2020 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY FOUR (Fri 13th March 2020)

Each day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts here at GeeGeez.co.uk will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival for you!

 

DAY FOUR: Friday 13th March 2020

 

13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle   2m 1f

2019 Winner: PENTLAND HILLS (20/1)
Trainer – Nicky Henderson
Jockey – Nico de Boinville

Pluses…..

  • 20 of the last 26 winners won last time out
  • 7 of the last 11 winners were unbeaten over hurdles
  • Irish have won 4 of the last 7 runnings
  • French-breds have filled 9 of the last 15 places (last 5 runnings)
  • 11 of the last 15 came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 10 of the last 12 winners returned 13/2 or shorter in the betting
  • Respect Henderson (7 winners), Nicholls, Hobbs and King-trained runners
  • 7 of the last 16 first ran over hurdles by November (5 of the last 8 by mid-Nov)
  • 10 of the last 14 winners returned 13/2 or shorter
  • The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is a good guide
  • 9 of the last 10 winners ran in the Finesse, Adonis or Spring Juvenile Hurdles last time
  • 6 of the last 11 winners had run in France before
  • Nicky Henderson has trained 7 winners of the race
  • Gordon Elliott has had 2 wins and 2 seconds in the last 6 years

Negatives….

  • Take on horses that have won at 2m2f or further in the past
  • Avoid horses that last ran 56 days or longer ago
  • Avoid horses that had run 3 or more times over hurdles
  • Be careful of horses rated 138 or lower – no winner in the last 12
  • Willie Mullins has a poor record – currently 0-from-27


14:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle   2m 1f

2020 Winner: CH’TIBELLO (12/1)
Trainer – Dan Skelton
Jockey – Harry Skelton

Pluses….

  • The Irish have won 8 of the last 13 runnings
  • 4 of the last 12 winners ran in that season’s Coral.ie Hurdle (Leopardsotwn)
  • 13 of the last 14 winners were rated in the 130’s
  • 7 of the last 12 winners returned 20/1 or bigger
  • 5 of the last 11 winners had run in 6 or less hurdles races
  • 10 of the last 14 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
  • 12 of the last 14 winners were priced in double-figures
  • 12 of the last 16 winners began their careers on the flat
  • Look for Mullins, Martins & Nicholls-trained runners
  • Respect the Imperial Cup (Sandown Park) winner
  • 9 winners since 2002 ran in the Ladbrokes or Betfair Hurdles that season
  • 10 of the last 19 winners came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 13 of the last 16 winners were 1st or 2nd season hurdlers
  • 11 of the last 13 winners DIDN’T win last time out
  • Paul Nicholls is 4 from 28 (+18pts)
  • Willie Mullins is 4 from 33 (+46pts)
  • Trainer Dan Skelton has trained 3 of the last 4 renewals (last 2)

Negatives….

  • Strangely, previous course winners have a bad record
  • Since 1960 only 5 winners carried more than 11st 2lb
  • Since 1961, only 9 winners had run at the Festival before
  • Since 2005, just one winner rated 140+ (146 runners)
  • Avoid runners that hadn’t raced at least 4 times that season
  • Avoid horses making their handicap debuts

 

14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle   3m

2019 Winner: MINELLA INDO (50/1)
Trainer – Henry De Bromhead
Jockey – Rachael Blackmore

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Pluses….

  • 9 of the last 15 winners had run at Cheltenham over hurdles before
  • 14 of the last 15 winners contested a Graded Hurdle last time out
  • All of the last 15 winners won or placed in a Graded Novice before
  • 5 of the last 8 winners had won a Point
  • 8 of the last 15 came from the top 5 in the betting
  • 9 of the last 15 winner ran 47 days (or more) ago
  • 13 of the last 15 had run in a race over 3m
  • 12 of the last 15 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • 12 of the last 15 winners were 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 11 of the last 15 winners had 4+ runs over hurdles
  • 13 of the last 14 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 4 of the last 14 favourites won
  • Respect Jonjo O’Neill runners (2 wins)

Negatives….

  • Horses that ran in the last 23 days haven’t fared well
  • Avoid horses that DIDN’T finish 1st or 2nd last time out
  • Be wary of horses that have raced less than 3 times over hurdles
  • Willie Mullins is 1 from 35 in the race
  • 5 year-olds have a poor record
  • Only 4 of the last 15 winners hadn’t raced that calendar year

 

15:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase   3m 2½f

2019 Winner: AL BOUM PHOTO (12/1)
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend

Pluses….

  • 16 of the last 20 winners ran in the Savills Chase or King George that season
  • 17 of the last 19 finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 17 of the last 20 winners were 2nd or 3rd season chasers
  • 10 of the last 14 winners had run 9 or less times over fences
  • All of the last 20 winners were Grade 1 winners
  • 15 of the last 19 had won or placed at the Festival before
  • 16 of the last 19 winners hailed from the top 3 in the betting
  • 18 of the last 19 winners had raced no more than 12 times over fences
  • 11 of the last 12 winners ran 3 or less times that season
  • 16 of the last 23 winners were bred in Ireland
  • 11 of the last 14 winners won last time out
  • 5 of the last 14 favourites won
  • ALL of the last 20 winners were aged 9 or younger
  • Horses placed in a previous Supreme Novices’ Hurdle have a good record

 

Negatives….

  • Non-Grade One winners have a poor record
  • No winner older than 10 years-old since 1969 (0 from 71)
  • Horses rated 166 or less are only 5 from last 33
  • Avoid horses that had run on ‘heavy’ ground that season
  • Horses wearing headgear have a bad recent record
  • Willie Mullins has only won the race once (2019), 1 from 30 (had last 4 of the last 7 seconds and the 2019 winner though)
  • Only 2 winners since 2000 returned 9/1 or bigger
  • Just 1 of the last 12 winners had raced more than 3 times that season
  • Horses that were beaten in their first Gold Cup don’t fare well

 

16:10 St James’ Place Foxhunter Chase   3m 2½f

2019 Winner: HAZEL HILL (7/2 fav)
Trainer – Philip Rowley
Jockey – Mr Alex Edwards

Pluses…..

