What we learned from the weekend: 28th & 29th October…

Image result for old roan chase 2017

Smad Place back in business in the Old Roan Chase!

OK. Hands up if you are now fully fired up for the 2017/18 National Hunt season?!

Hell yeah! I’m over the first in flying fashion and have my ears pricked looking for the first open ditch now that weekend is in the form book!

If a weekend that brought us the Cheltenham Showcase shindig and Aintree’s Old Roan Chase shenanigans doesn’t get you up and out of bed in the morning, ready to face the world off the front end like the b@st*rd lovechild of Denman and Coneygree, then, well, get some help!!

You just can’t beat meetings like that… but the thing is, we will be!! Yes the National Hunt action is now in full swing and the high quality action is ready to smack us full in the chops on a weekly basis.

You can smell it in the air now, the big guns are just about to be released, ready to strut their stuff over the sticks for our punting pleasure.

I mean just look at the big names entered up for this weekend coming…


Yowzers! Let me just wipe the drool off the table…

But let’s just hang fire for a little bit, we first need to wrap up the action that’s just entered the form book…

What we learned from the weekend: 28th & 29th October…

1. Once again 10yo’s dominated the Veterans’ Chase division…

I’ve always thought that the Veteran Chase races would be ‘easy’ puzzles to solve. I mean I know the form of most of the field inside out, a high percentage of the runners I will have in-depth notes on and there’s a good chance you’re able to strike a line through a chunk of the field as they are simply past their sell buy date…

…but it hasn’t quite worked out that way for me!

My punting returns in those races are, at best, average.

Often I’m left scratching my head and mumbling such statements as ‘he shouldn’t have been winning under those conditions’ or ‘how the hell did that happen?!’.

Indeed I would go as far as to say that sometimes you can just throw previous form out the window when a horse starts running regularly in Veterans’ Chases.

Well maybe not quite as violent a reaction as that but from my experience you certainly need to be a bit more flexible with regards to a horses conditions when running against fellow oldies.

There’s money to be made in these races, of that there is no doubt, and after the result of Sunday’s Veterans’ Chase at Aintree I think I’ve found an excellent starting point when looking to Narrow The Field in these types of races…

Just concentrate on the youngsters in the field!

Which in these races would be the 10yo’s!!

In Sunday’s Aintree contest there were six 10yo’s running (of the 16 horses lining up).

They finished like this…

1st – The Romford Pele

2nd – Bob Tucker

4th – Call Me Vic

5th – Potters Cross

6th – Katkeau

8th – No Planning

Now clearly this result could have been different had the front-running 11yo  Gas Line Boy stayed on his feet three out…but he didn’t…and the 10yo’s ended up dominating the finish.

Upon seeing this 10yo dominance I went digging, as I do, into my Proform database.

I looked back at all Veterans’ Chases since 2013 and broke the figures down by age bracket.

Which returned the following…

10yo’s – 45/301 | 15% S/R | +£100.91 BFLSP – 24% above expectation

11yo’s – 14/180 | 8% S/R | -£66.89 BFLSP – 27% below expectation

12yo’s – 3/80 | 4% S/R | -£36.83 BFLSP – 59% below expectation

13yo’s – 4/30 | 13% S/R | +£28.40 BFLSP – 60% above expectation

14yo’s – 0/8 | 0% S/R | -£8.00 BFLSP – N/A

Clear evidence that the 10yo’s dominate this division.

Yes they have the most runners but the strike-rate is the highest and the Level Stakes Profit is easily the highest (also profitable when using standard SP).

There is a bit of an anomaly with the 13yo’s but they don’t have as much runners so those figures are not all that reliable.

I think it’s fair to say that most of us enjoy these Veterans’ races and we all like to have a bit of a punt in them (we are drawn to those types we’ve watched year after year…) but we shouldn’t forget the fact that age can start taking it’s toll on those runners that have been around the block a few times. Hell even if they are a lightly raced 11yo+ their bones will still be starting to creak and they’ll be a bit stiff getting out of bed in the mornings.

The stats very much point towards the ‘younger’ boys and girls being where the profits sit. Yes the older ones will win a share of the races, and we certainly shouldn’t blanket ignore them, but overall it pays to play at the younger end of the veterans’ scale…

Younger legs equal bigger profits… 


2. Front-runners ONCE AGAIN pulled in the profits…

My FREE front-runners guide seems to have really struck a chord with plenty of you, which is superb, and shows how serious a lot of you are about your betting. (plus it takes me a while to write those guides so it’s always good to know at least some of you are reading them!!).

