THE 2000 GUINEAS
Trends for last 19 runnings
Winners at 40/1, 33/1, & 25/1. The other 16 winners were all returned 11/1 or less
Favs have won five times and second favs four, meaning nearly half the runnings have been won from the first two in the betting.
The first 6 in the market won 16 times and the first 4 won 11.
Official Rating (OR)
All those with a rating (French and Irish horses didn't used to have a UK rating till recently) had an OR of at least 109
Only 3 runners in the last 19 years had an OR of 124 or higher – 2 won (only the fav is anywhere near this rating)
16 had between 2 and 5 career runs
NONE had more than 5 career runs
13 won last time, 2 finished second and 2 were placed third. So 17 finished in the first three last time with the percentage call very much in favour of last time out winners.
14 were making their seasonal debut (9% of such horses to try)
5 had just 1 run that season (just 3% of those to try)
Those to have run 5 times have the best record with 5 winners from 49 runners
All but one had won at 7F, 8F or both.
NONE had run over a longer trip
Aidan O'Brien has dominated this with 7 winners since 1998
It is difficult to look beyond the Aidan O'Brien trained favourite, AIR FORCE BLUE, who has a near perfect trends profile. Only the fourth horse in the last 19 years to bring an official rating of 124 to the race (2 of the other 3 won) he has the class to win this too.
His trainer described him as the best 2 year old he has ever trained and, given the way he demolished the field in last seasons Dewhurst Stakes, giving the impression there is room for further improvement, he is the (admittedly short priced and boring) selection.
There is a stat against him though. A snippet i gleaned from reading the Racing Post was that Dawn Approach was the only winner of this race foaled after the first week of January in the period we are looking at. AIR FORCE BLUE was born on May 9th.
In the unlikely event of this trend counting against the fav, MARCEL loooks the next best.
He is another who fits all the main trends, has already proved his stamina (thought of by his trainer as a French Derby horse when beating the subsequent G1 Criterium winner, Johannes Vermeer, in France last Autumn), in the G1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster last October.
Unusually, i will be playing this as a straight forecast with the bet being AIR FORCE BLUE to win and MARCEL to finish second.
BETFRED GOLD CUP CHASE
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
Only one winning fav and second fav, so 17 winners were from outside the first two.
Not many shocks though with winners at 25/1 and 20/1 twice. All the other 16 were returned 14/1 or less.
All carried 11-12 or less with 18 carrying 11-5 or less
Official Handicap Rating (OR)
All rated 144 to 154 with 17 rated 153 or lower
7, 8 & 11yo's are best, with wins to runs ratios of 4-45 (9%), 7-71 (10%) & 3-34 (9%) respectively.
9yo's, for some (or perhaps no), reason have an awful record of 1-76
16 ran between 3 and 8 times that season
2 won, 5 finished second and 2 returned third last time – so around half posted a first three finish last time
Only 1-90 didn't complete for any reason in their last run – and there are a lot who didn't this year!
16 had won over at least 3miles
15 had run over at least 3m 2.5f
Jim Culloty has had a winner from just 2 runnners the last 14 days. He runs Spring Heeled who unseated last time.
Wins in this race
Paul Nicholls has ruled over the time studied, with 4 winners. He runs two:
Southfield Theatre was brought down last time but his last years winner, Just A Par, has an excellent profile except for two things. One, although Paul Nicholls trained Ad Hoc (the only winning 9yo) to win this race twice, it wasn't in successive years. No horse has won this back to back in the last 19 years. Secondly, he is a 9 yo. However, given the it is Mister Nicholls scrapping for the trainers title, and with his record in this race, i am going to shortlist him.
Philip Hobbs has won this twice but his 8yo would have to beat the OR record by 4 lbs to win this with Sausilito Sunrise.
Record at the course
Willie Mullins is 4-9 at the course with 2/7 for his chasers. He runs Sir des Champs (fell last time) as did stablemate Measureofmydreams.
Kerry Lee (2/7 at the track and 2/6 in chases) runs Bishops Road who unshipped his rider last run.
Neil Mulholland, with a 2/6 strike rate here and 1/3 in chases, runs three.
The Druids Nephew pulled up in the National and Caroles Destrier pulled up last time too. But his 7yo, The Young Master has a good profile and is one for the shortlist.
Lucy Wadham's horses are 3/7 in chases here and she runs another potential stats horse in La Reve.
Strictly speaking, using the above trends, only one fits the bill perfectly and that is LA REVE (16/1 generally), who was beaten just less than 4L in this last year by Just A Par and now has a 10lbs weight pull. Lucy Wadham's record here with chasers bolsters this view.
Henry Parry Morgan and The Young Master have everything going for them except neither have ran beyond 3m 2.5f as had 15 of the last 19 runners.
I must have a saver on last years winner, JUST A PAR though, as i can't help but think there is going to be a big story and that Nicholls might provide it by giving the UK the UK trainers title in the dying minutes.The horse has every right to go close on the book and couldn't have a better trainer for this race.
Despite the 9yo record and that of those attempting to win consecutive Whitbreads, Just A Par is trained by the only trainer to win with a 9yo and train a dual winner in this period.
THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL
LAST 19 RUNNINGS SINCE 1997
Don't be afraid of backing a longshot. Winners have returned at SP's of 66/1, 40/1, 33/1 & 25/1
The remaining 15 were returned 20/1 or less
2 favs and 3 second favs won
12 were from the first 8 n the betting
Evenly spread overall but with a huge bias towards those carrying 10-9 or less over the last 11 years. This could signify a change in trends or just a run of lower weights winning (it is not an exact science this trends business!)
ALL carried 10-00 to 11-12
18 carried 11-10 or less (not good news for the present joint fav, Cause of Causes)
16 carried 11-3 or less
10 of the last 11 carried 10-9 or less
Official Handicap Rating (OR)
The OR is perhaps a better guide than weight as it tells us the class of horse necessary to win this. Even some of the low weights to have won this over the past 11 years have had ratings in the low to mid 140's.
