Take a punt with Boite
Ian Ogg analyses the last 10 renewals of Saturday's John Smith's Northumberland Plate and picks out the key statistics.
The last two winners represent something of a conundrum as they were rated 101 and 102, by far and away the highest rated winners of the race and, accordingly, both were out of sync with the weight carried to success as well.
Whether this is a sign of a changing trend or a mere blip remains to be seen but certainly those towards the top of the weights and the handicap can't be dismissed as would once have been the case and it is noticeable that the lowest rated horse in this year's renewal has a mark higher than most recent winners.
There may well be another blip in the age statistics but, for whatever reason, no five-year-old has managed to put his/her head in front where it counts. Ruling them out counts for eight of the field (plus both reserves) and includes some fancied runners but I'm struggling to think of a logical reason for their lack of success and am therefore reluctant to dismiss them out of hand.
Lucky Bridle is an obvious candidate on the back of a good run at Cork over 10 furlongs and he wears the colours of an owner that would love to win this race and, like several recent winners of this race, he hails from a predominantly jumps based stable.
Proven stamina and coming into the race on the back of a good run have also proved important and the latter is a concern for supporters of Dark Crusader and Sir Ector although both are with respected handlers, one of whom, Tony Martin, has won this race before.
Nearly Caught (only eight career starts) looks sure to go well - as does his Haydock conqueror Noble Silk - with Big Thunder much respected. Tropical Beat has a poor strike rate but this is just his second start for David O'Meara and could be a threat if the North Yorkshire handler can iron out his quirks.
Van Percy's wide draw is not impossible to overcome and he has a clear chance while anything Brian Ellison runs needs a second look having had several runners on the premises.
No runner has an ideal profile and it's difficult to support a five-year-old given their lack of success so a chance is taken with Peter Chapple-Hyam's outsider Boite even though he does fall down on a number of the stats. The Newmarket handler sent out River Alhaarth to finish second on just his seventh start (he also finished fifth the following year) as a four-year-old and Chapple-Hyam may be able to pull another rabbit out of the hat.
Boite has a very different profile and a long absence to overcome but his close third behind Leading Light in the Queen's Vase is an eyecatching piece of form and a line on which it's capable to argue that he's well handicapped.
He has often front run and deploying those tactics could help to negate the effects of his draw while the winner has been apprentice ridden on three occasions, including the two winners returned at 25/1 and 33/1, and Nason's record of four wins from 16 rides at 13 furlongs or beyond is encouraging.
- Winners have been aged four (4), six (5) & 7.
- Eight winners have carried between 8-2 and 8-11; exceptions carried 9-3 & 9-10.
- Eight winners have been rated between 83 and 93, exceptions rated 101 & 102.
- Eight winners have been returned at 16-1 or shorter with two winning favourites (three more were placed).
- All winners had either won or been placed over at least 14 furlongs.
- Seven winners had either won or been placed in a class 2 handicap.
- All winners had raced at least 11 times on the Flat.
- Eight winners had finished in the first three on their preceding start, either over hurdles or on the Flat.
- Six winners were drawn in single figures.