THE EIDER CHASE
LAST 16 RUNNINGS
3 winning favs and 4 winning second favs
1st 3 in betting x 11
1st 6 won 13 renewals
Winners at 28/1 & 18/1 but the other 14 were all returned 11/1 or less
All carried 11-12 or less
14 carried 11-8 or below
Official Rating (OR)
All rated 126 – 139
7 and 8yo's have the best wins to runs ratio with 2-21 (10%) for the former and 4-41 (10%) for the latter.
9yo's are not far behind with 5-62 (8%)
11 & 10yo's have roughly the same record with 2-32 (6%) and 3-58 (5%) respectively
No horses older than 11 have won this during the period under examination
15 had run 1-9 times in the past year
ALL ran 1-8 times that season
ALL13 of those who completed last time finished in the first 7
Pulled up last time 2-28 (8%)
6 won last time
14 had won over 3m 1f plus
14 had run over 3m 2f or further
13 had their last run 30 days or less ago
The in form yard is that of Peter Bowen whose runners have scored 4-13 times in the last 14 days. Berea Boru is his runner but is a little too far out in the betting for a typical winner (16/1 generally) and has never won beyond 3 miles
Michael Scudamore has sent 6 runners to Newcatle over the past 5 years and 3 won. His record here with chasers for the same period is 2-4.
His runner, Mysteree, is currently 8/1 second fav and has most of the trends going for him. The main trends question mark is no run for 54 days and no first 7 run last time (though, as i wrote above 2 previous winners pulled up last time)
Warren Greatrex sends a rare runner to the track but he is 1-3 with his runners here, the past 5 years. His Out Sam is the ideal age but is another one that doesn't meet the normal stamina criteria of having won 3m1f plus nor ran over 3m2f or further.
Ian Duncan is 1/3 with his chasers here over the past 5 years. His runner, Milborough, is currently 14/1, but, should any money push it into 11/1 or less, this C/D winner is well worth a second look
Mr Richard Patrick is 5/18 riding for Kerry Lee for whom he rides Mountainous, who, at 12, would be the oldest winner in the last 17 runnings
There is one trend i find fascinating. Those that ran 30 days or less ago have a record in this of 13-143 (11%) compared to those who last ran 31- 90 days since who are 3-104 (3%).
If we apply this along with the other trends, it gives us a shortlist of one: RUSSE BLANC, who has a near perfect trends profile with only his age (10) preventing a perfect profile. Currently best priced 12/1 with Bet365
GRAND NATIONAL TRIAL
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
3 winning favs and 2 winning second favs
18 came from the first 8 in the betting but no winning third fav
Winners at 18/1, 16/1 and 14/1 – all the rest were 12/1 or less
ALL carried 10 stone to 11-12
17 carried 11-7 or less
Official Rating (OR)
ALL were rated 131 to 155
17 were rated 149 or less
9yo's just best with 6 winners from 50 runners (12%)
Next best are 7 and 11yo's with 3-30 and 3-31 respectively (10%)
8yo's are not too far behind with 5-60 (8%)
10 yo's have done by far the worst with 2-53 (4%)
17 had 3 – 9 runs in the last year
9 won last time and 5 finished second (the other 2 to complete finished third and seventh).
15 had won at 3m 1f plus
ALL had run at 3miles and half a furlong or further
11 had their last run 31-60 days ago
Kerry Lee has a 3-7 strike rate at Haydock with 3-6 being in chases. She runs Goodtoknow who has a perfect trends profile and is shortlisted.
Paul Nicholls does well with his chasers at the course with 12 winners from 28 runners in the last 5 years. He has last year's Scottish National winner, Vicente, in this. Good recent form has been a major feature of the last 19 renewals of this race and this one was beaten 32L back in sixth in his last run.
Ian Williams hasn't sent many to this course over the past 5 years but 2 of the 5 chasers he has sent have won. His 11yo, Gas Line Boy, doesn't have the requisite first 3 finish last time, but is a course and distance winner who ran a cracker last time when just 7.5L fourth over 3m in the £62K Veterans Chase at Sandown. Close but no cigar. Also, 2 of his 3 losing chasers were this horse who was pulled up in this last year and beaten 20L fourth the year before.
Applying the trends to the first 8 in the betting and excluding the 10yo's leaves us with two:
Martin Pipe's 8yo second fav, Vieux Lion Rouge and the previously highlighted
The latter just shades it on age trends anyway but of more concern to me is the form of the Pipe runners lately with just a 24% run to form (RTF) figure.
