In 30 years, only two horses have won the Badger Ales Chase twice, yet on Saturday, Present Man heads the betting to become the third - and the first in nearly 20 years.
With the brilliant Bryony Frost taking 5lbs off last year, Present Man carried just 10st 9lb to give trainer Paul Nicholls a ninth win at his local track Wincanton, and he is now a best price of 5/1 with Bet365 to do it again.
Elusive stablemate El Bandit shares favouritism with Present Man in the Badger Ales Chase betting, but he hasn't been seen on a racecourse since May 2017. Can he do what Michel Le Bon could not?
Paul Nicholls tends to narrow his Badger Ales Chase runners down to one or two, generally carefully selected from his pool of second or third season chasers, who have handicap form, but occassionally he plucks out a far riskier bet for the 3m1f chase.
In 2012 Michel Le Bon, a Grade 2-winning novice chaser who had managed to run only four times in four years, finished second for the trainer, and in 2008 third-placed Leading Attraction had run four times in three years.
They were serious performances from all concerned, but El Bandit looks too short at 5/1 to be considered here, given his myriad of negatives.
The strongest Badger Ales Chase trends are that winners have all been rated 143 or less, been aged between 6-9, carried 11st 7lb or less. Only one had not won a handicap chase, and two had not won over further than 2m7f.
Looking deeper, 7/10 had won a race in the same year and run 2-4 times, finishing in the first three in one of their last two starts. Six winners had last run in October, and six were second or third season chasers.
When applying those 10-year trends to the field, Cabaret Queen, Bigbadjohn, Aunty Ann, and Sam Red come out on top, ticking 9/10 boxes, with Fingerontheswitch just behind on eight ticks.
Analysing the profiles of horses Paul Nicholls has targetted at the past 10 Badger Ales Chases shows that 6/7 second season chasers he has run have finished in the first four, three winning. He would already have his 10th winner if third-season chaser Southfield Theatre had not fallen at the last in 2016.
They tend to be Grade 2 class novice chasers, who were tried at Grade 1 level, and subsequently won a handicap chase. Now, Present Man obviously fits this bill, but he's gone from near bottom-weight to top-weight and this year's hasn't the benefit of a run.
Having already ruled out El Bandit, it therefore looks unlikely Nicholls will win with either of his Badger Ales Chase betting favourites, noting that the last horse who won a second renewal carried only 5lb more.
Cabaret Queen (14/1 William Hill) initially stood out, a novice looking progressive this summer, and if she were to jump and travel as she did when winning at Uttoxeter in June, she would surely make the step up at Wincanton.
However, her inexperience has been clear of late and preference is for Bigbadjohn. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, he made all to win a handicap at Wincanton last time out. It was little more than a canter for the nine-year-old, but should set him up for this stiffer test.
His profile strongly fits that of a Badger Ales Chase winner, with a Grade 2 win as a novice and entering his third season of chasing, so he's worth backing at 10/1 with Black Type.
>> Back Bigbadjohn to Win at 10/1 with Black Type
If you're quick enough, you will get 25/1 about Dancing Shadow with Bet365. He hasn't run since April, but has a habit of running well fresh and is a dour stayer with just 11st on his back.
Last year he won a handicap chase on good ground off a handicap mark of 131, and having rocketted, he's back down to 132 as he begins his fourth season of chasing. Back him each-way at that huge price with Bet365, or consider the 16/1 with 888 Sport as they are the only firm paying four places in the Badger Ales Chase betting.
There's also something to be said for backing Aunty Ann (16/1 Ladbrokes) to place. She's had a busy summer, winning two handicap chases over 3m and 3m1f, and looked as though there was still a bit left when landing the last at Wincanton by a length.
That was earlier this month, and though she's been raised 4lbs in the handicap to a new career-high of 128, she will again have the assistance of 7lb claimer Jordan Nailor.
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