Recent JLT Handicap Chase trends point to Jonjo O’Neill
Jonjo O’Neill has trained two of the last five winners of the JLT Specialty Handicap Chase and the Gloucestershire-based handler evidently targets the race.
Run over three miles, the contest has had a variety of names over the years but O’Neill’s success has been constant; he won the race with Wichita Lineman in 2009 and Alfie Sherrin in 2012.
Those two horses both carried less than 11 stone, which is a feature of 13 of the last 14 winners.
Over the last 30 years there has not been one winner rated over 150, and the very best horses in the handicap don’t tend to win this race.
Golden Chieftain (rated 132) won last-year’s renewal and was a comfortable winner, however it is the fourth horse home, Tullamore Dew, who is part of an interesting statistic.
Nick Gifford’s charge was the first 11-year-old (or older) to be placed in the race since Flyer’s Nap won the race in 1997, although there have been four 10-year-old winners in that period.
Should Golden Chieftain return to defend his crown, he will be attempting to be the first horse since Scot Lane (1982/83) to win back-to-back renewals of the race; no horse has ever regained the race’s crown.
Whilst older horses have struggled, the most successful age group have been eight-year-olds who have won six of the last 13 renewals.
Punters who like to follow a jockey should concentrate on Robert Thornton.
The Englishman, who is also known as ‘Choc’, has ridden two winners for his boss Alan King as well as one for Francois Doumen.
However the trainer to avoid is Paul Nicholls.
The Ditcheat handler has often questioned the handicapping of horses at the more high-profile yards, and his record in this race would appear to add some substance to his argument; he has never saddled the winner.
King of the castle
In contrast, Barbury Castle resident Alan King has two victories to his name, and it could easily have been three.
Bensalem was travelling very well in 2010 before falling, however he made up for it in style by winning the race 12 months later.
Due to the competitive nature of the race, it often pays to side with a horse who comes into the race in good form.
Horses in form
Eight of the last 10 winners had finished in the top three on their preceding start, whilst proven stayers have also fared well; nine of the last 10 winners had already won over at least three miles.
This tricky handicap hasn’t always been kind to punters, with only two outright favourites winning since 1977, however nine of the last 12 winners could be found in the first four of the betting.