By contrast, Kerry Lee's yard is bang in form with a 62% RTF and her record at the course and with chasers here tips the balance.
GOODTOKNOW is avaliable at 9/1 with Corals as i write.
NEWBURY 1.50 THE BETFAIR HANDICAP HURDLE
LAST 18 RUNNINGS
Fav has won 4 and second fav twice
Winners at 33 & 20/1 but the other 16 were returned 12's or less
14 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
ALL carried between 10 stone and 12 stone
17 carried 10-4 plus which disqualifies the bottom weight
Official Rating (OR)
ALL were rated 104 -134 which gets rid of the top 3 in the weights
Not a good race so far for young horses, 5yo's are zero out of an admittedly small sample of 5 to try.
6 & 7yo's are easily the best with 5 winners from 42 runners (12%) and 6-54 (11%) respectively
8 & 9yo's are 3-53 (6%) and 3-37 (8%)
ALL had won and run 1-9 times in the past year
16 had won and run 1-5 times that season
15 of the 16 those that had won previously had won over two and a half miles plus
16 had run over 2m 6f or further
Only 4 had won over further than todays trip of 3 miles
17 ran 120 days ago or less
Of the 14 to complete last time, 10 posted a first 4 finish
12 finished in the first 7 in their last run
Nigel Twiston-Davies has won this twice but his Scotchtown is 5yo and looks a little over raced compared to a typical winner of this
Peter Bowen's horses are running well recently, with 4-12 winning in the last 14 days. He runs Rolling Maul, another one who has been kept busy and, as a 9yo, doesn't appeal on trends
Debra Hamer had turned just 2 runners out in the past fortnight and 1 has won. She runs the fav, Tobefair who looks to have a perfect trends profile. Shortlisted
Ben Pauling is 5-18 at this course over the past 5 years and he runs bottom weight Cadeau George. Off 10-2 he would be the second lowest weighted winner over the last 17 years , and he is an 8yo. Enough trends negatives to put me off.
Using the above trends gives me a shortlist of two:
Bryden Boy has all the trends except the one of not running more than 5 times this season.
He is also right on the border having run 9 times in the last year.
Having said that, I wouldn't put anyone off backing him each way at 15/2 with Bet365
However, boring as it may be, the fav, TOBEFAIR, has a perfect profile and is the selection.
There is one slight niggle which is that not many winners had won over a longer trip. This one has won over 3m 2f. Four such horses from 43 (10%) to try have won, compared to 14 winners from 187 (7%) who had not won over further. So, historically, winning over further is actually a percentage plus.
If the ground is genuinely Soft tomorrow, such stamina will be handy and i take the in form Hamer yard to land this with TOBEFAIR, best priced 11/4 with Paddy Power
SCILLY ISLES NOVICE CHASE (G1)
LAST 20 RUNNINGS
11 favs have taken this along with 3 second and 4 third favs
So 18 have come from the first 3 in the betting
A 10/1 shot won but the other 19 were all returned 11/2 or shorter
Official Rating (OR)
10 of the last 14 winners had an OR, of which ALLwere rated 139 or more
9 of those 10 were rated 152 plus
8 yo's are no wins from 19 runs in this
5yo's and 6yo's are much of a much with 3-14 (21%) & 6-30 (20%) respectively
ALL ran no more than 7 times in the past year
ALL ran 6 times or less that season
17 finished in the first two last time with 11 winning
16 had already won over 2m 3.5 furlongs
17 had run over two and a half miles plus
Paul Nicholls has won this 4 times. He runs Le Prezien who has never won beyond 2m 1.5f (a big negative) plus, with an OR of 149, would be the second lowest rated winner in the past 14 runnings. He also has the fav, Clan Des Obeaux who has a near perfect profile for this. Only a last time win is missing.
Nicky Henderson has saddled 3 winners of this contest.
The yard is in cracking form with 7 winners from 17 runners over the past 14 days
They have a 36-129 strike rate at Sandown over the last 5 years and 26 of those winners, from 86 runners, were hurdlers.
The fav, Clan Des Obeaux, is the proven class horse of the race but Nicky Henderson sent out Whisper to turn him over when we backed him last time at 10/11 SP and i think this in form yard, with such a good overall record here – especially with hurdlers – can repeat the dose with TOP NOTCH who just edges out the jolly, trendswise, due to winning last time.