  • 25 of the last 29 winners were aged under 11 years-old
  • 25 of the last 34 won last time out
  • 6 of the last 10 winners finished in the top 5 in the race last year
  • 8 of the last 11 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
  • 27 of the last 31 started out in point-to-point races
  • 11 of the last 14 winners ran 34 days or less ago
  • Respect the Irish runners (won 6 of last 9)
  • 5 of the last 8 winners ran in the Leopardstown Inn Hunters’ Chase
  • 9 of the last 14 winners were aged 8-10 years-old
  • 8 of the last 11 winners returned 15/2 or shorter
  • 11 of the last 12 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 9 of the last 10 winners rated 134 or higher (6 of last 7, rated 138+)

Negatives….

  • Horses that ran in a handicap race that season haven’t got a good record
  • Avoid horses that hadn’t won a race under rules
  • Just 2 winners in the last 43 years aged 12 or older
  • 26 of the last 28 horses aged 11+ (priced in single figures) have lost – but the 2019 winner – Hazel Hill – defied this trend
  • Avoid ex-handicappers rated 140+ in their careers
  • Avoid horses that raced 35 days or longer ago
  • Just 1 winner since 2000 hadn’t run within the last 53 days
  • Horses aged 11+ are just 5 from 236 since 1990
  • Just 3 winners since 2000 didn’t finish in the top 3 last time out

16:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase   2m ½f

2019 Winner: CROCO BAY (66/1)
Trainer – Ben Case
Jockey – Kielan Woods

Pluses….

  • 16 of the last 20 winners carried 11st or less
  • 14 of the last 16 winners had run at the Festival before
  • 8 of the last 16 winners ran in the previous renewal
  • Irish have won 3 of the last 7 runnings
  • 8 of the last 10 winners came from outside the top 5 in the betting
  • 11 of the last 16 winners were aged 8 or older
  • Henderson, Nicholls, King-trained horses are respected
  • Respect JP McManus-owned horses (4 winners, 9 placed)
  • The last 9 winners were rated at least 138
  • 5 year-olds have a good record (from few runners of that age that have run)
  • Novices have won 5 of the last 11 runnings
  • 6 of the last 9 winners were rated between 140-147
  • 7 of the last 9 winners carried 10-11 or more in weight
  • 18 of the last 20 winners had run no more than 12 times over fences

Negatives….

  • Horses aged 10+ are just 2 win from the last 24 runnings
  • Horses that last ran 45 days or more ago have seen just 7 winners since 1990
  • Last time out winners are just 1 from last 14
  • Horses aged 6 or younger (from top 3 in the market) are just 1 from 28 since 2005
  • Just 2 winners rated 147+ since 1992
  • Horses that won a handicap chase that season have a bad recent record

 

 

17:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle   2m 4½f

2019 Winner: EARLY DOORS (5/1)
Trainer – Joseph O’Brien
Jockey – Jonjo O’Neill

Pluses….

  • 10 of the last 11 winners were 2nd season-hurdlers
  • 8 of the last 9 winners placed in the top 3 last time
  • All of the last 11 winners carried 11-1 or more
  • 10 of the last 11 winners had 8 or less runs over hurdles
  • 4 of the last 6 winners were Irish-based Novices
  • Irish have won 6 of the last 9 (5 making handicap debuts)
  • 31 of the 33 win and place horses were 1st or 2nd season hurdlers
  • Look for Henderson, Nicholls, Mullins, Elliot-trained horses
  • 9 of the 11 winners were placed in the top 4 last time out
  • 5 of the 11 winners won last time out
  • 5 of the last 6 winners had run over a longer trip that season
  • 7 of the 11 winners were rated 133-139
  • 7 of the 11 winners returned at a double-figure price (9 of the last 11 were 16/1 or less)
  • 5 and 6 year-old have won 10 of last 11 runnings
  • Look for jockeys that have ridden 20+ winners
  • Willie Mullins is 3 from 16 runners in the race (won 3 of the last 9 runnings)
  • Respect any Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners (4 winners, 5 places)
  • Paul Nicholls has won the race twice in the last 7 years
  • Gordon Elliott has won 2 of the last 3 runnings

Negatives….

  • Despite being named after his father the David Pipe stable has a poor record so far (0 from 19, inc 3 favs)
  • Just 1 winning fav in the 11-year history (7/10 returned in double-figures)
  • Horses in headgear are currently 1 from 54
  • Only 3 winners have previous Festival experience
  • Horses with 11st or less are currently 0-from-87

 

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2020 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY THREE (Thurs 12th March 2020)

Each day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts here at GeeGeez.co.uk will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival for you!

 

DAY THREE: Thursday 12th March 2020


13:30 Marsh Novices' Chase   2m 4f

2019 Winner: DEFI DU SEUIL 3/1 fav
Trainer – Philip Hobbs
Jockey – Barry Geraghty

Pluses….

  • 7 of the 9 winners were Irish-trained
  • The last 9 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • Willie Mullins has trained 4 of the last 9 winners
  • 7 of the last 9 winners had won a Graded Chase before
  • 7 of the last 9 winners had 7 or less runs over hurdles
  • 8 of the last 9 past winners had run at the Festival before (4 had won)
  • 8 of the 9 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 7 of the last 9 winners came from the top 2 in the betting
  • 8 of the last 9 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 8 of the last 9 winners returned 7/1 or shorter
  • 7 of the last 9 winners won last time out
  • 5 of the last 9 winners ran at Leopardstown last time out
  • 6 of the last 9 winners ran between 47-54 days ago
  • 7 year-olds have won 6 of last 9 renewals

Negatives….

  • Be careful of horses rated 146 or less
  • Just two British-trained winners so far
  • The top-rated horse is just 1 from 9
  • Since 1990 all Festival Novice Chase winners have been aged 8 or younger
  • 4 winning favourites in 9 runnings (1 co)
  • Just 1 of the last 9 winners had less than 3 career chase starts
  • Just 1 winner had been off for more than 54 days


14:10 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle   3m

2019 Winner: SIRE DU BERLAIS 4/1 fav
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Barry Geraghty

Pluses….

