LAST 15 RUNNINGS
Good guide with 5 winning favs and one second fav winning
12 came from the first 7 in the betting
Some big priced winners at 22/1,18/1, 14/1 & 12/1 but the other 11 were returned 8/1 or less
ALL carried 10-1 to 11-12
14 carried 11-5 or lower, which would lose the top 3 in the weights
Official Rating (OR)
ALL rated 128 – 155
14 were rated 149 or less
12 had an OR of 145 or less, which knocks out the top weight
6, 7 & 8yo's have dominated this with 13 wins from 81 runners at strike rates of 16%, 17% & 16% respectively
ALL had 3-10 runs in the preceding year
13 had 3-8 runs in the preceding year
ALL had 2-7 runs that season
11 of the 12 to complete last time finished in the first 5 last time
Only 1 won last time
12 had won over 2m 3f or further
14 had ran over 2m 4.5f plus
10 had won over further than today's two and a half mile trip
9 were distance winners
14 had their last run 60 days ago or less
Paul Nicolls has won more than half (8) of all the runnings of this race and 4 of the last 6, he runs two;
Ulck Du Lin is a year too old for a typical winner but his 8yo, Warrior's Tale, has an almost perfect profile and is shortlisted
Robert Walford's horses seem to be in good form with 2/4 winning in the last 14 days but his Walk in the Mill could only manage a ninth last time
Kerry Lee is 2/6 with her chasers at Newbury over the past 5 years. Her top weight, Grey Gold has age (12) against him as well as the trends re those carrying more than 11-5 and those rated 145+. No horse aged 12 or older has won, but just 5 have tried.
The trends narrow it down to just two: AQUA DUDE, who is 0-5 so far in chases but won over 2m 4.5f over hurdles. Beaten just a short head last time over two and a half miles at Haydock, in a 9K Novice Handicap Chase. The winner was a 22/1 shot for the Novice Handicap chase at the Cheltenham festival but pulled up. However, the third franked the form big style (admittedly improved effort) when hosing up in a class 3, 8K, handicap chase next time by 27 lengths. This one has a perfect profile and would normally be the sole selection.
But, i can't ignore the record of Paul Nicholls in this race and his 8yo WARRIORS TALE has only one blot on his copybook which is,strangely, he won last time – something only one former winner did!
With 10 previous winners having won over further, his novice win over 3 miles on fastish ground at Perth looks handy and he won easily over C/D on tomorrow's similar Good to Soft going last time, recording his best ever RPR
I am going to back them both (currently 7/1 with Hills). The former is the definite trends horse – but only on account of not winning last time. But the latter has both trends and an amazing trainer stat on his side.
DAY 1 Tuesday
1.30 SUPREME NOVICE HURDLE
LAIBAK won it well at 25/1 ISP for Gordon Elliott, ridden by Jack Kennedy and owned by Aidan Ryan
Our selection, given out of Twitter, was Ballyandy who finished 4th @ 3/1JF ISP
2.10 THE ARKLE CHASE
Won , as expected by ALTIOR trained by Nicky Henderson, ridden by Nico de Boiville and owned by Mrs Patricia Pugh. Not as impressive as expected but the time was only a tenth of a second slower than the Champion Chase – suggesting he may have won that had he competed. Perhaps we are underestimating the second, Cloudy Dream who was 9 lengths clear of the third.
He was our TV Service Bet and given out on twitter too. Returned 1/4 ISP. Banker in our multiples.
2.50 ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE
Won by UN TEMPS POUT TOUT at 9/1 ISP, trained by David Pipe, ridden by Tom Scudamore and owned by Professor Caroline Tisdall & Bryan Drew
Without wanting to take anything from the winner, this one did ours (SINGLEFARMPAYMENT), advised at 9/1 in the trends guide) by a short head.
A very brave effort from both horses and neither deserved to lose.
3.30 CHAMPION HURDLE
First of the championship races and won, i thought, impressively, by Nicky Henderson's BOUVEUR D'AIR at 5/1. He was only disregarded on trends due to his rating of 152 falling a pound shot of the necessary 153. Ridden by Noel Fehily and owned by JP McManus
Our trends pick was PETIT MOUCHOIR who was 3rd @ 6/1
4.10 MARES HURDLE
Won bravely by APPLES JADE @ 9/2. Her win confirmed to me my preliminary thoughts on the going, ie, it wasn't anything with Soft in it. Gordon Elliott's second winner and Bryan Cooper's first. Owned by Gigginstown.
The TV Service bet was LIMINI who didn't seem as home on the Good ground as the first two home and finished a close third @ 6/4F ISP
DAY ONE BALANCE SHEET
Just one winner, ALTIOR from 3 TV bets = 1.25 pts returned for 3 staked = minus 1.75 points
Two trends races produced a 5/1 very close second in SINGLEFARMPAYMENT @ 5/1 and a third @ 6/1, PETIT MOUCHOIR
Minus 2 points if backing to win but a profit if backing each way.
