12th July 2020. Good luck and thank you, Barry Geraghty. One of the greats.
What Happened in the 2020 Festival.
With hindsight, it probably shouldn't have been on. But neither should a lot of things.
The Stats - What Worked
Tuesday - Only three horses in the Supreme rated in the 150s, one wins. NH continues to produce horses that can win or be placed in this. Shiskin won last time and had won over 50% of all hurdle runs. Put The Kettle On was the only G2 Course chase winner in the field. A six yr old, had won 4 of its 5 chases and wasn't the favourite. Aidan Coleman came off the cold list last year. Like Beware The Bear in 2019, The Conditional had its best RPR of at least 143 when been placed in this season's Newbury's Ladbroke Chase, was a course chase winner and wasn't trained in Ireland. A seven yr old, on the up, wearing cheekpieces. (So why didn't you tip him, you clown). Epatante, ah Epatante. A six year old and the only unbeaten horse this season in the field. The only G1 winner last time out. Beats the only other horse in the field rated above 160. (NH felt he had to tell us about a cough or two. Would it not have been better just to keep quiet about little things like that?) Benie Des Dieux was too old at 9 and Rachel's quite good. Imperial Aura came from that January Timeform 2m 4f novice handicap chase at Cheltenham. Wasn't older than seven, had only won one chase. Not trained by Gordon or Willie. Maiden over fences finished second, headgear wearer finished third. (Simple). The experienced chaser Ravenhill with six previous chase runs going back to the 31st May, was trained by Gordon Elliott and had some boy called Codd in the saddle, his third win in the last six.
Wednesday - Envoi Allen had won the 2019 Bumper, was unbeaten over hurdles including G1s, top rated at 154, and Irish trained. (What do you mean, he was in trouble coming round the corner?) Challow winner didn't turn up. Knew. Champ was rated 153 over hurdles, previously Festival placed, three chase runs and wasn't unbeaten. In the Coral Cup, the clear favourite was well due and Barry Geraghty had just won the RSA. Dame De Compagnie had only won one handicap, had only run in seven hurdles and it was Nicky Henderson's fourth winner of this in 11 years. All four were previous course winners. Politologue, ah yes, Politologue. Second in the QM in 2019, gave Paul Nicholls his sixth win in the race. Not ridden by STD. G1 winner and only two previous runs this season. Easysland was from the top two in the market, previous C&D this season. No more than five X Country runs and JP owned. Not trained by WM, PN or NH. In the Boodles, Aramax had the letter A in its name, became Gordon's third win in eight. JP four timer on the day. Alan King remained on cold list with heavily punted 16s to 5s Blacko. I know Delargy has power, but.. Mick Pastor in the first time hood never stood a chance (Thank you, Andrew Mount). A Willie 1-2 in the bumper. Winner had been out within the 40 days.
Thursday - Samcro was a shortish priced Irish Trained, and a G1 Festival Hurdle winner over the trip. (Still convinced that Melon got back up). 12 yr old didn't win. Pertemps winner hadn't won a qualifier, was trained by Gordon Elliott and owned by JP. Had only ever won one handicap. This one! Davy Russell finished second on another Elliott horse. Min had strong previous Festival form, twice second to Altior, was a G1 chase winner over the trip and French bred. 'Always prominent.' Lisnagar Oscar, ah yes, Lisnagar Oscar. Right age and only one of two runners in the field to come from last year's Albert Bartlett. Like the previous two Stayers winners. Obviously therefore hadn't been beaten in this before. Placed in the Cleeve. (See, easy enough). Simply The Betts was a novice with few chase runs. Had won on Trials day. No headgear. The crescendo of a successful week for the Whittington stable (unlike PH, AK, NTD, CT, DS). Willie 1-2-4-5 in the Mares Novice Hurdle. (Lovely tipping, Tony Keenan, you daisy). Darryl In Green was Due. Milan Native the right age, the fourth Irish trained in seven, and not the most fancied one. Under 12/1 but hadn't won all season. Best RPR achieved in one of previous two runs. Strongly tipped by trainer on preview nights.
Friday - Goshen would have won a furlong. Flat rated over 80. Both he and Burning Victory were unbeaten over hurdles, were French Bred, and had raced over at least 1m 4f on the Flat. There was no Nicky H runner. Mares priced under 14s do have a decent record. Saint Roi was a Willie Mullins novice who had never run here before. Best RPR last time out. Clear favourite was well due. When Monkfish went in, Gault's Momentum Theory was in overdrive (pity I didn't pay any effing attention until the GC). The Albert Bartlett winner was a 6yr old who had already won over 2m 7f. Didn't run in Cheltenham or Aintree bumper. Al Boum Photo covered all my stats bar the big one. It Came To Pass, ah, It Came To Pass. The right age, came from the p2p background, had run well in this race before. Seventh Irish trained in the last ten, not ridden by either Jamie Codd or Patrick Mullins. Had previously won 3 hunter chases and wasn't blinkered. (Convinced? Me neither). Us And Them was the clear stats plot horse in the Grand Annual but couldn't get to the two Irish novices. Chosen Mate was in the right ratings and age band, had ran in less than 12 chases and hadn't won a handicap this season. Not conditional ridden. Indefatigable (a wonderful mare, he aftertimed), won last time out at Listed level within the last 52 days. Third top weight in a row to win this. Rex Dingle has ridden over 50 winners including a £62k to the winner chase.
