The Saturday Focus – Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase

By Samantha Martin (@sam_angelina22)

Whenever I think of Wincanton Racecourse, I immediately associate it with Paul Nicholls. He has an amazing record at this track – 403 winners at the course from 1432 runners, a 28% strike rate. Last season, he had fifteen winners at the course and looks to have plenty of great chances this Saturday. His horse Cyrname stole the show last week in the Charlie Hall Chase, proving the doubters wrong and me right after I tipped him up in my first ‘Saturday Focus’ article last week.

Paul Nicholls has three runners in the Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase (Listed), which is raced over three miles and one furlong. Present Man is such a likeable horse and was successful in this race in 2017 and 2018. This ten-year-old won by two and a half lengths in 2018. He hadn’t been seen for eleven months (since pulling up in this last year) when he made his seasonal bow off a mark of 144, winning a Chepstow Veterans Chase. It was a hard-fought victory under 11st9 and he has never won off a mark this high. However, he’s obviously feeling well in himself and another bold bid can be expected.

The other Nicholls runners are a few years younger than Present Man with Danny Whizzbang aged seven and My Way aged six. The former has graced the racetrack just five times. His first two races were over hurdles, which he won well, but they decided to step him up to fences last season. On fences debut in November, he managed to win the grade two John Francome Novices Chase on his first start. He ran in a grade one over Christmas and was well-beaten then dropped down in grade to run at Ascot in the grade two Reynoldstown Novices Chase. That was over a trip just short of three miles and he didn’t quite last home on the bottomless ground and ended up last of three finishers. The ground is going to be good and, after a wind operation, I think he’ll handle this trip. So do a lot of people though, as he’s favourite. My Way is the biggest price of the trio – but that’s only at about 9/1! The son of Martaline doesn’t win very regularly and, in fact, he only won his first race last time out – at the twelfth attempt. It was over two miles six and he managed to win by two lengths. Stamina is the slight concern.

Paul Nicholls has taken the last three renewals of this race and Colin Tizzard won it in the previous year, 2016. This time around, he has Sizing At Midnight in the race. Tizzard’s horses aren’t firing as much as they normally do but he has had two winners since the start of the month. This gelding won very well on good ground over three miles two in August and then again at Ffos Las. Last time, he was beaten three and a quarter lengths by Kitty’s Light. 11lbs splits these two horses on official ratings with Sizing At Midnight carrying 10st13 and Kitty’s Light carrying 10st2 along with Jack Tudor’s 5lbs claim. This gelding is by Nathaniel (my stallion to watch for this National Hunt season) and is just four years of age. It is not typical to see four-year-olds in this kind of race. It wasn’t until his fifth start that he actually won, which was his first one over fences. It was on good ground over two miles four and a half furlongs and he did it easily. Next time, he ran against older horses and was beaten by a horse whose yard was in good form at that time. In September, Chritian Williams’ charge won at Warwick over three miles and then at Exeter he smoothly won again. I’m excited to see what he can do in this race.  

Dan Skelton’s yard is going well at the minute and their stable star Allmankind made a really pleasing chasing debut at Warwick on Friday. He looks to be a horse with a huge future with his four-year-old allowance. They have two runners in this race – Cobra De Mai and Supremely Lucky. Bridget Andrew rode a good winner on ITV last week and rides Cobra De Mai in this. His last win came in April 2019 over three mile two on good ground off a mark of 142. He has been running poorly ever since but he has slipped to a mark of 142 and gets blinkers. Amateur jockey Tristan Durrell rides Supremely Lucky. This horse is extremely consistent. He is still a maiden over fences but has been second on all three starts, which were all last season. He’s related to a dual chase winner but will be one of the outsiders.

The same can be said for Erick Le Rouge and Coo Star Sivola, who run for wife and husband Jane Williams and Nick Williams respectively. Erick Le Rouge is a ‘cliff horse’ for me. He was a good winner on chase debut. Next time, he was fifth with El Presente fourth. He has had one try at three miles and was only seventh so that is a worry. It is so good to see Utima winner Coo Star Sivola back out. His win was a superb run but he has lost his was subsequently. He was last seen pulling up in the 2019 Ultima 606 days ago and we haven’t seen him since. Obviously, fitness could be an issue.

Potterman (BY JTW EQUINE IMAGES)

El Presente carries 2lbs more than Erick Le Rouge. The former won in July by seventeen lengths. Next time, he followed in Potterman and was left a little bit one-paced. However, next time he won over three miles, beating Irish Prophecy on good to firm ground. Then, he stepped up a furlong in trip to win at Hereford. It is hard to know if he has reached his ceiling yet as he’s only ran thirteen times and won four races. Kim Bailey’s horses are running really well. Irish Prophecy won over two miles four in July and has been running consistently well, bar one blip, since. His best form is on ground with good in the description. Both El Presente and Irish Prophecy have to get past Potterman though. This horse was beaten a long way over two miles five but, next time, he was beaten fifteen lengths at Bangor. His win at Market Rasen over three miles was good and he came second to Secret Investor last time out, with Some Chaos two and a half lengths behind. I’ve seen that a few people like this horse but I’m not particularly convinced by him. However, Some Chaos boosted the form by winning the Edinburgh Gin Chase. He stayed the three miles two well and that has put him on a career high mark of 142.

The Beautiful Champagne Court (By JTW EQUINE IMAGES)

Just A Sting is horse who is often well-fancied for these kinds of races. He was 5/1 for this race last year and finished fourth, beaten seven lengths. Next time, he won on heavy ground and then never figured in the Kim Muir. He does go well fresh but he is 1lbs higher than his last winning mark. Finally, Champagne Court is looking to build on a ninth placed finish in a Pertemps Qualifier two weeks ago. This son of Court Cave came eighth in the Ultima but earlier in the season he managed to win at Sandown and Plumpton. His best form has come on softish ground.

In conclusion, I am going to side with KITTY’S LIGHT. This unexposed four-year-old has made a delightful start to fences. He’s by Nathaniel, who is making himself into a top dual-purpose stallion, and his young jockey is extremely talented. His trainer Christian Williams won this in 2004, the year I was born, so he knows what it takes from a horse to win this kind of race. I also like El Presente to run a good race. He’s been running very well lately and will relish the trip and ground.

Present Man (By JTW EQUINE IMAGES)

Huge thank you to the brilliant JTW Equine Images for supplying the photos once again!

Your Take On The Race

I asked my Twitter followers what their thoughts were on this race and I have linked a few of their replied below. Do you agree? Who are you siding with? Head over to my Twitter page to join in the conversation and let me know what you think of the race – and my article!

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