ALL were rated 150 or less
16 were rated 143 or less (which knocks the top 10 out)
8 yo's are best with 7 wins from 105 runs (7%)
11yo's 3 – 58 (5%)
9 & 10 yo's 4 – 90 and 3 – 80 (both 4%)
7 yo's have the worst record (as with last week's Grand National and perhaps for similar reasons): 2 – 69 (3%)
No horse older than 11 has won (Grand National winner Pineau de Re is the only such runner today)
16 had run 3 to 6 times that season
18 posted a first 6 finish last time
17 had won over at least 3miles
ALL had run over 3m1f plus
16 had run in the past 8 – 60 days
NO horse that failed to complete for any reason last time won from 80 to try (not good news for the supporters of the well backed Golden Chieftain)
NO Irish trained horse has won this in the period examined
In form yards:
SRB Crawford, 1/3 the past fortnight, runs Fine Rightly, an 8yo with a good stats profile but carrying to much weight and too high in the handicap. Would have to break both records over the past 19 years to win.
Nicky Richards, 3-7 the last two weeks, has Gold Futures, a 7 yo without a first 6 run last time and priced bigger than 20/1. However,Richards also has an 11-36 record in chases at Ayr and these significant trainer stats might be a pointer. I couldn't recommend it from a trends point of view though.
Dr Richard Newlands yard is flying with 5-8 over the past 14 days and he runs a very interesting one in Royale Knight, whose profile would be perfect if he were an 8yo. However, 10yo's are no forlorn hope and this one is shortlisted.
Colin Tizzard's runners have produced 6 winners from 20 runners the last 14 days and he runs Masters Hill whose only trends negative is to be priced longer than 20/1.
Mouse Morris is going for a National double which, from memory, was last achieved in the early 90's by Mr Frisk. His Ruler of the the World is his only winner from 3 runners the past fortnight but he looks to have a contender in Folsom Blue tomorrow. No Irish trained horse has won this in the past 19 years but this one is shortlisted anyway.
Tony Martin, 2-7 the past two weeks, has an interesting runner in Heathfield. A 9yo who ticks all the boxes but with just the Irish trained hoodoo to overcome, he is another shortlisted.
Malcolm Jefferson, with 2/6 winners in the last 14 days, runs one that would be more in keeping with the low weight trend in Sun Cloud. This is another with everything going for it but outside the typical price range.
Trainer course record:
Paul Nicholls, who has just banged two winners in at Fontwell as i studied and wrote this blog, has run 27 horses here the past 5 years and 8 have won. He is represented by the 7yo Vincente who has an excellent profile but for his age and would be a near record breaker on the OR trends.
If we take those winners over 3 miles plus who had run over 3m 1f or more, priced 20/1 or less, with 3 to 6 runs this season and a first 6 run last time, rated 143 or less, not Irish trained, aged 8 to 11yo and ran 8 to 60 days ago, we are left with just one: ROYALE KNIGHT.
With the race times at Ayr today indicating Soft/Heavy going, staying will be the name of the game tomorrow. The trends selection ran a good 15 lengths sixth in last year's Grand National and it is interesting his shrewd trainer swerved that this year to wait for this.
Proven on Heavy going and with stamina assured, he looks to have a sporting chance in what is, after all, a very competitive race.
Available at 20/1 earlier today, he is now 14/1 generally but 16/1 with Corals and Paddy Power.
THE GRAND NATIONAL
Period studied: 1997 to 2015 – 19 renewals
With winners returned at SP's of 100/1, 66/1, 33/1 twice, 25/1 twice and 20/1, it would be no surprise if there were a surprise. Especially as 5 of those big priced winners (including the 100/1 shot) came in the last 7 years!
Favourites have won a reasonable (for a 40 runner handicap) 4 of the last 19 runnings but second favs just once. So the market tends to get it right between the first two.
9 winners came from the first six in the betting.
All were weighted between 10-00 and 11-8 and there are no significant trends to narrow that down. Though the ratings do.
It is worth noting that 5 of the last 6 winners carried between 11-00 and 11-8, tending to confirm the view that the race now, unlike the past, suits the classier horse.
Official Ratings (OR)
ALL were rated 160 or less, 18 were rated 157 or lower and 17 had OR's of 153 or less. This is looking at the whole 19 year period.
However, in line with the above recent trends on price and weight, 4 of the last 6 winners were rated 150 plus. Again suggesting either a fluke run of results or a change in the trends.
All ages from 8 to 12 have won this but, in terms of runners to winners, 9, 10 and 11yo's have 50% greater chance statistically. All 9,10 and 11yo's have a 3% strike rate with 6, 6 and 4 wins respectively.
The 8 and 12 yo's have a 2% winners to runners record with the former winning twice and the latter once.
Until last year's winning 8yo, Many Clouds, this was considered a bad race for 8 yo's
Horses aged less than 8 scored 0-38 and those older than 12 are 0-22.
In fact, all those aged 12 or more won just once out of 79 runners of that age group.
17 had run between 3 and 7 times that season
17 posted a first 8 finish last time (14 had finished in the first 5 last time)
ALL had won over at least 3 miles
16 had won over 3m 1f
ALL had ran over 3m 1f
17 had ran over 3m 2.5f
ALL last ran between 16-60 days ago
The bang in form yard of Nigel Twiston-Davies (10/34 in the last 14 days excluding todays results) have won this twice in the period under examination. His sole representative, Double Ross, would be only the third winner in the period without posting a first 8 finish last time.
Mouse Morris can do no wrong lately and has had 3 winners from just 5 runners the past fortnight. He runs First Lieutenant (pulled up last time) and Rule the World who has never won or run at 3 miles plus.
Tom George's runners are 6/14 in the last two weeks and he runs last years second, Saint Are, who falls down on too few runs this season (three).
