Jumps Season - At The Races

Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle

    Ascot, Saturday 17th December 2016.
  • Stats Guides

Last Year's Winner: Deadheat - Jolly's Cracked It/Sternrubin

Jolly's Cracked It/Sternrubin
Jolly's Cracked It Jockey:
N D Fehily
Jolly's Cracked It Trainer:
Harry Fry
Jolly's Cracked It Age:
6
Jolly's Cracked It Weight:
11st 3lb
Jolly's Cracked It Starting Price:
7/1
Jolly's Cracked It Season Figures:
3
Jolly's Cracked It Previous Best:
2nd - Tolworth Hurdle (Grade 1), Sandown (Jan 2015)
Sternrubin Jockey:
R Johnson
Sternrubin Trainer:
P J Hobbs
Sternrubin Age:
4
Sternrubin Weight:
10st 10lb
Sternrubin Starting Price:
9/1
Sternrubin Season Form Figures:
1
Sternrubin Previous Best:
1st - The Gerry Feilden Hurdle, Newbury (Nov 2015)

First run at Ascot in 2001, three surprise winners is to be expected given how competitive this handicap is and Thesis (33/1), Desert Air (25/1) and Cause Of Causes (25/1) were hard to predict but all the other winners were all findable with six starting in the first three in the betting.

Last year’s dead-heaters for first place, Jolly’s Cracked It and Sternrubin, could be found in the first four in the market. The record of the Irish reads two winners (both trained by Gordon Elliott who also supplied the third in 2013) and four placed horses from their 31 runners to date.

Novices took three consecutive runnings between 2012 and 2014 and Sternrubin joined them last season. The 2002 winner, Chauvinist, was also a novice but he is also the joint-oldest winner to date as a seven-year-old.

There have been 29 unsuccessful horses aged 8+ and it is noticeable how well four and five-year-olds have fared. Indeed, they have supplied the 1-2-3 in four of the 14 runnings to date. Ten of the last 13 winners were second-season hurdlers including last year’s other dead-heater, Jolly’s Cracked It.

On the weight carried front, eight of the last 12 winners carried under 10st 9lb. Sternrubin became the just the fourth winner to be officially rated 140+ in the race’s history last year but they have been heavily outnumbered so don’t read much into that. All bar one of the last 13 winners finished in the first three on their most recent outing under National Hunt rules of which seven were successfully following up a last-time-out success.

Officially, 14 of the last 15 winners had already run during the current season but many traditionalists will view that as 13 as the David Pipe-trained Acambo was having his first start since winning the Swinton Hurdle) at Haydock in May which used to be the final big handicap hurdle of the season and remains in the same place in the calendar so a recent run is preferable but not necessary.

Ten of the last 13 winners were second-season hurdlers including one of last year’s dead-heaters, Jolly’s Cracked It.

However, do note if a Pipe-trained horse is running off the back of a long break as in addition to Acambo, the Martin Pipe-trained Tamarinbleu was also having his first race since the spring when successful here not having run since the Grand National Meeting.

Of those 14 winners with a run from the Galway Festival onwards, Marble Arch, Chauvinist, Raya Star and Sternrubin all had their previous start at Newbury’s Hennessy Meeting, three ran in the Class 3 handicap hurdle at Cheltenham over 2m1f the previous week and ran very well too as Jack The Giant won both races in 2007, Thesis finished third in that same handicap at Prestbury Park before winning here eight days later and Desert Air was second in that same event.

Cause of Causes also had his previous start in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham having finished third in the Greatwood Hurdle at The Open Meeting in November.

In addition to winning the 2002 running with Chauvinist and the 2007 replacement race run at Sandown with Papini (though a less valuable and competitive prize so not a replica), Nicky Henderson also took the spoils with Jack The Giant (2007) and Sentry Duty (2008). Henderson also went close again three years ago when his 25/1 shot, Petit Robin, only found the Irish-trained novice, Cause Of Causes, better handicapped.

The Pipe yard are hot on Henderson’s tail however as Acambo gave David Pipe his first Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle - then known as the Ladbroke Hurdle - at Ascot which added to the victories of the Martin Pipe-trained pair of Desert Air and Tamarinbleu in 2005 and 2006 when the race was switched to Sandown due to Ascot’s redevelopment.

Also note Philip Hobbs who has twice supplied the runner-up plus another placed runner to boot and then Sternrubin got him on the winners’ board last year.

Also respect Gary Moore who loves to get his teeth into valuable two-mile handicap hurdles and although he has yet to bag this one, four places from ten runners in Ascot renewals suggests he will be a force again and he also saddled the runner-up to Papini when the replacement race was added to Sandown’s fixture list in 2007. Paul Nicholls has also saddled five placed runners from 15 runners.

At a glance summary

Positives
First and second-season hurdlers
Trained by Nicky Henderson, David Pipe, Philip Hobbs or Gary Moore
Contested a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham earlier in the season (notably the 2m1f handicap hurdle the previous week)
Ran at the Newbury Hennessy Meeting
The first three in the betting
Negatives
Aged 8+
Failed to finish in the first three last time out

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