With the start of 2020-21 National Hunt season creeping ever closer, jumps trainers are slowly beginning to ramp up their preparations for the autumn. Nicky Henderson landed his sixth trainer's championship last year, and many of the usual suspects also enjoyed fruitful campaigns, however, there were also a number of handlers who were far less successful, and were forced to endure fallow periods. We have picked out three trainers who have had an unexpected blip but are likely to bounce back in the coming months.
Although he is officially ranked as a dual-purpose handler, the Yorkshire-based trainer is primarily famed for his hurdlers. Although the season began positively with Cornerstone Lad's victory in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, the talented six-year-old wasn't able to reproduce that effort in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham back in March and looks set to go novice chasing this year instead.
The Middleham trainer enjoyed just a 10% success rate last season, with 31 of his 304 representatives landing the spoils, his lowest total since 2016. He has yet to get off the mark this season, although as of August 22nd, he's only sent out 19 runners.Thanks @DoncasterRaces #Racechain— Newcastle Racecourse (@NewcastleRaces) March 24, 2020
It’s simple. Post your performance of the season and tag another track where that horse has won.
Cornerstone Lad holds on in brilliant fashion to win the @Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle for @MHammondRacing
Next up ðŸ‘‰ @CatterickRaces pic.twitter.com/qf32ZYjWXj
Although he remains one of the savviest operators in the north of England, Hammond will be desperately hoping to improve upon his underwhelming numbers last season, and although he's enjoyed success on the flat with Frankelio, he'll hoping for much better luck over the larger obstacles this winter.
Sheena West (pictured)
Although Sheena West's operation is relatively low-key, and the East Sussex-based trainer isn't a name that you would expect to feature prominently on the today's horse racing results at Paddy Power page, the dual-purpose handler does have a decent record with hurdlers at tracks such as Plumpton and Fontwell. She regularly teams up with jockey Marc Goldstein and tends to average an annual strike-rate of around 11%. However, despite sending out 49 runners last season, she managed just three winners. With a lowly 6% success rate last season, West will be hoping for better fortunes this time around, and with plenty of opportunities on the south coast throughout the winter months, she will be expected to bounce back from her uncharacteristically disappointing spell.
Although the 2018-19 campaign ended on a high for Banbury-based trainer with Croco Bay's success in the Grand Annual, the last twelve months haven't been particularly profitable for punters who have chosen to follow Ben Case's horses. Although he sent out fewer runners last season, the handler's strike-rate dipped to just 9%.
However, the current campaign has started well for the Oxfordshire yard, with talented eight-year-old Kings Temptation recording back-to-back wins this summer. He has now won three of his last four appearances over fences, and although it's still early days, it has helped push his trainer's strike-rate out to 25%.
Whilst the in-form gelding's superb run is unlikely to be sustained throughout the winter months, the trainer also has a number of other interesting recruits, including Kilbrew Boy, whose recent third over the three miles at Kempton was hugely promising, and points towards a bright future in staying contests.One runner today King’s Temptation in the 4.25 pm âﾁ¦@UttoxeterRacesâﾁ© âﾁ¦@kielanwoodsâﾁ© rides pic.twitter.com/flZpVSaqIJ— Ben Case (@bencaseracing) August 22, 2020
Although every professional will have peaks and troughs during the course of their lifetime, it appears to be nothing more than an anomaly in these experienced handlers otherwise hugely successful careers. They will be expected to immediately bounce back from a disappointing twelve months, and a huge upturn in form for this trio of talented trainers during the winter months looks extremely likely.