Spear can hit Ascot target

Ian Ogg analyses the last nine renewals of the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle at Ascot and picks out the key statistics.

Golden Spear can carry the prize back to Ireland

The last nine renewals of the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle have produced 10 winners with Jolly's Cracked It and Sternrubin dead-heating 12 months ago.

That pair are back for more in the two mile Grade Three where it has paid to concentrate on younger horses with only 2006 winner Desert Air aged older than six.

As such we can put a line through half a dozen horses and look to oppose the three at the top of the weights who are all weighted higher than any winner in this period.

That already reduced the field by around half and with all of the 10 winners in this study period having finished in the first four on their preceding start, we can justifiably put a line through a couple more.

Wolf Of Windlesham has attracted some ante-post support and was travelling well enough when falling while Chesterfield also failed to complete when last seen having been in front when departing.

It is possible that they would have achieved the requisite placing and the former has since run well on the level.

Golden Spear won his most recent start over hurdles for all that came in September 2015 but he, too, has been in good form on the Flat, winning the November Handicap when last seen.

He looks to have leading claims for his Irish handler who knows all about winning big prizes abroad.

A couple of winners have taken this prize on their first start of the season so the lack of a run is no negative for Meet The Legend whose yard won this in 2013 and who have already won a similar prize this season when North Hill Harvey edged out Modus.

Modus ran well here prior to that and is ridden by Barry Geraghty for the first time in preference to Consul De Thaix.

Both have leading claims but this prize has escaped the former's trainer, Paul Nicholls, whereas Nicky Henderson – trainer of the latter – has won it twice in this period and three times over all.

With Modus very much at the higher end of the ideal ratings range, it can pay to concentrate on the other market principals, namely Consul De Thaix, Meet The Legend and Golden Spear.

The last pair are five-year-olds who have provided more winners – albeit only marginally – than other age groups and they are preferred with the nod going to the Irish raider.

  • Winners have been aged four (2), five (4), six (3) and seven.
  • Winners have carried between 10-1 and 11-9.
  • Winners have been rated between 127 and 146 with six between 127 and 136.
  • Winners have been priced between 9/4 and 25/1 with six returned at double figure sps. Two favourites have won.
  • All winners finished in the first four on their preceding start, five were successful.
  • Nine winners had had between four and 10 starts over hurdles.
  • Nine winners had had no more than three runs during the current season.
  • Six winners were in their second season over hurdles.
  • Six winners contested a race at the preceding Cheltenham Festival.

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