Jumps Season - At The Races

Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle

    Ascot, Saturday 23rd December 2017.
  • Stats Guides

Last Year's Winner: Brain Power

David Mullins
Nicky Henderson
11st 11lb
Starting Price:
Season Form Figures:
Previous Best:
1st - Handicap Hurdle (Listed Race), Sandown (December 2016)

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.

Nicky Henderson supplied the 1-2 last season as Brain Power beat Consul De Thaix into second, just as he had done at Sandown earlier in the month, giving the stable a fourth winner since 2002 following Chauvinist, Jack The Giant and Sentry Duty. For good measure Seven Barrows also won the 2007 replacement race run at Sandown with Papini (though a less valuable and competitive prize so not a replica) after Ascot was abandoned and his 25/1 outsider Petit Robin only found Cause Of Causes too good.

The Pipe yard also target this prize and Acambo gave David Pipe his first winner of this race adding 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. Especially take note if a Pipe-trained horse is running off the back of a long break as in addition to Acambo who won in his seasonal debut, Tamarinbleu was also having his first race since the spring when successful here not having run since the Grand National Meeting.

It is noticeable how well four and five-year-olds have fared and they have supplied the 1-2-3 in four of the 15 runnings to date.

Also note Philip Hobbs who has twice supplied the runner-up before Sternrubin dead-heated for first two years ago. Paul Nicholls has a fine record in the equivalent race at Ascot run earlier in the season but has yet to win the race from 17 contenders, five of which placed.

The record of the Irish reads two winners (both trained by Gordon Elliott who also supplied the third in 2013) and five placed horses from their 35 runners to date. Tony Martin saddled the fourth, fifth and sixth last season.

Eleven of the last 14 winners were second-season hurdlers if including both dead-heart winners in 2015. Novices took three consecutive runnings between 2012-2014 and Sternrubin joined them two years ago. 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 31 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 15 runnings to date.

On the weight carried front, eight of the last 13 winners carried under 10st 9lb so Brain Power was a particularly classy winner last season off 11st 11lb by five lengths. In victory he became just the fifth 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 14 winners finished in the first three on their most recent outing under National Hunt rules of which eight were successfully following up a last-time-out success.

Four of the last 15 winners (Marble Arch, Chauvinist, Raya Star and Sternrubin) all had their previous start at Newbury’s Hennessy Meeting. In terms of one particular race, three winners 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 November Meeting, a race in which Brain Power finished down the field.

At a glance summary

First and second-season hurdlers
Trained by Nicky Henderson, David Pipe, Philip Hobbs or Philip Hobbs
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
Aged 8+
Failed to finish in the first three last time out
Trained by Paul Nicholls

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