Elliott To Break Brits’ Domination Of Fred Winter?
The Brits have certainly held the edge in Wednesday’s Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.50pm), winning eight of the last 10 renewals, though Gordon Elliott did triumph in 2013, and has the 6/1 favourite, Campeador, this time around.
Elliott To Break Brits’ Domination?
This ex-French performer made an encouraging debut for Elliott when fourth in a Grade 2 over Christmas on just his third career outing, and has been kept under wraps for this. While he has plenty of potential, this big field on good ground will be a new experience, and it’s possible the 141-rated performer could be vulnerable to something better handicapped. For the record, each of the last 10 winners were officially rated 133 or lower.
Nicholls’ Debutant All The Rage
One ex-French hurdler who does appear at the right end of the weights/ratings is Paul Nicholls’, Diego Du Charmil (8/1), who makes his debut for the yard having last been seen four months ago finishing runner-up in a decent French event (2m, heavy). Nicholls won this race 12 months ago with a more experienced type, though Diego Du Charmil’s rating of 133 is a bonus.
Nicholls does have a more experienced type in Frodon (12/1), who is also an ex-French runner, who was third at Cheltenham in January (2m1f, heavy), before winning a small event at Haydock last month (2m, heavy) – Messire Des Obeaux (14/1) was over 2l back in third. Frodon is respected, but hasn’t any form on better ground and will need improvement from a rating of 143.
Can King Finally Win?
Alan King has sent out five placed runners in this handicap (from 17 runners), and has the aforementioned, Messire Des Obeaux (rated 132), along with Gibralfaro (16/1), among the market leaders. The latter won two hurdles for King before flopping in a Grade 2 at Kempton last month, and needs to bounce back from a mark of 151.
One who did show better form last month was John Ferguson’s, Jaleo (14/1), who arrives 2-3 over hurdles following his win at Catterick (2m, soft). The form of his two wins doesn’t amount to much, but a rating of 134 will see him with a decent weight.
If there is a possible clue to cracking this tricky handicap, then it could be to follow the females, as they hold a much better record than the males in this.
While males won this seven times since 2005 (7-236, 3%), females struck at a much healthier strike-rate of 4-21 (19%).
With that in mind, consideration should be given to Jer’s Girl (16/1), who was narrowly beaten in a Grade 2 at Leopardstown, before being outclassed in a Grade 1. This return to Grade 3 company could see her bounce back.
Gordon Elliott not only has the favourite, but also a couple of interesting females in Missy Tata (16/1) and Tocororo (20/1). The former has shown some temperament in flashing her tail, which may not be ideal when pressure is applied at Cheltenham, but the latter recorded a career best when beaten only 1/2l in a Grade 2 last month (2m, heavy), and is the pick of the two.
With female runners boasting such a tremendous record in the race, a chance is taken on Pemba scraping in at the bottom of the handicap. She failed to stay 2m2f last time, but will enjoy better ground and could get a juicy low weight if making the cut.
*Prices correct at time of publication.