Fred by 4l. Two Willie Mullins horses chasing them home. Fred would go on to finish a 1.3L 2nd in The Irish National, so solid enough form.
Coko would win a G2 Novice Chase on his next start at Navan, beating Espanito Bello. That rival pecked at the last before doing very little in The Irish National. He’s 3/10,5p in his career, 1/5,2p chasing, and looks worth keeping an eye on also. Like Coko, I think he found the ground too quick at Fairyhouse.
It will be interesting to see what Gordon does with both Run Wild Fred and Coko Beach, but the latter looks as though he should have another soft/heavy ground slog in him somewhere.
Another horse who looks to have injured himself, which may not be the safest proposition, but he hacked up at Wetherby when last seen on Boxing Day, staying on well over 2m4f in soft ground.
His eight rivals have run 20 times since, winning 6. That includes the 2nd, 3rd and 4th winning five between them, including Time To Get Up who could be a National horse in the making for Jonjo, having won last season’s Midlands National (from Mighty Thunder, who then won The Scottish National – solid staying form-lines)
Johnbb was chasing him home in that Wetherby chase, before coming down. He’d bounce back with a solid second in the 25f handicap chase at Aintree’s Grand National meeting, beaten by Happy Go Lucky (2nd in The Ultima the run before), the ever consistent Spiritofthegames in 3rd. Tom Lacey’s 7YO looks as though he’s got a 3m handicap chase in him this season also, based on that form/his profile.
I’ve no doubt Twotwothree is still well handicapped and provided he’s sound/that injury hasn’t left a mark, should be popping up somewhere this season. His form and profile suggests so. And he does like winning, now 3/9 over fences.
Phillip Hobbs’ 7YO Fair Mix gelding looks like a handicap chaser to keep onside. He’s 1/6,4p over fences, 5/17,9p in his career – he’s obviously got a fine attitude and keeping multiple winners onside is never a bad policy, especially if you think there’s still room in their mark and/or they are well handicapped.
He was last seen on 20th March in a 20.5f C3 handicap chase at Kempton. He found it all happening a bit too quickly around there on good ground, outpaced, the odd scrappy jump. He was a CD winner on softer ground two starts before.
In any case, his last race is working out well enough. He plugged on for 3rd there behind two horses, Domaine De Llsle (who’d become well handicapped) and Manofthemountain (a progressive good ground chaser, who could win something minor this season, but he ‘could’ just be an early season/spring/summer horse, time will tell), who both won their next starts comfortably.
Looking at his handicap profile, both hurdles and fences… he’s now 0/6,2p from marks of 131+ and maybe it’s the case he needs to drop back down to 130< (4/7,5p). With only 6 runs over fences I wouldn’t be dogmatic in saying he can’t win from his current mark though, but something to keep an eye on. Hobbs may decide he needs to be 130< and will train/run him as such. He’s 4/10, 7p right-handed, 0/3,0p left-handed, a profile which suggests Phillip think’s he’s best going RH. He’s 4/8, 5p returning within 30 days of last start, although only 0/5,2p 31+.
I think going RH, a strongly run 2m4/5f with a bit of cut, may be ideal for him. Maybe 3m will be worth a crack this season. But there’s certainly more to come over fences I think. The form of a few of his races has worked out well enough.
Nigel Hawke’s 8YO Kapgarde Gelding shaped last season as if there’s still room in his mark. He’s 4/14,6p in his career, 3/6,4p over fences.
When last seen in February he fell, having lost his place/been outpaced on good ground. He’s still listed on Nigel’s website so I assume all is well and he’ll be back this season.
Before that run he ran a solid 8l second at Newbury, stepped up to 3m for the first time. He was keen that day and possibly did too much under young Kieran Buckley, given the heavy ground. He was outstayed by Fagan.
The time before he hacked up at Wincanton over 2m4.5f in soft, a C4. Francky Du Berlais chases him home there and he’s had a fine summer, winning four, including a facile win in the Summer Plate. Another Emotion was 3rd and he’s won a couple since, another soft ground slogger who may well win a slog this winter. He’s a bit one paced, probably has a class ceiling, but really does like it hock deep, decent jumper at his best when going his pace. Any horse that can stay up Carlisle’s hill in heavy over 26f+ is worth noting as that takes guts.
All four of Ouro Bronco’s career wins have been in soft and heavy but he looks versatile with regards to all other conditions. He usually races prominent and is a decent jumper at his best. It could be a stiff 2m4f would see him to best effect but I wouldn’t be surprised if they try 3m again at some point and if he settles and is ridden more conservatively, could do well. He may well have developed again over the summer. 126 is workable and he should be winning more chases.
I’m going to finish this article with a horse who ran more recently, on 8th September at Uttoxeter, and will likely return to the racecourse before any of those mentioned above.
I do wonder if Peter Bowen may now aim him at The Durham National, run at Sedgefield over 3m5f in October. I say that as he shapes as if he’d relish the trip and Peter has won the race before. Two starts back he made all over 3m3f at Sedgefield, before his latest run at Uttoxeter over 3m2f, staying on into 2nd. He got outpaced around there and not for the first time this summer, before staying on. He can hit a flat spot but jumps well, gallops and responds to pressure. I’m convinced he’s got a staying pot him at the regional national level, but decent ground is clearly important to him, for all he handles some cut.
His summer form has been working out ok also. There was nothing wrong with losing to Friends Don’t Ask LTO. His Uttoxeter run three starts back wasn’t too bad either. I don’t think the handicapper has got him just yet but wouldn’t mind seeing him over 3m4f+ at some point, for all it is very much ‘summer’ form I think.
I will mention Jonjo’s 8YO Young Wolf who ran his best race for some time in that Uttoxeter race. Decent ground looks to be important as does a small field. He appears happiest when not surrounded by other horses. He’s also not the biggest and had top weight at Uttoxeter, which may have anchored him late on and he may not want further than 25f. He ran off 125 there, having previously won from highs of 138 so is clearly well handicapped and should be winning again at some point if staying sound. He’s 5/21, 10p in his career and is handicapped again to add to that tally.
With any luck you’ve enjoyed reading the above and I’ve given you a few ideas and horses to follow. Those mentioned above will win more chases I’m sure, just a case of landing on them on the right day. Easy!! 🙂
If you’ve any questions, do fire away down below,