With just days now till the tapes go up on the 2012 Cheltenham Festival see which trainers are heading to Prestbury Park in top form.
NICKY RICHARDS (4 winners from his last 7 runners, 57% strike-rate): Okay, so the yard have not really had the quality since horses since the likes of Monet’s Garden retired, but in terms of sheer winners it looks as if they are putting the last two dissapointing season behind them. They only managed 18 successes in those two campaigns, but with 26 so far in 2011-12, albeit still some way of their glory days 5-6 years ago when they were banging in 50-60 winners, but they are heading in the right direction again. Of their haul this year they’ve had over double (15) with their hurdlers, while keep a close eye on their bumper runners – 9 of their 15 this term, including 4 winners, have finished third or better.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Carlisle (12 from 69, 17%) , Ayr (16 from 134, 12%), Sandown (0 from 10) & Sedgefield (8 from 46, 17%)
TOM GEORGE (5 winners from his last 16 runners, 31% strike-rate): Despite their current good form the yard only grabbed their first win in March on Monday in a bumper at Hereford. They have, however, had 11 of their last 16 finish third or better and with Cheltenham on the horizon then they will be more than happy with how their horses are running at present. Obviously Baby Mix in the Triumph is their big hope on the Friday – he’s currently around 6/1 in the betting and having won the Adonis Hurdle, which is an excellent trial, then I’m sure they will fancy their chances. With 33 wins for the season they have already put last terms poor showing of just 18 behind them, and will now be trying hard to get close to the 50 mark – something they’ve only done once before (2003-04). Of their 33 successes 19 have actually come over fences, while I already mentioned they had another bumper winner this week – but that was actually their fifth from just 12 NH Flat runners (42%) this season.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Carlisle (1 from 5, 20%), Wincanton (6 from 39, 15%), Sandown (3 from 19, 16%) & Cheltenham (6 from 67, 9%)
DONALD McCAIN (5 winners from his last 20 runners, 25% strike-rate): With three winners from their last 5 runners and the other two finishing second and third then the McCain yard have managed to get their horses to peak at exactly the right time. Their 2011 Grand National hero Ballabriggs ran a credible race up at Kelso last weekend and looks firmly on target to defend his title, while we now know that Peddlers Cross will bypass the Arkle for the potentially easier-looking Jewson Novices’ Chase on the Thursday. Add in Weird Al, who runs in the Gold Cup, Cinders and Ashes (Supreme Novices’), Overturn (Champion Hurdle), Bourne (Martin Pipe) and Cloudy Lane (Foxhunters) then the stable have plenty to look forward to next week. So far they have had more winners than Paul Nicholls this season (124), while 60% of their 581 runners this term have finished fourth or better. It’s also worth noting that 50% of their NH Flat runners (60) have finished first, second or third, including 13 winners.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Carlisle (20 from 137, 15%), Wincanton (3 from 13, 23%), Ayr (25 from 86, 29%), Chepstow (6 from 37, 16%), Sandown (1 from 20, 5%), Market Rasen (12 from 76, 16%) & Cheltenham (3 from 75, 4%)
JEREMY SCOTT (4 winners from his last 16 runners, 25% strike-rate): A near-on 40/1 double at Exeter on Tuesday underlined the well-being of the Jeremy Scott team and that also now means 13 of their last 16 runners have managed to finish fifth or better – further evidence that anything they run at the moment we should take note of. Jockey Nick Scholfield is their main man in the saddle – he’s ridden all of their 4 recent winners, but they do also use Tom O’Brien a fair bit too. Looking at their stats they’ve shown a level stakes profit for the past two seasons and with +£35 so far this term they are going in the same direction. In terms of sheers winners they are 21 from 111, and that’s already 7 more than they managed last season – meaning this is also their best-ever season. They’ve had slightly more winners over hurdles (11, compared to 7 over fences), but have had 3 NH Flat winners from just 11 runners. With Cheltenham on the horizon next week they do have a few heading to Prestbury Park, including their stable stalwart – Gone to Lunch – who is entered in the Cross Country and the Kim Muir at the moment.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Wincanton (2 from 25, 8%), Chepstow (2 from 23, 9%), Sandown (0 from 5), Warwick (1 from 9, 11%), Taunton (2 from 25, 8%) & Cheltenham (2 from 16, 13%)
PAUL NICHOLLS (7 winners from his last 29 runners, 24% strike-rate): A lot has been said about the coughing scare and the general form of the Nicholls team over the last few weeks, but as we head towards Cheltenham I would ignore their runners at your peril. Yes, he’s had a few turned over, but they are still firing in the winners and let’s not forget that a lot of their runners at the moment will be their second or third tier with all their best ones being saved for Cheltenham. Of course all the focus at the yard at the moment is surrounding Kauto Star and let’s hope the dual Gold Cup winner makes it, but even if they lose that battle they will still have the likes of Al Ferof, Zarkandar, Ted Spread, Join Together, Cristal Bonus and, of course, Big Buck’s to go to war with. They are still well clear in the trainers’ title race with over £1.7mill won in total prize money and with 104 winners from 454 set to post they are still firing in the winners at well over 20% – hardly a stable out of form!