Best priced 11/4 @ Skybet looks good value in a 5 horse race
CHELTENHAM 1.10 HANDICAP CHASE
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
Good guide with 6 favs and 4 second favs winning
First 6 in the betting won 17
Winners at 16/1 and 14/1 but the other 17 were returned 9/1or less
ALL carried 10-00 to 12-00
16 carried 11-9 or less
16 carried 10-3 +
Official Rating (OR)
ALL had an OR of 126 – 175
16 were rated 151or less
7 & 8 yo's are best with 4 winners from 27(15%) and 8-55 (15%) respectively
11yo's next best with 2-19 (11%)
9 yo's are 3-47 (6%)
10yo's 1-27 (4%)
17 ran 3-10 times in the past year
17 had 5 runs or less that season
17 finished in the first 6 last time
12 posted a first two finish LTO
17 had won over 2m 4f
18 had run over 2m 5f
12 had won over further
2 horses have won this back to back but none more than twice (Annacotty won the last twice)
David Pipe has provided 2 winners of this but his Ballynagour, though a good trends age at 11, pulled up last time.
Alan King's yard has been in great form for awhile now with 6 winners from his 19 runners in the past fortnight. His Annacotty (aiming to win this for the third year running) also finished outside the first 6 last time, is a 9yo and would be the first triple winner of this in the period we are examining.
If we take the 7 and 8 yo's from the first 6 in thebetting who meet all the other trends, we are left with a shortlist of 3 – all 7yo's:
Top weight and good winner over C/D in this grade last time, Shantou Flyer. He would be the joint second highest weighted and rated winner of this in the last 20 years
ASO has run well twice for us, finishing fourth (placed) and second in big handicaps before scoring in a race we didn't cover (but i backed him) last time over 2m 3.5f last time. His close second over the C/D was in a much better class (£56K) than this in the race won by Paddy Power fav, Frodon. The only trends doubt is his OR of 152 which is just 1 lbs higher than 16 of the last 19 winners.
This leaves us with WALK IN THE MILL who ticks all the boxes and is rated less than 151.He has the perfect trends profile for this and is my first choice
However, i can't desert ASO for the sake of 1lb, so i will back them both to win at 8/1 each.
THE PETER MARSH CHASE
LAST 16 RUNNINGS
Bad race for favs with just one winning
Second favs won twice and third favs three times
Winners at 33/1 and 20/1. All the other 14 were returned 16/1 or less
This ties in with 15 previous winners coming from the first 8 in the betting
ALL carried 10-00 to 11-10
15 carried 11-3 or less
Official Rating (OR)
ALL rated 129 – 169
15 had an OR of 155 or less
14 was running off a mark of 152 or less
14 were rated 137+
6 and 7 yo's are 0-19 in this. It seems a race for those with experience, which, along with other factors, is not good for the talking horse, top weight fav, Alary, nor the bottom weight, 8/1 fourth fav, Vintage Clouds.
There's not much between 8yo's & 10yo's, who are 6-36 (17%) & 4-27 (15%) respectively
9yo's have just just over half the wins to runs records of the above with 3-43 (9%), similar to 11yo's on 1-10 (10%)
ALL ran 1-10 times in the past year
14 had run 2-5 times that season
Of the 11 to complete, ALL finished in the first 8 in their last race
Last time out fallers (NOT pulled up!) have a decent strike rate of 3-10 in this
14 had won over 2m 4f
13 had already won over 2m 6f
14 had run over at least 3m 1f
14 had their last run between 8-60 days ago
Trainers and Jockeys
Sue Smith has won this 3 times. Her bottom weight, Vintage Clouds, would be the first horse aged under 8 to win this. Also, running off an OR of 136, it would be the third lowest rated winner.
Her yard is also in great form, with 5 winners from 14 runners the past fortnight, so, if there is to be a trends buster, this might be a candidate.
Venetia Williams yard have won this twice and her 9yo Ottago Trail isn't in the ideal age group and finished outside the first 8 last time (those who pulled up last time out have a 1-17 (6%) record in this). Not a trends proposition.
The Tom George stable is having a good time of things lately with 4 of his 14 winners over the last 14 days winning. The record of his runners at Haydock over the past 5 years is 8-29 and with his chasers 5-15. He runs the 9yo 0'Maonlai who, though a winner over 2m 6.5f, has pulled up twice and been beaten 52 lengths on the three occasions it has tried a longer trip. This and the age put me off from a trends point of view.
