Hill sets the Kempton standard
Richard Dunwoody looks ahead to the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton and brings us all the vital big-race trends.
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Racing Plus Chase
This race was kind to me during my riding days with wins on Desert Orchid, Rough Quest and Dr Leunt , and the last-named was the first of four Racing Plus Chase wins for trainer Philip Hobbs.
With that in mind it goes without saying to keep a close eye on anything the Hobbs team run, while with five career victories in the race then in terms of jockeys Richard Johnson has the best record in the contest.
However, the biggest story of all revolves around the popular grey Nacarat. Tom George's charge has won this 3m Chase twice before - In 2009 and, of course, 12 months ago when he turned back the clock to land the prize by 11 lengths.
He's only rated a 1lb higher this time and despite his advancing years (now 12 years-old) this has clearly been a big target for him, while after two runs this season connections should have him spot-on for another tilt at this decent pot.
Since 1988 we've seen nine horses aged in double-figures win the race, while Marlborough was the same age as Nacarat (12) when he won the contest back in 2004. The fact he was also placed in the 2010 and 2011 renewals makes him a really solid each-way option, but if there is one word of caution it would surround the ground. He's certainly at his best on a slightly quicker surface (both wins in this race came on good ground), but it is worth pointing out he's been second in this on soft ground and has also won on a heavy surface over in France, albeit back in his younger days.
So if past races are anything to go by we know older horses have gone well, but by far the best age to have on your side (if recent runnings are anything to go by) is the 8 year-olds as they've won 5 of the last 10. While being a handicap then with 9 of the last 10 winners carrying 10-13 or more it could pay to focus of those at the head of the weights.
It's also generally been a race that punters get right with 80% of the last 10 winners coming from the top 4 in the market with the average winning SP being 7/1, although we've only seen 2 winning favourites in that period too. Also make a note of any horses that had raced within the last 2 months as 8 of the last 10 fell into that bracket, while 90% of the last 10 finished in the top 5 last time too.
We'll have to keep an eye on final entries later in the week, but at this stage Paul Nicholls, who won this back in 2008 with Gungadu, could have a leading chance with his Rolling Aces. He's won his last two starts in impressive fashion and despite another 11lb hike in the ratings looks a horse on the upgrade with just seven starts under rules to his name.
Wyck Hill, who is also entered in both the Gold Cup and Grand National, is the other horse that's popular in the betting at this stage and a win here will surely see his Aintree odds tumble - he's currently around 25/1.
David Bridgwater's charge was last seen beating Katenko by four lengths at Ascot back in December and we all know what that horse has gone onto do. Yes, a 9lb rise in the ratings makes life harder and, of course, Katenko, who is also entered for this race, has improved since, but Wyck Hill could still be extremely well-in being that there was little between them back in December and because of Katenko's improved form the Venetia Williams-trained horse is now rated a massive 16lbs higher.
There is some talk of another wave of cold weather hitting the country later in the week, let's just hope if that is the case it doesn't venture as far south as Sunbury-on-Thames and put this race in threat. For me, if he takes his chance, and despite his advancing years Nacarat looks the safest option in a race he simply loves.
Racing Plus Trends and Stats
10/10 - Officially rated 141 or higher
9/10 - Won a class 2 chase or better previously
9/10 - Won over at least 3m (fences) previously
9/10 - Placed in the top 5 in their latest race
9/10 - Won with 10-13 or more in weight
8/10 - Priced 8/1 or shorter
8/10 - Raced within the last 8 weeks
8/10 - Winners from the top 4 in the market
7/10 - Won by a horse aged 9 or younger
7/10 - Winning distance - 2 ½ lengths or further
7/10 - Won at least 4 times over fences previously
7/10 - Officially rated between 141 and 150
6/10 - Ran within the last 4 weeks
6/10 - Carried 11-5 or more in weight
6/10 - Won their last race
5/10 - Won by a French-bred horse
5/10 - Won by a horse aged 8 years-old
3/10 - Ran at Cheltenham last time out
3/10 - Went onto run in that season's Grand National (all unplaced)
2/10 - Ridden by Richard Johnson (won it 5 times)
2/10 - Ridden by AP McCoy
2/10 - Ridden by Paddy Brennan
2/10 - Won by the Tom George yard
2/10 - Won by the Philip Hobbs yard (won it 4 times in)
2/10 - Favourites (1 joint)
2/10 - Ran in the King George VI Chase last time
1/10 - Went onto run at that season's Cheltenham Festival (1 winner)
The average winning SP in the last 10 renewals is 7/1
Note: The 2006 running was run at Sandown Park
Have a great week!
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