I have ‘borrowed’ the quote below from a recent blog by Kieran at Make Your Betting Pay. I will put the link at the bottom of this blog for the full article. It is so useful, especially the table, and uses such a scientific approach, that i have used about half the blog below.
“We need to strike the right balance between leveraging our profits and protecting the integrity of our bank.
My usual starting point when carrying out this kind of analysis would be to calculate the longest expected losing run over 1000 bets. There is a formula for calculating this (mail me if you’re interested) but I tend to use a table which makes life a lot easier. I’ve reproduced the table below (it’s accurate enough for our purposes)
The important thing to remember here is that the larger the number of bets you look at, the longer the likely losing run will be. As an example with a 15% strike rate looked at over 1000 bets you are likely to hit a maximum losing run of 43 bets. However, if you were to have 10,000 bets with a similar strike rate, at some point you are likely to hit a losing run of 57 bets. That being the case, it’s useful to have a reasonable idea of the number of bets your selection method is going to throw up over a period of time. If you are looking at a method that throws up 300 bets a year then calculating your longest likely losing run over 1000 bets is ample. If you are looking at a method that throws up 10,000 bets a year, you need to dig a bit deeper than that.
Let’s assume the method we are analysing has 1000 bets a year with a strike rate of 60%. We can see from the table that we are likely to hit 8 consecutive losers at some point during year 1.
You can see that if we were to choose a 10% staking plan on such a method, we are almost certain to hit trouble and quite possibly decimate our bank at some point.
We therefore need our bank to be several times the size of our longest likely losing run – it is well within the realms of statistical possibility that we could get 2 such runs in quick succession!
For safety, I would say it is best to work with your bank broken down into a number of points that equates to 5 times your longest likely losing sequence.”
I think 5 times the maximum losing run is on the conservative side. A lot depends on what sort of start you get. If you’re off to a flyer, by the time the inevitable ‘crippler’ comes along you should have taken out more than enough profit to set up a new bank and won’t care. If you start on the bad run your faith in the system/method/tipster etc is shaken and you would probably abandon what may be a good thing. What is often forgotten though is that with percentage staking the stakes go down during losing runs so a losing run of ten wouldn’t be ten points lost but considerably less.
I heartily agree with everything else though. There is no doubt that basing your staking on avoiding one long losing run is folly as it is more common that a series of losing runs is the bank breaker. Therefore it is wise to allow for this.
The debate will rage on but, in the end, we are back to another grossly underestimated factor in betting – psychology. Some thrive on risk others prefer the more softly softly ” I don’t need the stress as I would like to live to spend the winnings” approach. There is no “wrong” nor “right” way, (try telling the Frankie Dettori backers that day at Ascot that they were throwing their money away backing 7 horse accas!). Granted, the same people could do a £1 acca 7 every day for the rest of their lives and lose every day. But they wouldn’t be complaining as the stakes would come out of the massive interest on their winnings!
There again though, if you are backing seriously, you have to work on the basis of probability and not possibility so it is a question of finding the optimum. For those who shun risk it will be five times the max or more. For those who thrive on it, maybe twice the max and for those who are trying to strike a happy medium, 2-4 times the max.
Whatever your appetite for risk, the table above offers a basis for making an informed choice. You can’t say you weren’t warned!
Here’s the link to Kieran’s site: http://makeyourbettingpay.co.uk/ . You will find the whole blog on there dated 18/1/12.
FAIRYHOUSE 5.00 – IRISH GRAND NATIONAL
Lousy race for favs as just 1 has won in the ast 17 runnings – and that was a co fav of 5!
Second favs fared slightly better but have scored just twice.
5 of the last 6 winners had SP's of 50/1, 33/1 x 3 and 25/1
However, the long term percentage call has been the first 8 in the betting as 11 of the 17 winners came from there.
10-00 to 11-4 has been carried in the period we are looking at but 16/17 carried 10-12 or less.
More recently, all the last 10 winners carried 10-8 or below.
No horse was rated higher than 136 by the official handicapper.
All the last 10 were rated within 15 lbs of the RPR top rated.
6 to 11 yo's have won this and all, (except, curiously, 9 yo's with a 2% strike rate), have around 5% wins to runs records with 7 yo's doing the best with 5 wins from 76 runs – 7%.
Not many 6 yo's or older horses have tried but the 6 and 11 yo's have just one win each.
All had at least 3 runs in the past year.
14/17 won between 2miles 6 furlongs and 3m 2f.
