Cheltenham 2010: Arkle Preview

It's now less than three weeks until the Cheltenham Festival, dear reader, and I've been scouring the form and trends for the first big novice chase of that illustrious meeting, the Irish Independent Arkle Trophy.

Reviewing the last ten runnings (stretching back to Flagship Uberalles in 1999, due to foot and mouth in 2001), there are some interesting lines that give a number of the highly fancied runners a fair bit to do.

I uncovered the following trends:

Age: 9/10 5-7yo (5/10 7yo)
SP: 5/4 - 11/1 (Ave: 13/2)
Chase Runs: 1-5 (Ave: 3.5; 8/10 3-5 runs)
Chase Wins: 10/10 at least one win; only 4/10 won all starts; Ave 74% wins
Best Chase Run: 9/10 1st Cl4+ Nov Ch; 7/10 1st or 2nd G2+ Nov Ch
LTO: 8/10 1st or 2nd (plus one faller and one 3rd)
Layoff: 23-65 days (Ave: 39 days)
Trained: 8 UK, 2 Ire
Best Hurdles: 9/10 won over hurdles; 6/10 1st G1/2 Hdle
Cheltenham Form: 6/10 1st or 2nd; 3 never raced there; 1 4th Ballymore
Official Rating: 147-154 (Ave: 151; 7/10 No OR)
Topspeed: 112-150 (Ave: 140; 9/10 138-150)
Racing Post Rating: 131-167 (Ave: 151; 8/10 141-167)

The only winner in the last decade older than 7, was the extremely high class Moscow Flyer, who went on to win two Queen Mother Champion Chases.

Captain Cee Bee, the 7/2 favourite for the race this year, is nine. The last 9yo to win was Danish Flight, back in 1988, and before that it was Sir Ken in 1956. I'd want to be against the old boy on 16th March.

Sizing Europe, second or third favourite in most lists, is an 8yo and doesn't look to be Moscow Flyer class. Moreover, he has a big black mark against his name with the way he went out like a light when looking good in the Champion Hurdle last year.

The biggest priced winner since 1999 was Flagship Uberalles, at just 11/1. In fact, it's twenty years since a longer priced horse took the Arkle.

No Arkle winner has won on fencing debut, so Mikael D'Haguenet has a mountain to climb, if he even gets to Cheltenham. Furthermore, all of the last ten Arkle winners had already won a chase, but 6/10 had been beaten in their chase careers.

70% of winners in the last ten renewals had placed 1st or 2nd in a Grade 1 or 2 race. Captain Cee Bee fell on his only Graded chase start, behind Sizing Europe.

All of the last 22 winners, except Moscow Flyer (fell) and Contraband (3rd) finished in the first two on their previous start. Osana could only manage 3rd last time out.

Despite the race being sponsored by the Irish Independent, and boasting Moscow Flyer on its alumni list, the Brits have won eight of the last ten, compared to Ireland's two. The Irish are always well represented, both numerically and at the top of the market, so this seems to be a material stat. (Side note, Forpadydeplaster did strike for the Irish last year!)

It's especially interesting in the context of four of the first seven in the market being Irish. [Note, I have excluded Long Run from calculations, as he seems certain to race in the RSA Chase.]

Of the last ten winners, six had finished first or second at Cheltenham previously, one finished fourth in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the Festival (Forpadydeplaster), and three were making their first visit. So, whilst we can't exclude Cheltenham debutants, we should be wary of horses who have failed to perform when they have raced there.

This counts against The Nightingale, Shakervilz, Mad Max and Kangaroo Court.

Looking at the figures from the Racing Post, pretty much all of the runners at the top of the market fit within the Racing Post Rating bracket, so these data are not too instructive. However, if we review the Topspeed figures, we get a different perspective.

9/10 recorded a Topspeed best of 138-150. Sports Line and An Cathaoir Mor, amongst others, have a lot to find in terms of raw speed (though they have been racing on heavy ground).

Applying all this info to the likely field for the Arkle points squarely at one horse for me. He's two from three over fences, finishing second in a dawdle race last time (reminding me of Tidal Bay in the process); he's from THE top stable of Paul Nicholls; he's the right age; has won a Grade 2 novice chase already; had the right layoff; and has little or nothing to find on both speed and form ratings.

Step forward Tataniano. When he got beaten in that muddling race last time, Nicholls was quick to blame himself, saying he shouldn't have run the horse on the soft ground and over the 2m2f trip. Taking it as read that Tataniano is (much) better on better ground and over two miles (and also assuming that Cheltenham will be good to soft or firmer!), Tataniano represents great value at 16/1 (William Hill), and I reckon he must be shorter on the day.

