Today's Racing News: Zabeel Champion the big draw at Leicester on Monday

The smart 103 rated flat horse Zabeel Champion makes his debut over hurdles today at Leicester.

It's a very quiet Monday for punters with just the two meetings, but Daryl Carter is on hand with all the daily racing info to kick start your week.

"On the flat, he switched between a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half, and he has shown plenty of boot in that code to think that this two-mile trip should suit him well over hurdles."

Just two meetings today from Leicester and Plumpton to bring fans back down to earth after an exhilarating weekend of jumps racing from around the country.

It is a good opportunity to review the weekend's action to find future bets and take a breather before it all ramps up again towards the end of the week for the two-day meeting at Ascot.

Money Talk

Money Talk continues to highlight the Betfair Sportsbook big-money moves to keep you in the loop. This section highlights market moves between 1:00 am and 9:00 am.

13:45 Plumpton - Karakorum 4/1 into 11/4
14:00 Leicester - Canal Rocks 66/1 into 30/1
14:30 Leicester - Zabeel Champion 6/4 into 11/10

The market says LAY!

Which horse is the Betfair Sportsbook market suggesting to Lay?

14:30 Leicester - Lydford 4/6 OUT 9/10 (And drifting)

Mark your card

The Betfair Sportsbook is paying extra places today!

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It's not the most lively start at Plumpton in the 12:45 Watch Race Replays On Novices' Limited Handicap Chase, with just two runners. Annual Invictus 1.42/5 takes on Dino Velvet 3.55/2, and this is exactly how horses get poorly handicapped.

In the 13:15 Free Tips On Novices' Hurdle at Plumpton, trainer Daniel Bourne will have his first runner at the venue with Harde Fashion 2.26/5. In the same race, trainer Fergal O'Brien has a 24% strike rate over hurdles at Plumpton. He saddles Ted's Friend 7.513/2.

Trainer Nicky Henderson is one to keep on side at Plumpton with a 25% strike rate over hurdles. Today he sends just one runner, Jen's Boy 6.511/2, in the 14:45 Follow @attheraces On Twitter Handicap Hurdle.

At Leicester today, all races are hurdle races.

Trainer Dan Skelton has a 29% strike rate at Leicester with his runners. Today he sends three; 13:00 Get A Tonic 3.7511/4, 13:30 Colden's Dream 4.03/1 and 14:30 Lydford 2.56/4.

The trixie pays 20.019/1

Trainer Emma Lavelle saddles one runner today at Leicester in the 13:00 with Eureka Creek 13.012/1, and she has a 43% strike rate over hurdles, having had three winners from just seven runners.

At Leicester at 15:00, trainer David Pipe has the top two in the market and has a 35% strike rate over hurdles, and it's a Pipe puzzle for punters to solve.

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Horses for courses

This section highlights horses that have won twice or more at today's tracks and could be in with a chance today.

12:45 Plumpton - Annual Invictus - Has won here twice (67%)
14:15 Plumpton - En Coeur - Has won here twice (50%)
15:45 Plumpton - Ding Ding - Has won here three times (15%)

There are 51 runners on the Leicester card today and only three have run at the course previously - none have won.

Weighted to go well

"Weighted to go well" highlights horses running that are more than 10lbs below their last winning handicap mark.

14:45 Plumpton - The Manning Estate - Has won off 120 runs off 110
15:30 Leicester - The Ravens Return - Has won off 113 runs off 103

Form Watch

This section highlights a trainer, owner or jockey who is in excellent current form and their runners or rides for the day.

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Jockey Fergus Gregory has ridden four winners from his last 13 rides and is operating at a 33% strike rate. Today he heads to Leicester for three rides.

Furthest traveller

Today's furthest traveller is trainer Ryan Chapman who makes the 257 mile journey to Plumpton with his sole runner Comeragh Lad 13.012/1 in the 15:45. The trainer is looking for his first winner from 26 runners.

Race of the day

There is no racing buffet to choose from today, but the 14:30 Visit Novices' Hurdle looks like the most intriguing race of the day.

The form set by those with experience is ordinary, and the two that should come to the fore are useful flat recruits Zabeel Champion and Lydford. With strong morning market support for Lydford, Zabeel Champion would be a bet should he touch 2.56/4 or bigger, but at the time of writing (11/10) he can be left alone.

