‘If I could pick one meeting to have a winner at during the whole year, it would be the Cheltenham Festival; it is our Olympics’
With the best four days of the season just days away, I go through some of the big Grade 1’s and find key trends and stats that will hopefully help you narrow down the field and find a winner or two.
1.20pm The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
41 of the past 47 winners have been aged 5 or 6.
7yo’s are 0-9 over the past decade.This trend has been floated about a fair amount in recent times as a negative on Appreciate It, however it may not be as crucial as it seems. Not many 7yo’s take their chance, with the majority of the classier horses already in open company or sent chasing by that age. In fact, the past 4 have gone off at prices of 25/1,25/1,200/1 and 33/1. It’s clear the favourite is much better animal than the traditional 7yo in this contest and could be a trend buster.
9 of the past 10 winners all won last time out.
Several of the market leaders meet this trend, but it’s a negative for Ballyadam and Blue Lord.
The last 6 Betfair Hurdle winners have all been beaten.
Soaring Glory will have to buck recent history if he wants to land the Festival opener.
Since 2013, only 1 winner has gone in to the race with an official rating of less than 150.
At the current time of writing, Appreciate It is the only horse with a 150+ rating. It gives the impression this isn’t one of the better quality Supreme Novices’ that we will see, though next on the list Metier does have a rating of 149.
Just 1 winner this decade started off on the flat, the rest either started over hurdles in France, or in bumpers.
Metier ran 7 times on the flat, while this is also a minus for Blue Lord.
1.55 Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy
The past 10 winners were aged 6 or 7.
Of those on the first page of the betting, this would be a negative for 8yo’s Sky Pirate and Blackbow, while you have to go back to 2006 for the last 5yo winner, which Allmankind will hope to emulate.
Odds-on favourites have a great record, with 6 winning in the past decade.
At the current prices, Shishkin is currently flirting around or just under even money.
Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson have been responsible for 7 of the last 9 winners.
A clear positive for market leaders Shishkin and Energumene.
The race favours those who were previously high class over hurdles, with 6 of the last 9 boasting solid Graded form over timber.
A negative for Energumene, though he was only seen once over hurdles and won by 19 lengths. This trend is also a negative for Captain Guinness, Blackbow and Sky Pirate.
3.05pm Unibet Champion Hurdle
Only 2 horses aged 5 have won in the past 25 years whilst there has only been a single 9yo winner in recent history. It’s best to focus on the horses aged 6 to 8.
Most of the market leaders fit this trend, though it’s a negative for Goshen and Aspire Tower.
9 winners this decade had no more than 12 hurdle starts, it’s wise to concentrate on those who aren’t fully exposed.
Silver Streak comes out worst here, he will be starting in his 26th race over timber. Sharjah also has had 19 starts over hurdles.
8 last time out winners followed up here in the past decade.
A negative for last years winner, Epatante. Add Abacadabras, Aspire Tower and Sharjah to the list as well, who all failed to win their previous start.
Recent history favours those with previous winning course form.
A negative for many challengers, but a clear positive for Epatante and Honeysuckle at the head of the market. Cheltenham winners at bigger prices include Saint Roi and Song For Someone and Concertista, though the latter could go to the Mares Hurdle.
1.20pm Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
5 recent winners arrived here unbeaten over hurdles.
The only horse on the first page of the betting who ticks this box is Bear Ghylls.
The last 10 winners had all won a bumper.
Most of the principles meet this stat, though Bravemansgame failed to win in 2 starts on the level.
Challow Hurdle winners have a terrible record in Novice hurdles at the Festival, with no winners since 1990.
As impressive as he was, it’s another minus for Bravemansgame.
The last 10 winners had all won over at least 2m 4f.
A negative for Bear Ghylls, though he did win over the extended 2m 3f.
It pays to focus on those near the head of the market, big priced winners are rare in this race.
Gaillard Du Mesnil, Bob Olinger and Bravemansgame are the only 3 at a single-figured price who are likely to run at the current time of writing.
1.55pm Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase.
9 of the last 10 winners had contested at least 3 chase starts prior to arriving at Prestbury Park.
It will depend who turns up as all 3 could run elsewhere, but Eklat De Rire, Next Destination and Sporting John all fall short with only 2 chase starts each.
8 recent winners had previously run at the Festival before
A negative for Royale Pagaille if he doesn’t go for the Gold Cup. Also a minus for Eklat De Rire.
7yo’s have won 10 of the last 14 renewals.
A clear positive for market leader Monkfish, while also for the other 7yo’s Royal Pagaille and Eklat De Rire.
5 winners since 2010 have come from the previous years’ Albert Bartlett.
Monkfish and Latest Exhibition were 1st and 2nd there in 2020, separated by just a neck, though the former has had the latter’s measure on both occasions over fences this season.
3.05pm Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase
15 of the last 18 winners have been rated 164+ before the off.
All market leaders obviously meet this trend, though its a negative for outsiders Put The Kettle On, Notebook and Rouge Vif.
Only 1 winner the last decade had run less than twice that season.
Altior will have to repeat his success of 2018 as he again arrives here after 1 season start. Nube Negra has also only run once this term
All 10 winners this decade had at least 7 starts over fences previously.
Nube Negra has only run in 5 chases, while Cilaos Emery has 6 chase starts to date.