  • 8 of the last 10 winners started their careers in bumpers (6) or points (2)
  • Irish have won the last 4 runnings
  • 9 of the last 12 winners placed in their last race (5 won)
  • 10 of the last 19 winners were from outside the top 5 in the betting
  • The last 9 winners were rated 138 or higher
  • 9 of the last 13 winners were rated between 132-142 (inc)
  • The last 9 winners were rated between 138-148
  • 9 of the last 15 winners had won over at least 2m7f
  • 10 of the last 13 winners had run 10 or less times over hurdles before
  • 8 of the last 19 winners won their last race
  • 3 of the last 11 winners finished in the first 5 in the Betfair Hurdle
  • Look for Jonjo O’Neill, Twiston-Davies, Mullins and Pipe-trained runners
  • Respect JP McManus-owned horses – won it again in 2019 too
  • Trainer Gordon Elliott has won the last two runnings
  • Jockey Davy Russell has ridden 3 of the last 4 winners

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses with less than 6 runs over hurdles
  • Horses that have won 3+ times that season are just 1 from 10
  • Since 2000 only 1 winner didn’t have a run that calendar year
  • 5 year-olds have won just twice since 1973
  • French-bred horses are currently on a run of 2-86
  • All horses rated 150+ since 2000 have failed to finish in the top 2
  • 2 winning favourites in last 14 years
  • Paul Nicholls is currently 0 from 18 (One third and two 2nds in the last 6 runnings)
  • Horses aged 7 or younger and priced in single-figures are just 3 from 41


14:50 Ryanair Chase   2m 5f

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2019 Winner: FRODON (9/2)
Trainer – Paul Nicholls
Jockey – Bryony Frost

Pluses….

  • 21 of the 29 winners and runners-up had won at the course before
  • 6 of the last 7 winners were 2nd season chasers
  • 13 of the last 15 had won at Cheltenham previously
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had won a Grade 1 Chase before
  • The King George VI Chase is often a good guide (7 from 26)
  • The previous year’s renewal is often a good guide
  • 12 of the last 15 winners returned 6/1 or shorter
  • 7 of the last 8 winners were aged 7 or 8 years-old
  • 11 of the last 12 winners were rated 161+
  • 4 of the last 15 winners were placed in the top 3 in the Ascot Chase last time out
  • 11 of last 15 winners were fav or 2nd fav
  • 7 of the last 8 winners had 11 (or less) runs over fences
  • Trainers Jonjo O’Neill, David Pipe & Nicky Henderson are respected
  • Respect first time headgear (2 from 8)
  • 8 of the last 12 winners DIDN’T win last time out
  • Last 6 winners were French-bred

Negatives….

  • The Irish are 3 from 51 runners in this race
  • Avoid horses priced 7/1 or bigger
  • Avoid horses aged 11 or older
  • Just one winner rated 160 or below
  • Just 4 of the last 12 won last time out
  • All winners ran 4 or less times that season
  • No winner was having their Festival debut

 

15:30 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle 3m


2019 Winner: PAISLEY PARK (11/8 fav)
Trainer – Emma Lavelle
Jockey – Aidan Coleman

 

Pluses….

  • 11 of the last 15 won last time out
  • 11 of the last 19 winners were second season hurdlers
  • 27 of the last 30 winners aged between 6-8 years-old
  • 17 of the last 19 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 8 of the last 18 were French Bred
  • Respect the Cleeve Hurdle and Long Walk Hurdle form
  • 15 of the last 18 winners finished 1st or 2nd in all their hurdling runs that season
  • 13 of the last 15 winners started 10/1 or less in the betting
  • Respect past winners of the race
  • 15 of the last 23 winners had won 7 or less times over hurdles

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses that didn’t finish either 1st or 2nd last time out (2 from 20)
  • A 5 year-old is yet to win the race
  • Horses that have lost previously in the race don’t fare well
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has only won the race twice
  • Avoid front runners
  • The Irish are have won the race just three times since 1995
  • Avoid horses that were beaten in the race before
  • Previous Albert Bartlett winners have an overall poor record (1 from 16)
  • Horses wearing headgear are 0 from 67
  • Horses aged 10 or older have all been beaten since 1986 (0 from 55)

16:10 Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate   2m 5f

2019 Winner: SIRUH DU LAC (9/2)
Trainer – Nick Williams
Jockey – Lizzie Kelly

Pluses….

  • 27 of the last 32 winners were officially rated 141 or less
  • 10 of the last 11 winners carried under 11-0
  • Look out for French-breds
  • 10 of the last 16 winners had won a race in Feb or March
  • Venetia Williams & Pipe-trained runners should be noted
  • The Pipe yard have won 7 of the last 22 runnings
  • 16 of the last 19 winners returned at double-figure odds
  • 20 of the last 28 winners had run at the Festival before (but 7 of last 9 were having Festival debut)
  • 19 of the last 20 winners had run in no more than 16 chases
  • 7 of the last 10 winners had 9 or less chase runs
  • 17 of the last 20 winners came from outside the top 4 in the market

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses that are yet to win at Class 3 or better
  • The Irish have only sent out 4 winners since 1951
  • 2 winning favourites in the last 14 years
  • Only 3 of last 25 won with 11st+
  • Winners of a chase at Cheltenham before have an overall poor record, but the 2019 winner did defy this trend.
  • Only 2 of the last 16 winners hadn’t run that calendar year

16:50 Daylesford Mares’ Novices Hurdle 2m1f


2019 Winner: EGLANTINE DU SEUIL 50/1
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Noel Fehily

  • A new race (Just four renewals)
  • Favourites have won 3 of the four runnings
  • 3 of the last 4 winners won last time out 3 of the 4 winners were French-bred
  • 3 of the 4 winners were unbeaten that season
  • Sullivan Bloodstock owners have won 2 of the 4 runnings (just 3 runners)
  • All four winners have been aged 5 years-old
  • Willie Mullins won the race in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019
  • Owner Rich Ricci has won 2 of the last 4 runnings

17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase   3m 1½f


2019 Winner: ANY SECOND NOW (6/1)
Trainer – Ted Walsh
Jockey – Mr Derek O’Connor

Pluses….

  • Respect 8 and 9 year-olds
  • 9 of the last 12 winners failed to win earlier that season
  • 3 of the last 9 winners ran in the BetVictor Handicap Chase (Open Meeting)
  • The last 8 winners ran off a mark of 137 or more
  • 7 of the last 10 winners returned 9/1 or shorter (top three in the betting)
  • 8 of the last 10 winners carried 11st 5lbs+
    8 of the last 11 winners ran in February
  • Look for McCain, Pipe and Henderson-trained runners
  • Look for horses in the top half of the handicap
  • 18 of the last 20 winners ran over at least three miles in their last race
  • Look for non-claiming amateur riders
  • 8 of the last 9 winners wore headgear
  • 9 of the last 11 winners came from the top 6 in the market
  • Jockey Jamie Codd has ridden 4 of the last 11 winners
  • Jockey Derek O’Connor 2nd 3 times and 1st in 2019
    Owner JP McManus often does well in the race

Negatives….