Rebecca Curtis has saddled 5 winners over the same period and she runs bottom weight, The Romford Pele who has an interesting profile having been beaten 'only' 14 lengths into third in Cheltenham's Word Hurdle by Thistlecraft the time before last – and running off just 145 today!
Enda Bolger has a 2/3 record at the course (all chases). He is represented by a fascinating horse called Gilgamboa who was a fine 10 lengths fifth behind Vautour in the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham festival. Another with no win at 3 miles plus though, as well as being an 8yo.
Applying the filters above and using (with one exception), the first 4 last time out trend, we have a shortlist of 4:
Holywell, Soll, Boston Bob and The Romford Pele (the exception i mentioned).
HOLYWELL is the class act of these four having run an excellent 9.5 lengths fourth in last years Cheltenham Gold Cup (15 lengths ahead of Many Clouds – taken off his feet over that trip on fastish ground – with Sylviano Conti further 2.5L back).
Sylviano Conti gained his revenge here on the Mildmay Course over a less stamina sapping 3m1f in the Grade 1 Betfred Bowl, beating Holywell just under 2.5L into third.
But that was at level weights and Holywell receives 10lbs tomorrow and looks to me the more likely to apreciate the step up in trip.
Soll has never run in anything like those class of races and was beaten 75L last time.
You have to go back two years to find the same level of form for Boston Bob, who hails from the all conquering Mullins yard. He beat First Lieutenant three and a quarter lengths in the Irish Gold Cup back then at level weights (he receives 8 lbs from that horse tomorrow).
He ran about 10lbs below that standard last time but, if back to best, taking to the fences and increased trip, he would be a big danger.
HOLYWELL is the trends selection paying particular attention to the last 6 or 7 runnings. He is currently 18/1 with Hills and generally 16/1.
Looking at the longer term trends,THE ROMFORD PELE fits well (even the last time finish if we use the first 8 filter) and i can't get away from how well he is handicapped given his proximity to the brilliant Thistlecraft in a recent hurdle. Currently 40/1 with Ladbrokes and Bet365 he is the each way bet.
Finally (i am surely allowed 3 goes in a race as big and competitive as this!) i am looking at the trend of the trends which seems to be for classier and classier horses winning this.
For me, the only question about MANY CLOUDS is whether a 5 lbs rise in his handicap rating will be enough to stop him.
He jumped like a stag and stayed on most gamely to win this last year off the highest weight (11-9) since Red Rum's second victory in 1974. He has had a perfect prep and should have improved some as it is very difficult for a youger horse to win this.
He has done it all before and I take MANY CLOUDS to emulate Red Rum again and be the first horse since then to win back to back Grand Nationals.
The eagerly anticipated four day Cheltenham festival starts tomorrow and i have been working on trends, form and selections since a week yesterday.
I think i have broken the back of the job as i now have 10 selections (all Grade 1's).
I already blogged the four selections for 6 doubles and an acca running in the big four championship races which you can see if you scroll down the blog on the home page:
Since then i have studied a further 6 G1 races and, as promised, these are covered in this blog.
I am not the quickest typer so i had to decide whether to do as i usually do and split my time between analysis and setting it out on the blog, or to spend the vast majority of my time analysing and just highlighting the main trends and form reasoning behind my selections – i chose the latter for these last 6.
It hardly seems to have stopped raining since before Christmas and, having checked todays times and the times for the classier races on Saturday, it seems the ground generally is Soft/Heavy.
Allowing for the fact that the track hasn't been used a lot and that it is always well looked after, with good drainage etc, i would expect it to ride Soft next week and i can't see why it would dry out over the week as the rain will have got deep into the ground.
This is taken into account for all ten selections which are set out below, plus a run down of the main trends and form for the other 6 G1's i have considered since my last mailing on Friday.
A £1 10-fold on all the selections will pay around £340K at current prices (be sure to take Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) and Non Runner No Bet (NRNB))
Here are the trends, form and selections for the final six Grade 1 races i have chosen. If you want the full trends lowdown for the previous four championship races, you can see them by scrolling down on the home page:
If you just want the selections, i will list those four, along with the others, below.
1.30 SUPREME NOVICE HURDLE
The first two in the betting have won 10 of the last 18, Willie Mullins has won the last 3, 16 winners came from the first six in the betting and 1 won last time.
I narrowed it down to four, the two Henderson horses, Altior & Buveur Air, plus the two Mullins ones, Min and Yorkhill (who has since pulled out to go for another race later in the week).
Given the record of the first two in the betting and Mullins' recent domination i opted for MIN (9/4 generally) who should have more improvement in him than Altior and, according to the ratings, only has a couple of pounds to find with the latter anyway.
Willie Mullins is on record as saying MIN will be better on better ground and, though this will not be Good ground, it will be less of a slog than they have been racing through in Ireland all winter!
2.10 THE ARKLE CHASE
4 each for the fav and second fav in the last 18 runnings while the first 5 in the betting won 16.
16 had won over further and 17 had their last run 16-90 days ago, which counts THE GAME CHANGER out.
Last years Supreme Novice Hurdle winner, DOUVAN (4/9 Paddy Power), has easily beaten SIZING JOHN in two Grade 1's this season (one over hurdles and the other, by 18L the last time over fences). The latter was also 7 lengths behind the selection in the Supreme Novice last season on better ground than of late.
Given the 80 day lay off, it looks like Henry de Bromhead has been waiting for decent ground. In vain though i think, and even if he got it he could surely hope for second at best as he is 3-0 down to DOUVAN including on decent ground.
THE GAME CHANGER has had too many runs for a typical Arkle winner and it is 152 days since his last run.
With all the others 40/1 plus surely the only conceivable danger is VANITEUX who ticks all the boxes and could be one for each way players if he runs for a place hoping the fav meets with bad luck or flops, rather than burning himself out trying to beat what must be the banker of the meeting, DOUVAN.