Let down by BALLYANDY in the first or we would have had an each way 5-fold, Minus £2
Down 1.75 points on the TV Service
Down 2 pts if backing the trends selections win only
TOTAL = minus 3.75 pts on the day
Twitter bets = minus £2 on the day
DAY 2 Wednesday
1.30 NEPTUNE HURDLE
Won by 14/1 shot WILLOUGHBY COURT, which was annoying as he was on my shortlist of 2! There were a lot of unproven stayers in the race that, in the past, had been won by horses who had won over at least 2m 3.5f. Taken with other trends, this narrowed it down to the winner and our selection – and TV Service bet – NEON WOLF who landed awkwardly at the last and failed by just a head to catch the brave and strong finishing front runner.
The winner was Bne Pauling's first Cheltenham winner, ridden by David Bass and owned by the Rooneys.
2.10 The RSA Chase
Won by Nicky Henderson and Nico de Boinville with MIGHT BITE, who was also a TV Service bet. Returned at 7/2 and owned by the Knott Partnership, he contributed to the most dramatic finish off the week. Sent to the front and way in front turning for home, he veered badly right when at least 10 lengths ahead at the last, giving Whisper in second the lead but rallying again (helpred by a loose horse) to get up in the last stride. Would have been unlucky to lose, but i think he needs some ear plugs – especially as he fell at the last at Kempton the time before. This horse could be a force if his quirks are sorted out.
2.50 THE CORAL CUP
Won by SUPASUNDAE at 16/1. First of the Jessica Harrington/Alan Potts/Robbie Power double.
Our trends selection, TOMBSTONE, held the winner on two mile form but, upped in trip and held up at the back, he never got in it and didn't look to stay. This was the one that got away from Gordon Elliott in punting terms as it was backed in from 16/1 at the five day stage to 7/2 fav on the day! A dissappointment for handicap trends backers.
3.30 CHAMPION CHASE
DOUVAN, our trends and TV Service selection, had everything going for him but finished lame back in seventh. Lets's hope we see him again.
That's to take nothing away from the game, front running winner, SPECIAL TIARA, who, having twice placed in this race, held on to win at 11/1 this time. All credit to Henry de Bromhead (and the other runners) for taking on the 1/4 fav, and, this time it payed off.
Another one for Noel Fehily and a winner for the owner Mrs Rowley-Williams
4.10 THE CROSS COUNTRY
The TV Service trends threw up 9/4 fav CANTLOW. But age stats and trying to win the race for the third time put me off and i backed CAUSE OF CAUSES who won, returned 4/1 for Gordon Elliott (again), Mr J Codd and another for JP McManus.
Having utterly flopped in his first effort (at Punchestown from memory?) in a cross country chase, he had obviously been thoroughly schooled for this.
DAY 2 BALANCE SHEET
MIGHT BITE was the only winning selection from the 4 TV Service bets leaving us 0.5 pts down on the day and 2.25 pts down overall
Both trends selections flopped putting us a further 2 pts down on minus 4
The list below was sent on twitter and we covered the 10 doubles. So we had MIGHT BITE doubled up with CAUSE OF CAUSES for a £1 winning double, which paid £22.50
So, at the end of day 2, we were 2.25 pts down on the TV Service
4 pts down on the trends
But £8.50 up on the twitter bets
DAY 3 THURSDAY
1.30 THE JLT CHASE
YORKHILL, returned 6/4 fav, confounded the doubters (including this one) to hold off our selection, TOP NOTCH by a length. The first winner of the meeting for Mullins and Walsh and one for Graham Wylie.
2.10 PERTEMPS HURDLE FINAL
PRESENTING PERCY, trained by Patrick Kelly and ridden by Davy Russel, landed this one at 16/1. The owner is Philip J Reynolds.
The third leg of our trends multiple ran in this and i think was the only Mullins/Walsh runner to lose that day! ISLEOFHOPEANDREAMS was never in it really. According to the Racing Post race reader: "Held up, not fluent 1st, steady headway approaching 2 out, no impression and never reached leaders, weakened run in"
2.50 THE RYANAIR CHASE
UN DE SCEUX, one of our two TV Service bets, put in a great front running display to win this well.Another for Mullins & Walsh – this time for owner Edward O'Connel.
3.30 STAYERS HURDLE
Other than the young lad who won the bumper, which wasn't on terrestial TV, i thought this was the ride of the meeting.
We were very confident of the chances of UKNOWHATIMEANHARRY and, though, through a line through the second, LIL ROCKEFELLER, ours seemed to run about half a stone below his best (or did the other horse improve half a stone on the faster ground?), Ruby showed everyone how to ride a maybe stayer.
