Alfie can be your darling

  • By: Ian Ogg
  • Last Updated: January 5 2013, 9:45 GMT

Ian Ogg provides a statistical preview of Saturday's HBLB Handicap Chase at Sandown.

Alfie Spinner: Can outstay his rivals at Sandown

Remarkably, the only Saturday contest to have declared at the 48 hour stage is the HBLB Handicap Chase over three miles.

It's a decent enough race with over £30,000 to the winner but there's also a cracking handicap hurdle at Sandown as well as the Tolworth and the re-arranged Welsh National card from Chepstow.

Still, it affords us the time to have a decent look at the race and to see if the race statistics throw anything up.

The Sandown Park executive have gradually increased the quality of a contest that has only been run seven times and began life as a 0-135 handicap before graduating in increments to its current guise as an open handicap.

The move can certainly be heralded as a success with last year's race, the first to be run under the current conditions, being won by the favourite Hold On Julio from the subsequent Grand National winner Neptune Collonges.

The winner scored from a rating of 133 having raced from 3lbs out of the handicap, a reflection of how the quality has risen rendering any statistical analysis of official ratings pointless but that's not to say that all of the below statistics should be disguarded.

  • Winners have been aged 7, 8, 9 (two), 10 (two) and 11.
  • Winners have carried between 10-0 and 11-6 with four weighted above 11-0.
  • Winners have been rated between 107 and 133 with five between 124 and 133.
  • Winners have been priced between 5-2 and 28-1 with one successful favourite, a further two have been placed.
  • Six winners finished in the first three on their preceding start.
  • Winners had had between two and 14 previous starts over fences.
  • Six winners had either won or been placed in a race of equivalent class; the exception was making his debut in the class.
  • All winners had either won or been placed over at least three miles.

Triolo D'Alene and John Spirit would become the first six year old winner if either were successful but not that many of their age group have lined up.

Nadover was placed in 2007 but their number also includes a beaten favourite and, as the pair also have to conclusively prove their stamina for this test, the percentage call is to take them on.

Although four winners have carried above 11-0, the last two have carried 10-7 and 10-0 suggesting that there could be a shift towards those runners in the middle and bottom of the handicap.

As such, it could pay to concentrate on those from Fruity O'Rooney downwards and Gary Moore's runner was by no means disgraced in the Hennessy but he did struggle at this track last season.

Katenko and Royal Charm are respected after placed efforts over three miles but preference is for Alfie Spinner who got no further than the second in the Hennessy.

It's doubtful that he'd have played a part in the finish at Newbury but he's long appealed as being the right type for this sort of race as all he does is stay.

There is, of course, the possibility that Nick Williams could still declare him for the Welsh National for which he has been well backed and that declaring him for this race was just a contingency plan.

Time will tell on that score but this is a nice prize in its own right and he's run well at this track over hurdles. He is by no means badly handicapped on his novice form while it has to be viewed as a positive that Noel Fehily takes the ride for the first time.

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