3.30 THE CHAMPION HURDLE
The selection is NICHOLS CANYON. This is one of our four championship bets and, if you want to see the full trends, form and reasoning, click the link below and scroll down a few blogs on the home page and it is there:
4.10 MARES HURDLE
Favs won 6/18 and the SP was 6/1 or less 17 times
Willie Mullins has won this race 7 times (6 with Quevega)
With the betting 12/1 bar VROUM VROUM MAG and POLLY PEACHUM, the betting trends alone narrow it down to two.
Quevega used to win this off long breaks but the other two horses to win this ran between 16 and 60 days ago. POLLY PEACHUM last ran 73 days ago. Therefore VROUM VROUM MAG (11/10 generally) is the selection.
2.10 ROYAL AND SUN ALLIANCE CHASE
This race has/is cutting up badly with many still in the betting lists that have long been declared non runners!
The market hasn't been a bad guide to this race with 5 of the 18 runnings won by the fav. There again, there have been some big priced winners at SP's of 33/1, 25/1, 16/1 twice and 14/1.
10 won their last race and 6 ran second
17 last ran between 16 and 60 days ago
ALL had won over 2m4.5f plus
15 had ran over 3 miles plus
Looking at those likely to go off 14/1 or less:
The first two in the betting, NO MORE HEROES and MORE OF THAT are opposed on the days since ran trend. Both ran more than 60 days ago.
This leaves a shortlist of 3: BLAKLION, SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT & VYTA DU ROCK
All have won in G2 company and the form lines between the first two mentioned is very close with SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT prevailing by 3.5 lengths from BLAKLION at Cheltenham over 2m5f on heavy the time before last. The latter went on to score by 8 lengths in a G2 at Wetherby over 3m the next time.
SEEYOUATMIDNIGHT's next and latest run was over 2m7.5f Newcastle when at odds of 1/8. Had to be driven out to win that lower class (class 2 £12K) by 6L.
Stamina is at a premium for this race and, of the two, BLAKLION is proven nearly at this class over 3m. Indeed, he won over 3m1.5f here on softish going three races back. He has won 3 out of 4 times at Cheltenham at distances of 3m plus.
VYTA DU ROCK is another who seems to have stamina to spare, winning an Ascot 3miles G2 last time with the trip looking a bit on the sharp side if anything. This one will be finishing on up the hill for sure if he gets round ok. He has won here but over 2miles in a hurdle race.
There are form lines through Le Mercurey and Onenightinvienna which (allowing for ratings) just give BLAKLION (8/1 generally), the edge and, though it may be close and even the other way round, i go for the selection on the basis of his excellent record at the course over this trip and further.
3.30 THE CHAMPION CHASE
This is another championship which is covered on an earliier blog.
The selection is UN DE SCEAUX
Click below and scroll down a little for the trends etc:
2.50 THE RYANAIR CHASE
Another race that is cutting up and the betting lists are skewed
Only 11 runnings but the winner has come from the first three in the betting 9 times
10 won over 2m 4.5f at least
10 ran over 2m 6f plus
No horse older than 10 has won this
The first three in the betting are : ROAD TO RICHES, VALSEUR LIDO & AL FEROF
The latter is discarded on the age trend.
The other two are hard to split but, for all those that unseated last time have a record of 1 win from 2 runs, i don't like backing horses coming into a top class race like this on the back of two failures to complete.
It is a shame because, other than the form figures FU for his last two runs, he has a great trends profile and was cruising when he unshipped Ruby at the last in the Irish Gold Cup last time.
That leaves us with last years close Gold Cup third, ROAD TO RICHES (7/2 generally but current fav VAUTOUR is almost certain to run in the Gold Cup) whose form is creme de la creme. The only concern might be the drop back in trip but he front ran and coasted home in a G2 over this trip at Clonmel the time before that, winning 8L with future close Lexus Chase second, First Lieutenant, half a length further back in third.
Disappointing fav when 12L second in the Irish Gold Cup trying to make all over 3 miles half a furlong at Leopardstown but had some good horses behind him It looks like Noel Meade thinks it would be a lot easier to turn this less competitive two and a half miler into a test of stamina than to have another go at what looks like an open but classy Gold Cup.
Should he take the Gold Cup route after all, i would take a chance with VALSEUR LIDO's jumping.
3.30 THE WORLD HURDLE
Good race for the top of the market with 6/18 winning favs and the winner coming from the first four in the betting 4 times
15 were from the first 5 in the betting
16 were priced 14/1 or less
15 ran 2-4 times that season
14 won last time
ALL 18 ran between 16-90 days ago
Applying the main trends leaves us with two: ALPHA DES OBEAUX and THISTLECRAFT who is the selection
This is the third championship race which you can get more detail on from this link:
1.30 TRIUMPH HURDLE
Favs have won 4 of the 18 runnings and the first four in the betting have won 12
A 33/1 shot won as did two 20/1's. All the rest were returned 16/1 or less
The first 8 in the betting won 15
14 won last time out
Of the 8 previous winners with a rating 7 were rated 144+
ALL 18 ran between 16-60 days ago
Nicky Henderson has won this four times and Paul Nicholls twice
Of the likely first 8 in the betting :
IVAN GORBATOV finished fourth last time
SCEAU ROYAL ran more than 60 days ago
CLAN DES OBEAUX finished second last time
LET's DANCE finished third
WHO DARES WINS, fourth last time
This leaves us with CONNETABLE, FOOTPAD and ZUBAYR and my choice is the latter
Came from a long way off the pace to readily win a G2 on debut at Kempton last time.
A 380,000 Euros purchase from France the Racing Post race reader said to expect "massive improvement" next time. Here is what his trainer, Paul Nicholls said:
"Three weeks ago \bZubayr\p wouldn´t have been running here as he was that backward in his coat and his jumping. The first time he was schooled on grass was yesterday. He was been slow to come to hand, but he has just started to come alive and I think we can get him better in three weeks´ time. I´m thrilled with him" – Paul Nicholls, trainer.
