Cheltenham Festival Tips and Trends – (DAY TWO: Weds 14th March 2018)

Cheltenham Festival Tips and Trends - (DAY TWO: Weds 14th March 2018)

Each day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival here at TRAINERS-QUOTES we give you our quick-fire positive and negative stats for EVERY Cheltenham Festival race. Apply these trends 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.

Did you know 15 of the last 19 Champion Chase winners came from the first three in the betting?

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival for you……………………………………

 

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY TWO:


Wednesday 14th March 2018

 

13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle   2m 5f

2017 Winner: WILLOUGHBY COURT (14/1)
Trainer –Ben Pauling
Jockey – David Bass

Pluses….

  • 11 of the last 13 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 13 of the last 17 winners returned 17/2 or shorter
  • 12 of the last 18 winners won last time out
  • The Irish have won 7 of the last 12
  • All of the last 12 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
  • In the last 7 runnings Irish-trained horses have filled 12 of the 21 top 3 places
  • 17 of the last 19 were NH bred
  • 12 of the last 19 had won a graded race before
  • Look for past Irish point-to-point winners (5 of the last 8 begin their careers in Irish points)
  • Respect Willie Mullins – 4 winners and 6 placed in last 13 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 52 (since 1988)
  • Only two of the last 32 winners came from outside the top 5 in the betting
  • The last 16 Challow Hurdle winners have all been beaten
  • Avoid ex-flat horses (since 2005 all have been beaten, 0 from 29)

TQ VERDICT: This has been a decent race for the Irish in recent years with 7 winners in the last 12 runnings, including three of the last four runnings, and it could be more of the same in 2018. All eyes here will be on the horse dubbed ‘The Monster’ – SAMCRO. This Gordon Elliott runner has been all the rage for this race for a while but cemented his claims with an easy win in the Deliotte Novices’ Hurdle at Leopardstown last time. He looks set to go off odds-on and heads into the Festival as many people’s main banker. That recent 5 ½ length win took his tally to 6-from-6 and being a horse with an already huge reputation then anything other than a win here will be deemed a poor result by his fans. So, can he be beaten? For me, he has looked super-impressive and although it’s easy to get caught-up in all the hype, there is no mistaking that he’s caught the eye in his recent races. He beat a horse called Jetz a few starts ago and that one could be the benchmark horse, with one of his main dangers – Next Destination (Willie Mullins) – having also beaten that one. Samcro, however, slammed Jetz by an easy 12 lengths, whereas Next Destination, who don’t forget, was also 4th in the Champion Bumper last season, has beaten that same horse 7 and 8 lengths. However, Gordon Elliott, who handles Samcro, also trains a horse called Cracking Smart that was only a length behind Next Destination this season so must know where he stands with this Mullins runner. Mullins does have a decent record in this race though – winning it four times since 2008. He could also another live chance with Duc Des Genievres and looks the better value. This 5 year-old was, however, 5 ¼ lengths back in second behind Samcro last time out, so despite being lightly-raced (3 career runs) would need to find a bit more improvement and fairly quickly. Black Op is a player too. He was a close second to Santini, who is well-fancied for the Albert Bartlett on Friday and will love it if the ground remained soft. Before that he won by 17 lengths at Doncaster and also had some useful bumper form last season – he can go well. The consistent Vision Des Flos would be an interesting outsider for the Colin Tizzard yard in a race that is starting to lack depth and I’d not be shocked to see him run into a place. He was an easy 31 length winner at Exeter last time and certainly won’t mind the ground. On The Blind Side would have been a big threat to the favourite but Henderson’s horse misses the Festival now which clearly makes Samcro’s task that bit easier. The Elliott yard feel they’ve got a good one on their hands here and I agree.


14:10 RSA Chase   3m ½f

 

2017 Winner: MIGHT BITE (7/2 fav)
Trainer – Nicky Henderson
Jockey – Nico de Boinville

Pluses….

