As we head into March and ever-nearer to the Cheltenham Festival see which trainers are the punter’s pals at the moment.
ROGER CURTIS (3 winners from his last 7 runners, 43% strike-rate): Based in Berkshire this small yard is certainly keeping the bank manager at bay so far this month. They’ve fired in three winners since the 18th of Feb and although another of theirs, Romney Marsh, finished sixth of 12 last time at Plumpton she actually ran a really good race and it was only in the final stages that she faded. Son Ned, who claims 7lbs, has ridden two of those three recent winners on the flat, while they tend to use Hadden Frost, who is currently growing his hair so it can be cut off and used for cancer patient wigs – good on him, the most over the sticks. Clean Bowled (8/13) won as he liked last time at Lingfield and he’s entered to run again at the same track on Saturday – one to keep on the right side of. Their stats this season read 2 from 4 with their flat runners, and 6 from 59 with their jumpers, and need just two more winners over the sticks to better their 2010-11 tally. Looking at their AW stats they tend to do best at Southwell, where they are 9 from 68 (13%) and on a positive level stakes profit.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Lingfield AW (2 from 17, 12%) & Huntingdon (3 from 26, 12%)
JOHN FERGUSON (3 winners from his last 8 runners, 38% strike-rate): Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock manager is still making a real name for himself in the training ranks and despite the well-backed Primaries getting beaten on Monday he pulled way too hard and should not be written off just yet. Even with that disappointment and another favoutite finishing unplaced on Wednesday, they are still showing very impressive figures this season with 22 winners from just 59 sent to post – that’s a huge 37% strike-rate! Jockey Jack Quinlan is their stable jockey and he’s ridden all their recent winners, and with the Cheltenham looming then there’s a good chance this up-coming yard could send out their first festival winner – keep an eye on New Year’s Eve (if he runs) in the bumper, he showed a very good turn of foot to win impressively last time at Market Rasen and although he’ll need to step up again his proven speed will be a big asset – Cotton Mill, Peretually, Cape Dutch, Asaid, Creekside, Cry of Freedom and Memorabilia are others that could be heading to Prestbury Park. All of their wins have come either over hurdles (16) or in a NH Flat race (6), while over the smaller obstacles 29 of their 45 (64%) runners have finished fourth or better! Finally, and okay they’ve not had many runners at a lot of tracks, but it’s also amazing that they are currently boasting 100% records at no fewer than six courses!
Upcoming entries and track stats: Doncaster (0 from 2) & Huntingdon (3 from 6, 50%)
ANTHONY HONEYBALL (4 winners from his last 12 runners, 33% strike-rate): Another of the slightly smaller NH yards that’s really mixing it with the big boys at the moment. Jockey Rachael Green continues to make a name for herself in the saddle and the way she out-battled AP McCoy in a driving finish at Plumpton on Monday was a clear sign that she’s a jump jockey with a big future. She’s been on three of their 4 recent winners and, yes, two of those four have been with the same horse – Velator. However, 10 of their last 12 have also finished third or better, while keep an eye if they book Aidan Coleman to ride – he’s won or finished second from his last two mounts for the yard. This recent good spell puts them on 20 wins from just 71 runners (28%), while they’ve also sent out 6 NH Flat winners from 23 runners and are showing a +£54 level stakes profit with all their runners this season. – in fact they’ve been ahead on that front now in three of the past 4 campaigns.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Taunton (3 from 29, 10%) & Newbury (1 from 6, 17%)
REG HOLLINSHEAD (3 winners from his last 9 runners, 33% strike-rate): It’s off to old-timer Reg Hollinshead now as he’s showing no signs of a let up in the firing in the winners stakes. They are 3 from 9 in this country, but if you add in the winner they had over in France earlier this month at Cagnes-sur-mer then their figures are even better than I’ve advertised. They tend to use the services of George Baker when they can and he’s been on two of those three recent UK successes. They only puts them on 5 winners from 2012, but over 50% of their 33 runners this year have finished fourth or better too. Last term they banged in 26 flat winners, 28 the year before and 34 back in 2009 – so this consistent stable will have those figures as their aim, but it’s hard to see them bettering their best-ever end-of-season tally of 63 (1995). Finally, when looking out for their runners don’t just confine your search to the flat – they do have plenty of NH runners too, but it’s worth pointing out they are 0 from 18 so far this season, but did have a 14/1 third on Weds!
Upcoming entries and track stats: Ludlow (0 from 21), Taunton (0 from 1), Wolverhampton (72 from 586, 12%) & Herford (1 from 12, 8%).