NICHOLLS CANYON was held up at the back to get the trip, Ruby let some rein out on this classy (this one was his eighth Grade 1 win including being the only one to beat Faugheen) horse 2 out, stalked the leading pair (LIL ROCKEFELLER had kicked for home), he saw a gap on the rails and, without his horse having to move off a straight line, took over at the last and stayed on storngly to hold the runner up by 3/4 of a length.
UKNOWHWATIMEANHARRY, was the TV Service and trends selection but i think the fastish ground didn't suit and he finished a gallant third.
4.10 BROWN ADVISORY HANDICAP CHASE
ROAD TO REPECT's victory in this was possibly the most impressive performance of the week. To win an open handicap like this (5/1 the field) by 6 lengths was amazing to watch. Especially when our fourth leg in the trends handicap multiple was sent off 6/1 second fav and finished fith "Held up towards rear, slightly hampered 10th, headway after 3 out, slightly hampered next, stayed on from last but never threatened to get on terms" according to the Post. Some bookies (Corals was one) paid out on the first 5 so check your account or any betting slips you still have.
I don't think ours would have beaten this well handicapped and impressive winner but he may well, with a little more luck in running, have grabbed a place proper.
ROAD TO RICHES and his connections, Noel Meade, Bryan Cooper and Gigginstown deserve great crediit for landing such a handicap in such a fashion.
DAY 3 BALANCE SHEET
1 out of 2 for the TV Service @ 7/4 SP = 0.75 pts up on the day & minus 1.5 overall
The trends runners were 0/3 so down 3pts on the day and minus 7 pts on the week
10 x £1 win doubles and a £2 EW 5-fold bit the dust in the Twitter tips, leaving us £5.50 down on the week
1.30 THE TRIUMPH HURDLE
I missed the first 3 races as i had to go to the opticians. But i saw the replay and DEFI DU SEUIL looked mighty impressive! This one was one of two TV Service bets and won at 5/2 ISP. Trained by Philip Hobbs, ridden by Richard Johnson and owned by JP McManus, this one looks like he could have a big future if he develops from 4 to 5.
2.10 RANDOX COUNTY HURDLE
Last leg of the trends multiple and DIEGO DU CHARMIL ran well for a long way, fading just before the last. Not disgraced but you have to stay, even over 2miles, at the Cheltenham Festival. He won last years Fred Winter though. Not the best of weeks for Paul Nicholls and his yard didn't seem to peak this festival as it has in the past.In fact he had just one winner and one placed from 25 runners at the festival. This is unheard of by his high standards.
The winner, who had been a length and a half second to Faugheen in the 2015 Champion Hurdle, and twice G1 winner (once beating Hurricane Fly at Leopardstown), ARCTIC FIRE, turned out to be well handicapped running off a mark of 158. In fact Willie Mullins said afterwards he thought he had 6lbs in hand. Swooped fast and late to pass the fast finishing L'Ami Serge.
Ridden by Paul Townend and owned by Wicklow Bloodstock. Yet another for Ireland and another one for comeback kid Willie Mullins who didn't have winner till day 3.
2.50 THE ALBERT BARTLETT
Another one i watched later. Mullins & Townend strike again!
This stable second string, PENHILL, seemed to appreciate the trip and the better going. So much so, connections are eyeing up cup races at Ascot for him – even the Melbourne Cup is being talked about!
Just the opposite for the other TV Service selection, DEATH DUTY, who seemed to dislike the Good going and was a beaten fifth when unseating at the last.
3.30 THE GOLD CUP
For a long time now, no horse priced 8/1 or longer, and/or none outside the first 3 in the betting had won this. Also proven stamina was the norm with a win over 3 miles plus a must. The first 3 in the betting were beaten but the 8/1 trend held as Jessica Harrington's SIZING JOHN, previously thought a doubtful stayer, outstayed such stamina laden horses as our trends selection, NATIVE RIVER to win nearly 3 lengths powering up the hill.
Given a great ride by Robbie Power this 7yo doesn't have too many miles on the clock and will, no doubt, be back next year. But winning a Gold Cup seems to take it out of a horse and only an all time great like Kauto Star, or a great, but carefully campaigned horse like Best Mate, have repeated the dose in the last 20 years.
A second win for his owner, Alan Potts.
4.10 THE FOXHUNTERS CHASE
My moment of fame! I took 22/1 in the morning against PACHA DU POLDA. He was on my trends shortlist and I remembered him nearly carrying athlete Victoria Pendleton to victory in this race last year. Had he won then it would have been despite the jockey not because of her!
This year he had the assistance of a very good amateur, Bridget Frost, and i thought the price was crazy as he only had to run last years race for at least a place.
Sure enough, she always had him just off the pace but close enough to take second 2 out then lead at the last and then hold off his fast finishing stablemate WONDERFUL CHARM by a neck.