  • 4 of the last 9 winners ran in the Flogas Chase (Leopardstown, 4th Feb) that season
  • Respect 7 year-olds – won 8 of the last 10
  • 9 of the last 12 winners won last time out
  • 5 of the last 11 favourites won (45%)
  • Irish bred horses are 18 from the last 21
  • 8 of the last 11 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 Chase
  • 5 of the last 9 winners were trained in Ireland
  • Trainers Nicky Henderson, Willie Mullins and Paul Nicholls often do well in the race
  • 21 of the last 25 were novice hurdling last season
  • 5 of the last 8 winners ran in the Albert Bartlett the previous season
  • Look for horses that ran that same calendar year (50 of the last 51 winners had)
  • 8 of the last 11 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 unbeaten horses over fences (2 from 29)
    • Avoid horses that had had 2 full seasons over hurdles prior
    • Just 1 of the last 18 winners had run less than 3 times over fences
    • All 20 winners of the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase (Feltham, Kempton 26th Dec) have lost
    • Avoid unbeaten horses – they are just 2 from 28
    • Horses in headgear are currently 0 from 23

TQ VERDICT: Last year’s Pertemps Final Hurdle winner – Presenting Percy – will be very popular here after making a decent transition to chasing this season. He’s won two of his four starts over the bigger obstacles and wasn’t disgraced when finishing second to Our Duke, who heads for the Gold Cup on Friday, last time. 7 year-olds have won 8 of the last 10 runnings of this race, while the Irish have landed 5 of the last 9 runnings – he ticks both those key trends. He’s a big player and with Festival-winning form he also knows what this meeting is all about – 8 of the last 11 winners had run at the Festival the season before. However, although I feel he’s dangerous to rule out, he’s also a horse that doesn’t seem great value to me and also looked a bit vulnerable last time at Gowran Park. Yes, that run came over 2m4f – a trip on the sharp side for him – but that would have also been the case for the winner that day – Our Duke. In short, I just feel here are a few others in the race with similar chances so at the prices would rather be siding with them. The Paul Nicholls camp last took this race in 2007 with Denman and although Black Corton is certainly not the new tank, he’s a 7 year-old that is rapidly improving. He’s now won 8 of his 11 chase starts and been second in the other three, while he’s also 2-from-2 here at Cheltenham over fences. With 22 career starts then he’s also one of the more experienced in the race despite his age and has built-up a fabulous partnership with jockey Bryony Frost. He likes to get on with things from the front, and, yes, this might set the race up for something else, but he also gets this 3m trip very well. He looks one of the decent options away from Percy. It would also be silly to overlook any Willie Mullins runner here – he’s won the race four times, with Don Poli (2015) and Cooldine (2009) his most recent. AL BOUM PHOTO (e/w), who was a good second last time out at Leopardstown and the way he finished there suggests there could be more on offer over this 3m trip. However, at 6 years-old does have this age stat against him, but he looks a horse with more to come and looks decent each-way value. Dounikos was a close fourth behind Al Boum Photo in that Leopardstown race so can’t be discounted either for the Gordon Elliott team. However, the horse that won that Leopardstown race – The Flogas Novice’s Chase – could be the answer – step forward MONALEE. This 7 year-old did it the hard way from the front that day and with 4 of the last 9 winners of this race having run in that contest then it’s clearly a good guide. He was second in the Albert Bartlett at the Festival 12 months ago and that’s been another decent route for past winners – 5 of the last 8 winners also ran in that race. Yes, he fell two starts back, so that’s a slight concern, but the way he jumped last time suggests the Henry de Bromhead camp have done a lot of work with him since. He also only won by ¾ of a length last time, but you got the impression he was always holding the rest of the field and had more in the locker. If he’d not fallen two starts ago then he’d probably be heading here 3-from-3 over fences and with that would also arguably be coming into this race as the market leader. Noel Fehily, who rode him in his last race, continues in the saddle.


14:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle   2m 5f

 

2017 Winner: SUPASUNDAE
Trainer – Mrs John Harrington
Jockey – Robbie Power

Pluses….

