Andy Newton’s got six more trainers to look out for this week, plus a high-profile handler that needs a change of luck….
NICKY HENDERSON (8 winners from their last 18 runners, 44% strike-rate): Currently around £250k adrift of the Nicholls camp in the prize money stakes, but with a stream of winners at the weekend, including a Saturday Sandown four-timer then you suspect that gap might be closing very quickly. Plenty more cash up for grabs at Cheltenham this Friday and Saturday might go some way to seeing to that, plus they’ve got a few entered in the valuable Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon on Thursday. Although not certain runners, Simonsig and Punjabi are both entered at Bangor in a Novices’ Chase on Friday, so we’ll see what happens there, plus let’s not forget Long Run and Riverside Theatre provide a strong hand in the King George on Boxing Day, while wouldn’t it be a great Christmas present for us all if connections decide to send Bobs Worth over for the Lexus Chase (28th Dec) and a possible clash with Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs!
Upcoming entries and track stats: Fontwell (14 from 37, 38%), Leicester (14 from 32, 44%), Ludlow (35 from 103, 34%), Huntingdon (35 from 105, 33%), Taunton (9 from 45, 20%), Bangor (18 from 60, 30%), Cheltenham (53 from 324, 16%)
NICK WILLIAMS (3 winners from his last 8 runners, 38% strike-rate): With 7 of their last 8 runners finishing fourth or better, including those three winners, then all is rosy in the Nick Williams camp at present. They’ve never been a yard that fire in loads of winners, with 21 (2009-10) being their best-ever tally, but with the likes of Diamond Harry, Reve De Sivola and more recently For Non Stop landing some big pots in recent years then they have managed to win £490k, £350k and £340k in the last three seasons. They are also 1-from-1 with their NH Flat runners so far this season after a winner at Exeter under Richard Johnson last Friday, plus in terms of jockeys they are often use Mark Quinlan, who claims a handy 3lbs, a fair bit too.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Fontwell (3 from 12, 25%), Ludlow (4 from 18, 22%), Cheltenham (6 from 69, 9%)
HARRY FRY (3 winners from his last 8 runners, 38% strike-rate): Okay, so no winners since he was flagged up last week, but to be fair they only had two runners – a fourth at 12/1 and a second at 7/2. So, it’s clear their horses are still running well, and with four entries on the horizon, including the decent mare Violin Davies over fences at Huntingdon on Thursday and, of course, the current Champion Hurdler Rock On Ruby, who should run in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday, then they will be hoping for more success. They are currently showing a +£25 level stakes profit, and with 15 of their 25 runners finishing fourth or better (6 winners) then that’s another strong stat and further backs up the wellbeing of their horses. Jockey Noel Fehily has been on all three of their recent winners, but remember they do also use Ryan Mahon and his 3lb claim when they can too.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Fontwell (no runners), Huntingdon (no runners), Cheltenham (0 from 2)
DONALD McCAIN (12 winners from his last 34 runners, 35% strike-rate): If the race for the trainers’ title was all about actual winners then with 84 successes so far, in contrast to the 50 odd that Henderson and Nicholls have, then he could very easily out do them in that battle. In terms of cash won then they are not doing too bad either with £473k, but despite having plenty of ammo, they don’t have too much to go to war with in the very top races and that will ultimately prove the difference as we head into the second half of the season. They notched 153 winners last term, so will have that as a firm target, while in Jason Maguire, who has fired in 93 winners so far this season, they have a jockey riding right at the top of his game – he looks set for a great battle with Richard Johnson (92 winners) in the race for second place behind AP.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Sedgefield (27 from 107, 25%), Leicester (6 from 29, 21%), Hexham (14 from 97, 14%), Ludlow (4 from 34, 12%), Huntingdon (2 from 22, 9%), Bangor (65 from 330, 20%), Cheltenham (4 from 87, 5%), Doncaster (6 from 59, 10%), Musselburgh (15 from 60, 25%), Carlisle (24 from 132, 18%), Hereford (9 from 56, 16%)
CHARLIE LONGSDON (8 winners from his last 24 runners, 33% strike-rate): Just one winner from six runners on Monday, but their overall strike-rate at the moment is still a very healthy 33%. I thought their Hazy Tom was a bit unlucky to not go in up at Musselburgh on Monday too – getting chinned on the line, but should make amends providing the handicapper is not too harsh on him. They are now on 35 winners for the season as they look to better the 69 (their best-ever) then notched up last term. They also had a good day on the NH Flat card at Kempton the other Sunday, while with 8 overall bumper winners (+£13) from just 28 runners then it could pay to lookout for any entries in that sphere. At this stage they only have Hildisvini entered at Cheltenham later this week, but with just one Prestbury Park winner from their last 53 it might be best avoided despite their good current form.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Leicester (3 from 19, 16%), Huntingdon (13 from 72, 18%), Ludlow (3 from 39, 8%), Cheltenham (1 from 53, 2%), Bangor (13 from 57, 23%)
NIGEL TWISTON-DAVIES (4 winners from his last 16 runners, 25% strike-rate): Okay, so borderline in terms of actual strike-rate, but 11 of their last 16 runners have finished in the first three, while their Aintree treble that included Little Josh and Hello Bud was a day to remember for the team. With Cheltenham later in the week then they couldn’t be heading into that meeting in better form and have an array of entries to keep a look out for – I’ll be surprised if they can’t add at least one decent winner over the 2 days of top-notch action. With 43 winners so far they are well on target to better the 70 they managed last term, while 97 (their best yet in 2010-11) is certainly in their sights now too. The only worry for me is that they do tend to be a bit of an all or nothing yard and often hit a flat spot at some point during the season – let’s just hope that doesn’t happen this campaign as if they are to get near the 100 mark they will need to average 2-3 winners a week now until April when things start to wind down.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Fontwell (9 from 48, 19%), Leicester (5 from 38, 13%), Taunton (1 from 35, 3%), Ludlow (13 from 134, 10%), Huntingdon (7 from 81, 9%), Cheltenham (29 from 330, 9%), Doncaster (2 from 31, 6%), Hereford (8 from 84, 10%)
PAUL NICHOLLS (4 winners from his last 26 runners, 15% strike-rate): Yes, not a ‘hot trainer’ at the moment, but being the champion handler I thought it might be worth flagging up that they’ve had just 4 winners so far this month from 26 runners. Add in that one of those was Big Buck’s, who doesn’t count, then is the Ditcheat yard going through a mini-crisis? With a string of second and thirds the answer is probably no, and it’s just one of those little blips that all the big yards go through from time-to-time, but, for me, being that they are now 15 runners without a winner then I’d rather wait for a return to form until loading on. They are currently on the 57 winner mark, but more importantly have banked over £955k already in total prize money – and that’s around £250k more than the Henderson team. Looking ahead they will be hoping to turn their fortunes around by landing Saturday’s Paul Stewart Ironspine Charity Challenge Gold Cup for the third time in four years, with Unioniste, Ghizao and Cristal Bonus all entered at the time of writing – plus they will also be hoping to run Zarkandar in the International Hurdle at the same meeting.
Upcoming entries and track stats: Ludlow (5 from 29, 17%), Taunton (53 from 146, 36%), Huntingdon (4 from 17, 24%), Cheltenham (64 from 393, 16%)
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