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Horse Racing: Weightless to land repeat victory; BIG RACE TRENDS.

Byline: Craig Thake

ACC Bank Champion Hurdle

3.15 Punchestown

First run in 1999

Key trends

Previous winner of a Grade 1 hurdle, seven winners in seven runnings

Course winner, 7/7

11 to 18 runs over hurdles, 6/7

Adjusted Racing Post Rating of at least 156, 7/7

Other factors

The favourite has not scored since Istabraq landed the odds in the inaugural running. The six beaten favourites include two Champion Hurdle seconds, and two AIG Europe Champion Hurdle winners.

Only two reigning champion hurdlers have lined up and both won. Three AIG Europe Champion Hurdle winners have run, finishing 1F3.

Verdict

A small but select field with the first three in this year's Champion Hurdle lining up and there seems no reason why Brave Inca will not beat Macs Joy and Hardy Eustace again, although the drying ground does give Jessica Harrington's charge a chance of reversing the form.

Betfred Gordon Richards Stakes

1.45 Sandown

Key trends

Won at Listed, Group 2 or 3 level, but no higher, 10/10 (the two who had won at Group 2 level had not done so the previous year, thus escaping a penalty)

Distance winner, 9/10

Finished in the first three on seasonal reappearance the previous year, 8/10

Officially rated between 110 and 120, 9/10

Rated within 3lb of RPR top-rated, 8/10

Adjusted RPR in the 130s, 7/10

Other factors

Only one of the 18 penalised runners has won. Six winners had run in a Group 1 during their career, but only one had made the frame.

Three of the last four winners had run in the Prix Dollar the previous autumn.

Verdict

The typical winner is an unpenalised colt proven in Pattern company over this trip, who has registered a good RPR and comes to hand early. Therefore, there has to be every chance that Weightless can take this for the second time.

Dunboyne Castle Hotel & Spa Champion Novice Hurdle

4.25 Punchestown

Key trends

Won hurdle between 2m2f and 2m5f, 10/10

Adjusted RPR of at least 138, 8/10

At least four runs over hurdles, 9/10

Winner of a Graded hurdle, 8/10 (including three Grade 1 winners)

Won previous start, 7/10 Aged six, 7/10

Other factors

Only three winners had run at the Cheltenham Festival, where two had won and one came sixth.

Two SunAlliance Hurdle winners have gone to post - Istabraq completed the double, but Urubande could only finish fourth. Five of the six beaten favourites had finished first or second in a Grade 1 event at Cheltenham or Aintree.

Two of the last three winners won the 2m4f Grade 2 contest at Fairyhouse over Easter.

Verdict

Nicanor is the horse to beat, but this has not been a good race for his trainer Noel Meade (no wins and just one place from 13 runners) and he might be worth taking on at short odds. The opponent with the soundest claims is Vic Venturi, a dual Graded winner, including in a key trial for this at Fairyhouse.

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Weightless: comes to hand early and is unpenalised
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 28, 2006
Words:521
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