  • 10 of the last 13 were 2nd season hurdlers
  • 7 of the last 9 winners hailed from the top 8 horses in the weights
  • 11 of the last 12 winners hailed form the top 7 in the betting
  • 18 of the last 23 winners won earlier that season
  • Respect JP McManus-owned runners
  • Respect trainers Nicky Henderson & Gordon Elliott (2 wins each in last 8 years)
  • 8 of the last 16 winners were FRENCH-BRED
  • 13 of the last 24 won last time out
  • Respect Irish-trained runners (4 of the last 9)
  • Look for horses that had raced 4 or less times that season (last 9 winners)
  • 12 of the last 13 winners had run 32 days or longer ago (look for horses that have had a small break)
  • Trainer Gordon Elliott is 2 from 8

Negatives….

  • No winning favourite in the last 14 years
  • Horses aged 10+ are just 2 from 30 to even place since 1999
  • Horses rated 150+ don’t have a great record
  • Only 4 of the last 17 winners had raced at the Festival previously
  • The last 66 horses wearing headgear have been beaten
  • Only 3 winners since 2000 had run more than 9 times over hurdles
  • Willie Mullins has a bad record – 24 runners all placed outside top 2

TQ VERDICT: Always a tough race to unravel and this year is certainly no different. Some key trends to note though so these should at least help whittle down the big field. It’s been a graveyard race for the favourite in recent years with not a single winning jolly in the last 14 years but it is worth pointing out 11 of the last 12 winners came from the top 7 in the betting. 7 of the last 9 also hailed from the top 8 horses in the weights – indicating that the cream generally does rise the top here. Trainers Nicky Henderson and Gordon Elliott are both 2 from 8 in recent years, while this is another contest leading owner JP McManus loves to target. He’s sure to have several entered with The Organist, Project Bluebook and River Frost his entries. Diamond King – is a past winner of the race, but at 10 years-old I’d be worried about that. 10+ year-old are only 2 from 30 to even place since 1999! Mullins has the Ricci-owned Max Dynamite, who would be very interesting off a mark of just 141. This 8 year-old is a high-class flat performer that has been 2nd and 3rd in the last two Melbourne Cups. He’s only raced 8 times over hurdles – winning once – but he’s also tasted the Festival before when 4th in Wicklow Brave’s County Hurdle in 2015. Soft ground is fine and his proven flat speed would be a huge asset in a race like this. Henderson could have WILLIAM HENRY (e/w) and this consistent 8 year-old makes plenty of appeal. He reverted back to hurdles, after being pulled up over fences at Cheltenham in November, to win the Lanzarote Hurdle at the end of January. A 6lb hike for that looks fair and despite being an 8 year-old he’s another lightly-raced Henderson runner with just 9 career outings. His form over hurdles at Cheltenham is very solid too 2-2-1, plus he tends to go well off a break so 2 months on the sidelines is not a concern. The talented James Bowen continues in the saddle and takes off a handy 3lbs too – Henderson has used him a fair bit this season to take advantage of his claim so that also catches the eye again here. Henderson also runs Burbank wo ran a much better race to be third last at Ascot and can’t be ruled out either. The Ben Pauling pair of Red Indian and Le Breuil are others to note, especially the last-named who will have Nico De Boinville riding. This 6 year-old was a fair second last time at Aintree but has only had two runs this season so will head here fresher than most and gets in here off the same rating (139) as last time. TOPOFTHEGAME (e/w) also looks an interesting entry for the Paul Nicholls stable that took this race in 2015 – he’ll be my second play in the race. He was 4th to William Henry (2 2/4 lengths) in the Lanzarote Hurdle but built on that last time when winning at Sandown. He stays further than this distance and that will be a big asset in conditions.


15:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase   2m

 

2017 Winner: SPECIAL TIARA (11/1)
Trainer – Henry De Bromhead
Jockey – Noel Fehily

Pluses….

  • 11 of the last 17 winners ran in the Tingle Creek Chase that season
  • 3 of the last 5 winners also won the Clarence House Chase (Ascot) that season
  • 21 of the last 33 had won at the Festival before
  • Paul Nicholls & Nicky Henderson have won 6 of the last 10 between them
  • 14 of the last 15 winners had run that calendar year
  • 34 of the last 36 winners returned 10/1 or shorter
  • 13 of the last 18 winners returned 5/1 or shorter
  • 6 of the last 11 winners were French-bred
  • 10 of the last 15 winners were second season chasers
  • 15 of the last 19 winners came from the top 3 in the betting
  • 13 of the last 18 winners ran in the previous season’s Arkle or Champion Chase

Negatives….

