Stat of the Day, 18th April 2013
Hunt Ball was a well beaten third yesterday, with Menorah just pipped by the favourite, Champion Court. Well done to those readers who fancied the winner: he wasn't for me (and, in truth, never will be against top class horses).
We'll stay on Cleeve Hill this afternoon for the...
A horse which has plummeted in the weights for shrewd connections today. Having won a Grade 2 novice chase off 143 as recently as January 2011, Hell's Bay then went up to a rating of 156. The closest his rivals have come to wining off a mark like that is Anquetta's 130, and he has to race off 135 here.
Hell's Bay, by contrast, has a rating of just 125 here, fully 31 pounds lower than two years ago. Now, of course, that normally means a horse has lost form. And while that is ostensibly true of today's pick, there are reasons for that.
Firstly, he was never a 156 horse, and he struggled against the likes of Calgary Bay and The Giant Bolster in his next runs. Secondly, he hates deep ground, which four of his nine subsequent runs were contested through. And third, he's almost certainly a step slower than he was two years ago, now aged eleven.
Despite all that, he runs in a Class 3 handicap today, for the first time. His last appearance in Class 3 company was when finishing second to subsequent Queen Mother Champion Chase winner, Finian's Rainbow, in a novice chase back in November 2010.
This is a weak race, and one in which there was only one finisher (!) last year: Cruchain. The money for that horse is surely misguided as, while he's won this the last two years and is lower in the weights today, he was very well beaten when two horses came down in front of him twelve months ago.
No, Hell's Bay, with all wins on good or good to soft ground, and a course, and distance, winner gets the vote. He's 8/1 with William Hill, best odds guaranteed, and that's worth taking, each way.