12 won between 3m and 3m 2f – only 2 had won beyond 3m and 3m 2F and NONE were distance winners. So it looks as though speed as well as stamina is required for this.
All had their last run between 8 – 60 days ago.
Only 1 didn't complete last time and that one was brought down. No fallers, unseated riders or pulled ups won.
14/17 posted a first 9 finish last run.
All the last 10 had won going right handed.
Trainers and Jockeys stats
Not many clues here.
Robbie Power is 2/5 for WJ Burke and Paul Townend 8/22 for Willie Mullins.
They saddle My Murphy and Touch The Eden respectively and both would beat the last decades weight carrying record were they to win today.
Using the filters above, I narrowed it down to 3: Goonyella, The Westerner Boy and Daring Article.
Goonyella was a well fancied 12/1 shot for this as a 6yo last year but its saddle slipped and it pulled up at the 7th The only niggling doubt i have is that it has won over 3m 6F and therefore wouldn't be a typical winner as just 2 of the last 17 winners had won beyond 3m 2F
The Westerner Boy looks to have been plotted up for this but has only had 2 runs in the last year whereas all the last 17 had at least 3 runs.
This leaves us with DARING ARTICLE who has an excellent profile for this having won at both 3m and 3m 2F, not from the first 2 in the betting but within the first 8, carrying a low weight, from the right age group and having won right handed at Punchestown.
AYR 4.50 – SCOTTISH GRAND NATIONAL
Fav won 2 of the last 17 and second fav won 3 times
66/1 and 33/1 shots have won in that period. All the rest were 20/1 or less.
The first 12 in the betting won 15/17
10-00- 11-12 but 16/17 carried 11-10 or less
124 – 150
132 plus – 16 times.
8 of the last 10 were rated within 8lbs of RR top rated
7 to 11 yos have won this in the last 17 runnings but 8 yo's have at least double the wins to runs strike rate (8%) than any other age and have won 7 renewals.
All ran between 2 and 8 times in the past year.
All ran no more than 6 times that season in the past 10 years.
9 of the last 10 won over at least 3 miles with 8 winning over 3 miles 2 furlongs.
All the 17 posted a top 6 finish last time with 6 winning.
All ran 90 days ago or less.
The are two stand out trainer stats: Tim Easterby's overall record at the course over the past few years with 2 of his 5 runners winning and Nicky Richards' record in handicap chases here of 3-6. The former has Trustan Times who ticks nearly all the boxes and the latter has last years third, Mister Marker, who has a good profile but is not the ideal age.
Sam Twiston-Davies is 3/4 for Paul Nicholls and rides Tidal Bay. No 13yo you has won this in the last 17 runnings but only 2 have tried. Of more concern is its last time finishing position.
Paul Carberry's booking for SRB Crawford's Yes Tom is interesting and he is another with a good profile but not an 8 yo.
Wilson Renwick is 2/7 for Tim Easterby ( see above) and Ben Dalton is 2/2 for CA Bratney but their Sole Witness finished outside the first 6 last time.
There are a good 8 contenders on trends but, if we start with the first 12 in the betting with a top 6 finish last time, and ideally aged 8 and rated 132 +, we can narrow it down to just two, the above mentioned TRUSTAN TIMES and MENDIP EXPRESS .
The former has very good recent form giving 4lbs and finishing just a neck behind last weeks Grand National winner, Pineau De Re, when they were 3rd and 4th behind the Grade 1 class Fingal Bay in a big Cheltenham handicap hurdle last time.
This horse looks to have been laid out for this by the shrewd Easterbys as he has had just 5 runs over fences and runs off just 134 today although his hurdles rating is 147.
Mendip Express has to put a below par run last time behind him but, whereas Trustan Times has not won beyond 3 miles, he has better proven stamina having won over 3 miles 3 furlongs in a decent Cheltenham handicap chase the time before. Unlike his trends rival, he is in the handicap proper and almost conforms to the RPR stat in that he is 9 lbs of the top rated while Trustan Times is 20lbs below (two have won in the past 10 years rated 21 and 30 lbs off the RPR top).
It is a head scratcher with TRUSTAN TIMES so obviously plotted up and possibly thrown in on his hurdles form but the other, MENDIP EXPRESS almost fulfilling the RPR trend and having the more proven stamina. I am going to back both against the rest of the 30 strong field!
MENDIP EXPRESS @ 12/1
TRUSTAN TIMES @ 16/1
Favs have won 4 of the last 17 runnings and second favs just once.