  • Just three Irish winners for 36 years (but have won 3 of the last 6)
  • Horses that fell or unseated that season have a poor record
  • Avoid Paul Nicholls-trained horses – he’s just 1 placed horse from his last 21
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has a poor record in the race
  • Horses carrying less than 10-10 have a poor record
  • French breds are 0 from 59 since 2005
  • Avoid claiming jockeys – 1 from 89 since 2009
  • Just 1 of the last 17 winners won last time out

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2020 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY TWO (Weds 11th March 2020)

Each day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts here at GeeGeez.co.uk will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival for you!

 

DAY TWO: Wednesday 11th March 2020

 

13:30 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle   2m 5f


2019 Winner: CITY ISLAND 8/1
Trainer –Martin Brassil
Jockey – Mark Walsh


Pluses….

  • 13 of the last 15 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 4 of the last 6 winners were unbeaten over hurdles
  • 9 of the last 11 winners came from the top two-rated on BHA ratings
  • 15 of the last 19 winners returned 17/2 or shorter
  • 19 of the last 25 winners won last time out
  • 24 of the last 25 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • The Irish have won 10 of the last 17 (5 of last 6)
  • Horses rated 150+ do well
  • The last 10 winners all won at least one bumper race
  • All of the last 14 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
  • In the last 9 runnings Irish-trained horses have filled 15 of the 27 top 3 places
  • 19 of the last 21 were NH bred
  • 13 of the last 21 had won a graded race before
  • Look for past Irish point-to-point winners (6 of the last 10 had won an Irish Point)
  • Respect Willie Mullins – 4 winners and 7 placed in last 15 years

Negatives….

  • Only one winner aged older than 6 has won since 1974
  • Avoid 4 year-olds too – just one winner since 1991
  • Horses aged 7 or older are 0 from 55 (since 1988)
  • Only two of the last 34 winners came from outside the top 5 in the betting
  • The last 17 Challow Hurdle winners have all been beaten
  • Avoid ex-flat horses (since 2005 all have been beaten. 0 from 30 in the last 14 years)


14:10 RSA Chase   3m ½f

2019 Winner: TOPOFTHEGAME 4/1
Trainer – Paul Nicholls
Jockey – Harry Cobden

Pluses….

  • 4 of the last 11 winners ran in the Flogas Chase (Leopardstown, 4th Feb) that season
  • The last 18 winners had run in a Graded Novice Chase
  • 23 of the last 25 winners had only one previous season over hurdles
  • Respect 7 year-olds – won 11 of the last 13 (16 of last 20)
  • 9 of the last 14 winners won last time out
  • 7 of the last 10 winners were beaten on their chase debut
  • 7 of the last 12 winners had won a bumper before
  • 6 of the last 13 favourites won (50%)
  • Every winner since 1997 had their chase debut the previous year
  • Irish bred horses are 19 from the last 23
  • 8 of the last 13 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 Chase
  • 6 of the last 11 winners were trained in Ireland
  • Trainers Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls often do well in the race
  • 22 of the last 27 were novice hurdling last season
  • 4 of the last 10 winners ran in the Albert Bartlett the previous season
  • Look for horses that ran that same calendar year (51 of the last 53 winners had)
  • 10 of the last 13 winners had raced at the Festival the previous year

Negatives….

  • No winner aged 9 or older since 1992
  • Just 4 winners younger than 7 since 1978
  • Avoid horses that had fallen before over fences
  • Avoid horses that had had 2 full seasons over hurdles prior
  • Just 2 of the last 20 winners had run less than 3 times over fences
  • The last 21 winners of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Feltham, Kempton 26th Dec) have lost
  • Avoid unbeaten horses (only 2 of the last 20 winners)
  • Mares are currently 0-from-11 in the race
  • Horses in headgear are currently 0 from 29

14:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle   2m 5f

2019 Winner: WILLIAM HENRY (28/1)
Trainer – Nicky Henderson
Jockey – Nico de Boinville

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Pluses….

  • 11 of the last 15 were 2nd season hurdlers
  • 8 of the last 10 winners had run at the Festival before
  • 9 of the last 11 winners hailed from the top 8 horses in the weights
  • 8 of the last 11 winners were rated in the 140’s
  • 7 of the last 10 winners DIDN’T win last time out
  • 11 of the last 14 winners hailed form the top 7 in the betting
  • 18 of the last 25 winners won earlier that season
  • Respect JP McManus-owned runners
  • Respect trainers Nicky Henderson & Gordon Elliott (5 wins in last 10 years)
  • 9 of the last 18 winners were FRENCH-BRED
  • 13 of the last 26 won last time out
  • Respect Irish-trained runners (5 of the last 11)
  • Look for horses that had raced 4 or less times that season (last 11 winners)
  • 13 of the last 15 winners had run 32 days or longer ago (look for horses that have had a small break)
  • Trainer Gordon Elliott is 2 from 10
  • 5 year-olds do well from the small % that have run (win and place)

Negatives….

  • No winning favourite in the last 16 years
  • Only 3 winners since 2000 had run in 10+ hurdles races
  • Horses aged 10+ are just 3 from 305 to even place since 1999
  • Horses rated 150+ don’t have a great record, although the 2019 winner was rated 151
  • Only 4 of the last 19 winners had raced at the Festival previously
  • Only 3 winners since 2000 had run more than 9 times over hurdles
  • Willie Mullins won the race in 2018 and had the second in 2019, but overall has a bad record – 35 runners – just two placed inside the top 2

 

15:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase   2m

2019 Winner: ALTIOR 4/11 fav
Trainer – Nicky Henderson
Jockey – Nico de Boinville

Pluses….

  • 12 of the last 19 winners ran in the Tingle Creek Chase that season
  • 4 of the last 7 winners also won the Clarence House Chase (Ascot) that season
  • 23 of the last 35 had won at the Festival before
  • Paul Nicholls & Nicky Henderson have won 8 of the last 12 between them
  • Nicky Henderson has won 5 of the last 8
  • 14 of the last 18 winners won last time out
  • 16 of the last 17 winners had run that calendar year
  • 36 of the last 38 winners returned 10/1 or shorter
  • 15 of the last 20 winners returned 5/1 or shorter
  • 6 of the last 13 winners were French-bred
  • 11 of the last 17 winners were second season chasers
  • 13 of the last 15 winners had run 2 or 3 times that season
  • 17 of the last 21 winners came from the top 3 in the betting
  • 15 of the last 20 winners ran in the previous season’s Arkle or Champion Chase
  • 6 of the last 10 Arkle winners (previous season) to run have won
  • Past champions do well – 13 horses have won the CC more than once

Negatives….