The past 10 winners had also ran and won over at least 2m 1f before.
Sadly Nube Negra again fails on this trend, though did win over the slightly extended 2m at Warwick.
7 recent winners had all been successful at Cheltenham before.
This is obviously the trend that market leader Chacun Pour Soi must defy. Nube Negra, First Flow, Cilaos Emery and Notebook have also all failed to win at the track.
1.55pm Marsh Novices Chase
One of the newer Festival races with it’s debut in 2011, we still have a few trends to go by:
9 of the last 10 winners were aged 6 or 7.
The principles meet this trend, however Chatham Street Lad will aim to become the first 9yo to win the race, though he isn’t fully exposed over fences having only hit the ground running this season.
8 of the past 10 winners were successful last time out.
A negative for Shan Blue and Chatham Street Lad.
8 winners came from the top 3 in the betting.
Safe to say Envoi Allen will be there, the other spots are likely to be filled by either Shan Blue, Chantry House or Chatham Street Lad.
6 winners this decade had won at Cheltenham before.
Envoi Allen, Chantry House, Chatham Street Lad, Fusil Raffles (if he runs) are all previous course winners.
2.30pm Ryanair Chase
Previous course form is crucial, only 1 of the past 12 winners had not run at Cheltenham at least twice previously, with 7 of those previous course winners.
All principles meet the trend of Cheltenham experience, however Allaho and Melon have not yet won here, despite some very good efforts in defeat.
10 of the past 12 winners have gained at least 2 wins over the intermediate trips.
Melon Falls short here, as does Fakir D’oudaries and Saint Calvados should they run, though the latter was beaten a neck in this race last term.
5 of the last 7 winners took part in the previous years Marsh Novice Chase.
Samcro beat Melon in 2020, whilst Mister Fisher was back in 4th.
Grade 1 winning form is an advantage, with 9 recent winners successful at the top table.
Imperial Aura, Melon, Saint Calvados and Mister Fisher all have failed at Grade 1 level, though all have ran with credit over the past 2 season’s when tried.
3.05pm Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle
Every winner this decade was aged between 6 and 9.
The market leaders are fine here, only The Storyteller misses this trend should connections opt to line up.
8 recent winners of the Stayers also won last time out.
A plus for 2019 winner Paisley Park, as well as Roksana, Flooring Porter and Kemboy, though the latter’s was of course over fences.
8 of the last 12 winners had won at Cheltenham before.
Kemboy will need to buck this trend, as will Flooring Porter, who could be having his first start away from Ireland in his career.
10 of the past 12 winners had won a race that season.
Lisnagar Oscar will once again hope to deny this statistic, as he did when landing this race last season. Though like last term, he arrives at the Festival with a fair placed effort at Grade 2 level.
1.20pm JCB Triumph Hurdle
The past 2 renewals have seen double-figure winners, but previously we had seen 7 of the past 10 winners come from the top 3 in the betting
The current top 3 in market are Tritonic, Zanahiyr and Quilixios.
Every winner the past decade ran during the previous 55 days.
This is a clear negative for Zanahiyr, Adagio and Duffle Coat.
8 of the last 12 winners had no more than 3 previous starts over hurdles.
Quilixios, Duffle Coat and Adagio come up over the trend here with 4 runs starts each, while outsiders Saint Sam and Nassalam are also more exposed should they line up.
2.30pm Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
10 of the past 12 winners had won over at least 2m 7f.
A negative for a pair at the top of the market, Stattler and Fakiera. As well as outsiders Adrimel and Atlantic Fairy should they start here.
6 winners in a row between 2014 and 2019 went off a double-figured price. The longest streak of all the Grade 1’s recently.
The prices will no doubt change, but its a concern if you fancy the shorter priced runners Stattler, Fakiera, Barbados Bucks or Torygraph.
Of the past 10 renewals, 8 winners finished in the top 3 of a Graded race last time out.
A positive for Stattler, Alaphilippe, Adrimel and Farouk D’alene. Not only did they finish top 3, but all won their respective Graded races.
9 of the previous 16 winners had run at Cheltenham previously.
With the Irish winning several recent renewals, this trend isn’t as prominent as it once was. But it’s a positive for the British runners Barbados Bucks and Adrimel.
3.05pm Wellchild Cheltenham Gold Cup
Focus on horses aged 7 to 9. No 10yo has won since Cool Dawn in 1998 with Long Run the only 6yo winner in 50 years.
Native River as an 11yo will hope to buck this fairly strong trend.
Every winner of the past 15 renewals had previously won a Grade 1 chase.
Royale Pagaille, Minella Indo and Santini are the principles who are yet to win at the top table, though the latter pair had won a Grade 1 over timber.
All 12 recent winners had run over fences at Cheltenham before.
Most meet this trend, however Royale Pagaille does not were connections to opt for this race.
9 of the last 12 winners were rated 166 or better over the larger obstacles.
Champ (165) and Minella Indo (164) fall short here, as do Allaho and Imperial Aura of those at slightly bigger prices, though that pair are likely heading to the Ryanair.
Only 1 winner since 2010 had not won a race over fences that season.
The Nicky Henderson pair, Champ and Santini, are negatives against this trend.
Stats & Words by Chris Price
Pictures – AOL File