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The liveliest outsider might well be French Opera, should he run in the race. He's far more exposed than most, having had seven chase runs stretching as far back as November 2008 (I'm not sure why he's still a novice, but he is). But he has the best speed figures in the race, has won three on the bounce (including his last two here at Cheltenham, beating decent experienced handicappers), and is trained by Nicky Henderson - a man with few peers at Cheltenham. I much prefer his chance to Henderson's other fancied runner, Riverside Theatre, who hasn't run since 27th December and will now go straight to the Festival. Frenchie on the other hand is entered on Saturday in a hurdle race, in order to get him up to race fitness.

The one reservation I have about French Opera is that he might well go for something like the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual, a handicap over the Arkle trip and named in honour of Henderson's father (!). The weights are out, I believe, this Friday, so it might be prudent to wait until then before striking a wager. If he does go for the Arkle though, I can see him running a nice race at a nice price.

If you want to look at the data, after the problems with Excel for the Grand National dataset earlier in the week, I've created a pdf version this time.

View Matt's Arkle dataset here.

Selection: Tataniano (16/1, William Hill)

Best value outsider: French Opera (33/1 general, 48 on Betfair win, 12 Betfair place for a few pennies) - hold fire until the handicap declarations are made - I think on Friday.


Now then, it's been a while so I guess it was overdue. Last night / this morning, I lost my rag with a few of the commenters on the blog. My dander was up by the pedantry brigade which, in fairness, is tantamount to hypocrisy on my part, as I'm such a pedant myself. I was probably more annoyed with me than them.

[The problem, chaps, is that I write this as I would speak to a friend, and I do make grammatical errors in my conversational speech alas.]

But that was as nothing to the acute irritation I felt when my integrity was brought into question regarding my review of the Betfair Conspiracy.  You see, I offer my opinions on here to anyone who cares to listen, and I proudly offer them on a completely unbiased and independent basis.

Where I do have a personal interest, such as with Horse Racing Experts or any other of my products, I absolutely make that clear.

When it comes to system reviews, I am only able to review products for up to a month due to:

a) the time overhead, and

b) the sheer volume of systems released

As such, it's difficult to give anything other than a flavour of what the system is about and how it performs in that microcosm of time that it took its turn in the Geegeez spotlight.

When I review products, I present the facts, and I offer an opinion. Facts are incontrovertible, my opinion is debatable. And I welcome healthy debate, as we very often have in the comments section.

What I don't particularly welcome, and what has caused me quite a personal disappointment, is people questioning my honesty and integrity. Those personal traits mean far more to me than the relatively small beer I receive in commissions on the rare occasions when I make a favourable review (probably less than one in five system reviews ends favourably).

And, on the subject of commissions, I have long since added some verbiage to my 'About' page, explaining how reviews on Geegeez work. You can read that here:

In short, I stand by my review yesterday (of course), and I respect the opinions of others who believe the system will ultimately fail. I respect their opinions, but I don't agree with them, based on my own rudimentary research.

But I draw the line when people suggest I'm being dishonest as that I find personally offensive.

Anyway, (more than) enough already.

On the interesting and relevant comments about Betfair Conspiracy, there was a concern aired about liquidity. That is, would the amount of people wanting to bet the same horse in the place market cause the price to full considerably.  I can tell you that the place market for the 2.45 race contained £174,416, of which £64,407 was matched on our selection. That is, there's plenty of cash available to back these horses.

I identified the following races to play on the Betfair Conspiracy system today:

1.50 Ludlow (I didn't play, too short - WON - 1.12)

2.45 Lingfield - WON - 1.41

3.55 Lingfield (I'm not playing, too short)

6.00 Kempton

I also considered but discounted on form grounds the following races:

3.10 Doncaster

5.20 Doncaster

You may have a slightly different view of the selections from me, which is fine, as the system is methodological as opposed to absolute (if that makes any sense).

You can still get Betfair Conspiracy here.

[Sidenote: I know you know this, but I'll just remind you again that if you click that link and decide to buy, I will receive a part of your purchase price. You will pay no more than if you acquired the product directly from the vendor, but my company - Summum Bonum Ltd - will receive a credit.]

Sorry for the rambling rant, and thank you for bearing with me there.

Have a great day!


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33 replies
  1. Avatar
    Big Jim says:

    What a load of codswallop. Keep selling the systems Matt as Captain Cee Bee wins and the simple fact is he is the best horse in the race.