DAY 4 FINAL BALANCE
A 2.5 point profit on the day for the TV Service made it plus 1 point for the week at ISP
A further 2 point loss (to win) made it a disappointing Cheltenham for the trends selections, though, from the 9 races we got, in race order: a 5/1 second, a 6/1 third, unplaced, unplaced, unplaced, a 5/6 third, a 6/1 fifth (for some!), unplaced and a 7/2 third in the Gold Cup to finish. So 4 (possibly 5 for those who got that concession for the 6/1 Startichect) were placed. Some may have made a small profit backing each way.
Last but not least was a final day 79.5/1 double on twitter which returned me £80.50 to £1 stakes, putting us £75 up on the week with the Twitter bets.
ALTIOR @ 2/7 – TV SERVICE
MIGHT BITE @ 7/2 – TV SERVICE
CAUSE OF CAUSES @ 4/1 – Twitter pick
UN DE SCEAUX @ 7/4 – TV SERVICE
DEFI DU SEUIL @ 5/2 – TV SERVICE
PACHA DU POLDER @ 22/1 – Twitter pick
So, from 20 bets, we had 6 winners and 4 or 5 placed – a win and place strike rate of 50 – 55%. Not bad in such a competitive festival. Without the big priced winner we have 17.03 points returned from 20 pts returned, backing a point level stakes. Add Pacha Du Polder and we have a 40.03 pts profit.
Considering only 5 of the favs in the 20 TV races won, all in all, a decent Cheltenham festival.
MIDLANDS GRAND NATIONAL
Fav has won 4, second fav 6 and third fav 2, therefore the first 3 in the betting have won 12
On the other hand, there is a wide spread of SP's. Winners at 25/1, 16/1 twice,14/1 & 12/1
ALL 10-00 to 11-6
15 carried 10-12 or less but this would narrow it down to just the bottom 3
Official Rating (OR)
ALL 140 or less which knocks out the top weight
Weight and OR and not much help here
This is the trend that narrows things down.
NO horse older than 9 has won this in the period. 10yo+ are 0-91
This leaves just 8 and 9 yo's in today's renewal, who are:
8yo 7 wins from 62 runs (11%)
9yo are 5-74 (7%)
18 ran 1-8 timesin the preceding year
ALL had 2-6 runs that season
All 14 to complete last time posted a first 5 finish last time – 6 won
18 had won over 3 miles plus
17 had ran over 3m 1.5f
ALL had their last run 8-90 days ago
David Pipe has trained the winner 4 times in the last 6 runnings. His Gevrey Chambertin lacks the trends stamina credentials.
Sue Smith's yard is going great guns with 5 wins from 16 runs in the last 14 days. She runs Blakemount who ticks all the boxes and is shortlisted
Warren Greatrex runners have a good record here with 15/45 winning over the past 5 years and 3/8 with his chasers. Out Sam is another to fall short on the wins over 3m and runs over 3m 1.5f trend and Warrantor finished 7th last time.
Kerry Lee's runners at Uttoxeter have netted 3 wins from 9 runners since 2013. However, as a 12yo, Alfie Spinner, is not a trends runner
The 8yo's all have negatives:
On the win 3m+ and/or ran 3m 1.5f trend, Final Nudge and Out Sam fall down;
Cogry has had 7 runs this season (6 max) and Warrantor completed, but finished outside the first 5 last time.
This leaves the 9yo's and there are 2 on the shortist who fit all the trends :
The in-form Sue Smith's BLAKEMOUNT and MYSTEREE are my two against the field
The former is 25/1 at Hills, Ladbroke and Coral (though Bet365 go 16/1)
The latter is generally available as 8/1 second fav
Should one of the 8yo's run, i think COGRY's 7 runs is the least problematic trends wise.
THE GOLD CUP
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
Fav won 8 and second favs won 3
First 3 in the betting won 15
Winners at 25/1, 20/1 twice & 16/1. The other 15 had SP's of 8/1 or less
Only 1 of the above 4 big priced winners occurred in the last 16 runnings
15 of the last 16 renewals were won by horses returned at 8/1 or less
Official Rating (OR)
15 had an OR of which al were rated 152+
14 of the 15 and all the last 10 winners, were rated 166 or more
1 winning 6yo from just 5 to try is good news for Bristol de Mai
1 winning 10yo from 48 for 10yo's is not so good news for Smad Place
0-22 for 11yo's isn't encouraging for Cue Card's trends chances.
In fact, of 81 runners aged 10 or older, just 1 won and that was the longest priced winner, Cool Dawn way back in 1998 at 25/1.
7, 8 & 9yo's have dominated this, taking 17 of the 19 renewals between them.
