For our first ‘Saturday Big Race Review’ our focus falls on Ascot's 14:35, The Ladbroke Hurdle. A relatively young race, it has been dominated since its inception by Nicky Henderson and Pipe Family horses. It was won last yeat by Sentry Duty who went on to have more successes in large field handicaps and appeared in last season's Champion Hurdle.
As will become traditional we will look at the race from two perspectives: those of 'The Form' and Ten Year (or eight year in this case) Trends.
From a form perspective there seem to be two races which hold the key to a better understanding of this race.
Firstly, the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham which was won on soft ground by Khyber Kim from Harry Tricker on his seasonal debut. The form of that race was given an almighty boost at the weekend when the Twiston-Davies trained hurdler (Khyber Kim) came late to outstay Paul Nicholls Champion Hurdle Prospect (and odds on favourite) Celestial Halo in the Boylesports International Hurdle. With Alan King’s Medermit occupying third place the form has a strong look to it. Harry Tricker a five length second that day is the ante-post favourite for the Ladbroke currently trading at around 6/1.European Dream who finished 6th that day also re-opposes on Saturday.
Harry Tricker has raced many times already this season (so therefore undeniably race-fit) and was arguably well in with the weights that day giving the winner over a stone and 5lbs to European Dancer. Nonetheless he is still on favourable terms with many of the likely protagonists with the 3lb (weight off) claim of Jockey Andrew Glassonbury. Additionally he will certainly not mind the soft going that may arise at Ascot.
Nigel Twiston-Davies' Frontier Dancer
The second race is 3:15 at Newbury last Saturday, an arguably weaker affair won by Nicky Henderson’s Fairyland. Frontier Dancer (2), Dani’s Girl (5), Gee Dee Nen (7) and Henderson’s Know The Law (unseated rider) all re-oppose on Saturday. Second to Sixth finished in a heap five lengths behind the victor and give the form a somewhat muddy complexion though it is notable that it was Frontier Dancer’s first run of the season. The winner had raced several times already this autumn and Frontier Dancer, who by all accounts needed the run will be the horse to take from this race. The only note of warning I would sound is that he has no winning form in the book on going worse than good to soft and the sole win on good to soft came in low class affair at Warwick.
Other horses with strong form which doesn’t lend itself easily to comparison are Paul Nicholls’ top-weight Pepe Simo and John Jo O’Neill’s Get Me Out Of Here. The latter’s run in a Newbury hurdle identical to lasts Saturday’s (two days earlier) was taken in a ponderous time, fully ten seconds slower than the one won by Fairyland. As race times are arguably less of a guide in National Hunt racing he is unexposed and as such could be open to further improvement.
Based on the trends from the past 10 years you are looking for a horse:
• Aged 5 to 7
• Finished in the first 3 last time and posted their highest RPR
• Carrying 10-9+
• Officially rated 122 to 136
• Run no more than once this season
• Run in 5 or less handicap hurdles
• Second season hurdler
• Favourites have a poor record in the race with only 1 winner and 1 place from 8 runnings. 7/8 winners have been priced between 7/1 and 14/1.
Trends indicate: Frontier Dancer, Tullamore Dew, Argento Luna, Mighty Moon,
Trends analysis: There are a few live contenders that miss out by virtue of being third season hurdlers such as David Pipe’s Mamlook (6th in this race last year). Of those highlighted Argento Luna could be worth a look but Frontier Dancer is the one stand out at a decent price (available at 12/1 across the board at the time of publishing).
You may rest assured that I will back each of my selections with 1 point equal to a dickens (£10).
An exceedingly tough race to call as there are numerous dark/unexposed horses lurking at close to an each way price. The two who I’ll highlight are Harry Tricker on the back of his Khyber Kim form and Frontier Dancer on the back of trend satisfaction and likely improvement.
Harry Tricker 1* 6/1 (best price advised 12:30 thursday 17th)
Frontier Dancer (each-way) 1* 12/1 (best price advised 12:30 thursday 17th)