Two Plums for tomorrow's Heroes Handicap Hurdle at Sandown...

Last Updated: 05.02.2016

5th February 2016

Good afternoon, friends,

In today’s Juicy Plums bulletin….

  • This week’s target race….
  • Field-splitters & angles of attack….
  • This week’s Juicy Plum selections….

This week’s target race….

No really big handicap for us to target this weekend. The best we have to shoot at is the Heroes Handicap Hurdle. This is a Grade 3 event for horses aged 4yo+. It is contested over a trip just shy of 3 miles at Sandown tomorrow afternoon at 3.00. You can watch the race live on C4 and RUK.

A field of 11 runners goes to post on ground currently described as soft. Before we get into my take on where the value is in the market, let’s have a quick spin through the key pointers and splitters….

  • Alan King’s Medinas carries top weight of 11-12 off his mark of 150. At the other end of the scale the Suzy Smith-trained duo of Invicta Lake and Little Boy Boru are out of the handicap – both carrying the minimum weight of 10-00 of 122.
  • Medinas hasn’t been seen on a race track since December 2014 – 413 days ago. It won’t be easy for him first-time-back. But he has gone well fresh on several occasions. Off breaks of 6 months or longer his record reads – 2222.
  • Yala Enka, Baywing and Donna’s Diamond are the three that turn up tomorrow off the back of a last-time-out win. The Yala Enka win was the pick of those efforts.
  • The Nicky Richards-trained Baywing is the big improver – going up 10lbs for his last time out win at Haydock. He’s 4 from 4 for the season – but bear in mind he’s won nothing better than a 6k race. Yala Enka is up 8lbs for his Kempton win.
  • Invicta Lake won last year’s renewal off a mark of 123. He gets to go again this time round off a mark of 122 – carrying 9lb less in actual weight. Gavin Sheehan rides the horse for the first time in almost 3 years.
  • The claim game – Alan King seeks to aid Medinas’s cause with by putting 7lb claimer William Featherstone in the plate. It will be his first ride on the horse. Patrick Cowley takes 7lb off Join The Clan for Jonjo O’Neill. Diarmuid O’Regan claims 5lb on Donna’s Diamond. Harry Bannister takes 3lb off Little Boy Boru.
  • Alan King is the form handler right now – with his last 12 runners producing 6 winners.
  • Of the jockeys with rides in the race Richard Johnson is the man producing most winners – over the last 7 days he’s produced 3 of them. He has a strike rate of 19% at Sandown over the last 5 years.

Field-splitters and angles of attack….

Some key statistical pointers help split the field and provide a route into the race….

  • 9 of the last 10 winners carried 10-12 or less – as did 16 of the last 23 placed horses
  • All 10 previous winners had finished in first 3 in one or both of last two completed hurdle races
  • 9 had won at least twice and no more than 4 times over hurdles
  • 9 had won no more than two handicap hurdle events
  • 9 had produced a performance worth at least 125 on the Racing Post rating scale on their last start
  • 9 had won at 20f+ over hurdles
  • Paul Nicholls’s last 8 runners produced 3 winners and 2 places. Philip Hobbs has 2 wins and 2 places from his last 5 participants. Suzy Smith is no slouch with a winner and a place from her last 3 representatives.

If you like to find your own bets then those statistical pointers should help identify horses of interest….

This week’s Juicy Plum selections….

SADDLERS ENCORE had been off the track for 620 days prior to running at Wincanton just after Christmas. He put in a very promising effort that day but tired towards the end of the race. Even so, he wasn’t beaten far and is entitled to come on plenty for that return effort – one he’s been given good time to recover from.

The ground is a bit of a worry. He’s been pulled up and beaten on bad ground before but it was pretty testing at Wincanton for his comeback race and he had every chance 2 out – doing enough to suggest that would have figured had he been a bit fitter. I’m prepared to take the chance.

The 7yo son of Presenting is the most unexposed horse in tomorrow’s contest and his mark of 129 might well underrate him. Prior to his long layoff he’s won his last two races over fences – beating Southfield Vicat level weights (who subsequently proved good enough to be rated 149 over hurdles before being sent chasing) in one novice contest.

That’s old form now for sure but connections have kept the faith and his return effort suggested he is likely to go beyond 129. If that’s the case, as I believe it is, then he can figure tomorrow. At the 8s with Betfair Sportsbook, he’s a fair bet.

With just 11 runners going to post the general place terms of 1/5 1-2-3 are not particularly attractive and I’ll be going two to win against the field….

JOIN THE CLAN is my other pick. He’s just 3lbs higher in the weights than he was this time last year when winning a handicap at Wetherby. He subsequently finished 8th in the Pertemps Final at the Festival and was 7th in a Grade 3 handicap at Aintree’s Grand National meeting.

This term he hasn’t exactly hit the heights. Last time out he appeared over fences at an inadequate trip and, whilst he wasn’t disgraced finishing last of 3 on what was his chasing debut, he’s back over hurdles tomorrow.

If he can recapture last year’s form on his favoured soft ground then he can outrun general quotes of 16s with Paddy Power and William Hill.

How I’ll be playing….

We don’t have to be betting in hundreds to make the game worthwhile or fun. A spend of a few quid is plenty to be going on with. I’ll be investing as follows:

  • SADDLERS ENCORE @ 8s (Betfair Sportsbook)
  • JOIN THE CLAN @ 16s (Paddy Power &William Hill)

That’s all from me this week. Enjoy your weekend.

Until next time, be lucky.


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