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Greatwood Day at Newbury: Seven things you need to know
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Greatwood Day at Newbury: Seven things you need to know

Simon Rowlands outlines the key trends for Saturday's Gold Cup and lets you know who he's backing

1, Six of the seven races at Newbury on Saturday are in support of the Greatwood charity, including the StanJames.com-sponsored Grade 3 Gold Cup Handicap Chase over two and a half miles. Isio in 2004 was the best recent winner (Timeform rating of 164), while there was a dead-heat for first between Cornish Sett and Horus two years later.

2, Younger has been better for the Greatwood Gold Cup, with six-year-olds and seven-year-olds responsible for 4.5 winners in the last 10 years at a rate of more than one and a half times chance, while beating in excess of 60% of their rivals (when 50% would be par). There are no six-year-olds, and just three seven-year-olds (Sound Investment, Royal Regatta and Saint Raph), among the 11 declarations for Saturday’s race.

3, Lower marks have been better, with 3.5 of the last 10 winners having run off less than 134, at a similarly high rate compared to chance and in terms of % rivals beaten as with younger horses in point 2. Five of the declared runners qualify on this score. Oddly, the effect all but disappears if judged on weight carried rather than BHA mark.

4, A last-time win has been nowhere near as positive an indicator as is usually the case in races of this nature, with 21 such representatives in the last 10 years (out of 120 runners in total) failing to win even a single race, and beating just 46.8% of their rivals in the process. Indeed, last-time seconds, while providing 2.5 of the winners, have also underperformed in terms of % rivals beaten.

5, Horses with two wins previously in the current season have done remarkably well from a small representation in the Greatwood Gold Cup over the last decade (Royal Regatta and Midnight Belle qualify on Saturday). Conversely, not one of the last 10 winners had been off the track for more than five weeks (counts against Sound Investment, Headly’s Bridge and Westward Point).

6, There are some strong supporting races. One possible way to tackle them is to look for trainers in notably good or poor form, and one way to measure that is through % rivals beaten in handicaps only (thus creating a level playing field) in the two months since the start of the year. Standouts by this score include: Richard Lee (73.2%, trains Simply Wings in the big one); Alex Hales (65.2%); Ben Case (63.8%); and Robert Walford (61.2%, trains Saint Raph). Poor figures have been posted by Tim Vaughan (26.1%); Sophie Leech (34.1%); and Paul Webber (34.6%), none of which has a runner in the Greatwood Gold Cup itself.

7, The Greatwood charity does a tremendous job of raising money to rescue and rehome racehorses, many of those horses partnering individuals with special educational needs. The charity has a long list of noteworthy patrons, including John McCririck and Mick Fitzgerald (but don’t hold that against them!). If you back the winner of one of the Greatwood races (or even if you don’t), why not consider making a donation to their charity at www.greatwoodcharity.org ? £100 will be making its way there from this source if Saint Raph (young, running off the lowest mark of all, and saddled by an in-form trainer) obliges at the weekend.

Free Race Pass of the Day
Friday 27th February


silk Richard Johnson
Philip Hobbs



silk Kielan Woods
Alex Hales



silk Tom O'Brien
Paul Henderson