ZUBAYR looks the business and is available at 5/1 generally.
3.30 THE GOLD CUP
This is the last of the championship 4 and the selection is DON POLI
To read why, click on this link: http://www.thepunterspal.com/
6 X £1 doubles and a £1 Acca
Tues 3.30 NICHOLS CANYON
Weds 3.30 UN DE SCEAUX
Thur 3.30 THISTLECRACK
Fri 3.30 DON POLI
15 X 50p doubles and a £1 6-fold
4.10 VROUM VROUM MAG
2.50 ROAD TO RICHES
ALL 10 in a £1 each way acca
*** OPEN THE GRABILLA LINK BELOW TO SEE BOG PRICES TAKEN ***
THE IMPERIAL CUP
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
Good race for favs as 7 have won – but no second favs! The bookies have been getting this right between the first two in the betting.
18 winners came from the first 9 in the betting and 14 from the first 6
A 33/1 and two 20/1 shots have won but the other 16 were all 16/1 or less
So we want a horse from the first 9 in the betting priced 16/1 or less
ALL carried 11-10 or less
13 carried 10-7 or lower
Official Rating (OR)
ALL rated 136 or less
16 rated 130 or less
Of the ages represented in this race on Saturday, 5yo's have by far the best record with 8 wins from 85 runs (9%)
The older horses are 9-238 (4%) evenly spread.
16 had 2-4 runs this season
13 finished in the first four last time with 8 winning
Interestingly, only 3 were already distance winners
12 had won over further
9 had ran over 2m3f plus
ALL ran between 8-120 days ago
Those that tried to win after a less than 7 days break are 0-20
Harry Whttington's stable is in good form with 2 winners from 5 runners the past fortnight. He runs the current 7/2F Affaire D'Honneur who is shortlisted
Starting with the 5yo's with a first 4 run (preferably win) last time and in the price/betting position range:
AFFAIRE D'HONNEUR ran a blinder, on only his 4th hurdle race and second handicap, when fourth after a bad start (beaten 11L) in the valuable 2m3.5F Betfair Hurdle last time. He should have no problem getting up the hill but the question mark is his lack of a win. Such horses have a 1-21 record in this race.
Also he carries 10-10 which is within the weight range but just 3lbs higher than ideal.
FOR GOOD MEASURE has won two small handicaps in small field races at lesser tracks. Richard Johnson deserts him for Hobbs' other runner, ALLEE BLEU, but he has a more than able deputy riding him in Barry Geraghty. Could be anything. Trends negative is he has had more than 4 runs.
Could be anything may also be said about CLAYTON who has had just the four runs and made all to win an eased down 16 lengths Maiden Hurdle last time. Purely on trends, he would be the selection.
But first a look at the older horses with half decent trends claimes:
ALLEE BLEUE, the choice of Richard Johnson of the two Hobbs horses. Another novice winner at lower grade tracks.
SOLSTICE STAR has won his last 5 and improved two stones in the process. His latest win in a 17K race at Cheltenham would have him dead heating with AFFAIRE D'HONNEUR on a line through Befair Hurdle 7th, Cheltenian. I would expect the younger horse to have more improvement in him though as well as, hopefully, a better start this time.
The trends concern over this one is that no horse as won this over the last 19 runnings with more than 5 runs that season and he has had 7.
KNOCKGRAFFON is a 6yo with only novice form.
To get back to and recap the trends:
We are looking for a 5 yo from the first 9 in the betting and/or priced 16/1 or less. It should have had 2-4 runs this season and finished in the first 4 last time (preferably winning).
The only one to fit the bill perfectly is bottom weight CLAYTON for his shrewd trainer Gary Moore.
I will split my stake though and have a second bet on the fav, AFFAIRE D'HONNEUR, whose Betair Hurdle form is the best on offer amongst the lower weights.
CLAYTON is available at 7/2 generally
AFFAIRE D'HONNEUR is 9/1 with Paddy Power
THE GOLD CUP
LAST 18 RUNNINGS
Fav won 7, second fav 3 and third fav 4 meaning the first three in the betting won 14 of the last 18 runnings.
Since 1997 there have been winners at 25/1, 20 x 2 and 16/1
However, since 2000 there has only been one winner priced above 8/1
Official Ratings (OR)
Of the 14 winners with an OR, 13 were rated 166 or higher.
Only 4 winners without a rating reflects the fact the Irish have only taken this twice over the period.
No horse older than 10 won and the longest priced winner,Cool Dawn, way back in 1998 was the only 10yo from 46 runners to win.
7 and 9 yo's won 4-36 (11%) and 6-62 (10%) respectively
8 yo's are not too far behind with 6 winners from 76 runners (8% wins to runs)
16 ran between 2 and 6 times over the last year
16 had between 2 and 5 runs that season
11 won last time
14 finished in the first 3
Of the 24 not to complete last time, 1 won
No last time faller won but only 7 have tried
14 had won over 3m plus (interestingly, only one had ran beyond the distance, and it won!)
Statistically the first three in the betting and:or 8/1 or less (since 2000) is the first port of call. It is close between 5.
CUE CARD has been a revelation since the breathing op. He out stayed (just) VAUTOUR in the King George and looks a likelier candidate than the latter to stay this longer trip.
If VAUTOUR did turn up he would also have to overcome the fact he has no win over 3m+ as well as no win last time.
But i digress. I would be very pleased if CUE CARD won but he would only be the second horse over the time studied to win this aged above 9.
DJAKADAM would be no surpprise winner after such a good second in such a good Gold Cup last year but a fall last time is not an ideal prep for this.
This leaves it between the two Dons, DON POLI and DON COSSACK
The latter was just making his challenge when falling two out in the King George and he didn't look like he was stopping. It is impossible to say would he have won or not but you would think he would have gone close, third at worst.