The first 8 in the betting have won 11.
There have been winners at 100/1, 66/1, 33/1 three times, and 20/1, in that period.
4 of those big priced winners were in the last 7 years so that could either be the start of a trend or we could be due one shorter priced.
This used to be a race for those carrying 10-12 or less but, again, 3 of the last 4 winners carried 11-00 plus and two of those carried 11-5 and 11-6.
However, for the 17 races, all carried between 10-00 and 11-6.
15/17 carried 11-00 or less
All were rated 137 to 157
16/17 ran off a mark of 152 or less and 15/17 off 150 – .
Yet again, the three highest winning handicap marks have been in the last 3 years.
All ages 8 – 12 have won over the period but 8yo's have won just once from 97 runs and 12 yo's once in 54.
9, 10 & 11yo's have a much better record, (with 15 of the 17 wins between them), and look the age group to favour.
All had run between 3 – 10 times in the past year.
All had won over at least 3 miles 1 furlong and 15/17 had won over 3 m 3.5 F.
All had run between 16 and 60 days ago.
All 15 of those who completed last time finished in the first 8.
13/15 finished in the first 5 in their last run.
The Henderson yard remains in fine form with 11/31 in the last two weeks, as does Willie Mullins with 8/20.
Henderson's three are Long Run, who satisfies all the trends except the weight, Hunt Ball, who has only had 2 runs in the past year and has no win over the required 3m 3F, and Triolo D'Alene who lacks a first 5 run last time.
The Mullins two are Prince De Beauchenne, who has had 79 days off and Vesper Bell who finished ninth last time.
Colm Murphy is 2/5 at Aintree but his Quitto De La Roque pulled up last time.
As you would expect, in a race of 40 runners, there is a substantial shortlist even after all the filters have been applied.
The first thing i asked myself is should Long Run be included? After all, strictly on trends, he has too much weight. However, perhaps because the fences are easier now, the emphasis is now less on jumping and more on class/speed.
There was a time when horses could make up for their lack of class with good jumping. This doesn't seem to be the case any more. So, it is no surprise that the 3 highest handicap marks, in the period looked at, have scored 3 times in the last 4 years. This trend looks set to continue and i am going to include Long Run.
So, the shortlist is, in race card order,( i have included best prices):
Long Run @ 12/1
Balthazar King @ 16/1
Monbeg Dude @ 12/1
Big Shu @ 25/1
Pineau De Re @ 20/1
The Package (despite not having won beyond 3 miles 2f) @ 20/1
Raz De Maree @ 66/1
Starting from the top. Long Run, on all the evidence is around a stone and a half below his peak when he got an RPR of 181 for beating the two twilight greats, Denman and Kauto Star in the 2011 Gold Cup. He was rated just 128 for his class 2 win last time and 162 when unseating in the King George.
We have been spoiled over the past decade and a half by the presence of two all time greats in Best Mate and Kauto Star. Winning a Gold Cup takes it out of a horse, (even the geat Denman!) and this was obscured by the amazing exploits of the two Gold cup greats.
If Long run was running to his 2011 level I would think he was a blot and, given the seemingly changing trends, he would be the sole selection in this. However, on what i have seen since, no, he is discounted.
I am not sure what to make of the form of these Cross Country races. I know Silver Birch was third in the Cheltenham Cross Country race before winning the 2007 renewal of this, but it seems to me that 24 days isn't a long time to get over such a gruelling test. On that basis, i will strike out Balthazar King and Big Shu.
The booking of Paul Carberry bodes well for Monbeg Dude. His half length defeat of Teaforthree in the 2013 Welsh National, when in receipt of 16 lbs, reads very well, but he is only getting 3 lbs today. That said, he showed 8lbs improvement, according to RPR, when winning at Cheltenham the race before last. His last run puts me off though as he "jumped sloppily early on" and dropped himself out. The best man possible is aboard to correct that but whether he can or not remains to be seen.
Pineau De Re ran a cracker when finishing like a train when beaten a quarter of a length by the Grade 1 class Fingal Bay in the Pertemps Final Hurdle at Cheltenham. True, he received 8 lbs but that was still smart form.
This horse won the Ulster Grand National by 23 lengths last April and looks as if the trip wouldn't be a problem. He is, with 10 runs in the last year though, right on the border of being over raced for this and i will pass hiim over – though i wouldn't want to put anyone off!
This leaves us with two.