Well, that seemed easy enough.
The Stats - What Didn't Work
Tuesday - You don't come from Huntingdon with only three previous runs and win a Supreme, especially having won at only Listed Level. Willie Mullins always has something placed in this. In 1980, Analogs Daughter was the last mare to win an Arkle, for goodness sake. The Kettle had only a 123 hurdle rating and too many chase runs (5). All recent winners of the Ultima were in the 140s and out within the last 45 days. Epatante, ah Epatante. A Gerry Fielden winner? Too many favourites have recently won the Ch H, Nicky didn't run her in the Contenders Hurdle and she was very inexperienced with only 5 hurdle runs and 4 wins (should still have backed her, you ejjitt). Benie Des Dieux got a bad ride. Imperial Aura didn't run in Graded class last time, was a BF last time (aagh) and had already been tried over 2m 4f but had failed to win. Ravenhill fell last time out, for goodness sake. And since 1946, no jockey had ever won three National Hunt Chases.
Wednesday - Best I can do for Envoi Allen is that his father was a miler. You don't win an RSA if you fell last time out. Dame De Compagnie was the Coral Cup Fav ffs (Xenophon '03), a bit lowly rated for recent winners (what was her rating, after all?). Didn't carry 11st and had no placed Graded form. A plot. Politologue had no win this season, hadn't run since the Tingle Creek, didn't finished 1st, 2nd, F or U last time. Easysland was only six years of age, hadn't any placed Graded form and was taking on a legend. Winning a recent Fred Winter with five previous hurdle runs? No, no, no. No placed horse wearing a hood. Pity. Ferny Hollow was a 'complete nutcase' (Jane Mangan, Racing TV). Not unbeaten since July and hadn't beaten a decent sized field.
Thursday - Immediately after the Marsh Chase, Eugene rang me from Celbridge to thank me as he had backed Samcro 'on my stats.' (I do like that. It's the ethos of my site. Two or more people can look at Gstats and all come up with completely different and justifiable opinions). Then I got told off for not putting him up. Ok, Samcro was a certainty. Apart from that he was too old at 8 years, hadn't run in the last 55 days, hadn't won a Graded Chase, was a BF last time out, not rated at least 151 and the bookies were, and still are due a result in this race. Melon did get up, didn't he?
Eight year olds don't win the Pertemps off 152, even if a previous winner. Irish trained winners of this tend to be novices. Min had no course win and was a bit old at 9. Lisnagar Oscar, where will I start? Finished outside the 1-2 last time, too many shocking runs since May and wasn't G1 placed in previous Festival when given the chance. Simply The Betts put the final nail in the coffin that winners of the Mildmay have had only ever had a sighter of the New Course, Concertista was still a maiden. Rob James, despite me witnessing him ride a helluva lot of good p2p winners, was still a 7lb claimer in the Kim Muir. And they don't win this. Milan Native hadn't ever run over 3 miles and was a handicap debutant. No solid graded form.
Friday - Willie and the Triumph? Come on now, we're talking Scolardy 2002. And Burning Victory had only raced once over hurdles. Sadness prevails as Thumbs Up in 1993 is no longer the last handicap debutant to win the County Hurdle. (Do get quite emotional at these times. R Dunwoody got us out on what was then the final race. Sweet 16s. Would have hacked the '94 Arkle. BD three out). The Fish didn't have the right Graded form to win an AB. And Willie has only ever won that race once with 35 runners. And, sure, he also has a poor enough GC record. Buses coming together came to mind. You don't win back to back. Far better race this year. La-di-dah. These first four winners were also covered by the 'Willie Mullins Doesn't Give a Monkeys about Stats' Stat. (See General Trends/Trainers Page) It Came To Pass too lowly rated at 126, got stuck it a Kilfeacle p2p bog last time out. Trust me, that's a bog. Hadn't run in enough chases and you could argue to the cows came home about how good his previous run was in this four years ago. Novice wins a helter skelter Grand Annual off 147 on the back of only three chase runs? Not for me. If he was that good, he should have been in the Arkle. Non Gigginstown and well exposed 7 yr old English trained mare wins Martin Pipe? Can't see it.
You couldn't have backed any of those.
Lucky enough to have made a few quid. I hope you did too. Stay safe.