He has the best piece of form in the race having beaten last years 1.5L Gold Cup runner up, DJAKADAM and the third, ROAD TO RICHES by 7 lengths and 6.5L, with a pre wind op CUE CARD a further 2 lengths back and 24 lengths clear of the fifth.
That was in the 93K G1 Irish Gold Cup on Good/Yielding going and, given that the horses he beat ran near enough to their ratings, a literal reading of that form would have him as the winner of last year's Gold Cup and this years too.
He proved that day he could settle and quicken up off a fast pace over 3m1f. Mind you, NB, that was the only time the master horse man Paul Carberry rode him.
There is no doubt he is the form horse but there is one niggling doubt, his 8L beating at this festival when 5/2 fav for last years 2m5f G1 Ryanair Chase at the hands of two none G1 horses in Uxizandre and Ma Fileule. He ran 11lbs below his RPR best and, in case the trip is blamed, he went on to slam CUE CARD (again before the wind op) 26L over a furlong shorter at the sharper Aintree course next time.
Course form, preferably winning, is always a big advantage at the festival and that performance must at least raise a question mark.
On the other hand, DON POLI is 2/2 at the festival having won the 2014 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle off 143 before running a close second in G1 hurdle at the Punchestown festival.
Chasing has proved his game though with 5 wins from 6 chases (3 G1's). His best effort, up to winning the Lexus last time, was when winning last years Royal and Sun Alliance (RSA) chase at this festival.
This is what his trainer, Willie Mullins, said of him after that race:
"has Gold Cup written all over him. If he can do that to the best novices in England and Ireland at Cheltenham there is only one road on which to go. He´s probably as good an RSA winner as we´ve had and he´s won with a lot in hand"
His one defeat came 48 days after his finest hour when running a lacklustre 11L last of 5 at the Punchestown festival in the 3m1f Champion Novice Chase. Whether it as an off day or the RSA win had taken more out of him than first thought we will never know.
He has run twice this season, first beating classy Grand National winner Many Clouds in a listed race (saddle slipped but "forged clear"), then winning the G1 Lexus Chase beating subsequent Irish Gold Cup winner Carlingford Lough and the third in the Irish Gold Cup Foxrock, seventh Sir des Champs, eighth On His Own and the pulled up First Lieutenant. He only won narrowly but is said to do just enough.
So, to me, it boils down to a choice between the undoubted Gold Cup class form of DON COSSACK away from Cheltenham and the potential of the Lexus winner, DON POLI plus his seeming fondness of the course. I am opting for the latter at 11/2 widely available.
For each way backers, you could do a lot worse, especially if the ground is on the Soft side, than back another horse rejuvenated by a wind operation, SMAD PLACE, currently at 12/1 generally.
We now have our four for the big races:
TUES 3.30 CHAMPION HURDLE – NICHOLS CANYON @ 11/2 LADS & WH
WEDS 3.30 CHAMPION CHASE – UN DE SCEUAX @ 8/11 WH & PP
THUR 3.30 WORLD HURDLE – THISTLECRAFT @ 6/5 WH & PP
FRI 3.30 GOLD CUP – DON POLI @ 11/2 WH, 365 & PP
I have backed these as 6 X £1 WIN DOUBLES & £1 WIN 4-FOLD with Paddy Power, who are offering NON RUNNER, NO BET (NRNB). This will return £257.90, if all 4 win, for a £7 total stake
I would urge you, if you are going to follow me on this, to only back NRNB (the only other bookie i know of offering this is Betfred). If you just go ante post, any non runners will be treated as losers.
THE WORLD HURDLE
LAST 18 RUNNINGS
Favs won 6 but second favs just once which suggests the market generally gets it right between the top two.
Third favs won 5 and fourth favs twice. Therefore the first four in the betting won 14.
There has been a winner at 40/1 SP and 20/1. The other 16 were all returned 14/1 or less and 15 had SPs of 8/1 or lower.
ALL were from the first 9 in the betting, 17 from the first 8 and 15 from the first 6.
Official Ratings (OR)
Of the 13 rated horses, 12 had an OR of 154 plus
ALL were aged 6 to 9
6 and 9 yo's have the best record with 6yo's 6-53 (11%) and 9yo's 3-31 (10%)
7 and 8yo's are not too far behind though with 5-62 (8%) and 4-49 (8%) respectively
17 had raced between 3 and 6 times over the last 365 days
ALL had ran between once and 5 times that season
15 had run between 2-4 times that season
ALL posted a first 4 finish last time out
10 won and 5 finished second
Of the 16 that had already won, 15 had won over two and a half miles or more.
16 had ran over 2m5f plus
10 were distance winners
ALL ran between 16 and 90 days ago
10 ran between 31 and 60 days ago
Only one Irish trained winner, Solwhit.
No mare has won in this period though only 6 have tried (looking at the weights carried)
Paul Nicholls has won this 4 times but all those wins were with the great Big Bucks. His Aux Ptits Soin would have to be the first seasonal debutant to win this since at least 1997. Saphir de Rheu lacks a first 4 run last time and SIlviano Conti would need to be the first 10yo to win since at least 1997.
If we shortlist, in race card order, all those priced 14/1 or less:
Alpha des Obeaux ??? meets all criteria except he is Irish trained
Aux Ptits Soin seasonal debut
Cole Harden meets all criteria but is a 7yo (a small matter) and ran 76 days ago (not ideal but not a clincher)
More of That last run 96 days ago
Saphir de Rheu finished outside the first 4 last time
Thistlecrack meets all the criteria barring the minor trends disadvantage of being an 8yo
Annie Power will probably run in the Champion Hurdle, is a mare and last ran just 29 days ago anyway. Also Irish trained.
Vroum Vroum Mag has a lot in her favour except being a mare and Irish trained
COLE HARDEN seems at his best on decent Spring ground. He won this last year on such going but i will be surprised if he will get ground like that this year.
He gave a race fit THISTLECRACK 8lbs on his seasonal debut in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury over 3 miles and was beaten 6.5L, staying on again at the end on going that wouldn't have been ideal. He since bombed out over two an a half miles, beaten 20L in the G2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham.