9yo's and 7 yo's have the edge with 7-65 -11%) and 4-39 (10%) respectively
8yo's aren't far behind with 6-76 (8%)
ALL had run no more than 6 times in the last year
ALL 19 had no more than 5 runs that season
All 17 to complete last time posted a first 7 finish last time out
15 finished in the first 3 in their last run
15 had already won over 3 miles plus
18 had RAN over 3 miles or more
17 had their last run 31-90 days ago
PAUL Nicholls has won this 4 times
Given that 15 of the last 19 runnings were won by a horse from the first 3 in the betting and/or with an SP of 8/1 or less, this looks the place to start.
CUE CARD's age goes against him and i am yet to be convinced this is his trip (though he was going well when falling 3 out in this last year). He has also become an in and out runner since last Spring, posting RPR's of 163, 165, 180, 167 & 177.
He is also right on the max for runs in the past year (6) and runs this season (5). Not for me.
DJAKADAM has twice been runner up in this and, if the going has as much give in it as they are saying, this may be his best chance yet. The one trend against him though is his OR of 165. Only one horse has won this with a lower mark than 166. Other than that – big chance.
The one that ticks all the boxes – even the less important one here of age – is Cue Card's stable mate- NATIVE RIVER.
This Hennessy winner off 155 has a perfect trends profile.
When you consider that former Hennessy/Gold Cup winners that same season, won their Hennessys off 160 (Bobsworth) & 161 (Denman), you have to think this winner of the Welsh National off 11-12, has a great chance.
Currently vying for favouritism (which would be a big trends plus!) he is best priced 7/2 at present with most major bookies.
STAYERS HURDLE 2017
THE STAYERS HURDLE
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
Skewed a little by the record of the magnificent Big Bucks whose 4 straight wins 2009-12 included 3 as fav
7 favs won but just 1 second fav
15 winners came from the first 4 in the market
Winners at 40/1, 20/1, 16/1 & 14/1. The other 15 were returned 8/1 or less
Official Rating (OR)
15 had an OR of which ALL were rated minimum 148
14 of the 15 were rated 154 plus
ALL winners 6 to 9yo
Not much in it with 6yo's just best on 6 wins from 55 runs (11%)
Next best are 8yo's who are 5-52 (10%)
9yo's are 3-32 (9%) and 7yo's are 5-66
6 to 9yo is a must. But which age of these would be a tie breaker.
18 had 2-6 runs in the preceding year
18 had 1-4 runs that season
ALL posted a first 4 finish last run with 11 winning
16 had won over two and a half miles or further
ALL had ran over two and a half miles plus
ALL last ran 16-90 days ago
Paul Nicholls has won 4 renewals – all with Big Bucks. Zarkander looks his only hope (he has 50/1 shot Old Guard still declared) but no 10yo has won this over the period and those 10 or over are 0-28.
Jonjo O'Neill has won this twice but he runs a 10yo too, Taquin de Seuil who, at 40/1, would also be the joint longest priced winner for 20 years
UKNOWHATIMEANHARRY has the perfect profile. He is unopposable on form as well as trends. Currently generally available at 11/8.
If you are looking for an each way alternative, you could do worse than COLE HARDEN who chased the selection home by a length and a half last time over the C/D. He should appreciate this faster, drying ground.
In a race where former winners do well, this 2015 winner, on similar ground, could go close.
THE CHAMPION CHASE
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
6 favs, 6 second favs and 3 third favs = 15 came from the first 3 in the betting
ALL came from the first 6 in the market
Winners at 16/1 and 10/1 twice. The other 16 had SP's of 5/1 or shorter
Official Rating (0R)
14 had an OR of which ALL were rated 150+
13 of the 14 had an OR of 160 plus, including all the last 10 winners
Of those ages represented, 7yo's have the best record with 3 wins from 21 runs (14%)
8, 9 & 10yo's are much of a much with 4-47 (9%), 5-49 (10%) & 3-31 (10%)
Age doesn't look like being a clincher in this. A 7yo would be a bonus
18 had 1-6 runs in the preceding year
16 had 3-6 runs in the year up to the race
18 had 1-4 runs that season
ALL of the 17 to complete in their last run finished in the first 3 – 14 WON
17 were distance winners
ALL last ran 16-120 days ago
16 had their last run between 31 and 60 days ago
Nicky Henderson has 3 wins, all in the last 5 runnings
DOUVAN has a flawless trends profile and looks different class. Sorry to be so unoriginal, but this is a trends assessment. You won't get rich off one single bet (unless your a real big hitter!) but, he is banker material for any multiples. Barring accidents, or some health issue, he will win as the 2/7 best price with Hills tells us!
LAST 19 RUNNINGS
Fav won 9 but second fav just once – a race where the bookies get it right between the top two
17 past winners came from the first 7 in the betting
Winners at 33/1, 22/1 & 16/1. The other 16 had SP's of 11/1 or less
Official Rating (OR)
11 had an OR (up till around 10 years ago, Irish and French horses and those from all other countries, weren't allocated a UK rating)
Of these 11 – which include ALL the last 9 runnings – ALL were rated 153 and 10 had OR's of 159+ including ALL the last 9 winners.
