The Swinton Handicap Hurdle is run over a distance of two miles at Haydock Park, traditionally at the start of May. This feature race takes place during a mixed national hunt and flat racing card.
The race was established in 1978 and at one time was the fourth most lucrative National Hunt race in the UK after the Grand National, Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.
The Swinton Handicap Hurdle is now the first major prize of the season, as opposed to the last one and more recently successes for Intersky Falcon (2002) and Macs Joy (2004) have shown this prestigious race acting as a valuable stepping stone to greater things when jump racing resumes “proper” in the autumn.
Here’s a look at the trends and statistics of the race over the last ten years.
These figures suggest that it pays to side with the five to seven year old age bracket in this race.
Horses older than eight years old have made the frame just four times in over thirty runners.
You have to go back to 1997 to find a winner older than seven in this race.
Horses with 11st 7lbs or more: 0-0-16
Horses with 11st to 11st 6lb: 3-8-48
Horses with 10st 6lbs to 10st 13lb: 4-12-75
Horses with 10st 5lbs or less: 3-8-54
Horses carrying over 11st 7lbs have a terrible record over the last ten years.
Top weights have also fared poorly with only Eradicate (2011) managing to hump the top weight to victory in recent times.
136 rated or higher: 2-8-63
126-135 rated: 8-18-113
125 rated or lower: 0-4-27
Horses rated between 126-135 have been victorious eight times in the last ten years.
Eradicate (2011) and War Sound (2015) were the only two horses to the rated in the 140’s.
Nine out of ten winners had run in the past fifty days.
Five out of ten winners finished in the first four on their last outing.
Ten out of ten winners had run in eight or fewer handicap hurdles.
Seven out of ten winners had finished in the first six in a graded hurdle that season.
Other notable races
Horses placed in the first five in the Scottish County Hurdle tend to do well.
Horses placed in the first six in the Imperial Cup have a good record.
Horses that ran at one of the Festivals at either Cheltenham, Aintree, Fairyhouse or Ayr.
Philip Hobbs has a good record in this race and saddles Multiculture this year.
Evan Williams won this race in 2013 and 2014 and has to be respected with his spring runners even if they are considered as being outsiders in this event.
Nicky Henderson had the winner in 2010 and 2011 and appears able to train the yard cat to win any race he touches over the last fortnight.
A real mixture of starting prices over the last ten years with five winners priced between 4/1 and 8/1, and five winners priced between 16/1 and 25/1.
John Constable from the Evan Williams yard was running a massive race when falling at the final flight on Grand National day against the very much in-form Chesterfield.
Evan Williams has won two of the past four renewals of this race and the booking of Davy Russell says the yard means business. He must be one for any shortlist.
Mohaayed from the Dan Skelton stable is strongly fancied in certain quarters. He finished seventh in the County Hurdle before coming third in the Scottish Champion Hurdle.
Skelton is in a rich vein of form at the moment and has clocked up double digit winners in just the last fortnight.
Jim Goldie makes the trip down from Scotland to Haydock to run his bang-in-form Great Fighter.
3lb claimer, Callum Bewley has been getting the best out of the seven-year-old in his recent starts and booted him home to win at Perth recently on his way to clinching the northern conditional riders’ title.
Kevin Frost’s Chieftain’s Choice is another prime candidate to be in the mix for this race. His second to Chesterfield at the Aintree Grand National meeting reads well and he showed his wellbeing last time out at Hexham went he went down by just a head.
Selections: Chieftains’ Choice, Mohaayed and John Constable in singles and combination forecast perms.