  • Only two winners priced 11/1 or bigger in the last 37 years
  • Just 1 winner in last 15 had run 4+ times that season
  • Horses that didn’t run in that calendar year are 1-from-30
  • Top Irish trainer, Willie Mullins, is yet to win this race
  • Just 1 of the last 18 winners hadn’t won a Grade 1 Chase before
  • 12 of the last 14 winners had run in no more than 16 chases
  • Be wary of horses older than 10 – just 2 winners since 1977
  • Only 3 winners aged 6 or younger in the last 46 years
  • Just one 11 year-old winner in the last 41 years


16:10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase   3m 7f

2019 Winner: TIGER ROLL 5/4 fav
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Keith Donoghue

Pluses….

  • The Irish have won 13 of the last 15 runnings
  • Respect Enda Bolger-trained runners (won the race 5 times)
  • 18 of the last 22 winners came from the top three in the betting
  • 8 of the last 15 ran in the December Cross Country race here
  • Respect Nina Carberry, Richard Johnson and Davy Russell-ridden horses (8 from 16 between them)
  • 12 or the last 15 winners were aged 10 or younger
  • Trainer Philip Hobbs is 2 from 10 (5 placed in the top 5 too)
  • Gordon Elliott has won the last 3 runnings
  • 3 of the last 5 winners were owned by the Gigginstown Stud House

Negatives….

  • Debutants over these fences/course have a poor record
  • Avoid horses aged 7 or younger – they are only 2 from 97
  • Horses rated 126 or less have a very poor record
  • Trainer Willie Mullins is 0 from 12
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls is 0 from 13


16:50 Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle   2m ½f

2019 Winner: BAND OF OUTLAWS7/2 fav
Trainer – Joseph O’Brien
Jockey – J J Slevin  

Pluses….

  • 10 of the last 15 winners had run just 3 times over hurdles before
  • French bred horses have a good record
  • Respect Fillies
  • 7 of the last 9 winners all came from the bottom half of the weights/handicap
  • 10 of the last 15 had run in the last 25 days
  • David Pipe, Paul Nicholls, Gordon Elliot and Alan King-trained horses often do well
  • 6 of the last 8 winners returned between 25/1 and 40/1
  • 10 of the last 15 winners returned a double-figure price
  • Respect horses wearing headgear
  • 12 of the last 15 winners were ALL rated between 124-134
  • 8 of the last 12 winners were British-trained
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls has won 3 of the last 10 runnings
  • 11 of the last 15 winners had won no more than once over hurdles

 

Negatives….

  • Just 1 recent winner had last raced in January or further back
  • Trainers Willie Mullins, Philip Hobbs and Venetia Williams are 0 from 32 between them
  • Willie Mullins runners are 0 from 14 (just 1 placed in top 5 too)
  • Only 3 winners had run in a handicap hurdle before
  • No winner had raced at Cheltenham before
  • Horses with 2+ wins over hurdles are 0 from the last 10 years
  • British-bred runners are currently 0-51

 

17:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper   2m ½f

2019 Winner: ENVOI ALLEN 2/1 fav
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Jamie Codd

Pluses….

  • 25 of the last 27 had won last time out (all of last 16)
  • 20of the last 27 winners trained in Ireland
  • Respect Irish-trained runners (20 from 36)
  • 4 of the last 10 winners were won by UK-based trainers
  • 18 of the last 27 came from the top 6 in the betting
  • 20 of the last 27 were Irish-bred
  • 10 of the last 19 winners were second season horses
  • 13 of the last 14 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
  • 17 of the last 27 winners aged 5 years-old
  • 17 of the last 19 had their debut runs in Ireland
  • 11 of the last 17 had been beaten in a race before
  • 6 of the last 10 winners returned between 14/1 and 40/1
  • Respect Willie Mullins (9 winners) – also had first three in 2018, but is just 3 from last 35 runners
  • The Irish lead the British 21-7 in the race history
  • Gordon Elliott has won 2 of the last 3 runnings
  • 9 of the last 17 winners came from the top 3 in the betting

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses with 4 or more NH Flat runs
  • Just 2 winners failed to win last time out
  • 4 year-olds are 1 from 60 since 2000 (Cue Card)
  • Gigginstown, Paul Nicholls & Nicky Henderson don’t often focus on the race

 

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2020 Cheltenham Festival Trends: DAY ONE (Tues 10th March 2020)

Each day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival our horse racing trends experts here at GeeGeez.co.uk will give you all the quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival for you!

 

DAY ONE: Tuesday 10th March 2020


13:30 – SkyBet Supreme Novices' Hurdle   2m ½f

2019 Winner: KLASSICAL DREAM 6/1
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Ruby Walsh

Pluses…..

  • 20 of the last 23 winners won their last race
  • 14 of the last 16 winners had raced in at least 4 hurdles races before
  • 8 of the last 10 winners came from the first 4 in the market
  • The last 8 winners have all won a graded novice hurdle before
  • 19 of the last 25 winners ran in the last 45 days
  • Irish-trained horses have won 16 of the last 28 runnings
  • 5 & 6 year-olds have the best record – winning 14 of the last 15 runnings
  • Willie Mullins has won the race 5 times since 2007 and for 4 of the last 7 years
  • 23 of the last 25 winners had raced that same calendar year
  • Owner Rich Ricci & trainer Willie Mullins have won 3 of the last 7 runnings.

Negatives…..

  • Horses that FAILED to win last time out before coming here are just 3 from the last 23. In other words, look for horses that won last time out!
  • Since 1992 all horses (37) wearing head-gear have been beaten
  • We’ve seen just two ex-flat horses win since 2008
  • Just 2 of the last 17 winners came here unbeaten
  • Betfair Hurdle winners are 0-from-7 in the last decade
  • Nicky Henderson is 1 from 36 since 1993 (Altior his only winner for this period)

 

 

14:10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase   2m

2019 Winner: DUC DES GENIEVRES 5/1
Trainer – Willie Mullins
Jockey – Paul Townend

 

Pluses….

  • 12 of the last 15 winners had won (or been placed) at Cheltenham before
  • 12 of the last 15 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 chase before
  • 14 of the last 20 had won a Grade 1 or 2 Chase that season
  • The last 10 winners won last time out (plus 15 of the last 19)
  • 19 of the last 20 winners returned 9/1 or shorter
  • 12 of the last 13 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • 12 of the last 16 winners at run at the Cheltenham Festival previously
  • 11 of the last 19 winners were the top or second top-rated hurdler in the field
  • Nicky Henderson has won the race 6 times
  • Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 5 runnings (all French-bred)

Negatives…..