THE PACKAGE has the best recent form in the race, (with the exception of top weight Tidal Bay). In his first run for a year he finished well to be beaten just 9 lengths by todays Grade 1 winner, Holywell, (who gave him 4 lbs) and 7 lengths behind todays Topham winner Ma Filleule, (received 3 lbs).
He has always looked to have a touch of class and my main concern is the course. He wasn't fluent last year when unseating halfway, having made progress from the rear. These tactics would be unlikely to work this year but i expect that hasn't been lost on David Pipe who won this, in 2008, with Comply Or Die. At 20/1, i will take the chance.
I was tempted to put up Raz De Maree as the big priced each way shot but he doesn't look good enough. He won the Cork National in 2012 over three and a half miles and his trainer was quoted as saying he would jump the Aintree fences. But he seems to have regressed since that win – hence the 66/1.
No, i will stick with my one tentative selection, THE PACKAGE, each way.
Mixed, with just 2 favs in the last 17 runnings and a second fav.
The first 9 in the betting have won 13/17.
There have been winners returned at 50/1, 33/1, 25/1, 22/1, 16/1 and 14/1 x 5.
All carried between 10-00 and 11-8
12 of the last 13 carried 10-12 or less
All were rated between 115 and 143
Last 8 years, all were rated within 8 lbs of top on RPR.
None older than 11
All ran between 3 and 10 times in the last year.
All bar one had previously won over further – only 3 were distance winners.
15/17 ran 60 days or less ago.
4 won last time, 3 were second and 14 in total posted a top 9 finish last time.
NONE fell or unseated, (just 1 pulled up), last run.
Trainers and Jockeys
In form yards.
Nicky Henderson carries on his long good run with 9/21 the past 14 days. He runs Ma Filleule, (too much weight to be a trends selection), Tanks For That, (ditto but only by a pound), and Giorgio Quercus who has good credentials.
Willie Mullins is 8/18 the last two weeks and he runs Bishopsfurze who pulled up last time.
Tonly Coyle has only run 2 the past fortnight but 1 has won. He runs Lucky Landing, another of interest.
Trainers at the course.
Tom George has a 2/5 strike rate in this type of race at the track and Paddy Brennan is 3/7 for him, however, his Big Fella Thanks is a 12yo.
Jockey and trainer combos.
Noel Fehily is 4/14 for Paul Nicholls and rides Fago who has too much weight and is too high in the handicap to be a trends pick.
Mr. Fogarty is 2/5 for Willie Mullins but Bishopsfurze pulled up last time, which is unusual for a winner of this.
Using the above, and examining none distance winners who have won over further, we can narrow it down to 3.
Swift Arrow has won twice around 2 miles this season but his only win at a distance beyond todays was in a point to point. I will rule him out on that basis.
The two remaining have both won over further but not at todays distance and they are my two against the field:
SOLL @ 33/1
LOST LEGEND @ 16/1
AINTREE 4.15 – RED RUM HANDICAP
The fav has won 5 of the last 17 runnings and the second fav won twice.
There have been winners at 25/1, 20/1 three times and 12/1 twice.
Generally not a race for big shocks though , as the first 6 in the betting have won 12/17 and the first 12 have won all except two runnings.
All carried 10-00 to 12-00 but 16/17 carried 10-2 plus.
16/17 carried 11-10 or less and 15/17 11-8 or less.
All were rated 129+ which weeds out the bottom 3 on the racecard.
16/17 were rated 148 or less and 15/17 142 or less.
All ages between 5 and 11 have won this except for, curiously enough, 10 yo's, who have no wins to show from 25 runs. Other than what may well be a fluke, age is not a factor here. The top weight is a 12yo and that age have not won in the past 17 renewals – however none have tried!
16/17 had run between 1 – 8 times in the last year.
13 were distance winners.
6 of the last 10 winners ran at Cheltenham and, of those, four posted a top five finish, (2 won), in the Grand Annual.
11 of the 12 who completed last time posted a first 5 place.
Trainers and Jockeys
The in-form yards are Nigel Twiston-Davies with 9-31 winners in the last 14 days, and Nicky Henderson with 10 winners from 23 runners in the same period. Astracad, for the former, pulled up last time and Anquetta for the latter finished outside the first five. Neither have good trends profiles for this.
Rebecca Curtis has a 2-5 strike rate at the course with her handicap chasers but her Gus Macrae is another whose last time out pulled up is a trends problem.