If you have given before to Gaultstats causes, I thank you. Please give again. A fiver is fine. No money goes to me or the site.
Enjoy the Festival and Gaultstats. Have fun. I hope that the site in some small way contributes to your correct betting decision making processes.
The Cheltenham Festival
'I wish I had the words.' Rachel Blackmore, after Minella Indo's win last year. 'To ride a winner at the Festival is priceless', Patrick Mullins after Rathvinden in 2018. 'There's no place like this on earth' Ruby Walsh, frequently. National Hunt owners, trainers and jockeys dream about winning at this Festival. Being involved with a winner ensures an entry in the National Hunt Role of Honour even if the race concerned may 'only' be the quirky Cross Country Chase. Life has changed for Emma Lavelle since Paisley Park came along, 'he is our horse of a lifetime, the one who took us to where we are now.' Aidan Coleman echoed 'It means the world.' The higher the grade of horse, the more likely they will repeat or improve on their last run. No higher grade than here. And since all are doing their damnest to win, trends can emerge of those most likely (or not) to succeed.
'If men could learn from history, what lessons it might teach us.' Samuel Taylor Coleridge
I first attended this fantastic event in 1985 and have been collecting stuff about it ever since. I love it. It is a marvellous occasion and venue. Really do recommend sitting outside the See You Then Bar overlooking the parade ring in the March sun with an early beverage.
The links on the home page top-line take to each race day and race. On each race page there are Headline stats for that race. Then a summary of the possible profile of the winner, concentrating on trends that are correct to 90%+ over the last few Festivals. The rest of each race page will comprise the evidence to back up the profile. I may suggest something that is overdue to happen or an 'overripe stat' that might be due to fall. For example, if the favourite hasn't won the race in years or in the case of the 2019 Arkle, the favourite had won the last four in a row. In 2020 it might be that Nigel and Sam Twiston Davies are due to come off the cold list.
After doing this for 35 years, I find myself left with only two rules about Cheltenham Stats. 'The beauty of each stat lies solely in the eye of the beholder' and 'All Cheltenham Stats die. It is only a matter of when.' The former means that you decide what's relevant. Paul Jones in his excellent book on betting, From Soba To Moldova, was right to get defensive about stats stating that 'trends is just another word for facts and data and we don't dismiss those.' If it has happened ten Festivals in a row, you might decide that it's not going to happen this time. Fine. There is no rule book. It's your money and I won't get offended. I spent most of the Festival Nineties losing money as I regularly proclaimed, 'That can't win because.....' No longer do I utter those words.
Festival Big Beast Stats get shot down most years, in 2019 a five year old strolled home in the Champion Hurdle. The County Hurdle was won by Ch'tibello, a horse who was rated too high, wasn't Irish trained, not a second season hurdler, had a massive 19 previous hurdle runs and was too old at eight. But 'always the plan' said Dan Skelton (who admittedly had some recent previous success in the race!). In 2018, Delta Work a French bred five year old French Bred wins the Pertemps Final. First French Bred since '94, first five year old since Pragada in '88. Would nearly drive you to more than one beverage.
Horses identified in italics are being aimed to contest the race about which you are reading. As the countdown continues effort will be made to update races with confirmed runners and how they might fit in.
The General Trends page covers lots of information and musings that doesn't really refer to any specific race. This includes jockeys, trainers, how W Mullins is no respecter of Cheltenham stats, stats on Pricewise, preview nights, course winners, Fate of the Favourites et al. Click on the links and share the concerns of my family and friends as to how I spend six weeks at the start of every year. There is a quiz and other stuff, including a review of the 2018 and 2019 Festivals.
On each day of the Festival I post selections for each race at the top of this home page. These remain my view of those with the best chances / value as identified by my interpretation of GaultStats. Please feel free to come to your own conclusions.
As ever, a labour of love,
(Feedback positive or constructive welcomed at twitter @gaultstats or email email@example.com. Reasonable theories will be researched. As I am old fashioned, I don't count Punchestown as being 'this season')
A big thank you to Ashleigh Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org for her continued work, without which, this wouldn't be here.
Wealth Warning. Any decisions made (or not) or the basis of any information in this site are the sole responsibility of the reader. There is no obligation on me to follow my own advice. I take no responsibility for (but am keen to hear of) any factual errors. (Bgault01@gmail.com, @gaultstats). Previous years ‘stats on stats’ would suggest we may identify a decent priced winner from manageable groups every three or four races. It is believed that Savello (2014 Grand Annual) took from Golden Chieftain (2013 3m hcap chase) the record for breaking the most stats in a race. Stands now at 8. Cole Harden equalised with 8 in the 2015 World Hurdle. Remember, after you have cursed/laughed at me and given up totally on trends, they will come back to bite. Always happens. Usually on Gold Cup Day. Beware GO SEA - Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouraged by Alcohol. A Cotswold condition very common at this time of year.