One of the highlights of the National Hunt Season at Chepstow is the Unibet Jump Season Opener Meeting, which falls across two days in October and traditionally launches the winter national hunt programme in the UK. The Racing Horse has ALL THE NUMBERS to help our readers and supporters of Chepstow Racecourse get up to speed on what to expect!
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Friday is the first day of the Unibet Jumps Season Opener meeting and is one of the finest Chepstow events on the horse racing calendar. The £60,000 Grade 2 Unibet Persian War Novices’ Hurdle over 2m3½f is the day's feature race, which has been won by many high-class horses including Silviniaco Conti and Bonanza Boy. Twelve times champion trainer Paul Nicholls has trained eight winners of the race including McFabulous and Secret Investor.
The first running of this race was in 1977 and was named after Persian War, who was a three-time winner of the Champion Hurdle and was trained near Chepstow. The race was moved to late October in 2004 and then to an earlier date in October 2015. But first, we look at our FREE RACECOURSE TEMPLATE for Chepstow and digest the information:
FAVOURITES – Winning favourites at Chepstow produce a profit to level stakes.
Over the past 5 years results show 149-380 for 39% (+10.92), so way above the national average of around 32%. Best category are winning favourites in non-handicaps showing 52-104 for 50% (+3.43).
TRAINERS – Paul Nicholls reigns supreme at the course and shows 234-988 for 24% (£2,318,940) (-128.55).
His horses are forward and he sends 6 to the course tomorrow. Dan Skelton sends 5, Philip Hobbs 4 and Nicky Henderson 2. This is probably the best place to start those betting thought processes.
JOCKEYS – Harry Cobden is the main beneficiary of the Nicholls skill factor; he has 5 rides.
Nico de Boinville has 2 whilst Sam Twiston-Davies has 3 and we are all aware of his team's preparedness to go in early season. Currently they are 1-7 for this month so far, but the months of October & November show them averaging around 25 winners within that time frame, some at big prices. They record 101-715 for 14% at Chepstow.
OWNERS – The Ruckers do very well at this track via Evan Williams but no runners tomorrow.
John P McManus has 2 runners and Kate & Andrew Brooks 1.
MEXICAN BOY – (O Murphy) beaten favourite last time out, Sean Bowen rides
KNAPPERS HILL – (P Nicholls) drops from Grade 2 to Class 4, trainer won this race last year, Harry Cobden rides
DOES HE KNOW – (K Bailey) drops from Grade 1 to Class 2, has won when fresh 2 from 3 and second the other time.
GEORDIE DES CHAMPS – (R Curtis) C&D winner, trainer shows profit of £35.95 when one runner at meeting, The Racing Horse nomination
DANCING SHADOW – (V Dartnall) beaten favourite last time out
INDY FIVE – (D Dennis) beaten favourite last time out
DOUBLE SHUFFLE – (T R George) drops from Grade 3 to Class 2
CAMPROND – (P Hobbs) beaten favourite last time out, trainer has won 2 of the last 10 runnings
COEUR SEREIN – (J O'Neill) The Racing Horse nomination
HELL RED – (P Nicholls) trainer won 5 of the last 10 runnings, Harry Cobden rides
CABOT CLIFFS – (D Skelton) beaten favourite last time out
ELHAM VALLEY – (F O'Brien) beaten favourite last time out
MONDORA – (P Nicholls) beaten favourite last time out, trainer won 3 of the last 6 runnings, Harry Cobden rides
MY KEEPSAKE – (P Hobbs) beaten favourite last time out
MANSOLINE – (C Williams) drops from Grade 2 to Class 4
FROM THE HEART – (P Hobbs) beaten favourite last time out, trainer won this race last year
HUNTSMAN'S JOG – (F O'Brien) beaten favourite last time out, first time visor
STRICTLYADANCER – (C Williams) beaten favourite last time out
KILPIN – (N Twiston-Davies) trainer shows profit of £17.98 with chasers returning from a break
2.45: UNIBET PERSIAN WAR NOVICES' HURDLE (Grade 2) (4yo+) 2m3f100y
At first glance the suggestion is to filter those aged 5 and 6yo, in the top three in the betting, who had won their last run and rated higher than 130, the winner will probably be found in this bandwidth. This means the front two in the market PASO DOBLE (P Nicholls) and FIRST STREET (N Henderson) are both 4yos and the trends says those aged 5 or 6yo win this race at 75%.
Here are the trends over the last 12 years:
9/12: Aged 5 or 6yo (75%)
9/12: Top three in the betting (75%)
8/12: Won on last run (67%)
7/12: Rated 130 or higher (58%)
5/12: Winning favourites (42%)
3/12: Previously ran at Chepstow (25%)
2/12: Previously won at Chepstow (17%)
The Racing Horse Verdict: COEUR SEREIN 11/2, will run a place at least!
Proving the quality of the race, 3 of the last 12 winners ran in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival, and 9 of those winners won at least one more race that season. Interesting that 6 of the winners ran in the Hyde Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham on their next run with 2 winning, whilst 4 won on their next start after this race.
Another of the day’s highlights is the 2.10: £30,000 Professor Caroline Tisdall Supports Heroic Jumpers Veterans’ Chase (Class 2) 2m7f131y.
With this age group one can never be sure who turns up on the day, but course and distance winner Geordie Des Champs comes to the race on the back of two Ffos Las hurdling wins, so gets the vote off a reduced chasing mark. Sir Ivan for Harry Fry has had a breathing operation and previously won a veteran's event at Newbury in 2020/21. Acts on soft ground also and often travels strongly, he would have a chance.
The Racing Horse Verdict: GEORDIE DES CHAMPS 11/2 Alt: Sir Ivan 13/2
“Record times for Chepstow are very quick, which shows how slick it can be when the ground is fast, but horses can finish strung out like washing when it gets soft. Punters really must take note of conditions then, if they’re having a bet, because horses with stamina limitations can get home when the going is right for them, while it can be a real slog when it’s heavy. The other things to consider seriously are the undulations and the downhill run from the last. If you walk round the course, for example, you’ll be aware that, from several places out in the country, you can’t see the stands. The run-in, on the other hand, is quite steeply downhill, very quick on fast ground, and that’s why you often see horses make a mistake at the final jump” – Mick Fitzgerald
Featured Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vegaseddie
Paul Moon – The Racing Horse