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

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

Each day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival here at TRAINERS-QUOTES we’ll give you 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.

Did you know that 16 of the last 20 Cheltenham Gold Cup winners ran in the Lexus Chase or King George earlier that season?

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

 

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 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

Trainer Paul Nicholls last took this race in 2011 with Zarkandar and he looks to have another useful-looking French recruit on his hands this year with Solo. This 4 year-old burst onto the UK scene when winning easily at Kempton last month and is highly-regarded by his trainer. The Cheltenham track will be a different proposition but he’s a horse that could go to the very top. The Irish challenge is headed by Aspire Tower, who has the form to go well too, but heads here after falling last time at Leopardstown and that’s not an ideal preparation for me. We can expect the unbeaten Allmankind to take them along from the front and being a proven course winner then he looks a big player for the Skelton camp too. But, I’m going to side with another unbeaten hurdler in the field – GOSHEN. This Gary Moore runner has powered away to win all three of his hurdles runs to date and there could be more to come. Yes, some have questioned his jumping but he’s a horse with a big engine and that might end up winning the day – especially if conditions get testing. He’s a string traveller with plenty of ability and, for me, his jumping got better as the race went on at Ascot last time so with that only his third career run is clearly learning all the time. Of the rest, it might be worth having a small saver on another Nicholls runner in the race – SIR PSYCHO (e/w). He’s one of the more experienced runners in the field with five runs with seven career runs and that would be a huge plus. He’s a bit to find on the ratings but I feel he’s improved over his last two wins at Exeter and Haydock – Bryony Frost is set to get the leg-up.


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

A race that trainer Dan Skelton has farmed in recent years – winning three of the last four. With that in mind it would be silly to ignore any more his runners – including his 2018 winner MOHAAYED (e/w). This 8 year-old has only won one more race since taking this a few seasons ago but as a result has dropped to a nice mar – he’s now only 3lbs higher than when he won this two years ago. Yes, this season he’s been poor, but he’d have clearly had this contest as a target all season and has been kept fresh for it with no runs in the last 3 months – when he won this in 2018 he came into the race off an 80 day break, he’s had 83 days this time! Other trainers to note are Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins – the later has won the race four times since 2010 – his main hopes look to be Aramon and Ciel De Neige, with the last-named the most interesting after a close second in the Betfair Hurdle last time out at Newbury – he’s 4lbs higher, but that looks fair. The other I’ll be having onside is the Colin Tizzard runner – ELDORADO ALLEN (e/w). He’s run two solid races in defeat this year – both at Sandown, but has been dropped a few pounds since the most recent of those. He’s finished in the top three now in 4 of his 5 hurdles starts (1 win) and won’t mind it if the ground gets any softer.


14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle 3m

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

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

Several with leading chances here. It’s worth pointing out that it’s not been a great race for the Willie Mullins yard – they are currently only 1 from 35, while 5 year-olds don’t have the best record in the race either – 12 of the last 15 winners were aged 6 or 7. Finishing 1st or 2nd last time out is another big plus to look for. Course winner, Harry Senior has to enter the mix for the Colin Tizzard yard that won this in 2018. He’s won his last two, with the last of those coming here at Prestbury Park. The Paul Nolan runner Latest Exhibition is another that is sure to popular, having won 3 of his 4 starts over hurdles. Thyme Hill is another one that’s figured high up the betting for this race for some time – he’s 3-from-3 over the sticks and is also a course winner here. He picked-up The Cashel Man well last time at Newbury too, but, for me, the big question is staying this longer trip – he’s yet to race further than 2m5f. The three I like here are FURY ROAD, RAMSES DE TEILEE and LIEUTENANT ROCCO. The first-named found the ground a tad too quick last time at Leopardstown when only 5 lengths behind Latest Exhibition, but prior to that has won his previous three runs over hurdles. The ground would have to have some degree of soft in the description but if it does, then he would be a big player for the Gordon Elliott camp. Course winner Ramses De Teillee is a versatile sort that has been running well back over hurdles after a stint over fences earlier in the season. He’s won his last two in impressive fashion and his proven staying power will be a big plus. This popular Pipe-trained grey has also tasted the Festival before (7th in the 2018 Ultima), but, more importantly, he’s a hurdles winner at the track too. Then Lieutenant Rocco is another from the Colin Tizzard yard that has done little wrong this season. He’s 2-from-2 over hurdles and improved again last time to win well at Warwick over 2m3f. Okay, this longer trip (3m) will be a leap into the unknown, but connections must feel he’ll stay the extra yardage and has run twice over 3m in Point-to-Points.


