Saturday 10th November – WINCANTON 3:00, 1m 7½f (1m 7f 65y) Unibet Elite Hurdle (Grade 2) (Class 1) (4yo+)

The Elite Hurdle was established in 1992 and was originally run at Cheltenham before being transferred to Wincanton in 1994. Between 1998 and 2017 the race was run as a handicap, but for the 2018 renewal it has reverted back to a weight for age conditions race.

Throughout the event’s 24 renewals the race has been won by horses aged between five and seven on 18 occasions so horses in this age group should be looked at carefully.

The betting has given a definite clue to a likely winner over the last 12 renewals as although only two favourites have obliged in the last 12 renewals, on 10 of the last 12 runnings the winner could be found in the first three in the betting. On only one occasion during the period in consideration has a horse won at odds higher than 11/2.

As we are still in the very early stages of the season horses making their seasonal debuts have done reasonably well in the race with seven of the last 12 winners having their previous run at least 100 days prior to the race. However, horses who have already run this season have a reasonable record in the race with six of the last 12 winners running at least once during the current season prior to the race and four of the 12 having recorded at least one win during the current season.

Current winning form is not an important consideration as only three of the last 12 winners won on their previous start. Course form is also unimportant as only two of the last 12 winners had a previous run at Wincanton.

Winning form over the race distance is a more important consideration as 11 of the last 12 winners had won at least three times prior to the race at distances between 1 mile 7 furlongs and 2 miles 1 furlong. Horses with good hurdling experience tend to do well with 11 of the 12 winners having run at least six times over hurdles with 10 of the last 12 winners previously recording three wins or more over the smaller obstacles.

An Official Rating of 145 of higher has been required to win the race in nine of the last 12 renewals and seven of the last 12 winners had also previously won a Grade 1 to 3 race.

Nicky Henderson runs Verdana Blue and the six year old brown mare has won three times over the race distance. The going is currently described as Good to Firm (Friday Lunchtime) but with heavy rain forecast from mid afternoon the ground is likely to be significantly softer come race time.

Verdana Blue has won in both Good and Good to Soft ground so the rain will certainly help her chances. The only blot about her statistically is that she is yet to win a Graded race. However, she won a Listed event last time out and with her trainer being in very good form, with five winners from 19 runners in the past two weeks, she is likely to go very well.

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