Thoughts and observations....

Last Updated: 02.12.2021

Thursday, 2nd December 2021 

Thoughts and observations….

Il Ridoto absolutely blitzed his rivals in the Watch Racing Free Online At Ladbrokes Handicap Chase at Newbury on Saturday….

The theory with handicaps is that weights allotted on the basis of official ratings serve to equalize disparities that exist between horses in terms of talent….

In other words – if the handicapper’s opinion is on the money – everything goes into a handicap with an equal chance….

In practice, it is never so. After all, how many 16-horse dead heats have you seen in your time?

  • More wrong than usual….

Handicapping is not a perfect science. The handicapper is never going to be entirely right….

There are simply too many variables to factor into the equation….

And – in any case – an official rating can never account for preference. A horse has one rating. It can’t be a 135 on heavy but 147 on good, for example….

That aside, the most we can say about Il Ridoto is that the handicapper got it more wrong than would usually be the case….

The horse was rated 131 for Saturday’s race. He ran out a very ready winner – in the manner of a horse miles ahead of that mark….

On Tuesday morning he was reassessed and put up 12lbs to an official rating of 143. That’s a big hike. Bigger than most you’ll see week to week….

But given that the horse is only a 4yo, has only had 4 goes over fences, runs out of the Paul Nicholls yard, and won really well on Saturday, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still got plenty of margin to work with going forward….

Nicholls’ latest French recruit gives the impression there are more big days to come….

  • The winner – on another day....

Given all that, I reckon Numitor – the horse that chased him home in 2nd – is a horse to keep on the right side of. And he’s going into my notebook….

He was having his first go at C2 level at Newbury – and he acquitted himself well. That’s my take….

He hadn’t got loads of experience against horses rated in the 130s. And he had no experience whatsoever before Saturday against horses rated in the 140s….

But he produced a performance that proved that he isn’t out of his depth at that kind of level against that kind of opposition….

Yes, he was beaten 6.5 lengths by the winner on Saturday off pretty much levels. But only one other horse got within 15 lengths of the winner….

And he isn’t going to come up against one that well-handicapped every time. He just bumped into one – as they say – on Saturday….

Don’t overlook the fact that Il Ridoto made his big move in the race from a midfield position. Numitor, on the other hand, was up with the pace all the way….

And he wasn’t allowed his own way up front like he had been at Wetherby the time before. On Saturday Grey Diamond and Frero Banbou both wanted to be up on the pace and out front too….

A lesser horse might have spat the dummy or wilted – being asked to do something different and chase the back end of another horse. But Numitor kept to his work and stuck on well – after putting in a decent round of jumping….

On another day in another race he might well have come out on top. He was simply up against a rival – one who might prove to be a 150+ horse in time – running off 131….

Heather Main’s horse has been put up 2lbs to 132 for Saturday’s performance – worth a new career best on the RPR scale – which is fair enough….

The 7yo will have his day on that mark. And now he’s proved himself at C2 level I reckon there is a decent pot to win with him….

  • Working out well....

That Wetherby race that Numitor won back in October is working out okay….

We’re not talking highly-rated horses here but the 3rd horse home that day – Casa Tall (8 chases) – has won since and gone from 119 to 121 on the official scale….

Fontaine Collonges (2 chases) who was 4th has also banked a subsequent win – and risen from 116 to 121 as a consequence….

He’s one that could take more strides forward being so lightly raced and running for Venetia Williams….

Even Dr Sanderson who was next to last and beaten 31-lengths on the day has done his bit to frank the Wetherby form with a win at Ayr – albeit off a 5lb lower mark….

The one that got closest to Numitor at Wetherby was Brian Ellison’s Ballyvic Boru – not seen on the track since. He’s 9, he’s run over fences 24 times and you’d think the handicapper knows all about him….

But he has dropped to a mark of 116 – just a pound above his lowest ever official rating – from a career-high of 129 and he might just be weighted to add to his current tally of 3 fencing wins over the next few weeks….

  • Not a lot of people know this….

December is traditionally a month when punters can expect plenty of mileage out of Nicky Henderson’s C2 handicap hurdlers….

Since 2014 Henderson’s 27 qualifying runners produced 6 winners and 8 placers – which equates to a total place strike rate of 52%....

That’s a top-draw stat in any division of racing – let alone a division as competitive as top-level handicap hurdles….

Nobody’s going to retire on the proceeds. Indeed, the angle will likely only produce a few bets….

But if you pressed me to identify soil worth digging in over the next few weeks, Henderson’s C2 handicap hurdlers would be right up there as an option….

  • The final word….

That’s all for today. Back tomorrow. Meanwhile….

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Stay tuned.

Nick Pullen

Nick Pullen

Against the Crowd