Charlie Mann has a 2-7 strike rate at the course over the last 5 years and his Seventh Sky has the statistical advantage of having fell last time! However, currently at 33/1, it would be the joint longest priced winner of this.
Kerry Lee is 3-6 at the track and 3-5 with her chasers here. She runs the 9yo Bishops Road who also has the negative of a duck egg next to his name.
Paul Nicholls is 12-26 with his chasers here over the last 5 years and he runs Virak who has a perfect profile and is shortlisted.
Daryl Jacob is 16/46 for Nigel Twiston-Davies but this 9/2 third fav is a 6yo and joins the fav, Alary, and bottom weight Vintage Clouds, in attempting to be the first horse under 8 years old to win this.
Looking at those that fulfil all the trends and are 8 or 10 yo's leaves us with a shortlist of 3.
Firebird Flyer (16/1)
Definitly Red (8/1)
VIRAK (18/1 with Ladbrokes but 16/1 or less everywhere else)
Nicholls' record here with his chasers clinches it for me and the above list is my preferences in reverse order. I am going to back VIRAK each way with Ladbrokes at 18/1 to give Nicholls yet another big race Saturday winner.
THE LANZAROTE HURDLE
LAST 18 RUNNINGS & 19 WINNERS (dead heat 2006)
Good guide with 7 favs, 1 second and 4 third favs winning (two thirds of the winners)
16 were from the first 6 in the betting
Winners at 22/1, 20/1 and 16/1 all the other 16 were returned 10/1 or less
The last 8 winners had SP's of 9/1 or less
ALL carried 10-00 to 11-7
17 carried 11-5 or less
16 carried 11-2 or lower
17 carried 10-3 +
Official Rating (OR)
ALL were rated 115 to 145
17 had an OR of 140 or less
6yo's have by far the best record in this with 11 winners from 75 runners (15%)
5yo's are clear next best with 4-39 (10%)
7yo' and 8yo's are 3-69 (4%) and 8yo's are 1-30 (3%)
No horse older than 8 won and only one above 7
16 ran between 2-7 times in the past year
ALL ran 5 times or less that season
1 fell and 1 pulled up last time. 14 of the remaining 17 finished in the first 6 last time
8 won their last race
Only 4 had already won over the distance or beyond
Only 10 had already run over 2m 3f or more
17 last ran 8-60 days ago
8 winners (including the last 3) were ridden by claiming jockeys
Paul Nicholls has won this twice. Both his runners are too high in the weights/OR for a typical winner of this
The trends narrow it down to 4:
Fav (good record), Doesyourdogbite, an unbeaten 5yo who, were he 6, would have the perfect profile
Current 10/1 sixth fav, Sam Red. A 6yo who, were he a last time winner, would also have a perfect profile
The 7yo last time out winner, Fountains Windfall, is another who, with a year less would have the perfect profile too. Currently 12/1, he would be the longest priced winner bar 3. On the upside, he is theonly one on the shortlist ridden by a claimer – David Noonan.
BENNY'S KING is the only one who meets what i would consider the three main criteria, a 6yo, who won last time and who is from the first 6 in the betting. But even this one isn't flawless as he carries less than 10-3 – though the last 2 winners carries 9-12 after alllowing for their jockey's claims.
This is tricky as none have a perfect profile. Any one of these four could win but i am going to plump for the last named each way as his only flaw (carrying less than 10-3) may well be part of the beginning of a new trend, given the last two winners.
BENNY'S KING at 8/1 with Paddy Power and Bevictor is the EACH WAY suggestion in an open race with a fair few trends contenders.
SANDOWN 2.25 THE TOLWORTH HURDLE (GRADE 1)
LAST 17 RUNNINGS
A great guide with 7 winning favs and 5 winning second favs
ALL the last 17 winners came from the first 5 in the betting
Winners at 11/1 & 9/1 but the other 15 were all returned 5/1 or less
All bar the only winning 4yo, Behrejan, carried 11-7
Official Rating (OR)
5 winners had an OR, of which the last 4 were rated 135 plus
16 were aged 5 to 7 with a single 4yo winning from just 8 to try
7yo's have the best strike rate with 2 winners from 7 runners (28%)
5yo's provided the most winners with 7-45 (16%) and 6yo's 5-38 (13%)
16 ran 6 times or less over the past year
16 ran 3 or less times that season (seasonal debutants won once from 10 tries)
16 finished in the first 2 last time (13 won)
7 had won over further than this 2 mile trip
16 had their last run between 8 and 60 days ago
11 last ran 16-30 days ago from just 50 to try – 22%. This is double the strike rate of the rest
Paul Nicholls has won this 4 times. His sole runner and fav, Capitaine, has a near perfect trends profile and is shortlisted.