TOM GEORGE (7 winners from his last 24 runners, 29% strike-rate): Baby Mix and Nacarat provided the Tom George team with a day to remember and a 26/1 double at Kempton on Saturday and with another winner at Leicester on Tuesday then anything they run at the moment should be respected. Okay, so they had three others turned over on Tuesday too, but two of them ran well and with the festival on the horizon then I’m sure the yard could not be happier with the form of their team. Paddy Brennan is a big asset in the saddle and he’s been on their last three winners – 10lb claimer Gerald Quinn, who is attached to the yard, is the only other jockey to ride any of their recent 7 winners. After a fairly quiet time last season (just 18 winners) they are certainly back on track with 32 so far this term and will be hoping they can get near the 50 mark – something they’ve only managed once before (2003-04). They tend to have slightly more chasers on show than hurdles, but there’s not a lot in it, but keep an eye on their bumper runners – they are 4 from just 11 and +£34.50 so far this season in that arena.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Ludlow (4 from 45, 9%), Taunton (3 from 34, 9%), & Newbury (14 from 71, 20%)
NICKY HENDERSON (16 winners from his last 61 runners, 26% strike-rate): A lot was said about the yard not having a winner last Saturday, but they only had 4 runners, and three of those were 13/2 or bigger! Anyway, Barber’s Shop got them back on track in the Hunters’ Chase at Fontwell on Sunday and with their better horses being kept for Cheltenham then it goes without saying we might see a slight dip in their numbers over the next 10 days or so. However, that is nothing to worry about and really the yard could not be heading into the festival in much better form – and Henderson needs just two more Cheltenham winners to become the festival’s most successful handler of all time, Sprinter Sacre and Long Run should see to that! They are still some way adrift of Nicholls in prize money terms – 1.7m plays 1.3m, but in sheer winners it’s 128 plays 101 in favour of Henderson. That means they are just 25 short of matching last season haul of 153 and now look odds-on to make this their best-ever season for winners. Their NH Flat figures have dipped slightly over the past few weeks, but they are still 14 from 48 (29%), while 77% of those runners have finished fourth or better.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Ludlow (38 from 102, 37%), Taunton (9 from 45, 20%), Newbury (57 from 254, 22%), Doncaster (20 from 80, 25%), Kelso (4 from 7, 57%) &, Hereford (13 from 41, 32%), Huntingdon (39 from 111, 35%)
DONALD McCAIN (12 winners from his last 40 runners, 30% strike-rate): The McCain team have gone a bit under the radar recently with a lot of focus surrounding Henderson and Nicholls, but they’ve actually sent out more winners than Nicholls so far this season (115) and with Overturn, Peddlers Cross and Weird Al just a few big names to look forward to at the festival then I’m sure they are happy with their lot at this stage. A monster 364/1 winner for the team at Bangor on Wednesday further underlined their good form, while for a big yard it’s another positive advert that they are actually showing a level stakes profit (+6) so far this season too. Consistency this should be their motto as in all three disciplines – hurdles, chase and NH Flat, they are showing a steady 21% win strike-rate in them all!
Upcoming entries and track stats: Ludlow (4 from 39, 10%), Newbury (4 from 35, 11%), Doncaster (7 from 62, 11%), Kelso (13 from 94, 14%), Lingfield AW (no runners), Sedgefield (17 from 102, 17%) & Huntingdon (2 from 21, 10%)
EMMA LAVELLE (4 winners from her last 18 runners, 22% strike-rate): You have to feel a tiny bit sorry for jockey Jack Doyle who’s been replaced as the stable’s number one pilot by Noel Fehily, but since the new partnership the yard has sent out three winners, and in fact 5 of their last 7 have finished third or better. Now are now on the 34 winner mark for the season and that’s the best they’ve ever managed and we’ve still got a nice chunk of the season left for them to eye up the half century. Of their 34 winners 12 have come over fences, and 3 with their NH Flat runners, however, 19 have been over hurdles and with a +£34 level stakes profit this season over the smaller obstacles then it’s here that you should be paying closer attention to their runners. Looking ahead they will another of the up-and-coming yards that could fire in a festival winner, while they send a few to Doncaster on Saturday and they are 3 from just 13 on Town Moor.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Newbury (6 from 70, 9%) & Doncaster (3 from 13, 23%)
JOHN BEST (3 winners from his last 10 runners, 30% strike-rate): With the AW jockey’s battle between Joe Fanning and Luke Morris hotting up the Best stable are getting behind Morris and have provided him with two winners at Kempton last week. Based in Kent the yard only had an average time of things last term with just 22 winners – their worst tally since 2003! They are on 3 from 26 so far this season, but they’ve not really had the juveniles they’ve had in previous seasons and so a lot will depend on how good their youngsters are going to perform in 2012 – we’ll start to see the 2 year-olds on track in the next month or so. No future entries, mean that you’ll have to keep an eye on things in that respect, but if there is one word of caution then despite it being their local track I’d be worried that they are just 37 from 457 (8%) and a huge -£228 level stakes at the Surrey venue
This Week’s Cold Trainer…………………………..
TIM VAUGHAN (59 days and 69 runners without a winner) – Yes, he’s still on here and after another 7 days we are now heading close to 2 months without a winner for the Tim Vaughan team and that’s a very worrying sign with Cheltenham on the horizon. Yes, there have been a few glimmers of hope in the last few days that they will end this drought, but until they do the advice is think twice if you do like one of their runners – especailly if it’s well fancied in the betting.
Click on a trainer’s name to see all their up-coming entries