  • Only two winners priced 11/1 or bigger in the last 36 years
  • Top Irish trainer, Willie Mullins, is yet to win this race
  • Just 1 of the last 16 winners hadn’t won a Grade 1 Chase before
  • 11 of the last 12 winners had run in no more than 16 chases
  • Be wary of horses older than 10 – they are just 2 winners since 1977

Recent Queen Mother Champion Chase Winners

2017 – SPECIAL TIARA (11/1)
2016 – SPRINTER SACRE (5/1)
2015 – DODGING BULLETS (9/2)
2014 – SIRE DE GRUGY (11/4 fav)
2013 – SPRINTER SACRE (1/4 fav)
2012 – FINIAN’S RAINBOW (4/1)
2011 – SIZING EUROPE (10/1)
2010 – BIG ZEB (10/1)
2009 – MASTER MINDED (4/11 fav)
2008 – MASTER MINDED (3/1)
2007 – VOY POR USTEDES (5/1)
2006 – NEWMILL (16/1)
2005 – MOSCOW FLYER (6/4 fav)
2004 – AZERTYUIOP (15/8 fav)
2003 – MOSCOW FLYER (7/4 fav)

 

2018 Queen Mother Champion Chase Betting Trends

14/15 – Had raced within the last 8 weeks
13/15 – Had won at least 5 times over fences before
13/15 – Had run over fences at Cheltenham before
11/15 – Won last time out
11/15 – Came from the top 3 in the betting
11/15 – Returned 5/1 or shorter in the betting
9/15 – Winning distance – 5 lengths or more
9/15 – Placed favourites
8/15 – Had won over fences at Cheltenham before
7/15 – French bred
6/15 – Irish bred
6/15 – Won by an Irish-based horse
5/15 – Won the Arkle Chase the previous season
5/15 – Winning favourites
4/15 – Ran in the Tied Cottage Chase (Punchestown) last time out
3/15 – Ran in the Game Spirit Chase (Newbury) last time out
3/15 – Had won the race before
The average winning SP in the last 15 runnings is 5/1

Other Queen Mother Champion Chase Stats

11 of the last 17 winners ran in that season’s Tingle Creek Chase (Sandown)
20 of the last 33 winners had previously won at the Cheltenham Festival
35 of the last 36 winners returned 11/1 or shorter in the betting
15 of the last 16 Arkle Chase winners to run the next season in this have finished placed or better
15 of the last 16 winners had won a Grade One Chase previously

Champion Chase – 20 Year Trends

14/20 – British-trained winners
6/20 – Irish-trained winners
Willie Mullins (Ire) is yet to train the winner
Nicky Henderson (UK) has trained 3 of the last 6 winners (won the race 4 times in total)
Paul Nicholls (UK) has trained 5 of the last 18 winners
Henry de Bromhead (Ire) has trained 2 of the last 7 winners
Jessica Harrington (Ire) has trained 2 of the last 15 winners

TQ VERDICT: Another fascinating race to look forward to at this season’s Festival, with all eyes being on last year’s Arkle winner – ALTIOR. Yes, he’s had a few issues over the summer and had wind surgery too, but I think it’s fair to say that op worked! With punters not sure if he’d return the same horse, or not, his reappearance run at Newbury in the Betfair Exchange Chase was always going to be key. However, he bolted-up by an easy 4 lengths that day and had this season’s Tingle Creek winner – Politologue – trailing back in second, so it’s hard to see that Paul Nicholls-trained 7 year-old turning the tables on Altior. Yes, some people might look to the dreaded ‘bounce factor’, or the fact he’s only been out once since last April, but let’s not forget he’s now 7-from-7 over fences. He’s also gone well fresh in the past and backed that up in his following race too, so there is little reason to take him on. He’s a two-time Festival winner, after taking the 2016 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and last season’s Arkle, while he had one of his main rivals in this race – Min – 7 lengths back in that Supreme. Okay, some might feel the Willie Mullins-trained Min has improved since and the way he won at Leopardstown in February was impressive – but, let’s get one thing straight – he didn’t have an Altior in that race! Of course, Min is still a very decent horse and he’s 4 from 5 over fences, but he did get beaten at 2/7 on over Christmas so is vulnerable, while – did you know his trainer – Willie Mullins – is yet to win this race? Some might feel he’s also got a bit to prove at the track – we’ll see. Douvan is the other potential fly in the ointment, if returning to his best. He was sent off the short-priced favourite in this 12 months ago but ran no sort of race to be 7th. That clearly wasn’t his true running and he was found to be injured after the race. There was talk of him running in Thursday’s Ryanair at one stage too, however, this is now the preferred route with Rich Ricci now firing two of his ‘big-guns’ at Altior. Douvan has been off the track since we saw him in this race 12 months ago, so a lot has to be taken on trust if he’ll return the same horse as we saw winning 9 times over fences. Of the rest, it would be foolish to totally rule out the current champion – SPECIAL TIARA (e/w). This 11 year-old likes to get on with the job and can be expected to make a bold bid from the front again. With little depth to the race outside the main players he rates the best of the rest and if you are looking for an alternative to backing Altior then siding with the reigning champ each-way would not be the worst shout in the world.