MARTIN Pipe has won this twice over the period but Son David has yet to win it. David's runner is Celstial Path. Though 1 unraced over the sticks horse has won this, from 6 to try, at current odds of 14/1 this would be the longest priced winner in the race's history. That's if it runs, as there is,as yet, no jockey booked.
Harry Fry's yard is flying at present with 6 winners from 17 runners over the past fortnight. He runs Chalonnial who, at current odds of 7/1 would be the third longest priced winner of this race. Other than that, a near perfect profile.
Fergal O'Brien's horses are 4-12 at the course, over the last years, and 1-3 in hurdles. His Global Stage is out of it on the odds trends, at 25/1 and another unraced over hurdles and a second place finish last time.All far from ideal trends wise and passed over.
The market has been a very good guide for this over the years. If our starting point is the first two (who have won 12 of the last 17 runnings) and5/1 or less (who have taken 15 runnings) then it is between the Nicholls trained fav, CAPITAINE and second fav Finian's Oscar.
The latter is a winner of his only hurdle race, a 3K novice at Hereford over 2m5.5f on this ground (a win over further is a minor bonus). His speed rating of just 39 for that does put the performance in context though.
CAPITAINE, on the other hand, is well clear on the ratings having won a Grade 2 on his latest start over this trip, but on Good to Soft, at Ascot . This will be only his fourth run over hurdles, so, allowing for improvement, it is a little early to talk about ground preferences. However, his last run was his best on ground that the clock indicated was either a very fast time on Good to Soft or a fastish time on Good.
His penultimate run was on proper Soft (clock said Heavy) going when a close second in a listed race at Haydock over the trip. Though the form of that race has not so far worked out, (the winner hasn't turned out since but those behind have been well beaten in low grade races) it does show he handles a bog.
On the other side of the scales, i am sure Mr Nicholls knows what he is doing and wouldn't be running his horse if he thought the ground would be a problem.
Both the front two are being well backed and Joe Tizzard says Finian's Oscar is their best novice. The others are drifting.
Both yards have been dominating the big race days in recent weeks but, given the record of Nicholls runners in this race and the proven form, i am opting for CAPITAINE who Boylesports are offering a very generous 2/1 about as i write.
THE RELKEEL HURDLE
LAST 15 RUNNINGS
Fav has won 6 and the second fav 4
ALL came from first 5 in the betting
13 were from the first 3 in the market
Winners at 10/1 & 9/1, the rest were returned 13/2 or less
ALL were rated 125 – 167 (no clues here)
7yo's have the best strike rate with 3 wins from 11 runs (27%)
This is near twice the succes rate of 5 and 6yo's who are 3-26 (12%) and 3-23 (13%) respectively
No 8yo has won, though only 5 have tried
ALL ran 2-7 times in the preceding year
ALL ran 4 times or less that season (10 has just the one run)
11 finished in the first 5 in their last run
Last time fallers have a good record in this with 2 wins from 4 runs
12 had won over 2m1f +
11 had RAN over 2m 3.5f so form at the trip is a plus but not a necessity
Confirmed by the fact that only 2 had won over further
Only 4 were already distance winners
10 had run 31-60 days ago
All the rest are much of a much on that score
Only Oscar Whiskey (for Henderson) has won this more than once in 2011 & 2012
Nicky Henderson has saddled 3 of the last 6 winners in this
A few with good trends, but only one perfect one who is a 7yo with one run this season, finishing in the first 4, and from the first 3 in the betting – L'AMI SERGE, who has the benefit of being trained by recent farmer of this race, Nicky Henderson. Currently 5/1 with Paddy Power.
THE KING GEORGE V1 CHASE (G1)
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
8 times the winner was winning this race for the second time or more . Only the great Kauto Star won it more than twice (5 times). Encouraging for Cue Card supporters but not so much for fans of Sivianaco Conti.