ALL were aged 5-9 but 5yo's are just 1 winner from 61 runners (2%). Not good news for Footpad
7, 8 & 9yo's have the best strike rates with 7-54 (13%), 4-37 (11%) & 2-20 (10%) respectively
6 yo's are not too far behind with 5-66 (8%)
All had 2-7 runs in the year up to the race
18 had 2-5 runs that season
All had finished in the first 4 last run – with 15 winning
ALL last ran 16 to 90 days ago
Istabraq won it 3 times running, Hardy Eustace twice and Hurricane Fly twice but not consecutively.
Of those with runners:
Willie Mullins yard has won it 4 times (all from the last 6 runnings) and Nicky Henderson twice
Looking at the first 7 in the betting, which also coincides with the 11/1 or less trend, and taking into account the OR trends (ALL with a rating had an OR of 153 – which loses Moon Racer – and the remaining, and most recent 9, were rated 159+ which loses us Buveur D'Air and Vroum Vroum Mag), we are left with a shortlist of 4 who all have perfect profiles. In market order:
YANWORTH is 9/12 under rules and 7/8 over hurdles. This is a good race for favs and i am tempted.
But there is something about his course form that makes me think twice about going in for this one at a short price. He is only 1-3 here at Cheltenham, ie, 2 of his 3 defeats have been here, and one of those was at the hands of Road Racer in the 2015 G1 Champion Bumper. He finished second in the 2016 G1 Neptune Novice over 2m 5f ("outpaced near finish" by Yorkhill).
His only 1 win (he's 4-4 in G2's) in a G1 was when he beat THE NEW ONE in a far from vintage Christmas Hurdle. He struggled to beat the Xmas Hurdle third Ch'Tibello a length when 2/5 last time, when cheekpieces were resorted too.
2 of his 3 defeats were as fav too, not for me at 5/2.
PETIT MUCHOIR is the only horse with winning championship form in thIs race having won the Irish Champion Hurdle, over the trip, at Leopardstown last time, with Footpad an improved length behind and a below par Ivanovich Gorbatov a further 37L back in third. Nicholls Canyon fell late on when beaten. The time for that race was 3.7 faster than standard, so Spring ground at Cheltenham should hold no fears.
In the race before that, the G1 Morgiana hurdle, over the same C/D, he laughed at last years winner, 2/5 shot Nicholls Canyon (the only horse to ever beat Faugheen in 12 hurdles runs and last years 5L third in this race), when beating him 7L.
No horse has better recent form but again there is a slight nag about this course. Cheltenham is a special course at the best of times, but, for the festival, if you don't love this course you are unlikely to win.
His only run here was when a not disgraced 20L eighth behind the top class Altior in last years Supreme Novice Hurdle. He has improved at least a stone since then on the ratings, which, applied to that race, would put him a couple of lengths runner up, ahead of Min who finished 7L second in that race.
He seems to have just got the hang of things since Christmas and ran a fine second in a G2 Novice at Punchestown (which they say is Cheltenham the other way round). Left handed would be no problem, last 2 wins at left handed Leopardstown. And, judging off that run at Punchestown, undulating is no problem either.
BRAIN POWER was 4.5L behind PETIT MUCHOIR in third in his ony attempt in G1 company (incidentally, a below par Yorkhill was 7.5L further back in fourth). But this one has improved 18lbs on RPR since then with two handicap wins, culminating in winning an 88K affair at Ascot, carrying 11-11 off an OR of 149 and winning by 5L.
Again though, there is the niggle about the course. His worst performance this season was when 20L 8th in the Greatwood Hurdle over this trip, "not enough pace to get on terms".
Another concern is no win above G3 level. Great perfermance though it was, the race was a handicap (a top, top class one – true) and Nicky Henderson was quoted as saying, after his previous handicap win, "he is a good handicap hurdler".
THE NEW ONE loves Cheltenham having won 6 of his 11 starts here and won or placed on 8 of those occasions. Well held by Yanworth on Christmas Hurdle running when 3L second, but that was at flat, sharp, Kempton. That was, according to RPR, his worst run of the season. According to RPR he ran 5bs worse than his best run this season on his debut when beating last year's Champion Hurdle runner up, My Tent Or Yours, here at the trip.Those figures would give him a chance of turning the form roun with YANWORTH
He won the 2013 G1 Neptune Hurdle over 2M 5F here following up with an unlucky 3rd (badly hampered before storming up the hill all too late) in this race in 2014 ( finished 2.75L in front of Hurricane Fly). He was fifth (btn 8.75L) in what turned out to be a classier renewal, won by Faugheen in 2015, and finished 4th last year, beaten 8.75L by Annie Power with My Tent Or Yours running 4.5L second.