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

Another decent renewal with plenty of cases to be made. Firstly, last year’s winner – Al Boum Photo will be looking to become the first back-to-back Gold Cup winner since Best Mate (2003/04) and he’s sure to have plenty of supporters for his defence bid. He won by 2 ½ lengths last year and being still only 8 years-old could still have more to come. He’s been kept fresh this season so far with only one run and that came with a win at Tramore in January. He’s a big player – of course, but I’d still be a tad worried about his jumping – don’t forget he fell in the RSA here in 2018. Delta Work is another key runner for the Irish – but he was only third in the RSA last season so the extra 2 furlongs would be a concern after fading up the hill last year. Yes, he’s a stronger horse this year and has done well to win his last two Grade Ones at Leopardstown. However, a lot does depend on the ground with him. His form on soft or slower reads 33243134, while on quicker than soft – so good-to-soft or quicker it’s 212111111. Therefore, the ground would need to dry out a bit for his chance to increase in my book. Lostintranslation was second in the JLT last year and was a good winner of the Betfair Chase in November, but has since flopped in the King George (pulled-up) so has a bit to prove for me. The King George winner – Clan Des Obeaux – has to be a contender too. He dotted-up by 21 lengths that day, but is he just a horse that’s better at Kempton? He was 5th in this race last year as the KG winner – beaten 11 lengths and so far has run at Cheltenham five times now and not won once – that wold be a worry. I think BRISTOL DE MAI (e/w) is a nice option for those at bigger prices. He was third in the race last season and has now finished in the top three in 20 of his 25 chase starts. Kemboy and Presenting Percy are other leading Irish hopes, but both have a few critics to answer at the moment – they are more place contender than winners for me. So, that leaves me with SANTINI. This course winner is not everyone’s favourite horse as he can be a bit quirky but this season he seems to have knuckled down more and was impressive last time out (first run after a wind op) when winning the Cotswold Chase here in January – beating Bristol De Mai by just over 3 lengths. Yes, that race isn’t the best of trial races, but he was also a close second in the RSA Chase here last season so has tasted the Festival and was also third in the 2018 Albert Barlett. His overall Cheltenham track form reads 1-3-2-1, which is not too shabby. The longer trip looks a plus too after the way he stayed on last time out.

 

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

Hazel Hill, who won this race last year, will be popular again, but at the age of 12 age is catching up with him and he heads into the race having lost as a ¼ favourite – 25 of the last 29 winners were aged 10 or younger. It was Minella Rocco that beat him that day at Wetherby and this former Gold Cup runner-up looks to have found a new lease of life in his later years. Having said that, he’s still only a 10 year-old and I think he can confirm that recent form with Hazel Hill, despite being 4lbs worse off here. Jockey bookings in this race are always key too with Derek O’Connor, Jamie Codd and Patrick Mullins always popular pilots. O’Conner could ride Minella Rocco, but he could also get the leg-up on Stalker Wallace and this is the one I like. This 9 year-old has only had 6 career runs so is very lightly-raced for his age. He’s recently hacked-up in a Point and the reports are that he’s fully tuned-up for this. The old boy Don Poli will probably have his supporters too and has found his form again in winning two points recently, but this will be harder. So, I’m happy to stick with last year’s runner-up SHANTOU FLYER and the Willie Mullins runner – BILLAWAY. The former was only beaten 4 lengths last season but has returned this term in rude health by winning a point and then a Hunters’ Chase at Fakenham – he should be spot-on for this. Then Billaway, who beat Stalker Wallace by 8 lengths last time, looks a horse with more to come. He’s only 8 years-old and has only finished out of the top three once from 6 runs over fences. The longer trip is a slight concern, but he’s got time on his hands to improve still and should have Patrick Mullins doing the steering for trainer Willie Mullins.


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

Horses that have run well in this race in the past often go well again. Last year’s winner, Croco Bay, was a shock 66/1 winner and he could go again. He’s now a 13 year-old but has shown this season that he retains his ability and comes here off a fair recent second, but is rated 5lbs higher this time. Bun Doran was second last year and tries again, but is rated a massive 12lbs higher now and would be carrying top-weight. But it’s last year’s third – BRELAN D’AS (e/w) that I’ll be siding with. This Paul Nicholls runner is rated 6lbs higher now, but I feel he’s a better horse. He was a close second to Happy Diva in the BetVictor Gold Cup here in November and had excuses last time at the December Meeting here after stumbling badly and making a few mistakes. It’s interesting that Nicholls has kept him fresh since for another tilt at this. Yes, his jumping can sometimes let him down, but I think he has a lot in common with the yard’s 2018 winner of the race Le Prezien and can hopefully go two places better than last year. Of the rest, if the ground comes up a bit quicker then Paloma Blue enters the mix. He ran well in Ireland last time out (2nd ) after getting badly bulked at the final fence and should run his race again. LISP (e/w) is the other fancy. The King yard took this in 2009 so know what’s required and this 6 year-old ran a solid third to a useful sort in Mister Fisher last time at Doncaster. He should have come on a lot for that run and was also a solid 5th in the County Hurdle here last term. The final one to note is another Nicholls leading fancy – Greaneteen. This 6 year-old is held in high regard by the yard and there was Arkle talk for this horse at some stage too. He’s 3-from-3 over fences and could easily be a class above this lot in time. He’s not really much value in a race as competitive as this and even though I think he will be better than a handicapper in time his lack of experience in a race like this might just catch him out.


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

The lucky last and with trainer Gordon Elliott having won 2 of the last 3 runnings then anything he runs has to be noted. Of his runners, THE BOSSES OSCAR (e/w) looks one to have on side. He’s been in the top two in all three hurdles runs and should have more to come. Pileon is another horse I’ve been impressed with this season – he’s won his last two in eye-catching fashion, with the last of those wins being a 20 length success at Ffos Las. He’ll need another step up but looks a hurdler on the up and should go well. But the other main call is for the Joseph O’Brien yard, who won this race last year, to go well again. They run FRONT VIEW here and the reports are that this 5 year-old is going great guns at home. He was only 6 ½ lengths behind Envoi Allen back in November and has since gone well by winning at Cork and then being second at Thurles after 3 months off just 3 weeks ago. He’ll have come on loads of that last run and looks well-treated in a race that has clearly been a target for the yard since they won it last season.