Upcoming entries and track stats: Wincanton (55 from 219, 25%), Sandown (41 from 134, 31%), Leicester (1 from 3, 33%), Chepstow (45 from 219, 21%), Cheltenham (65 from 425, 15%)
BRIAN ELLISON (5 winners from his last 22 runners, 23% strike-rate): The yard followed up their Doncaster Saturday win with another victory at Huntingdon on Sunday and although this Yorkshire-based yard will mainly have 20/1+ horses heading to Cheltenham next week I suspect one or two could run big races. Obviously they are a yard that operate over both codes around this time of year and with 6 flat winners from just 29 runners then don’t forget to keep an eye on these entries too – especially at Southwell where they are 55 from 232 (24%). In terms of their jumping numbers they are having their best-ever campaign with 32 winners from 191 runners – that’s already 11 more than they managed last term. Of those 32 successes 22 have been with their hurdlers, but despite being a flat yard too I’d be a bit wary of their NH bumper runners as they are only 1 from 18 this season.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Southwell (AW) (55 from 232, 24%), Wolverhampton (AW) (24 from 174, 14%), Market Rasen (7 from 46, 15%) & Cheltenham (0 from 19)
PHILIP HOBBS (6 winners from his last 30 runners, 20% strike-rate): The Hobbs team had a horrid time last month and to be honest they’ve actually not had the best of seasons so far, full stop! However, despite having a well-fanced runner get turned over at Fontwell on Wednesday, if the past few weeks are anything to go by it looks as if they could be turning the corner – and just in time for Cheltenham! Their stable stars of last season – Captain Chris, Wishfull Thinking and Menorah have all disappointed so far – but with the big festivals on the horizon a win or two at any of them will make amends. They’ve broken the £1million mark in terms of prize money in all of the past 10 seasons, but with just over £600,000 so far this term they will need a few big race winners if they are to keep this trend going. They managed 86 winners in both of the past two seasons, and with 55 this campaign and with the yard in slightly better form they will fancy their fancies of still getting near that figure. Fingal Bay missing the festival next week was another kick in the teeth for the yard, but there will be other days for this potentially useful sort, so it now looks as if Sadler’s Risk could be their best chance of a Cheltenham winner in the Triumph on the Friday.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Wincanton (31 from 186, 17%), Sandown (15 from 93, 16%), Chepstow (30 from 177, 17%), Warwick (10 from 65, 15%), Taunton (25 from 147, 17%), Plumpton (2 from 21, 10%), Stratford (8 from 86, 9%), Cheltenham (35 from 299, 12%)
HANS ADIELSSON (4 winners from his last 7 runners, 57% strike-rate): This former Swedish-based trainer is now plying his trade in Oxon and with 4 winners since the 22nd Feb then he’s fast making a name for himself. He uses the services of other Swede, Nicole Nordblad, in the saddle and if they continue to fire in the winners then it won’t be long before she starts to eat into her useful-looking 7lb claim. Three of the four victories have come at Kempton (the other at Lingfield), but they only need another 3 winners to equal their debut season of 2011, while they are currently showing a +£18 level stakes profit, suggesting their runners are still going off fair prices. They do also have the added bonus of being backed by well-known owner Eric Penser so you can expect to see a lot of ‘Comptons and Beauchamps’ running for them as the season progresses. They will be having their first ever runner at Southwell this Thursday too – Compton Monarch.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Southwell (No runners)
SIMON DOW (3 winners from his last 6 runners, 50% strike-rate): If you see a Simon Dow runner with Hayley Turner booked then at the moment you should take a second look – the pair are 3-out-of-3 when teaming up from their recent runners. Being based down south at Epsom you can expect to see most of their runners at Lingfield or Kempton, but it’s worth noting they are a huge 5 from 11 (45%) at Wolverhampton too. So far they are 5 winners from 23 runners in 2012, and considering they only managed 15 winners in the whole of 2011 then everything’s in place for the stable to kick on and have a good season. The final thing to note once we start seeing the 2 year-olds on track is to be wary of their juveniles – since 2008 they are only 1 from 47.
Upcoming entries and track stats: No entries in the coming days
MARK JOHNSTON (10 winners from his last 31 runners, 32% strike-rate): With another AW trainer’s title at their mercy the Johnston team could not be in any better form, despite drawing a blank from their four runners on Wednesday. They’ve fired in 5 winners from just 14 runners so far in March and as long as they remain in this sort of form there surely can only be one winner in the AW jockey’s title race – Joe Fanning. In fact, a massive 19 of their last 31 runners have finished either first or second. They are now on 33, from just 108, for the season and that’s already a sixth of their total tally for 2011 and we’ve not even hit the turf flat season yet! 20 of their 33 AW winners have been with their 3 year-olds, while for such a big yard it says it all when they are showing a positive level stakes profit (+£12) so far for the season. If there is one negative regarding the AW tracks it’s arguably at Kempton where they have a 15% strike-rate – they are over 20% at all the other three.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Lingfield (75 from 361, 21%), Wolverhampton (86 from 383, 22%), Kempton (49 from 333, 15%) & Southwell (70 from 290, 24%)
This Week’s Cold Trainers……………….
PETER BOWEN (39 days and 32 runners without a winner)
BILL TURNER (34 days and 22 runners without a winner)
Click on a trainer’s name to see all their future entries