 


16:10 Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase   3m 7f

 

2017 Winner: CAUSE OF CAUSES (4/1)
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Jamie Codd

Pluses….

  • The Irish have won 11 of the last 13 runnings
  • Respect Enda Bolger-trained runners (won the race 5 times)
  • 8 of the last 12 winners carried 10-13 or less
  • 16 of the last 20 winners came from the top three in the betting
  • 7 of the last 13 ran in the December Cross Country race here
  • Respect Nina Carberry, Richard Johnson and Davy Russell-ridden horses (8 from 13 between them)
  • 10 or the last 13 winners were aged 10 or younger
  • Trainer Philip Hobbs is 2 from 10 (5 placed in the top 5 too)

Negatives….

  • Debutants over these fences/course have a poor record (1 from 53)
  • Avoid horses aged 7 or younger – they are only 2 from 94
  • Horses rated 126 or less have a very poor record
  • Trainer Willie Mullins is 0 from 12
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls is 0 from 16

TQ VERDICT: Often referred to as the ‘marmite race’ of the Festival with punters either loving it or heading to the bar when it’s due to run. Staged over the unique Cross Country fences it’s always a spectacle though and for me personally a nice addition to the Festival since it was first run in 2005. The Irish often do well in the contest – winning it 11 times in the last 13 runnings – and in particular trainer Enda Bolger, who has won the race four times. He’ll have the 2016 winner – Josie’s Orders – as his main hope, who has won over this course three times. He’s closely-matched with another Bolger runner in Auvergnat after the pair were separated by just a short-head last time at Punchestown, but now off level weights, Josie’s Orders, who was giving away 2lbs, should have the edge. Bolger also has Cantlow, but at 13 years-old he’s not getting any younger. *Bolger Warning * – It’s also worth noting that the Bolger team actually last won this race in 2009 and head here 0 from their last 23 runners – so we can often get carried away when talking about the Bolger good record in the race. It’s clear in recent years that his domination in the race has tailed off, with other trainers – who have some decent handicappers – now targeting the prize. With that in mind, it’s hard to get away from last year’s winner – CAUSE OF CAUSES. We can try and find reasons to take him on, but really, we’d be clutching at straws. He powered away to win by 9 lengths 12 months ago and followed that up with a second in the Aintree Grand National. He blew away the cobwebs last month at Leopardstown over an inadequate 2m5f trip and should be spot on for this. He also loves the Festival – fact! He’s now won at this meeting for the last three seasons (all different races), so clearly loves this place. At just 10 years-old he should also have more to come and we all love the returning champions coming back to defend their titles. He gets the call! Of the rest, the 13 year-old BLESS THE WINGS (e/w) is another that often runs well in these Cross Country races. Yes, he’s not getting any younger but his recent form at the track reads 3-4-2-2-2-1 – plus has been runner-up in this race for the last two years. It could be an Elliott 1-2 in the race again. While, in fact, it could easily be an Elliott 1-2-3 as he’s also got Tiger Roll entered. This 8 year-old is a two-time Festival winner after taking the 2014 Triumph and then the 4m race 12 months ago. The word on the street is that he’s thrived over these fences – Elliott has a similar course set up at home – and with proven winning form at this meeting he’s could be a real threat to the current champ. Finally, popular Grand National horse – The Last Samuri – also leaps off the page on these terms. Yes, he’s never run over these fences, but Kim Bailey schooled him over them last week and by all accounts he really took to them. Off a mark of 159 then he’s very well-in off level weights here and could surprise – after all, he has completed the National course at Aintree several times so that must be a help. However, it is worth pointing out horses having their first run over these fences/course are currently just 1 from 53!


