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Wind-op may give improving Le Breuil boost he needs to score at Warwick

Wayne Bailey


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Staying power: Le Breuil, here on his way to winning the four-miler at Cheltenham in 2019 under Jamie Codd, can put his proven stamina to good use in today’s Warwick feature. Photo: Edward Whitaker

Staying power: Le Breuil, here on his way to winning the four-miler at Cheltenham in 2019 under Jamie Codd, can put his proven stamina to good use in today’s Warwick feature. Photo: Edward Whitaker

Staying power: Le Breuil, here on his way to winning the four-miler at Cheltenham in 2019 under Jamie Codd, can put his proven stamina to good use in today’s Warwick feature. Photo: Edward Whitaker

It's three years since it became mandatory to declare if a horse is running for the first time after a wind operation, a procedure which can involve a number of types of surgery designed to help with breathing.

On the racecard, this is usually denoted by the letters WS (wind surgery) or W1, and while the debate continues as to the effectiveness or otherwise of such procedures, at least we now have some data which we can look at.

Interpreting it to make it meaningful is problematic, but if we crudely compare horses that are running for the first time after a wind-op to those that aren't, we can see a marginal advantage across all codes.

A wind-op seems to have more effect in jumps racing, which is understandable as the horse's breathing is put under a different type of pressure over a longer distance compared to the flat, and if you break it down further, a wind-op for chasers is particularly noteworthy.

While the sample size is relatively small at 944, chasers running for the first time after a wind-op have a win-rate of 14.72pc, which compares favourably to general chase runners which have a win-rate of 12.46pc.

Indeed, they've proved profitable to follow and had you backed all blindly, you'd have had 139 winners and made a profit of 21 points to SP, or 190 points to Betfair SP.

Again, that data is very raw and open to examination from many angles, but their basic win-rate seems quite high to me, considering horses that get wind-ops are sometimes those that are struggling anyway, and it may have been used as a last resort.

Not all horses that had a wind-op were out of form, and some trainers are more interested in the procedure than others, although it's worth noting that a large chunk of those with a wind-op were pulled up last time.

So early evidence suggests it's definitely a positive to have had a wind-op, in chases at least, and while I'd never suggest you blindly back horses on that basis, some good bets can be found if you spot one that has shown reasonably good ability lately, but perhaps hasn't quite managed to get the head in front in a while.

One such animal is Le Breuil, which had an entry for Thursday's North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick, a meeting which was abandoned.

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Lucky enough, he also had an entry for today's Grade Three McCoy Contractors Civil Engineering Classic Handicap Chase at Warwick (3.0), and I'm very keen on the Ben Pauling-trained gelding at odds of 11/2 in the 13-runner field.

A good third over the National fences in the Becher Chase last month off a rating of 141, he comes here rated 140, but that's 8lbs lower than this race last year, where he wasn't disgraced finishing fifth of 13 runners.

His last win was in 2019 at the Cheltenham Festival but he appears to be coming back to form. Off a reasonable mark and following the wind-op, I'm confident I'll get a good run for my money. I had also considered backing Captain Chaos, but I just can't be having him at 4/1 as he's a quirky character who doesn't always jump the best.

I'll watch the Grade Two McCoy Contractors Civils And Infrastructure Hampton Novices' Chase (1.50, Warwick) with interest, but this three-runner contest is a no-bet race for me with the favourite Next Destination set to go off around 8/11.

A successful hurdler for Willie Mullins a couple of years ago, he's raced twice for Paul Nicholls, the first over timber where he was second in a Grade Two in October, followed up by a successful start over fences where he was particularly impressive taking a novice chase at Newbury in late November.

The other two runners, Fiddlerontheroof and Golan Fortune, are fairly useful too so it might not be a walk in the park, but Next Destination looks exciting and this might well be the last time we see him before Cheltenham in the RSA.

On the same card, Make Me A Believer ticks the right boxes in the Grade Two Ballymore Leamington Novices' Hurdle (2.25), and the odds of 4/1 available at the time of writing appear to be a good deal.

Trained by David Pipe, he won a bumper in 2019 before finishing second in his first start over hurdles in October. That was followed up with a victory in a six-runner novice hurdle at Cheltenham last time out in December following a breathing operation, and he looks a promising sort.

Back home at Fairyhouse, Bel Ami De Sivola catches the eye each-way around 20/1 in the Dan & Joan Moore Memorial Handicap Chase (2.15). He's frustrating to follow; I know he has ability somewhere deep down and I backed him a number of times, but he can be inconsistent, running well one day then poorly the next for no obvious reason.

His best run in a while came last time out in November, where he was second in a handicap at 33/1 off a rating of 128 in his first run for Gordon Elliott. He's 2lbs higher today but his inconsistency is built into his odds, and I hope for a place at the least.


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