10 favourites won and 4 second favs (Kauto Star won as fav 4 times and second fav once)
First 3 in betting won 16
Other than a 25/1 winner, all the rest were returned 10/1 or less, 17 were 8/1 or shorter and 16 were 9/2 or lower.
Official Rating (OR)
14 had an OR. Of the rest, 3 were Irish and 1 French ( back in the days when foreign runners weren't given a UK rating) The 1997 winner, See More Business? is a puzzle as the Racing Post reports he won this with no official rating – even though he had run in three handicaps and won his last race (a handicap) off 157! Answers on a post card please.
Minimum rating 156, Teeton Mill way back in 1998
Other than Long Run's OR of 162 before his first win of two in 2011 (the 2010 race was ran in January 2011) the rest were all rated 169+
9 of the last 10 winners were rated 173+
As far as i can ascertain, no novice has ever won this
7yo's best with 7-38 (18%) with 9yo's next best 5-33 (15%) then 6yo's 3-23 (13%)
8yo's have a relatively poor record with 2 wins from 50 runners (4%)
10yo's are 0-19 while 11yo's are 2-12 (17%) but Kauto's last win accounts for one of those
18 ran 3-8 times in the last year
15 ran 3-5 times in the last year
18 ran 1-4 times that season
17 finished in the first 3 last time
13 won LTO
16 won 3m+
18 RAN 3m+
18 had their last run 16-90 days ago
Paul Nicolls has won this 8 times, and 7 of the last 10, (Kauto Star accounts for 5 wins)
His yard is also in great form with 13 of his last 38 runners winning over the last two weeks.
Other trainers have won more than once but he is the only one with a runner, the 10yo Silvianaco Conti, who, apart from the age negative, would be the only horse in the past 20 years, other than Kauto Star, to win it more than twice. A finish outside the first 3 last time is a negative too.
Nicky Henderson has a really good record at Kempton with 56 of the 191 runners he has sent, over the past 5 years, winning. Over the same period 19-58 of his chasers won. He runs Josses Hill, who looks a new horse this season and impressed me when winning the Grade 2 Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon recently. But, on the trends, he has a mountain to climb. Running off an OR of 158 he would be the second lowest rated winner over the period. You have to go back to 1998 to find a lower rated winner – Teeton Mill off 156.
He would also be only the second horse to win this having not already run over 3 miles or more. Not for me trends-wise, but an improver.
Tom Scudamore is 16-46 for trainer Colin Tizzard and he stays loyal (unsuprisingly) to the horse that has given him 9 runners from 10 rides – including a Stayers Hurdle win at the Cheltenham festival last year every bit as impressive as any of Big Bucks' victories – Thistlecraft.
This horse could be anything. Unlike fellow Stayers Hurdle star, Big Bucks, he has taken to fences like a duck to water, easily winning his 3 novice chases so far, including an ultra impressive Grade 2 last time where he never came off the bridle to win 8 lengths.
However, he has major trends stats against him. I think i am right in saying that no novice has won this in the whole history of the race – certainly none in the period we are looking at. He has no OR and, though a relatively minor matter, he is an 8yo (poor record in this race).
The betting alone narrows this down to two runners with only two priced 10/1 or less, as do the other trends referred to above.
CUE CARD has everything in his favour except the record of 10yo's – though, as explained above, this is a little misleading due to 2011 being a year where this race was run in January (because of the posptonement of December 2010) and the usual Boxing Day renewal.
If he runs to anywhere near the level of last years victory, he has only one to beat – Thistlecraft, who will find Cue Card has a much higher cruising speed than any chaser he has faced so far, in fact higher than any horse he has met, in my opinion. This race could make or break him.
Tizzard could have put him in the novice and he would have won with his head in his chest. But he made the brave (some might say unnecessarily risky) decison to step up a long way in class and take on the best.
I was going to say this will be the first time Thistlecraft will have jumped at speed but it is hard to see who will make the running. It may well be he has his own way up front and, allowed to dictate the pace and with his crusing speed, it would be a very interesting sprint to the line if both him and Cue Card are in contention turning for home. He will need to jump at least two or three fences at speed, even then.
This is set to be a potential classic. However, being a trends blog, we have to choose one based on trends – CUE CARD presently 5/4 second fav with Ladbrokes but favourite with almost all other firms. Market confidence would be in his favour, trends-wise, too.
I take him to be the ninth horse in the last 20 years to win this more than once.