On the bare form of their earlier clash it should be close between him and THISTLECRAFT. However, the latter has since improved 11lbs on RPR ratings and a full 18 lbs on the official handicap ratings in his two races since then, winning impressively the G1 Long Walk Hurdle and "effortlessly" winning the Cleeve Hurdle by 12 lengths over course and distance. He is my win selection.
I am tempted to go each way on COLE HARDEN as he will handle the ground without relishing it but does seem to come to life at Cheltenham in March. However, there is another one which i think has an each way chance of ending the poor run of Irish runners.
Being a 6yo, ALPHA DES OBEAUX is the only horse in the race with a perfect profile but for the Irish stat, which may, like any stat, be a fluke.
He fell when just a length behind, but looking held, Thistlecraft when he won the big Spring G1 3m novice hurdle but he has kept good company since, beaten 7L and 4L by Nichols Canyon and Arctic Fire respectively over two and a half miles before going close in a G1 over 3m on Heavy at Leopardstown.
He followed this up with a G2 win at Gowran over 3m, beating At Fishers Cross 11 lengths. His proximity to the win selection last spring and his appreciation for the step up in trip the last twice plus all the trends make him my each way bet.
TO WIN: THISTLECRAFT – 6/5 @ Paddy Power
EACH WAY: ALPHA DES OBEAUX – 13/2 Skybet and 6/1 generally
THE CHAMPION CHASE
LAST 18 RUNNINGS
Favs won 6/18 and second favs 5
First three in the betting won 14
First 6 won ALL
One was returned at 16/1 but all the rest had SP's of 10/1 or less
Of the 13 horses with a rating (5 were Irish and had no OR) 12 were rated 160+ by the handicapper
There are just three such runners: Sprinter Sacre, Dodging Bullets and Sire de Grugy. The other two at present priced 10/1 or less are the Irish pair, fav Un de Sceaux and Vautour.
Looking at the RPR's and taking into account that the current 5/2 Second fav, Vautour, may well go for the Ryanair on Thursday or even the Gold Cup Friday, it is probable that Special Tiara and Felix Yonger would be less than 10/1 too and, with their RPR's, would be classy enough to go on the shortlist.
All ages from 6 to 11 have won this, which excludes only the admirably consistent Somersby
Of the ages represented, 7 to 9yo's have the best record with 7yo's scoring 3 times from 21 runs, (14%), 8yo's 4/43 (9%) and 9yo's 5/47 (11%).
10 and 11 yo's are 2/28 (7%) and 1/16 (6%) respectively.
Sprinter Sacre, Sire de Grugy and Felix Yonger are 10 yo's which doesn't mean they can't win but, on the age trends, they are between half and a third less likely to win.
15 had run between 2-6 times in the previous 365 days
17 had run between 1 & 4 times that season
16 had finished in the first 4 last time with 13 winning
The other two unseated and fell.
As with the Champion Hurdle, yout horse needs stamina as well as speed to win this 2 mile chase.
16 had won over 2m1f or further
13 had run over two miles three and a half
11 had won over trips between 2miles 1.5f and 3m 1f
16 were distance winners
16 had their last run between 31 and 60 days ago
Paul Nicholls has won 7 of the last 18 renewals!
Vautour would be interesting if he took his place in this. He won the two miles and half a furlong Arkle here in 2014, following up at last year's festival with a win in the G1 JLT Chase over 2 miles 5f.
From a trends point of view he falls down on two trends: no win last time and an 81 day lay off.
The same absence trend goes againt the formerly brilliant Sprinter Sacre, that and his age of 10 isn't ideal.
Were this the Sprinter Sacre of old, i might take a chance but, even though it was great to see him battle to victory last time when narrowly beating another old favourite, Sire de Grugy, overcoming age, a possible recurrence of a heart problem and the trends as well will probably be beyond him. I would be delighted to be proved wrong.
Sire de Grugy has the age trend to overcome but ran 51 days ago. A repeat of his last battle with Sprinter Sacre could see him using his fitness edge to prevail. For all he has done all this before, as has his rival, it is interesting that only 2 of his 12 chase wins have been over 2m 1f (no further). If the fav puts the pace on (and/or Vautour does, if he runs) will this 10yo be able to go with it and find at the end?
Special Tiara has never won here which is always a negative at the festival. Also he has never won beyond 2 miles. A front running, flat track two miler i think. His last two wins have come at Aintree and Kempton which may confirm that.
Felix Yonger is admirably consistent – but not in this class. He has won 8 times but only the once in G1 class. Another 10yo, i will be surprised if he starts to improve now.
Paul Nicholls runners are always worth studying in this race which he has won 7 times.
His Dodging Bullets won this last year but the proximity of Somersby and Special Tiara suggest that wasn't a vintage renewal.
Stats wise, he has had just the one run in the past year. Indeed his seasonal debut was only 32 days ago which makes you wonder why.
Which leaves us with the boring old fav. UN DE SCEAUX blotted his copybook the time before last but Mullins put that fall down to freshness, having been off since Punchestown in May.
Trends wise though, his profile is near perfect. The only room for improvement would be if he could lose a year.
Won last years Arkle here and proved stamina when winning over hurdles, 2m 3.5f Very Soft, twice at Auteil.
Easily beat Sire de Grugy 5 lengths last time (though that may have come a bit too quick for the latter after his dour battle with Sprinter Sacre just 30 days before) at Ascot would give him, arguably, the beating of the present day Sire de Grugy.
I am not a huge collateral form fan but, given that Sire de Grugy ran 5lbs below his RPR achieved when 3/4L second to Sprinter Sacre and was beaten 5L by Un de Sceaux, it would be very close between the three. But whereas the earlier race was a battle to the line, the latter was an easy win and it was this manner of victory that impressed.