  • Only 2 of the last 33 winners failed to win of finish second last time out
  • Just two of the last 29 winners started 11/1 or bigger in the betting
  • Only 3 of the last 28 winners were older than 7 years-old
  • The last horse aged 9 (or older) to win was in 1988
  • The last 28 ex-flat horses to run have all lost
  • Only 1 winner since 2000 won with headgear
  • 5 year-olds are 0-11 in the last 12 years
  • Douvan (2016) and Altior (2017) were the first Supreme Hurdle winners (prev season) that have followed-up in this race since 1965
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls has had 12 unplaced from his last 13 runners

14:50 Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase  3m 1f 

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2019 Winner: BEWARE THE BEAR 10/1
Trainer – Nicky Henderson
Jockey – Jeremiah McGrath

 

Pluses….

  • 15 of the last 20 winners were officially rated 143 or less
  • 14 of the last 19 came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 16 of the last 20 winners returned 11/1 or shorter
  • 14 of the last 19 were novices or second season chasers
  • 7 of the last 12 winners were rated between 142-146 (6 between 142-145)
  • Horses rated 140+ have won 12 of the last 19 runnings
  • 9 of the last 17 won last time out
  • Horses that have run well in the race before have a good record
  • 3 of the last 10 winners ran in the Cleeve Hurdle that season
  • 7 of the last 8 winners wore headgear
  • 8 of the last 10 winners had run at Cheltenham that season
  • Jonjo O’Neill, Alan King, Nicky Henderson, Tony Martin & David Pipe are trainers to note
  • All winners since 2000 had won over 3m+ before
  • The last 5 winners ran at Cheltenham’s January meeting

Negatives….

  • Be a bit wary of horses carrying 11-04 or more in weight – 9 of the last 15 carried 10-12 or less, although the 2017 winner carried 11-12 & the 2019 winner won with 11-8
  • Horses aged 11 or older are just 2 from 48 to even get placed
  • Be wary of Paul Nicholls-trained horses – he’s currently 0 from 23
  • Only 1 winner in the last 11 hadn’t raced at a previous Festival
  • Only 4 winners since 2000 have returned bigger than 11/1
  • The Irish have won just 2 of the last 51 runnings (since 1967)

 

15:30 Unibet Champion Hurdle   2m ½f

2019 Winner: ESPOIR D’ALLEN 16/1
Trainer – Gavin Cromwell
Jockey – Mark Walsh

Pluses….

  • 30 of the last 36 won last time out
  • Horses unbeaten that season often do well (7 of last 9)
  • The Irish and Nicky Henderson have won 17 of the last 21 runnings between them
  • The Irish have won 13 of the last 21 runnings
  • Owner JP McManus has won 5 of the last 10 (8 in total)
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 9 runnings
  • 9 of the last 13 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • 12 of the last 21 winners had won at the Festival before
  • 23 of the last 35 winners were placed in the first 4 at the previous season’s festival
  • The Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a good guide (4 winners, 4 places in last 12 runnings)
  • 14 of the last 24 winners started as flat horses
  • Look for horses that have raced at least once that calendar year
  • Trainer Nicky Henderson has won the race 7 times, including two of the last 3 years
  • 5 of the last 11 winners contested the Christmas Hurdle (Kempton)

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses that failed to finish in the top three last time out
  • 5 year-olds are just 2 from 102 since 1985, but the 2019 winner was a 5 year-old
  • Since 1927 we’ve only seen 2 winners aged 10 or older (0-28 in the last 37 runnings)
  • Just 1 of the last 13 winners had raced more than 12 times over hurdles
  • Christmas Hurdle (Kempton, 26th Dec) winners are just 3 from 27
  • Just 2 horses have regained the race since 1975

 

16:10 Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle   2m 4f

2019 Winner: ROKSANA 10/1
Trainer – Dan Skelton
Jockey – Harry Skelton

 

Pluses….

  • Follow Irish-trained mares (10 of last 12)
  • The favourite (or 2nd fav) have won 10 of the last 12 runnings
  • 7 of the last 12 favourites have won
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had won over at least 2m4f
  • Willie Mullins have trained 9 of the last 11 winners
  • Look for Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson, Paul Nolan & Alan King runners
  • Novices generally do well
  • 9 of the last 12 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 before
  • 6 of the last 8 winners had won over 2m6f+ before
  • Horses that began their careers in bumpers have done well
  • Respect French-bred mares – won 9 renewals
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had won (or placed) in a graded race against the males

Negatives….

  • Avoid front-runners
  • British-bred mares are currently 0-78 (only 7 have been placed)
  • All 27 runners to wear headgear have been beaten (just 1 placed)
  • Be wary of Paul Nicholls, Philip Hobbs and Noel Meade runners
  • No ex-flat horses have won the race yet

16:50 Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase   2m 4½f

2019 Winner: A PLUS TARD
Trainer – Henry De Bromhead
Jockey – Rachael Blackmore

 

Pluses….

  • 11 of the last 15 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had run 3 or 4 times over fences
  • 14 of the last 15 winners had won no more than twice over fences (11 had won no more than once)
  • 14 of the last 15 winners raced in the last 45 days
  • Respect 6 and 7 year-olds
  • 3 of the last 7 winners ran in the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase
  • 6 of the last 15 winners had run at the Festival before
  • Look for any horses wearing first-time headgear
  • 6 of last 11 won last time out
  • 8 of the last 13 winners had run in a bumper race before
  • 13 of the last 15 winners returned 12/1 or shorter
  • Respect JP McManus-owned runners (1 win, 3 2nds, 1 3rd)
  • Respect Henderson, O’Neill & Hobbs runners

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses outside the top five in the betting
  • Avoid horses with less than 4 starts in the last 12 months
  • The Irish are just 2 from the last 15 runnings
  • Look for horses rated 141 or higher

 

17:30 National Hunt Challenge Chase   3m6f

2019 Winner: LE BREUIL 14/1
Trainer – Ben Pauling
Jockey – Jamie Codd

 

Pluses…..