There were some excellent front running rides this weekend, with Sam Twiston-Davies on FOXTAIL HILL probably being the pick of them. Indeed NTF member Gary is already asking if there will be a better front-running ride all season! Now Gary is biased on this front as he told us all pre-race he would be backing Foxtail Hill, based on the likelihood of him blasting off out in front, but he is right, it was a fantastic ride from STD and it’s unlikely to be the last time STD nails a race off the front end. He’s one of those jockey’s that excels when setting the pace, currently hitting the mark 30% of the time on front-runners, improving to 31% on chasers and improving again, to a huge 42% when it’s a Paul Nicholls front-running chasers. Unfortunately profits are compromised by the fact it’s the STD/Nicholls partnership at play but mark my words there are plenty of other profitable areas in the STD front-running compendium.

But I’m getting side-tracked here…

Back to this weekend just past…

There were 43 National Hunt races run over the weekend and the running style of the winners is broken down as follows…

Front-runners – 8/45 | 18% S/R | +£54.10 BFLSP

Close-to-pace – 20/187 | 11% S/R | -£54.59 BFLSP

Held-up – 15/252 | 6% S/R | -£109.39 BFLSP

Backing all front-runners made you serious profit and they struck at easily the best strike-rate!

As I’ve said before, however, it’s almost impossible to consistently back all front-runners pre-race, albeit you could have a serious crack at it if your an in-running player, but even the small snap-shot of two days racing from the weekend shows just how powerful the front-runner knowledge can be.

I’ll be providing full NTF members with more articles on the front-runner phenomenon throughout this season and, hopefully, I’ll also have another free guide for members of the free list at some stage this season.

Ignore those front-runners at your pearl…


3. The older runners once again struggled to land a major blow at the Showcase meeting…

I’ve mentioned this before in previous ‘What we learned from the weekend’ posts but it’s always worth highlighting again…

Horses aged 9yo+ struggle to win at the Cheltenham Showcase meeting.

This year those runners returned the following…

1/31 | 3% S/R | -£2.35 BFLSP – W&P 5/31 | 16% S/R

42% below expectation

And you have to say the one winner, Bobble Emerald, had a large helping hand from the loose horse on the run-in! (for all you could have made a case pre-race for Bobble Emerald)

As always one years data could just be a statistical blip so lets look at the same age group at the last six Showcase meetings…

3/150 | 2% S/R | -£105.70 BFLSP – W&P 21/150 | 14% S/R

62% below expectation

Not good figures for those ‘oldies’ at all….

As always I’m not saying blanket ignore this age group (I’m sure Bobble Emerald backers would rightly be waving their profits in my face) but do make sure you have significant other positives on your side before siding with the 9yo’s+ category.

Certainly something to keep in mind for the 2018 Showcase…

The stats are very much pointing towards the Cheltenham Showcase meeting being one for the younger and more progressive of beasts.

Doors to NTF 2017/18 closing…

With the Charlie Hall Chase about to romp into view that also means the doors to the full NTF service are about to slam shut.

There is already a chunk load of info in the members area, with Weekend Notes from recent weekends available and a UTR Squad that is growing in size each week, along with the race guides side of things, obviously…

To make sure you don’t miss your slot on the service head along to the following page…

>>>Grab your slot on NTF today!

I look forward to seeing you in the NTF members area as I continue to slice through the major races using my tried and tested Race Trends analysis.

Ben (NTF)


  • Ian Dykes

    Reply Reply October 31, 2017

    I have concentrated on 10yo’s in veterans races since they were instigated. Now that you have pointed it out for everyone to know, then making a profit on them will be more difficult.

    • Ben Aitken

      Reply Reply October 31, 2017

      Trust me Ian, we’ll be OK.

      Front-runners guide hasn’t impacted Front-Runners profitability…

      Paul Nicholls Wincanton angle I highlighted this time last year has not impacted that in the slightest…

      I’m not sure anything I’ve ever done on the free blog has ever crushed it’s profitability…

      We’re cool…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  • Derek

    Reply Reply October 31, 2017

    Hi Ben, does race distance have any effect, eg: shorter the race the more even spread the age group is. Also do the 10 year-olds still hold a significant advantage at different times of the year? ie: Oct-Dec, Jan-Mar and then summer months? Thanks for the heads up and as usual quality stuff.

    • Ben Aitken

      Reply Reply October 31, 2017

      I’ll take a closer look at some stage this week Derek, it’s good thinking from you…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  • George

    Reply Reply October 31, 2017

    How much does it cost for membership

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