I know it is a boring choice, but the trends say UN DE SCEAUX is the most likely to win (not necessarily value). If, as seems unlikely because he will probably go for the Ryanair, Vautour runs, we would have our 7yo but one that finished second last time.
In that case i would reconsider. I am not advocating backing any of these ante-post as we will probably get better value nearer the day once we know who is running where. There is always the option to back both in the acca if they both run in this.
TUESDAY 15th MARCH
LAST 18 RENEWALS
Fav won 9 but the second fav only once. So, the market has called it right between the first two consistently.
Winners at 33/1, 22/1 & 16/1 but the remaining 15 were returned 10/1 or less.
16 were from the first 7 in the betting. 15 were from the first 5.
As i write they are offering 20/1 bar 5 (using Ladbrokes who tend to have the best intelligence on the Irish runners); Annie Power 13/8F, Identity Thief 9/2 2F, My Tent Or Yours & Nichols Canyon J3F with The New One 6/1.
Not usually important in this race but a clue to the record of mares.
ALL winners carried 11-10 plus with 11 carrying less and all bar one of these failing to place. Not encouraging for Annie Power fans.
Handicap Rating (OR)
10 had an official handicap mark (Irish horses don't have UK ratings) and 9 of these were rated 159 plus.
The only one of the five listed above with a rating (the other 4 are Irish) is The New One who has an OR of 161.
Katchit was the only winner of 57 five year olds to try and you have to go back to See You Then in 1985 to find the last winning 5yo before that.
7 yo's have the best record with 7 wins from 53 runners (13%) with 8 and 9 yo's next best with 9 yo's scoring twice from 19 runners (11%) and 8 yo's 3-35 (8%).
The 6 yo's are not far behind the 8yo's with 5 wins from 62 runs (8%).
All the first 5 in the betting priced 10/1 or less are within these limits.
15 had run between 2 and 5 times that season
ALL 18 had finished in the first 4 last time and 14 of those won
17 had already won over 2m and half a furlong. NB, it is necessary to stay the trip well for all the Cheltenham races. People think that Heavy ground winners are stayers and Good/Good to Firm winners are speed horses. That's true only if there is no pace on. Every race is run end to end at Cheltenham and there is no hiding place, plus there is the hill to put the tin hat on it.
The record of those that had only won over 2 miles is 1-34.
To emphasise the point re stamina, 9 had won between two and a half miles and 2m 5f with another winning over 3 miles.
ALL had their last run between 16 and 90 days ago with 16 turning out within 60 days.
15 had run 31-90 days ago.
13 had run 31-60 days since rheir last run.
My Tent Or Yours has not run for 703 days and Nicholls Canyon is the only one with the ideal 31-60 days since a run. The others are within the range though.
Willie Mullins has had 3 winners of this and Nicky Henderson has won it twice.
In the absence of Faugheen this looks an ordinary Champion Hurdle with the highest official being 161 for the perennial bridesmaid The New One.
Top on RPR is Nicholls Canyon with an adjusted rating of 171.
Firstly, it will be an amazing training feat if Nicky Henderson can win this with My Tent Or Yours after such a long lay off. So that one is discounted.
Secondly, i don't know the record of mares long term in this but none have won in the last 18 runnings, though, going off the weights carried, it looks like only 11 have tried.
Annie Power has only been returned odds against once in her last 9 runs and that was when second to More Of That in a far from vinatge renewal of the World Hurdle in 2014 when she was beaten one and a half lengths on officially Good going.
Even though this is not a vintage year this will still take some winning as the rest, judging by the ratings and betting, are judged close to each other. Being a mare, racing generally over further in less competitive races puts me off.
The New One has had his chances in this with his best effort an unlucky looking two and three quarter length defeat to 9/1 shot Jezki in 2014. He has twice been put well in his place by Faugheen beaten eight and three quarter lengths in this last year then an easy 7 lengths in his penultimate start in the Christmas Hurdle (Hargam just a further length back).
A line through Faugheen gives him something to find with Nichols Canyon, even allowing for a below peak performance for the former and a subsequent flop by the latter. I will be surprised if The New One can win this.
This reduces it down to a re-run of the G1 2 miles Ryanair Hurdle ran at Leopardstown just after Christmas where i thought NICHOLS CANYON put Identity Thief in his place. The latter ran a blinder and looked like winning at one stage but Nichols Canyon wouldn't have it and battled on to lead again, staying on strongly to win going away.
I see no reason why Identity Thief should turn the form round with this six times G1 winner up the hill at Cheltenham. He has won one G1, the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle, by a neck from Top Notch who was well beaten in a G2 next time and only made amends with a 12L victory in a 4 runner class 2 after that.
Identity Thief is all heart and, if you back him, you can be sure of 100% effort. However, for me, placed at best.
Faugheen is a machine and it is a pity he does not run. He has won 12/13 races under rules and his one defeat came at the hands of Nichols Canyon in the G1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown in November. However you cut it, "needed the race", "race not run to suit" etc, this is the fact and i think Nichols Canyon has not been given the credit he deserves for that win. Let's remember, both horses had been off since the Punchestown Festival in May.
Nichols Canyon won on merit that day and battled back bravely to outstay the 1/6 shot close home in a fast time (no excuses on the false pace score). Admitedly Faugheen has improved 12 lbs on RPR's since that run and he clocked an RPR 9 lbs lower for that race than his peak in the Irish Champion Hurdle at Punchestown in May.
However NICHOLS CANYON was on the upgrade too until his flop last time which Willie Mullins put down to the hard race against Identity Thief less than a month earlier. He wasn't saying he would have beaten Faugheen but explaining why he was beaten 28 lengths.
As you may have gathered, i like this 7/9 completed hurdles winner (6 in G1's). He has class, is tough as old boots and has beaten the champ. I think he and Identity Thief will be looking to lead (though neither need to make all, just a true pace) and it could be that they stay there at the finish with the selection again prevailing up the hill. Then again they could set it up for a finisher…………. but i can't see who!