  • 11 of the last 18 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 10 of the last 14 winners were aged 7 or 8 years-old
  • Favourites have won 3 of the last 10 runnings
  • 4 of the last 9 winners were top-rated
  • 5 of the last 9 winners had run in a Grade One Novice Chase that season
  • 7 of the last 13 had run in a chase at Cheltenham before that season
  • 7 of the last 10 winners had run at a previous Cheltenham Festival
  • Note horses wearing headgear
  • 7 of the last 9 winners were rated 145 (or more)
  • Look out for JP McManus-owned (6 winners) runners
  • Jonjo O’Neill has trained 6 winners in the race
  • Jockey Derek O’Connor has 2 wins / 4 places (from 14 rides)
  • Derek O’Connor, Jamie Codd & Patrick Mullins have won 6 of the last 9 (2 each)
  • Gordon Elliott has won the race 3 times from just 7 runners

Negatives….

  • 5 and 6 year-olds are just 2 from 80 since 1989
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls has NEVER won this race - he’s currently 0 from 18
  • Trainer Nicky Henderson has NEVER won this race
  • Horses with less than 3 chase starts don’t fare well
  • Horses rated in the 130’s have a poor record (1 from 8)

 

 

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The REAL Reason The Irish Dominated Cheltenham

Last week, British-trained horses received a 'doing' the like of which had never before been witnessed. The Irish minority rode, almost literally, roughshod over the vast numerical superiority of the domestic defences in a manner that suggested this was more than a mere perfect storm.

One leading Irish trainer has mooted that the root cause lies in British racing's infatuation with high value handicaps, but that feels wide of the mark. Others argue that the Irish are better at 'plotting one up': even if that's true, the extent to which they outmanoeuvred both the BHA handicapping team and the British training ranks also feels somewhat of a convenient pigeonhole.

No, as always, the answer is likely to be far more nuanced than 'this' or 'that'; more likely a combination of elements which have been brewing for some time. To understand what went wrong this time, a spot of historical context is required. Let's start with the most basic of barometers, the UK vs Ireland tally for the last five Cheltenham Festivals.

 

Trainer location of winning horses, Cheltenham Festival 2012-17

Year Races UK Ire
2012 27 22 5
2013 27 13 14
2014 27 15 12
2015 27 14 13
2016 28 13 15
2017 28 9 19

 

This chart tells the story rather more succinctly:

 

Ireland's dominance is no overnight shock

Ireland's dominance is no overnight shock

 

In terms of pure winners, Ireland has been improving its tally significantly since 2013, and actually only enhanced their win score by four this term. That, of course, equates to an eight race swing and the smallest number of prizes for the home team ever.

But win samples are typically small, however, and this one is restricted to just 28 (27 prior to the introduction of the mares' novices' hurdle last year) races. So what of the place data?

 

Trainer location of placed horses, Cheltenham Festival 2012-17

Year Places UK Ire
2012 91 58 33
2013 90 53 35
2014 92 56 36
2015 92 48 44
2016 93 48 45
2017 94 53 41

 

Here's the chart for the place data:

 

The place data is a little more equivocal

The place data is a little more equivocal

 

Notice how there is convergence in the place data but not the overlap of the win graph? This is significant because it suggests that the emerald dominance of 2017, while hardly a surprise, has been magnified somewhat by the microcosm of the winners dataset.

[Incidentally, I prefer places to percentage of runners beaten because, aside from the challenges of quantifying non-completions, many horses are eased off significantly when their chance has gone, thus further muddying what is already at best translucent water]

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Before moving on, let us also consider the number of placed horses as a percentage of the number of runners from UK and Ireland. This obviously requires us to know the number of runners from each 'country' taking part, which gets interesting. Check this out:

 

Placed horses as a percentage of runners (right hand columns)

Year Runners UK Ire Places UK Ire UK% Ire%
2012 483 356 126 91 58 33 16.29% 26.19%
2013 464 355 106 90 53 35 14.93% 33.02%
2014 487 363 121 92 56 36 15.43% 29.75%
2015 468 321 146 92 48 44 14.95% 30.14%
2016 492 346 143 93 48 45 13.87% 31.47%
2017 488 325 160 94 53 41 16.31% 25.63%

*there have been a few non-UK/Irish runners as well, hence the small disparity between total runners and the UK/Ire aggregate

 

In case you missed it, let me help you out:

  1. The home team had a higher percentage of their horses placed last week than in any other Festival in the sample.
  2. Ireland registered its lowest percentage of placed horses to runners in the six year sample period last week.

 

Why? Simple. Ireland had their biggest raiding party since 2012 (at least), and Britain had very close to its smallest defensive battalion, 2017's 325 only surpassed by 2015's 321 (spread across one fewer race).

The graph of places as a percentage of runners looks like this:

 

Cheltenham Festival places as a percentage of runners: UK vs Ireland

Cheltenham Festival places as a percentage of runners: UK vs Ireland

 

In terms of the numerical strength of the Irish team, between 2012 and 2014 their runners amounted to circa 25%, against a British squad of 75%. From 2015 to 2017, that quarter to three-quarters was more like a third to two-thirds. Last week, Irish runners accounted for 32.8% of the entries, their highest figure as a percentage of runners in the sample, and fully ten per cent more in absolute terms than any other year (160 versus their next largest team of 146, in 2015).

So it may actually be the quantity as much as the quality of the Irish runners that is responsible for their huge margin of victory in everyone's favourite pointless contest, the Betbright Cup.

Why?

We now join the ranks of the hand-wringers to ask why the Irish are winning more Cheltenham Festival races. As noted above, the question doesn't relate solely to the most recent renewal, but to each one since 2013. What has changed during that time to bring about such an upturn in Irish fortunes? Let's consider three possible contributory factors:

- Prize money

- Handicap ratings

- Purchase price / source of acquisition

Prize Money

Willie Mullins posited over the weekend that perhaps owners want to have horses trained in Ireland due to the greater prize money, and because of the lesser programme book reliance on higher value handicaps. A quick review of last week's winners lends some credence to Willie's mullings: of the 19 Irish-trained winners, eight of them by my reckoning - Special Tiara, Supasundae, Sizing John, Yorkhill, Nichols Canyon, Let's Dance, Penhill and Rock The World - are owned by 'Brits'.

But with the exceptions of exiled Americans, Susannah Ricci and Mrs Rowley-Williams (now moved back to US), owner of Special Tiara, the others all have horses trained in Britain as well. True, the Wylies seem to be phasing out their Paul Nicholls team, but this looks more in the Gigginstown vein of performance-based decision-making rather than as a result of prize money, though a case can certainly be made for the latter...

The below table shows the five year prize money accrued by four of the top owners to have split their teams across UK and Ireland (figures derived from ownership data at RacingPost.com).