Just as an aside, the head to head record, where both The New One and My Tent Or Yours finished the race, is 3-3, though the former has beaten the latter twice this season, and, as a 10yo, the latter would not be a trends horse. He ran a screamer to finish second in this, as a 9yo, last year after a year off. His best run this season has been around half a stone below that effort but he loves it here on Spring ground and, should there be a non trends winner, he could be it.
It has taken me longer to come to a decision on this race than it did any of the handicaps. It looks a below par, open race this year, and the number of words in this preview reflects that!
When putting together the trends and form, for me, the only choice is PETIT MUCHOIR, not withstanding his unproven liking for the course. He is currently 7/1 third fav with Paddy Power.
Should he not run, BRAIN POWER and THE NEW ONE (each way) would be my selections in that order.
THE IMPERIAL CUP
LAST 20 RUNNINGS
Fav won 7 renewals but the second fav won none, suggesting the bookies get it right between the first two
ALL came from the first 9 in the betting
33, 20 x 2 & 16/1 shots have won. All the rest were returned 14/1 or less.
ALL 10-00 to 11-10
18 carried 10-13 or less
Official Rating (OR)
17 ran off an OR of 133 or less
The younger end have dominated this with nine 5yo's winning 9 from 89 runs (10%)
The 6 & 7yo's have a 3% strike rate with 4 and 3 wins, while 8 & 9yo's have a winner each from 38 (3%) and 22 (5%) respectively
No horse older than 9 has won this in the last 20 years.
16 had 2-6 runs in the year leading up to the race
ALL had 1-5 runs that season
15 of the 17 to complete last time finished in the first 7 last time
14 had finished in the first 4 last time, including 8 winners
Of the non completers, those that pulled up are 2-13
17 had their last run 8-60 days ago
The Pipes have farmed this with 4 winners for Dad Martin and 3 for Son David. They run 9/1 shot Max Do Brazil
Their winners tend to be at the top of the market bar a 7/1 winner and pulled up wouldn't seem to be the ideal prep (though 2 won from 13 to try). With 7 runs this season he is also over raced for a typical winner. He has two firm trends in his favour; his trainer and his age, a 5yo.
The in-form yard is that of Chris Gordon who has had 5 winners from 13 runners over the last two weeks. He runs Disputed who is over raced, with 9 runs this season alone, to be a trends winner of this.
Graeme McPherson is 1-3 over the past fortnight and he runs Kayf Blanco. This one would be the second highest weight carrier and the third highest rated to win this. He is the form horse on ratings, so it wouldn't be the greatest surprise were he to win, but not for me due to the weight and OR trends.
Nicky Henderson has a very good record here at Sandown with 38 of his 135 runners over the past 5 years winning. The record of his hurdlers is 27-90 over the same period. He runs the fav Fixe de Kap who has the weights and OR trends against him plus an 8th last time which was 360 days ago. Not a trends contender.
One trainer that could have a trends horse is Kevin Frost, who is 1-1 at the course and that 1 was a hurdler. Tom Bellamy is 1-2 riding for him and the horse in question is Chieftain's Choice, who was that winner.
This one has the all important trends virtue of carrying less than 10-13 – as did 18 previous winners. The only chink in his armour is he has had 6, rather than the maximum 5, runs this season. To offset that though, he is the only runner who won his last race (as did 8 previous winners). Shortlisted.
This is a smaller field than normal and all the top 10 have either big weights/OR's to overcome and/or other things like days since runs and number of runs.
The bottom 3 tie in perfectly with the weight trends. If there was to be a winner from higher in the weights, Kayf Blanco is the only one with no other negatives than weight and OR.
However the bottom 3 are my shortlist:
Gary Moore has two of these three and i have to confess to not knowing what to meake of his DAREBIN. As a 5yo, he immediately caught my eye and, though not over raced, he has been mixing jumps and all weather.
He is 1-3 over hurdles at the course and 3-6 on Soft going. However, all his 3 wins have been with Jamie Moore on board – Joshua rode him once and lost – and, at 16/1 11th fav and drifting, he is too far out in the betting for a trends selection. Having said that, watch the market. Gary Moore is a shrewdie and any money for this one should be noted.
Jamie Moore rides NOT ANOTHER MUDDLE for his Dad. This 6yo has a much more orthodox profile and the market is speaking for him at present, 16's into 8's. My one qualm is that his only win has been at 2m 3.5f which makes me wonder if he has the speed for this.
Finally, CHIEFTAINS CHOICE'S profile was discussed above. A C/D winner in much lower grade (but very cheekily, having to be held up till just before the line), his only trends 'crime' is 6 runs this season rather than the maximum of 5 which has stood for the last 20 years. Add his trainer's record at Sandown and the jockey's riding for the trainer and this one has a big chance.