Zabeel Champion boasts a lofty rating of 103 on the flat and has joined the Jonjo O'Neill camp for 185,000gns. There has been plenty of buzz around his potential for a positive hurdle campaign this season, and he has plenty of the attributes you would look for in a flat horse to make a successful switch to this sphere.

On the flat, he switched between a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half, and he has shown plenty of boot in that code to think that this two-mile trip should suit him well over hurdles.

Tactics will be interesting on this hurdle debut, but he could have too much speed for his main market rival and arguably should be favourite for this contest, so he may offer a bit of value at the, albeit short, prices.

Lydford, in turn, was rated 11 pounds inferior to Zabeel Champion on the flat, but he has only had nine career starts, and these colours/yard tend to do well with flat recruits.

He is another who has plenty of potential in this new sphere, but he is closely related to Big Orange - a very useful stayer on the flat - and connections had already tried him over two miles in his career.

He could be wanting further than this trip over hurdles, and he may lack the speed of Zabeel Champion when push comes to shove.

If you're looking to take a wild swing at this, you could do worse than back Drunken Pirate, who has a ridiculously long absence of 1049 days to overcome but has some very strong bumper form which all but sets the standard today.

The bare form of his Newbury bumper win back in November 2018 is eye-popping, with Edwardstone in second, Allart in third and Imperial Alcazar in fourth. It's a big ask off a long lay-off today, but former trainer Noel Williams did persevere with him up until October this year before his yard switch.

Timeform cover both cards today with three of their best bets

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The Timeform team offer their NAP, NB and each way shout.

Read Timeform tips here.

Fancy a 14/1 daily double from Al Dudman?

Al Dudman makes a strong case for an across the card double on Monday.

Read Dudman's double here.

Mozzie the latest addition to the Cheltenham Festival Focus column

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Missed my Sunday Cheltenham ante-post column this week? Not to worry, you can find it via the link below.

Read Cheltenham Festival Focus here.

Final Word

So as many of you know, I am not a big believer in "trainer form", although I do think trainers target certain races and out of the ordinary circumstances such as a bug in the yard, a shutdown, or a complete upset of the yards workings are different and should certainly be considered.

However, simply by judging one horse on what another from the yard has done, I find mindboggling, and I hear it on TV from pundits all the time,

" If the yard had had a few more winners this month, I might have been backing him."

A recent comment I shrugged my shoulder's and rolled my eyes at.

Colin Tizzard seems to be the most high-profile "yard form" case during recent times, and the tragic death of his daughter last year clearly affected the operation's day-to-day running with her an integral part of the team.

But it's too easy to say the yard is now "back in form" - this comment generalises horses that are as individual as you and I, and is quite frankly lazy work.

So I did a bit of digging, although it would be easy just to say that The Big Breakaway would have beat Shan Blue in theGrade 1 Kauto Star last December when the yard was "out of form" if he hadn't clattered the last, and he has been a no show even though the yard is now "in form".

However, looking at Colin's winners in November, we find why they have won - rather than just saying "yard form".

Striking A Pose - Had won three of his four starts off a break and was one for one (100%) at Exeter - won latest off a break and returned to Exeter for Chase debut.

War Lord - Over hurdles last term - improved for fences and is now two for two in that sphere.

Kauto The King - Had twice won at Wincanton, including over fences off a break - Won off a break over fences at Wincanton latest.

Eldorado Allen - Had form figures of 2121 when fresh off a break. Won the Haldon Gold Cup off a break and figures now read 12121.

His other four winners in November came courtesy of Novice Hurdle debutants who are open to vast improvement anyway, and Catch The Cuban, who had dropped back to 2m2f - the shortest trip in his chase career for the first time after being outstayed previously.

You get my point. There are always reasons a horse will or won't improve, and you can predict that you will hear comments saying that "Colin Tizzard had a good start to the season but his form has tailed off now" as we enter December.

However, Colin Tizzard's average strike rate in December for ten years is 12.7% compared to November, 18.5%. In fact, seven of the last ten years has seen Colin Tizzard preform better November than December, suggesting he has his horses fit to run first time out (most cases).

I am simply preparing you for the Tizzard "out of form" nonsense comments due to take place in the coming weeks. It won't help your punting, but hopefully this will.

Until tomorrow, be lucky!

Follow Daryl Carter on Twitter @DarylCarter7

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