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Now that’s what I call an opinion, Big Jim! Love it. He’s beaten four trees and is an old man, but you make him the best horse…. (just kidding – he might win, but he wouldn’t be for me at 7/2 or even 17/2) 😉


  2. Avatar
    John Boyle says:

    Hi,Matt! I can completely understand your chagrin when your integrity is called into question. I have been backing horses for neigh,(sorry!) nigh on 35 years and can remember when punters were dependent on newspaper and radio tipsters to inform their decision-making. Nowadays, we punters have so much info at our fingertips(literally!) thanks to people like you and Gavin. Instead of wasting money buying the systems out there, and there are many, you take the time to give us your considered opinion. All I can say,mate, is thanks and do your best to ignore the cynics.

  3. Avatar
    DAVE says:

    I hope I didn’t start anything with the pedantry comment, it was merely a gotcha. I’m with Big Jim on Captain Cee Bee but I can’t reason as well as you Matt. However, if reason found us winners then the bookies would be out of business! I took the 20-1 double special Stan James is offering for Denman and Captain Cee Bee. That’s not a bad shout for 20s.

  4. Avatar
    Paul says:

    Hi Matt
    Thanks a lot for the Arkle research this is what every serious punter needs leading up to the festival cold hard facts not the usual hype and opinion that tempts punters to lump on short priced horses that get turned over year after year at cheltenham.Please keep it coming.
    All the Best

  5. Avatar
    Tony Ive says:

    Hi Matt.

    My Grand Dad always used to tell me “There’s a dick in every pair of trousers”. Of course women didn’t wear trousers in those days. I suppose the verbiage could be slightly changed to suit.

    You make your reviews based on your experience. You expose your financial interest. It is plain that the financial interest is not always best served by your review. Ergo the review is not biased towards your personal financial gain.

    You provide a facility to allow people to make comment. That comment should always be polite, even pithy on occasion but always polite. Comments should always be recorded as opinion only unless there is irrefutible proof to the contrary.

    At no time should people become abusive or make accusations. If they don’t like the content or feel it is suspect, they should cancel their subscription and leave the site forever. But, that’s only my opinion.

    Regards Tony Ive.

  6. Avatar
    Paul says:

    And just a quick comment,when bookies start offering specials on doubles and trebles ect I start looking closely for the one that’s going to lose.

  7. Avatar
    Chris says:

    Well, I’m off to William Hill for a bit of the 16/1. Backing ante post favourites has never worked for me.

  8. Avatar
    Doug says:

    Hi Matt,
    I trust your integrity and based on that and my own observations, decided to invest in Conspiracy (what a daft name). It is, i believe a sound system and is an extension of what a lot of us may already be doing. The system hones the logic i have been using and i am giving it a go. Interesting to see your choices for today, all of which i agree with plus i have added the 4.45 at Doncaster.
    I also backed the nomination in the 3.10 at Donnie, you were right, it didn’t place and i lost my dosh! Still, early days and i will keep the faith.

  9. Avatar
    CG says:

    Out of curiosity Matt, when you’re up front about your affiliate commissions, why do you cloak your links?

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Crawford,

      No particular reason. I just started using that on my Irish site, and thought it looked a lot ‘cleaner’, so introduced it on Geegeez too. If you click, for instance the Betfair Conspiracy link (, it changes in the website address bar to hop=mbisogno (i.e. an affiliate link).

      So nothing nefarious about it (obviously), and I hope that answers your question.


  10. Avatar
    phil says:

    hi Matt

    is there anychance you can put the selections for the day up before racing starts for this new system your trialing

    Cheers Phil

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Phil

      I’ll try to put the races I’m looking at each day, as I have done today. But time constraints – especially on Mondays and Fridays when I’m in the gym – mean that won’t always be possible.

      Best Regards

  11. Avatar
    CG says:

    I didn’t think it was anything underhand, it just link cloaking is rife on sites of the type yours was being accused of being yesterday! I was just curious if it had maybe sparked off yesterdays debate.



    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      No idea, Crawford. Suspect it was just my turn to be popped at! I think everyone takes a turn at that, no? 😉


  12. Avatar
    John. says:

    Hi Matt,
    I am sure that the people who are having a Pop have never met you. I have and I know what a Decent lad you are. Keep up the Good work.

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Thanks John and Gillian (and others), for your kind words.

      I do my best, and for some that won’t always be good enough. But it always lets me sleep at night. I don’t believe many in this line can say that…

      Thanks again,

  13. Avatar
    Gillian says:

    Matt, you need a hug.
    My nearest and dearest asked the conspiracy dude for some past results. The answer he got back , “We dont keep past results.”
    How very interesting.

