Stat of the Day, 15th December 2012
Midnight Chase was a very late non-runner yesterday, on ground that went from good to soft before the first race, to heavy after it. I've said it before and I'll say it again: the official going descriptions at Cheltenham are an ongoing embarrassment for the sport. I don't mind saying that I lost a few quid yesterday in my placepot perms on horses that would like good to soft but hated heavy. That shouldn't be the case for any punter and, whilst I ought to have paid closer attention to the weather, that going description should have changed BEFORE the first race. Rant over, and on with the show.
We're up to Donny for an early start today, and the…
The first sighting of good ground for a month or so here, and in the opening race of the day, we have a trainer with a positively electric record at the track. James Ewart has a 39% strike rate here, with seven of his eighteen runners winning.
Indeed, since November last year, Ewart's record at the track reads 11152131613671. Stupendous stuff for a trainer in the League One ranks, despite his generally upwardly mobile profile.
Today's sole runner looks to have plenty on against some big guns from the Southern yards, but that's been the case on a number of those other winning occasions too.
Zaru is the beast in focus for SotD readers, and he's making his debut over fences in a beginners' chase against eleven rivals. Zaru ran some nice races, though generally getting outpaced, over two miles and hurdles last term, eventually winning a maiden hurdle on his final start. But he's bred for this more significant test of stamina: fences and an extra half mile or thereabouts.
Ewart can ready one after a break, so the fact that Zaru is having his first run for 261 days is not overly concerning. And, despite the size of the field, this isn't the toughest beginners' chase ever, with none of the horses rated higher than 125 over hurdles (Zaru was rated 115).
In truth, it's a race where the trainer stat is carrying all before it and, in a competitive enough heat, Zaru has his chance - each way - at 16/1 best odds guaranteed with the excellent BetVictor, that's the wager today.
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