How do you feel when you’re in form? Do you bounce out of bed, raring to go? Are your wits sharp, the jokes firing from your mouth like sparks from a welder’s torch? A spring in your step, a glint in your eye, a rhythm to your movements like a young Fred Astaire.
Whatever it feels like, not many of us get that feeling in January. January is dark, dank and gloomy, and that’s in a normal year. Some trainers, however, are clearly creatures of habit and burst out of the Festive period like runners with a fresh pair of running shoes for Christmas. Over jumps, Olly Murphy and Paul Nicholls start well, and on the flat, Robyn Brisland is a much less glamorous name who fits the bill.
His record in January since taking out a licence in 2016 is 15 winners from 97 runners, a 15.5% strike rate (his average is half that) and a level stake profit of £41.62. With three winners already this month, it looks like lockdown has had little effect.
He has a couple of runners on Thursday, most notably in the in 0-50 Classified Stakes at Chelmsford. His record in such events at the track is four winners from 13 winners, with a £13.50 level stake profit. If you reduce that to fancied runners (a single figure price was the cut-off point I chose, so 9/1 and less) you get 4-6, with the two losers finishing second and fourth. The latest winner coming just last Saturday in the shape of Brass Clankers.
4.55 Chelmsford – CCR Classified Stakes (Div I)
BUTCHEROFSTOCKHOLM has been an eye-catcher in every one of her runs to date. She comes here with her first chance of beating rivals with a similar ability.
Green and taken off her feet on debut behind subsequent impressive winner The Nosey Parker, she travelled well at this track but was stuck down the rail when the action unfolded down the middle on her next start.
Last behind Passional over 5f at Southwell last time, it was blatantly a ‘third run for a mark’ kind of effort and she ran much better than the position suggests. That winner has won twice since and has gone up a stone in the weights. That has given the form some franking.
The yard is in fine form and she could be underrated in the market. The main danger is Trepidation, from another yard firing in the winners. Brett Johnson is four from nine in the past two weeks, including this horse at Wolverhampton. The return to seven furlongs is a big plus after a lung bursting run over a mile at Kempton last time, failing to reel in the winner.
5.30 Chelmsford – CCR Classified Stakes (Div II)
The same two yards could fight out the second division of this race, too, with LITTLE FLOOZIE making plenty of appeal for the Johnson team and Deeds Not Words worth a mention for the Brisland yard.
Little Floozie is by Brazen Beau, who has a record of 2-23 at the track, but many of those were big priced no hopers. Only 9 of those 23 were at single figure prices, and those nine finished 231241294 with the winners 11/10 and 8/1. Therefore, his record is much better than it first appears.
Little Floozie ran a corker at Lingfield, second to an in-form rival in a strong time, before getting stuck down the rail at Wolves last time and getting no run until it was all too late.
She’s better than her mark for sure, so has to enter calculations strongly in this poor event. Deeds Not Words is the other end of the scale, an exposed ten year old who’s never won over this trip, but he was a bit of an eye-catcher in a strongly contested six furlong race last week, this is easier and, of his 17 career wins, 15 of them have come within two weeks of his last run, so he will surely improve for that reappearance.
7.00 Chelmsford – Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap
Finally, the one good race on the cards is the 7f handicap at 7.00, and BRUNEL CHARM is worth chancing in first time blinkers for Richard Hughes and Shane Kelly. The headgear will hopefully settle him, as he can be quite a keen goer, but he’s slipped to a very attractive mark and this surface should bring about improvement.
His sire, Charm Spirit, has a massive 20% strike rate at Chelmsford and he was stuck wide in a good race behind Soar Above at Kempton last time when the first three home were all tucked away down the rail. The yard could do with a winner (0-12 in the past two weeks) but crucially, their only two runners to run well were both at this track when both Doonbeg Farmer and Charlie Arthur finished second here at the weekend.
As Brisland and Johnson will find out at some point, form is temporary, class is permanent and whilst the Hughes team are currently waiting for their first winner of 2021, they’re an incredibly consistent yard normally, and the winners will return sooner rather than later.