  14. Avatar
    Peter Hodges says:

    Hi Matt, I like the Arkle research but you’ve missed out on the winner. I reckon sommersby is the best bet on the Tuesday at Cheltenham.
    Best wishes Pete.

  15. Avatar
    Gordon Calvert says:

    Hi Matt,
    Some people in this world just don’t appreciate things people like your good self do for them, they are totally disrespectful and well out of order, perhaps they even have a hidden agenda, who knows?. Please keep up the good work, your a top man.
    All the best,

  16. Avatar
    Joyce says:

    Tony has said it all for me! I really appreciate the time and effort
    you do on this blog, your integrity has never been in question for me!

  17. Avatar
    jon says:

    Hi Matt

    in all respects to matt he puts a lot of time into the things he does, i for one have received many a free offering from him and appreciate it very much, ive also had the priviledge of meeting him and he came across as a decent genuine bloke, at the end of the day if you dont like something he reviews its your money dont buy it and dont make it personal, keep up the good work matt i know the majority of people appreciate what you do on here.

    Jon (Bristol)

  18. Avatar
    richard dymond says:

    Hi Matt
    I love your trend analysis,keep up the good work and the system monitoring is just a bonus if you manage to uncover a good one .
    Maybe there’s a bit of jealousy at the success of your site.Need I say more?
    Good Luck

  19. Avatar
    Graeme says:

    Some people will never appreciate what actually goes into reviewing s system. For me reading your reviews are a gold mine and have helped me avoid expensive mistakes. It must take a great deal of time and effort to review the masses of the latest “quit your job” “be a gazillionaire starting from £50” systems out there. Ignore the slaggers and IMO get MORE active in your reviews. As neitch said “what does not kill us only makes us stronger” So stick the boot in Matt.

  20. Avatar
    Mike Brennan says:

    Hi Matt
    Hugely entertaining and informative site….Don’t change. Of course we (should) all know about clicks and commissions regarding recommendations, but that’s business.
    I hope i’ll see you at Cheltenham to give you a pat on the back, instead of the one or two knives that are out there. I’ll be in the Best Mate stand along with about 100 other loud social club members. I’ll keep a look out for you on the Thursday and Friday. No doubt Gavin will be around as well i hope.
    Great work matt
    Mike (Sunny Clacton)
    ps how’s night orbit? The jockeys appears to have recovered okay. What chance the horse today?

  21. Avatar
    david w says:

    Hi Matt

    I agree wholeheartedly with all the positive comments you’ve received. If it wasn’t for your hard work my gambling would be much less informed (and fun too boot.)

    Dunguib though…? Irish hot things don’t have the best record in this and 4/6 looks a rotten price. Thought you were sweet on Loosen my Load (as am I)?

    Keep smiling as you pick up those toys!!

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Thanks David. I still like Loosen each way, and he is certainly unexposed enough to surprise. But Dunguib has looked a monster and his speed figures are massive too. The twaddle being spouted about his jumping is ridiculous. He’ll definitely jump better in a faster run race (definitely, that is, in my opinion!), and – whilst I won’t be piling into 4/6 – I find it hard to see him beaten.

      As you say though, many an infallible hotpot gets rolled over at Cheltenham…


  22. Avatar
    Andy says:

    Hi Matt, never replied before but always read your articles. It amazes me how people have the time to be negative when we all know that the only way forward in life is to be positive. So keep your fantastic articles, reviews, ideas and suggestions coming as they help me to decide on my daily investments as well as being a good read ‘to boot’.

    Take care

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Thanks a lot Andy (and Tony and all the others).

      I’m genuinely humbled and heartened by your collective kindness, and the number of people asking for reviews of other systems restates the general faith placed in comment on this site. Faith, I might add, that I value massively and would never dream of abusing for a handful of commissions.


  23. Avatar
    Ronnie Nicolson says:

    Betfair conspiracy..srely given the track record of these systems its unlikely to be a winner.
    In any case the maths is..the average price of the winners will be 1.35 and at that price a 75% strike rate is required to profit.
    the actual strike rate of these horses I am reliably informed is 71%..

    • Avatar
      Matt Bisogno says:

      Hi Ronnie

      Not sure how reliably you can have been informed on this one, for reasons I’ve outlined elsewhere in the comments section. Appreciate your comment (as always), and time will tell!


  24. Avatar
    ron.goodall says:

    to matt
    read all the above notes [ you say and write as you see it ]
    that will do for me regards ron goodall

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