Brendan Powell has a 2-6 strike rate for Colin Tizzard and rides top weight, and last years winner, Oiseau De Nuit. He has as good a chance as last year on the ratings but the fall last time (though 3 fell last time, out of just 10 runners in this) is not encouraging. Also he is 12 and we are in unknown territory there.
Sam Whaley-Cohen is 14-45 for Henderson but Anquetta also lacks a first five run last time.
Ditto Parsnip Pete, ridden by Paddy Brennan who has a 2/6 record for Tom George. He only just misses out, having finished 6th last time and is interesting as he has, so i read, been laid out for this. But so have the rest of them!
The one that interests me is Noel Fehily's 5-18 for Emma Lavelle. This one ticks all the right boxes except one – it runs off just a few pounds above the typical winning handicap.
The stand out stat seems to be a first 5 finish last time. Yes, 3 fallers have won but only the top weight and Last Shot are affected by this and the former is ruled out for another reason. So, i will take a chance and ignore Last Shot, (back it!), and make a first 5 finish last time the cornerstone.
Next, two thirds of the winners came from the first 6 in the betting.
So if we take these two things and add:
Weighted 10-2 to 11-8
Ran off a mark between 133 and 143
Aged 6 to 11 but not 10
Ran between 1 and 8 times in the past year
Won at the distance as did 13 of the 17.
With a strict enforcement of those rules, we are left with just two: SOUND INVESTMENT and TURN OVER SIVOLA .
It is very difficult to leave out Claret Cloak as he ran well in the best trial and is fav (5-17), but i will be disciplined. And, as with Parsnip Pete, i would not be the least bit surprised if he wins – especially now i have ruled him out!
However, this is a race trends guide and he is just a little high, for those purposes, in the handicap.
I can't split the two. Last time out winners have won 4 times in the past 10 runnings versus the once for second placed. However, no horse won their last two races in the last 10 years either. My head is spinning now so here are my two against a competitive field:
TURN OVER SIVOLA
DON 1.30 – THE BROCKLESBY
Just 1 winning fav in the past 17 runnings and 3 second favs.
Not a race for big shocks though as only one winner went off bigger than 14/1 and only 2 were from outside the first 5 in the betting.
Weights and ratings
The weights have changed this year and there are no handicap marks as these are all debutants, so no clues there.
Trainer and Jockey stats
Richard Hannon is in flying form as 3 of his 8 runners in the past fortnight have won. He saddles the paper fav, (just 1/17 in this remember!), Flyball.
This race has been a standing dish for Bill turner for years. He has won this 4 times from 10 runners in the past decade and, over the period we are examining, he has won 5 of the 17 renewals.
He trains the third fav, PADDY AGAIN, who, given her market position and trainer stats, must be the percentage call.
DONCASTER 3.50 – THE LINCOLN
6 of the 17 runnnings were won by the fav but just 1 of the second favs won.
There have been winners at 33/1, 25/1, 22/1 and 20/1 twice, so don't be put off by a biggish price. All the rest were returned 16/1 or less.
The first 12 in the betting have won all bar 2.
8-4 to 9-10 but all except one carried 9-5 or less.
16/17 carried 8-6 or more and 15 carried 8-9 plus.
86 – 107 with 16 rated 89 plus and the same won off 104 or less, (15 were rated 100 or lower)
8 of the past 10 were rated within 4 lbs of the top on RPR
Ony one horse older than 6 has won from 59 to try. Curiously though, perhaps just a fluke, 8yo's have won one and have a 5-15 win and place record.
5 won last time, 2 were second, one third and another 4th. So, 9/17 posted a top 4 run last time.
Only 4 had a 0 last time.
8 of the last 10 were making their seasonal debut.
Trainer and Jockey Stats
John Quinn has won this twice from 8 runners and trains last years winner, Levitate, who carries 9-7. Only once has a horse won this race twice.
The in-form trainers are Andrew Balding with an amazing 8-17 over the past 14 days, and George Baker with 2-6. The former trains Tufflius who carries 9-10 and the latter Jack Dexter who carries 9-7. The trainers of Tuffllius and Levitate will be attempting to saddle only the second winner in 18 years to carry more than 9-5. However, last year's fifth, Jack Dexter, trained by George Baker looks interesting, although the zero in his form figures last time is a bit off putting.
Keith Dalglish has a 2-5 strike rate in all age handicaps at Doncaster but his Chookie Royale attempts to carry 9-13.
Graham Gibbons and Ryan Tate have good strike rates for their trainers but both mounts are 7yo's.
