Weighed In: Eyecatchers, analysis and updated BHA ratings following Ascot & Wetherby

Go Conquer: Caught the eye at Ascot on Saturday
Go Conquer: Caught the eye at Ascot on Saturday

Ben Linfoot introduces new weekly bulletin ‘Weighed In’, featuring eyecatchers, analysis and all the major BHA ratings amendments.

Weights & Measures is no more. Mainly because the headline was too long. But, fear not, it has been revamped into new weekly bulletin ‘Weighed In’, published every Tuesday, complete with all the major revised BHA ratings as before, but with eyecatchers, video and big-race analysis as well.

This week’s edition focuses on the weekend action at Ascot and Wetherby as the National Hunt season began to crank up a gear, the Sodexo Gold Cup throwing up one for your My Stable trackers while our big-race analysis features the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby...

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GO CONQUER >>>> Remains on 147

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The Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot was a cracking race run at a good gallop and the one I’ve taken out of the contest is GO CONQUER. A winner of the race last year off a 5lb lower mark, he tried to make all once again and gave it a hell of a go from the front, just losing out to two stronger stayers in the end.

This was his first go for new trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and, given his new handler’s record over the Aintree fences (six Bechers, two Tophams, two Nationals, a Grand Sefton and a Fox Hunters’) I hope we see this fellow at Liverpool over the silver birch in December.

And hopefully he’ll run in the Grand Sefton, a race Twiston-Davies won with Little Josh in 2012, as the slight drop in trip could well see him in his best light. He jumps so well, is really dangerous with a lead and such tactics lend themselves well to the unique Aintree test, mainly because front-runners stay out of all the carnage.

He’s already experienced the fences in the 2017 Topham, where he finished 17th, but he was really badly hampered at the Canal Turn that day so you can’t hold that against him. And at least he’s had a spin around the place and completed the track, even if he did do so in his own time.

With the handicapper leaving him on 147, he looks well enough handicapped to have a big say in such a race and, although he’s won and run well over three miles, I’m firmly of the opinion that he’s better forcing it over slightly shorter.

LARRY >>>> Down 1lb to 128

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Wenyerreadyfreddie was in a different league to his rivals in the Ascot Underwriting Chase (Novices’ Limited Handicap) on Saturday, winning by 15 lengths and earning a 15lb hike in the weights in the process.

But back in fourth I thought LARRY made an encouraging chasing debut and he’s on my radar for similar events.

Only five, he got better with each run as a novice hurdler and his trainer Gary Moore could well steer his development over fences on a similar path, as he jumped well for much of the contest and showed ability to get into contention.

As the winner went clear he was winning the battle for second and probably would’ve landed the runner-up spot but for a mistake at the last, where he lost a couple of positions.

Down 1lb after this to 128, he’s not going to bump into a Wenyerreadyfreddie every time he lines up in a novices’ handicap chase and I firmly believe there’s plenty of improvement to come.

All his winning has been achieved going left-handed, so he might well appreciate going the other way and I’d love to see him somewhere like Newbury next where the big galloping track could play to his strengths.

BORN SURVIVOR >>>> Up 4lb to 143

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I liked BORN SURVIVOR’s round of jumping at Wetherby on Friday in the bet365 Handicap Chase and in beating the previous year’s winner by a convincing three-plus lengths I thought a 4lb rise was fair enough with future targets in mind.

Yes, there were a couple of non-runners and yes, Kylemore Lough’s first-fence unseat made things easier for him too, but he was in control of this race from a long way out and his fencing really was superb, an asset that will serve him well in all the big handicaps he’s sure to line up in.

He has failed to win off marks in the 140s a couple of times over fences, but he looks a better horse now, with eight chase starts under his belt, and I certainly wouldn’t hold that against him if he turns up in something like the BetVictor Gold Cup, for which he is a 25/1 chance with the sponsors.

Good ground does look crucial to him, though, while we know how good his trainer Dan Skelton is at targeting a race from a long way out, so it could be worth noting that he nominated the Topham Chase at Aintree in April as his long-term target straight after his Wetherby win.

Big-Race Analysis: bet365 Charlie Hall Chase

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At the five-day stage it had all the makings of a cracking Charlie Hall Chase with Thistlecrack and Bristol De Mai among its potential participants, but the lack of rain meant those two were kept at home and a sub-standard renewal ensued.

A four-runner race soon became three when Double Shuffle fell at the first, leaving DEFINITLY RED, Black Corton and Virgilio to fight things out, the former proving best suited to the small-field scenario he found himself in (10 wins from 15 runs in single-figure fields for his career now).

He needed the run when third in a better renewal of the Charlie Hall Chase last season, so it’s reasonable to expect some improvement to come from this and his good jumping in small fields will always help him in this type of contest.

A win on ‘Good’ edges him into the versatile ground-wise bracket as well, and it would be no surprise if he follows up in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree next month, his next intended target, a race he won by seven lengths last year.

He stays on 164 after this with the one ratings change affecting the runner-up, Black Corton, who is bumped up 4lb to 157 on the back of finishing two lengths off Definitly Red in receipt of 3lb.

Bryony Frost’s incredible sit at the third fence kept the partnership intact but he was always on the back foot after that and he might just have ruined his Ladbrokes Trophy hopes by getting as close to the winner as he did.

While this was encouraging considering the mistake, he had plenty in his favour with the ground to his liking and it might just be tough for him to make a mark this season, especially now his handicap mark has nudged up a bit.

As for Virgilio, he ran well enough in third beaten only five lengths but he’s another that will be tough to place off his current mark of 157. He also loves this type of ground and will probably be kept away from the worst of the winter conditions.

A four-time winner at Aintree including twice in May, his season is likely to revolve around the staying-chase handicap over the Mildmay fences at the Grand National meeting. It’ll be interesting to see what his mark is come April time.

Principal BHA ratings alterations from the weekend November 3-4

  • Art Mauresque >>>> Up 4lb to 152
  • Black Corton >>>> Up 4lb to 157
  • Champagne At Tara >>>> Up 1lb to 145
  • Definitly Red >>>> Remains on 164
  • Fidux >>>> Up 10lb to 145
  • Fingerontheswitch >>>> Up 7lb to 122
  • Global Citizen >>>> Up 1lb to 146
  • Go Conquer >>>> Remains on 147
  • Nautical Nitwit >>>> Up 6lb to 149
  • New Quay >>>> Up 17lb to 132
  • Nightfly >>>> Up 5lb to 130
  • Old Guard >>>> Down 1lb to 152
  • Rock On Rocky >>>> Down 3lb to 132
  • Supakalanistic >>>> Down 3lb to 114
  • The Paddy Pie >>>> Up 6lb to 122
  • Thistle Do Nicely >>>> Introduced at 134
  • Traffic Fluide >>>> Up 5lb to 154
  • Vosne Romanee >>>> Up 3lb to 152
  • Wemyss Point >>>> Up 6lb to 132
  • Wenyerreadyfreddie >>>> Up 15lb to 145

My Stable - Horse Tracking Made Simple

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It’s that time of the year when jump season takes centre stage. With thousands of horses, hundreds of jockeys and plenty of trainers performing across the UK & Ireland in multiple meetings every single day, it can be tough to keep track of all that catches your eye.

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