Stat of the Day, 17th April 2013
Unlucky yesterday, as Xpres Maite again lost the race at the start, though this time it wasn't his fault. He broke alertly, but horses to his left and right, and half a length in front of him, combined to squeeze him out and he lost about four lengths. The jockey made the ground up with an outside move, but he then got outpaced two out, and looked as though he'd miss the frame.
He's nothing if not a plodder though - perfect for Southwell - and he stuck on well past tiring horses to get within a length of the winner. He's not one to rely on, but continues in great heart and may win soon.
From the ridiculous to the sublime today, as we take in good old Chelters, specifically the...
Hunt Ball was THE story of last season, rising through the handicap ranks like a firework in the night sky. He finished with a win here, over today's trip, in the Novices' handicap chase at the Festival.
It's his distance form which catches my eye this afternoon. Hunt Ball has run over 21 furlongs nine times, and his figures read 1111113P24. The '4' was when lugging top weight in the Byrne Group Plate; the '3' was when third in a Grade 1 at Aintree; and the '2' was in a heavy ground Grade 2 behind re-opposing Menorah. Oh, and the 'P' was in deep ground on his seasonal debut in the Paddy Power.
Let's talk about the ground now. On soft or worse, Hunt Ball is 121P23, with the early part of the string when he was running in egg and spoon races whilst surging up the ratings. On good to soft or better, he's 00P4 (before the first win), then 11111341, the 34 being referenced above already.
So, we know he goes in the ground, acts on the track and loves the distance. It's a Grade 2 today, and he has the second highest rating here behind that man, Menorah. Menorah is a horrible jumper: very talented, but a horrible jumper. His Cheltenham record over fences reads 3P. His defeat of Hunt Ball was on heavy ground. Hunt Ball hates heavy ground.
Champion Court has had plenty of chances and not won outside novice company. He's getting plenty of weight here, but still might not be up to beating the classier pair.
Hunt Ball, win only, 7/2 with Ladbrokes, best odds guaranteed.
Plus, and this is one of the best bookie offers around right now, if you open an account and bet a tenner, they'll give you £30 in free bets.