We want a 4 to 6 yo from the first 12 in the betting with a single figure finish last time, carrying 9-5 or less and rated 100 or lower. Ideally rated within 4 lbs of top on RPR.
This narrows it down to three, Gabrial's Kaka, Consign and Off Art.
If we narrow it down further to those making their debut for the season, we are left with the two: GABRIAL'S KAKA and OFF ART with a slight preference for the latter as it won last time.
UTTOXETER 3.50 – MIDLANDS GRAND NATIONAL
Fav has won 3 of the last 15 runnings and second fav 5. So over half have been won by the first two in the betting.
13/16 were from the first 8 in the betting with SP's of 25/1, 16/1 And 14/1 winning.
All carried 10-00 to 11-6 which excludes only the very classy top weight
These do the same as the weights, just excluding the top weight, with horses rated 116 to 143 winning.
Rated within 14 lbs of RPR top rate 10 of the last 10 and within 11 lbs 9 times.
This is more helpful as 7 yo's have a pronounced advantage. They have won 5 times from just 29 runs (17%) compared to the 5-51 (10%) for 8yo's and the 4-59 (7%) for 9y'o's so that the older the horse, the less its chance – on trends at least. In fact, 77 runners aged 10 yo plus have tried and failed.
6 won last time, three were second, two were third and 3 failed to complete. So, of the 12 who completed, 11 posted a top 3 win with the only other finishing 5th.
All had run between 8 and 90 days ago.
Trainer and Jockey stats.
David Pipe has an amazing record in this race with 3 winners from 7 runners. Junior is too old on the trends but Goulanes is an 8yo who pulled up last time – just like 2 of his last 3! – although it must be added that these other two had both posted a first two finish earlier in the season.
Nick Williams is 2-7 with his handicap chasers here but his Alfie Spinner is rated 12 lbs off the top on RPR.
Wayne Hutchinson has a 2/7 strike rate for Alan King who runs West End Rocker who is problematic on the race trends as he has not been seen on the track for 388 days.
There were 10 handicaps run at the Cheltenham Festival of which 8 winners carried 11-6 plus and 9 carried 11-1 plus. This was completely against the general rule of not backing handicappers at the Festival carrying 11-3 plus. Only one, (selected on this blog – see last post), Lac Fontana, carried less and, even then it carried 10-11, hardly a featherweight!
I think this may have been down to the fast ground. A cursory look at the race times will confirm that the going was nowhere near the official Good/ Good to Soft and maybe this accounts for the outstanding record of top or near top weights this week.
I only mention this because there is a horse in today's race who, on a literal reading of a line through The Giant Bolster, would have won the Gold Cup!
This horse is Harry Topper who, frankly, looks a couple of classes above the rest. However, he must give at least 19 bs to everything else for this reason.
The Clerk of the Course was on the Morning Line and said there was a strong wind drying the ground. There would need to be, as the course was reportedly under water last Monday! So, despite his prediction of possibly Good/ Good to Soft, we simply don't know as there was no racing there yesterday. It certainly isn't going to be anything like the going that produced such good results for the high weights at Cheltenham.
So, on trends, Harry Topper is rejected but I wouldn't be the least surrised if he were good enough to defy the trends.
Conventionally, we are looking for a 7, 8 or 9 yo from the first 8 in the betting, rated within 11 lbs of the top on RPR, with a top 5 finish last time, (preferably a win) between 8 and 90 days ago.
This narrows it down to two. If I was sure the going was going to ride on the Good side I would pick FILL THE POWER who could only manage 5th in this last year and a respectable fifth in the Scottish National where he didn't seem to quite get home.
However, he has had a wind operation which should help with the stamina and the less slow the going the better.
The other is EMPERORS CHOICE who is not the ideal age but, at 8 , is next best. We put this up last time when he ran an excellent second to stable mate, Rigadin de Beauchene, in the Betfair Grand National at Haydock.
My only concern is he has had a number of hard slogs recently although he seems to thrive on it as 4 of his 6 wins have been when running after a lay off of 8 – 30 days.
So, because of doubts about the going these are my two trends selections:
EMPERORS CHOICE – 14/1
FILL THE POWER – 10/1
CHELTENHAM 2.05 – VINCENT O'BRIEN COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE
Favs have won a respectable 4 times in the 16 runnings of this ultra competitive handicap but second favs haven't won any.
