The Fred Winter has seen some classic iterations, with past winners including last years victor, Aramax, along wiht the likes of Banfd Of Outlaws and Flying Tiger. Our resident tipster Andrew Mount takes a look at this popular race and gives his thoughts and tante-post tip for the contest.
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Registered As The Fred Winter) – (Cheltenham, Tuesday, March 16)
This race has been going since 2005 and in that time, thanks to a host of outsiders winning, we could have bet every horse in the race at Betfair SP and made a profit (£+124.71 to a £1 level stake). Of course, I’m not suggesting we take that approach but it does emphasise how difficult it is to find the winner on the day of the race, let alone at the antepost stage. However, there are some they interesting patterns emerging which can help us to narrow the field…
KEY STATS AND TRENDS
Winners need to have something up their sleeve from the handicapper and this is one of the few Cheltenham festival races where recent form is perhaps not quite so important. In the past ten renewals, those who finished in the top three in their prep race have a three from 148 record (2% strike-rate) for a loss of £109.00 to a £1 level stake at SP. In the same period, runners who finished fourth or worse were six from 66 (9.1%) for a profit of £113.00 at SP (+£220.17 at Betfair SP). Those who did win last time out tended to do so in a low-grade contest (Class 4 or lower) and perhaps weren’t hammered by the handicapper as a result.
13 of the 16 winners were ridden patiently, two were ridden prominently (from a sample of 96) and one made the running. Simply backing all runners who were described as ‘held up’ in their latest start would have found eight winners from 114 bets (7%) for a profit of £51.00 at SP. Throw in the proviso that they must have raced in the past six weeks and that improves to eight from 76 (105%) for a profit of £89.00.
DAYS SINCE LAST RUN
Those who had been absent for 35 days or longer are just one from 80 in the 16-year history of this race.
At the time of writing, the entries for this race were not known and there are some big discrepancies between the firms, with those betting non-runner no bet taking few chances. SAINT SAM ranges from 5-1 to 10-1 after his second to Quilixios in Grade 1 company at the Dublin Racing Festival (DRF) but he doesn’t fit the profile of recent winners and has options in the Triumph and the Supreme. Trainer Willie Mullins is 0-14 in this race, though the expected wins was only 0.71 as most were big prices.
BUSSELTON will appreciate the drop in grade after his third to Quilixiois at the DRF but he’s been ridden prominently since joining Joseph O’Brien and similar tactics could leave him vulnerable.
FIVEANDTWENTY is three from three over hurdles but all the wins came from the front in small fields at Musselburgh and it’s hard to see him pulling of such tactics in this race.
HISTORIC HEART was four lengths behind Fiveandtwenty in second place at Musselburgh on his latest outing, doing easily best of those who came from off the pace. He looks the type to improve for a big field/strong pace scenario and will be an each-way player if running here instead of in the Triumph.
Nick Williams does well with his handicappers at this meeting and won this race with 33-1 shot Flying Tiger. YGGDRASIL was beaten by a long way on almost unraceable ground at Exeter last time but his earlier fifth to Adagio in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow suggests there are races in him, though he’d need to run well between now and Cheltenham to have any chance of getting in the race.
ELHAM VALLEY is another who probably needs to go up a few pounds but he won well at Sandown on his British debut and was fourth in the Grade 1 Finale Juvenile Hurdle on his only subsequent outing. He’s entered at Haydock and Uttoxeter this weekend and a good run could see him creep into this near the foot of the weights.
FRED WINTER BIG RACE VERDICT
This is a very difficult race to tackle at such an early stage but if I were to pin my colours to just one runner it would be HISTORIC HEART, whose patient running style will be an asset. Elham Valley also has possibilities but will need to win or at least go close this weekend in order to get into the race.
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