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

 

2017 Winner: FLYING TIGER (33/1)
Trainer – Nick Williams
Jockey – Richard Johnson

Pluses….

  • 9 of the last 13 winners had run just 3 times over hurdles before
  • French bred horses have a good record
  • Respect Fillies
  • 6 of the last 7 winners all came from the bottom half of the weights/handicap
  • 10 of the last 13 had run in the last 25 days
  • David Pipe, Paul Nicholls, Gordon Elliot and Alan King-trained horses often do well
  • 5 of the last 6 winners returned between 25/1 and 40/1
  • Respect horses wearing headgear
  • The last 12 winners were ALL rated between 124-134
  • 8 of the last 10 winners were British-trained
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls has won 3 of the last 8 runnings

Negatives….

  • No recent winner had last raced in January or further back
  • Trainers Willie Mullins, Philip Hobbs and Venetia Williams are 0 from 29 between them
  • Willie Mullins runners are 0 from 12 (and all not placed in the top 5 either)
  • Only 3 winners had run in a handicap hurdle before
  • No winner had raced at Cheltenham before

TQ VERDICT: As always, a super-tough renewal so there is no harm firing a few bullets at the race. In recent years, this has been a very poor contest for the Willie Mullins camp – they are currently 0-from-12 – while none of those were placed in the top 5 either. However, with those desperate stats, maybe Willie has finally given up on the race as he’s not even got an entry this year! In contrast, the Paul Nicholls stable love to win the Fred Winter – with 3 victories since 2010, including 2 in the last 3 runnings. Don’t be put off if your fancy is a big price either – 5 of the last 6 winners of this returned 25/1 or bigger. Nicholls does have another leading chance with Act Of Valour, who ran a fair race behind Triumph Hurdle fancy We Have A Dream, recently. This 4 year-old looked to have more to give and only got tired in the closing stages that day which would have given Nicholls something to work with. He’s certainly feared with the yards top record in the race and with only three hurdles runs we can expect more – however, it’s interesting that we’ve not seen a winner of this defy a mark higher than 134 – Act of Valour is rated 136. Nicholls running French-breds has also been a very good angle into this race in recent years too – so another that fits the bill here is Nicholls’ GRAND SANCY (e/w) who was a fair fourth last time at Kempton and he’ll be another I’ll be playing in the race. Another fancied horse that would fall down on this rating trend is the 139-rated Gordon Elliott-trained Mitchouka. Yes, this 4 year-old has caught the eye in winning his last two, but that is too much of a significant stat to overlook in my book. Henderson’s Style De Garde and the Skelton-trained Nube Negra are others popular ones in the betting that fall down on that rating trend but I do think there is more to come from Style De Garde. He flopped last time behind Esprit De Somoza, who represents last year’s winning yard, but that was a strangely-run race and on a more galloping track he’d be foolish to ignore. Look My Way is a classy sort too and he ran well for much of the way behind Apple’s Shakira last time at Cheltenham. I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off him and off a mark of 135 he only just falls outside the rating trend. For me, the interesting one is the Gary Moore-trained French-bred ERAGON DE CHANAY (e/w). This 4 year-old won very easily at Sandown on Saturday so we know he’ll head here in red-hot form. He seemed to love conditions there so he’ll get more of the same here. Yes, running two races inside a week might be tough but he didn’t have a hard time at the weekend and has clearly come out of that contest well for the Moore camp to be running him. Of the rest, with some many entries then it’s hard to get away from the Alan King stable too. King’s, LISP (e/w) is one that also ticks a lot of boxes. This 4 year-old has won two of this last three and despite disappointing a bit last time that came over a slightly shorter trip and he raced a bit too keen. This longer trip and a strong-run race should see him in a better light and he’s another to have on the shortlist with Wayne Hutchinson riding.


17:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper   2m ½f

 

2017 Winner: FAYONAGH (7/1)
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Jamie Codd

Pluses….

  • 23 of the last 25 had won last time out
  • Respect Irish-trained runners (18 from 34)
  • 4 of the last 8 winners were won by UK-based trainers
  • 17 of the last 25 came from the top 6 in the betting
  • 19 of the last 25 were Irish-bred
  • 10 of the last 17 winners were second season horses
  • 11 of the last 12 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
  • 15 of the last 17 had their debut runs in Ireland
  • 11 of the last 15 had been beaten in a race before
  • 5 of the last 8 winners returned between 14/1 and 40/1
  • Respect Willie Mullins (8 winners), but is just 2 from last 29 runners
  • The Irish lead the British 19-7 in the race history

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses with 4 or more NH Flat runs
  • 4 year-olds are 1 from 54 since 2000
  • Gigginstown, Paul Nicholls & Nicky Henderson don’t often focus on the race
  • 1 winning favourite in the last 10 runnings

TQ VERDICT: Another race that not every Cheltenham punter likes or even has a bet in, but regardless it will give us a chance to see some potential stars of the future – not only the winners, but horses that have run well in this too. We saw Cue Card win the 2010 running and look what he’s gone onto do! It’s also a race the Irish have dominated in recent years – they lead the British 19-7, while this race rarely gets written about without a certain Willie Mullins getting mentioned. Yes, Mullins has won the pot a staggering 8 times, so it goes without saying anything he runs should be noted. However, it’s also worth noting he does generally fire a lot of bullets at the race and currently he’s actually only 2 from his last 29 runners – he last took this in 2012 and 2013 – so we are now 4 years without a Mullins winner. Maybe he’s due one! This has also been a race surrounded with hype, gambles and talking horses so it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff – they can’t all win! Of the Mullins runners this year Blackbow is their talking horse. This 5 year-old caught the eye when winning last time out at Leopardstown, beating what looked a decent field but at this stage it’s still hard to know how good he might be. What I would say though is Mullins has won this race with 12/1, 16/1 and 25/1 in the last 10 years so certainly don’t get put off looking at some of his other runners in the field – Tornado Flyer, Carefully Selected, Relegate, Colreevy and Squadron Commander could be Mullins’ bigger-priced runners in the field. These lightly-raced NH horses can often improve bundles from one race to the next so even the yards find it hard to call it right. This is backed-up with only 1 winning favourite in the last 10 years winning (Moon Racer, 2015). Gigginstown-owned horses are not often targeted at the race so it’s interesting they are sending FELIX DESJY over. This 5 year-old is yet to lose and also hails from the Gordon Elliott yard that won this 12 months ago – he looks one for the shortlist mainly due to the fact these connections rarely have a runner in the race! Rhinestone has 1 ½ lengths to find with Blackbow based on their Leopardstown runs last time, but with the stiffer finish you can’t rule out that form being turned around. Of the British-trained runners Acey Milan has certainly won many fans in winning his last three, including one here at Cheltenham. With 4 career runs he’s also one of the more experienced in the field, but I would be worried that we’ve only seen one 4 year-old win the race in the last 21 years (Cue Card). Generally, this race goes to something a little bit less exposed too – this one has already had 4 runs. The other main British hope though is DIDTHEYLEAVEUOUTTO and this Nick Gifford runner was very eye-catching when winning last time at Ascot back in December. He’s been put away since, but he beat a decent field that day and the vibes since have been positive. The Flying Sofa was back in third that day so can’t be totally ruled out either. He’s since franked the form by winning next time too and of those at a big price he’s respected. Finally, THEBANNERKINGREBEL (e/w) comes from the Jamie Snowden yard and they did well in this race 12 months ago with Dans Le Vent running sixth in the race. Their runner this year has done little wrong by winning his two starts and with the last one coming with 11-10 on heavy ground then it was even more impressive. I speak to the yard a lot and I know they think a lot of the horse and if making the final line-up can run better than his odds suggest.