The first 11 in the betting have won 15/16 at odds up to 20/1. The odd one out was a 50/1 shot.
All carried between 10 stone and 11-8.
15/16 carried 11-7 or less while 14 carried 11-1 or less.
No problems at the foot of the weights but, at the top, only 2 have won off marks higher than 140.
Horses aged 5 to 9 have all won this but it is the two extremes that have the best record. 5yo's have won half of the 16 renewals from 94 runners (9%) and 9yo's have won just two but from only 26 runners (8%). The 5, 6 and 7yo's range from 1-4% wins to runs ratio.
Won last time – 5, 2nd twice, third 3 times and fourth once. So 11/16 ran in the first four last time with winners doing best. 3 of the remaining 5 had a single figure last time finish.
14/16 ran between 16 and 90 days ago.
Trainers and jockeys
The most striking thing here is that 6 of the last 7 runnings have been won by Irish trainers – and 4 of them had the surname Mullins! If you look back at all the 16 years you will see that the winner was either Irish trained or from one of the big yards of Nicholls (twice) Henderson (once 16 years ago!), Martin Pipe (twice), with Hobbs and Jonjo taking one apiece. In short, this doesn't look like a race for the small operators.
Looking for a 5 or 9yo from the top 11 in the betting who finished in the first 9 last time between 16 and 90 days ago and is trained by one of the above produces 3 for the shortlist: Flaxen Flare, Minella Foru and Lac Fontana.
If we apply the further filters of the weight and handicap marks noted above we get rid of Flaxen Flare leaving us with just two which will be my two against the other 26!
MINELLA FORU 8/1
LAC FONTANA 10/1
CHELTENHAM 2.05 – PERTEMPS NETWORK FINAL
Fav 2/16 and second fav 0/16.
The first 12 in the betting have won 14/16 with a 50/1 winner the only major shock. All the rest were priced 20/1 or less.
All carried between 10-00 and 11-10
15/16 shouldered11-7 or less and 14/16 11-4 or less.
All rated 120-150.
14/16 rated 142 or less.
Rated within 7 lbs of RPR top – 9 of last 10
Winners have been between 6 and 10. 9yo's have the best wins to runs ratio and show a level stakes profit of 94 pts with their 5 wins from 37 runs (14%). 6yo's are next best with 5-79, (6%).
7 won their last race, two were second.
13/16 posted a first 8 finish last time.
All ran between 17 and 90 days ago.
Trainers and Jockeys
Tim Vaughan has had 6 winners from 20 runners the past fortnight. He runs First Fandango who lacks a first 8 win last time and is not in the first 12 in the betting.
Keith Reveley is 4/13 for the same period. He saddles Crowning Jewel who falls short on the same betting score plus is rated 9 lbs below RPR top.
Nicky Henderson powers on with yesterday's 14/1 Coral Cup winner contributing to his 27% strike rate the past two weeks. He has two, Mister Dillon, who is 11 lbs off the RPR top, and the very interesting Utopie Des Bordes who ticks all the main trends boxes.
Tim Easterby doesn't send many but he had the 33/1 winner, Hawk High, yesterday, and is 1/3 at the track. He has Trustan Times who is out of our betting range, carrying too much weight and 12 lbs wrong on that RPR stat.
David Pipe has a formidable record in these types of Cheltenham races and is 4 out of 12 in handicap hurdles at the course. He has won this race twice in the period we are examining from 15 runners and runs Top Wood, another to offend the RPR filter, and, from a trends point of view, one that would have a better chance, Broadway Buffalo.
This has not been a happy hunting ground for the favs and second favs so i am going to strike out the classy top weight Fingal Bay and, what looks like Hobbs' second string, If In Doubt
This leaves us with a shortlist of 4 who are from the first 12 in the betting, aged 6-10, carries 11-4 or less, rated 142- and within 7 lbs of top RPR with a top 8 run last time in the past 17 to 90 days.
They are the Philip Hobbs pair Uncle Jimmy and So Fine, (he is having a good crack at this with 5 of the 24 runners!); the bang in form Henderson yard's Utopie Des Bordes and the handicap hurdle course specialist, and dual winning yard of David Pipe, represented by Broadway Buffalo.
So Fine is right at the border of days since runs having run 90 days ago. 8 of the last 10 winners ran 20-48 days ago so we will lose him.
The same filter woud apply to Uncle Jimmy and Utopie Des Bordes but they have both run recently enough for the 16 year trends.