 

Owner Ire Prize Ire Runs Ire £/Run UK Prize UK Runs UK £/Run Differential
Ricci £4,262,102 545 £7,820 £2,462,702 116 £21,230 2.71
Potts £1,644,110 456 £3,606 £769,725 50 £15,395 4.27
Wylie £1,910,689 174 £10,981 £1,701,885 209 £8,143 0.74
McManus £8,960,364 4238 £2,114 £7,994,949 2669 £2,995 1.42

 

Although there is unquestionably some 'cause and effect' as a result of these owners having won at Cheltenham, that's precisely why they're included in the table. The 'Differential' column shows that, while the Wylies won only 74% as much from their UK endeavours compared with their Irish portfolios, Teams Ricci and Potts did much, much better with their British teams.

But probably the best barometer of this line of argument is JP McManus. Ol' Green n'Gold supports racing to a huge degree on both sides of the pond, and it can clearly be seen on which side his bread is best buttered. McManus' UK contingent net him 42% more per run than his Irish legion.

The fact is that Willie Mullins has performed incredibly well - peerlessly, in fact - at the Cheltenham Festival for a number of years. That success brings 'overseas investment', regardless of whether there are valuable Graded pots or handicaps in the run of things. Indeed, owners like Ricci are on record as saying that they are not interested in winning outside of Cheltenham in March, a week which is the alpha and omega of their involvement in the ownership game.

So whilst there is some smoke to Mullins' contention, it seems unlikely there is much in the way of fire generating those plumes.

Handicap Ratings

More interesting, perhaps, and going beyond the handicap races, is the allocation of handicap ratings. Much has been made - before, during and since the Festival - of the re-assessment of Irish horses for British races. The consensus beforehand from the Irish camp was that this was unjust. With the raiders claiming seven of the ten handicap prizes, there is less crabbing now than before, but the question remains: why were the Irish horses largely elevated from their domestic perches?

The answer may lie not in the errancy of the Irish handicapper's work, but perhaps in a general overstatement in the British figures. Put another way, it may be that the British horses are rated too highly by the BHA 'cappers rather than the Irish too low by theirs.

To be brutally honest, I struggled to think of an effective (and time-efficient) method to test this hypothesis, and so will leave it as a question that others of appropriate informational means may crunch and confirm/refute the suggestion.

I definitely have a 'feeling' that some horses, especially in the two mile divisions, both hurdle and chase, have been significantly over-rated. Such conjecture should have no place in a pseudo-empirical article, so I'll leave it at that.

UPDATE: I've been made aware of two articles from last year covering the inflation in UK ratings. This one is from Simon Rowlands, and this one from Kevin Blake, are both excellent corroboration of the perception which, it seems, is more than that.

Purchase Price / Source

One thing that fascinates me, as a jealous owner peering through the windows into the Tattersalls Cheltenham sale and the like, is how purchase price and source impact on Festival prospects. As more largely untested stock changes hands for north of £300,000 a head, is there any evidence of a correlation between purchase price and performance in the Cotswolds in March? Or are the winners arriving in the hands of their owners by other means than public auction?

To evaluate this, I looked at the winners of the last six renewals of each of the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayers' Hurdle and Gold Cup. That's the same time frame used above for the UK / Ireland comparisons and gives us 24 horses - minus multiple winners - to look at. Remarkably, the only multiple winner in the period was Sprinter Sacre, whose story is an interesting one to which we'll briefly return shortly.

Of the 23 individual winners of the four main Championship races since 2012, 15 were acquired privately. The remaining eight including two home-bred's - Synchronised and Coneygree, both Gold Cup winners - and six purchased for or by their current owners at public auction.

The highest price paid at public auction for a winner of the Champion Hurdle (one), Stayers' Hurdle (two), or Gold Cup (three) was the £75,000 Jim Culloty (on behalf of Dr Ronan Lambe) gave for Lord Windermere.

This year's Gold Cup winner, Sizing John, was bought as a yearling for just €16,000, Thistlecrack cost €43,000, and Bob's Worth (RSA and Gold Cup winner) was a mere £20,000. Using 90p to €1 as a conversion metric, the six Championship winners sold at public auction averaged at £32,717. The median was £24,100.

We also know something of some of those acquired privately. For example, we know that Champion Chaser, Sire De Grugy, was bought for €50,000. And it is reputed that Sprinter Sacre, who won two Champion Chases, was part of a 'job lot' of 22 horses purchased from France for €300,000. While it may be unwise to apportion that price tag equally across the whole draft, we do arrive at a figure of €13,636, or £12,272 using the 90p/€1 conversion principle. For us small-time syndicateers there is something comforting in such mathematical folly.

Perhaps Cole Harden is worth a mention, too. He was led out not sold at £30,000 after winning his debut bumper. Acquired privately soon after, it is highly possible that the purchaser paid in the region of £35,000 given that the auctioneer will usually 'phantom bid' up to just below the reserve price.

It seems that only fools rush in via the sales ring and, although the auction houses probably don't want to admit it, they appear to be doing considerably better than purchasers from these multi-hundred thousand pound/euro deals over jumps: most of the best horses are either bought privately or snapped up for relative pennies.

In Summary...

There are a number of key takeaways from the data posted in this article. Probably the hardest to swallow is that Ireland actually under-performed against their numerical representation this year, in spite of 'winning' 19-9 in terms of race victors.

The natural selectivity of Irish runners - it's a long, expensive journey for a horse with no chance - is also a factor, though this year was one where expense was waived in favour of 'having a runner' more than ever before. This was supported by those higher Irish handicap ratings, meaning more of their horses actually got a run than would have been the case of their domestic pegs.

Tully East (Ire 133, UK 138), winner of the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase, was the most notable beneficiary as his Irish mark was insufficient to make the cut for the race.

There is unlikely to be anything material in the Mullins line about British fascination with a handicap-driven programme, certainly if the major owners are anything to go by. But I'm fascinated by the evidence published by Messrs Rowlands and Blake around potential inflation in UK handicap ratings: it looks like there may well be something in that.

And if you love the idea of owning a Cheltenham Festival champion, it would appear that your best chance is to either a) acquire privately, either from France or from a small stable out of an Irish bumper; or b) buy a relatively cheap ticket at the sales and hope that your luck is in!

So here's to next year, when I expect Ireland to have less winners, perhaps significantly less on the evidence of their overall performance rather than merely the microcosm of the winners' enclosure.

Matt

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