There is no perfect profile here and i am going to take the last two against the field. If there is money into 12/1 or less for Moore's other horse, i may have a small stake saver bet on that one as well. A tricky one to call and not for max stakes!
NOT ANOTHER MUDDLE is best priced 9/1 with Paddy Power
CHIEFTAIN'S CHOICE is best priced 16/1 with Paddy Power
THE GRIMTHORPE CHASE
LAST 16 RUINNINGS
3 favs won and 5 second favs
13 winners came from the first five in the betting (11 from the first 3)
25/1 & 20/1 all the rest were 14/1 or less, 13 were returned 15/2 or shorter
ALL carried 10-00 to 11-12
15 carried 11-9 or less which puts a question mark against last years winner The Last Samurai
Official Rating (OR)
ALL were rated 112 to 152, which again knocks the top weight out
15 were rated 149 or less which does second top weight, Wakanda's, trends chances no favours
Very little in it , with 9yo's at a slight disadvantage strike rate wise – though they have won 4 renewals.
ALL had run 3-9 times in the past year (14 ran no more than 7 times)
ALL had run 2-7 times this season (14 no more than 5 max)
12 of the 13 to complete last time finished in the first 4
The 2 non completers both pulled up from 18 to try (11%)
Unseated riders are 0-3 so hop for fav Definitly Red
14 had won over 3 miles plus
ALL had run over over at least 3miles and half a furlong with 13 having run over 3m 2f
No horse has won this more than once over the period
LOOKING WELL has the perfect profile but does need to prove himself in what may be attritional conditions tomorrow, going off today's race times at Donny. The best form of this lightly raced 8yo has been on Good to Soft or better but that's not to say he won't like a stamina test.
His only previous attempt on Heavy was a close up fourth of 4 on his chase debut over just 2 miles and he was going well when falling 5 out over 3M 1F on Soft.
He has a 12 lbs weight pull for 4.5 lengths with what i consider to be the danger – Definitly Red – on their form of News Year Day 2016 over 3M 1F at Catterick on Soft.
They have both improved around a stone on that but, hoping he likes the ground at this trip, the lightly raced LOOKING WELL looks to have further improvement and he is the trends selection at 11/2 with Ladbrokes and Corals.
Should he not handle the ground, or be pulled out of the race, Definitly Red is next best.
THE EIDER CHASE
LAST 16 RUNNINGS
3 winning favs and 4 winning second favs
1st 3 in betting x 11
1st 6 won 13 renewals
Winners at 28/1 & 18/1 but the other 14 were all returned 11/1 or less
All carried 11-12 or less
14 carried 11-8 or below
Official Rating (OR)
All rated 126 – 139
7 and 8yo's have the best wins to runs ratio with 2-21 (10%) for the former and 4-41 (10%) for the latter.
9yo's are not far behind with 5-62 (8%)
11 & 10yo's have roughly the same record with 2-32 (6%) and 3-58 (5%) respectively
No horses older than 11 have won this during the period under examination
15 had run 1-9 times in the past year
ALL ran 1-8 times that season
ALL13 of those who completed last time finished in the first 7
Pulled up last time 2-28 (8%)
6 won last time
14 had won over 3m 1f plus
14 had run over 3m 2f or further
13 had their last run 30 days or less ago
The in form yard is that of Peter Bowen whose runners have scored 4-13 times in the last 14 days. Berea Boru is his runner but is a little too far out in the betting for a typical winner (16/1 generally) and has never won beyond 3 miles
Michael Scudamore has sent 6 runners to Newcatle over the past 5 years and 3 won. His record here with chasers for the same period is 2-4.
His runner, Mysteree, is currently 8/1 second fav and has most of the trends going for him. The main trends question mark is no run for 54 days and no first 7 run last time (though, as i wrote above 2 previous winners pulled up last time)
Warren Greatrex sends a rare runner to the track but he is 1-3 with his runners here, the past 5 years. His Out Sam is the ideal age but is another one that doesn't meet the normal stamina criteria of having won 3m1f plus nor ran over 3m2f or further.
Ian Duncan is 1/3 with his chasers here over the past 5 years. His runner, Milborough, is currently 14/1, but, should any money push it into 11/1 or less, this C/D winner is well worth a second look
Mr Richard Patrick is 5/18 riding for Kerry Lee for whom he rides Mountainous, who, at 12, would be the oldest winner in the last 17 runnings
There is one trend i find fascinating. Those that ran 30 days or less ago have a record in this of 13-143 (11%) compared to those who last ran 31- 90 days since who are 3-104 (3%).
If we apply this along with the other trends, it gives us a shortlist of one: RUSSE BLANC, who has a near perfect trends profile with only his age (10) preventing a perfect profile. Currently best priced 12/1 with Bet365