8 of the last 10 had won a Class 3 or higher and between two and a half miles and 2 miles six and the one remaining from the shortlist, Broadway Buffalo, falls down on the class criteria having only won at Class 4 level.
I really can't split them and, with none having the perfect profile i will invoke the age rule which shows 6 yo's have a superior strike rate, and trainer stats, making the selections:
UTOPIE DES BORDES
Cheltenham 2.40 – THE CORAL CUP
Only 2 favs have won in the 20 year history of the race – none in the last 10 years.
Second favs, like favs, have won just once in the past 16 years.
However, although there have been three 33/1 winners, this is not typically a race for big shocks as 12/16 were 16/1 or less and from the first 9 in the betting.
All were from the first 17 in the betting
All carried 11-10 or less.
14/16 carried 11-4 or less
All rated 128-148.
Rated 144 or less – 14/16
5 to 9yo's have almost identical profiles in terms of wins to runs percentages – all around 4 to 5%.
Older horses have not won but very few have tried.
8 won last race, 1 was second, 1 was third.
Of the 15/16 who completed last time, 13 had a first 6 finish.
ALL ran between 17 and 120 days ago which doesn't augur well trends-wise for Tony Martin's joint fav, Bayan.
Trainers and Jockeys
Nicky Henderson (8/25 last 14 days) has joint top weight Whisper. Nico de Boinville is 10/30 for him too.
David Pipe has a formidable 4/9 record in these types of Cheltenham races and runs current joint fav Dell Arca
Ruby Walsh has a 29% strike rate at Cheltenham for Willie Mullins and rides Indevan. Currently 20/1 – how often do you get that price for this combination?
Andrew Lynch is 3/7 for Henry de Bromhead and rides Saddlers Risk (7th last time)
Leighton Aspell is 8/23 for Emma Lavelle and rides the Grade 1 placed Timesremembered, who, strangely enough, isn't in the first 9 in the betting, 40/1 looks very generous.
Richard Johnson has a 3/5 strike rate for Donald McCain and rides the very interesting Clondaw Kaempfer. McCain landed a gamble in this two years ago with Son of Flicka.
Jack Doyle is 5/14 for Alan King but his mount finished 8th last time.
Brian Hughes is 6/18 for John Quinn and takes the ride on Calculated Risk who is not in the first 9 of the betting.
Three key things to note:
1) This is one of the most difficult puzzles of the Festival, so don't go mad with the stakes.
2) The breaking of the course record in the Champion Hurdle, and the other very fast times yesterday, indicate Firm, let alone Good, going. I would compromise and say Good to Firm. Whatever we call it the ground is riding fast.
3) Although three 33/1 shots have won, and 4 of the 16 were from further out than the first nine in the betting. i am going to use the group that account for 12/16, or 75%, of the winners – the first nine in the betting. With such a big, competitive field (just 7 lbs between RPR top rated and bottom) it is necessary to use whatever justified steps we can to narrow the field to manageable levels.
Ok, on that basis, from the first 9 in the betting:
There are three that fit the bill, ie, are 5 to 9 yo's, carry 11-2 or less, ran within the last 17-120 days, are unlikely to go off fav and ran a top 6 finish last time.
Clondaw Kaempfer looks to have been plotted up for this (along with 27 others!) and, for that reason, may go off first or second fav. Not a good omen in this race and, besides, is a complete shot in the dark on this ground. May well be better on it, but unproven.
Kaylif Aramis was running a good race a good race over the course and distance n slightly slower going when falling 2 out in the race won by Thomas Crapper in November and looks one for the shortlist.
INDEVAN has positively relished these conditions winning on this type of ground in a Punchestown maiden hurdle then a Grade 3 at Limerick before running a fine race in a Grade 2 over course and distance behind Creepy (runs in the 1.30). He was rated 143 by RPR and gets in off 137 today and looks very good value at 20/1.
I wouldn't worry too much about the lack of a recent run given the connections and the fact he has won the last twice on seasonal debut.
If I like the look of Indevan, however, i can hardly leave Timesremembered, who was 2nd and 9 lengths ahead in the Cheltenham race where Indevan finished third.
Timesremebered got within 5 lengths of Captain Cutter in a Grade 1 at Newbury next time and that form looks solid. Indevan is 6 lbs better off today and i expect him to have improved, but TIMESREMEMBERED should be in the shake up if i am right about Indevan and 40/1 is temptation enough to split my stake between the two, each way.
In a race like this it may pay well to cover one from outside the top 9 in the betting.