QUALIFIERS - Pertemps sponsor qualifiers for this throughout the season on different courses. Fingal Bay and Ballyfitz in 2008 only ones in last 19 to win this after winning a Pertemps Qualifier. In both cases the final was their next run and within 35 days of the Qualifier win. None of last years qualifier winners achieved a place in the final. Presenting Percy had jogged around in fifth in the Christmas Leoardstown Qualifier. There are 15 qualifiers held, (13 in England plus Leopardstown and Punchestown). Qualifier winners from October are Thomas Campbell, Dell'Arca, Bags Groove, Holly Bush Henry, Protek Ds Flos, Black Ivory, Mine Now, Louis' Van Pouch, Tad Badalandabad, Calett Mad, Lovenormoney, Tommy Rapper, Kilfenora, Cairnspindle. The last five named going up to and including Calett Mad won only 39 days from the Final. in 2017 both Barney Dwan and Jury Duty had made it to the Final through one of the last three qualifiers. In 2016, the first four home all finished in the first three of a qualifier. Mall Dini, 3rd at Leopardstown, Arpege D'Alene won at Chepstow, If In Doubt won at Wincanton, Tagliatelle 3rd at Musselburgh.
AGE - Pragada ’88 is the only 5 yr old to win this in the 42 year history. He was a novice and had won his previous 3 races. None ran last year. Box Office on his own in 2016 finished 12th, Two ran in 2015, best was Aqalim 5th in his first time visor. Before that Son Amix (2nd in 2011) only the 8th to have been placed, 5 of which were Pipe trained.
Four 8 yr olds, three 9 yr olds and a 10 yr old have won in the last 13 from small numbers. 5 winners aged 9 in last 19. But 4 of the last five including Presenting Percy, Mall Dini and Call The Cops were 6 yrs olds.
Since ’91 The Tourad Man 4th last year, Pineau De Re both at 11yrs only the 6th and 7th horses aged 10 or above to be placed. Buena Vista won as a 10 yr old in 2011. Last double figures before him was Willie Wumpkins aged 13 in 1981. Both won this more than once. Berties Dream 33s 5th 2013 when aged 10. Nothing older than an 8 yr old ran in 2016.
WEIGHT - Only Buena Vista (10st 3lb and 10st 1lb), Creon ‘04 and Generosa ’99 in past 24 runnings carried 10st 5lbs or less after jockeys allowances. Creon first winner out of the handicap in 26 years and may be the last for a long time. 14 from last 18 carried no more than 11st 2lb. Not Presenting Percy who jogged around under 11st 11lb. Some crying done last year by connections about his handicap mark. Davy Russell started to apologise to the cameras about his behaviour on Preview Nights as he was half way up the run in. 'You're a wonderful man, Mr Phil Smith', cried the owners or trainer in the unsaddling enclosure having previously abused the man for a fortnight. Didn't look all that great, now. Bottom weight last year was only 11st 2lb so it wasn't like Percy was giving lumps away. The 11st 2 lb barrier broken by Holywell 11st 4 in 2015 nor Fingal Bay 11st 12lb in 2014. Bottom weight in those two year was 10st 13lbs and all placed horses in 2013 and 2014 carried over 11st. 2007 to 2012 only two horses carrying 11st or more made the first 4. In 2016 bottom weight 10st 7. Placed horses all carried at least 11st 4 lbs. In the last two years 4th place carried 11st 12. As with all Festival handicaps, it is now hard to get a run.
Last 5yrs rating needed to get a run 2017 to 2013 - 137, then 135,135,135,135.
FORM - Only 13 from last 20, 1st, 2nd or 3rd in last completed start. 13 from last 22 did win last time out from about 20% of total runners. Usually a field of 24. Of the 16 renewals this century that had had at least one last time out winner, 8 were won by last time out winners. Hope that makes sense. 8 qualifiers last year, only Percy placed. 2016, 6 qualifiers including 2nd and 3rd. 7 qualifiers in 2015 including 1st and 2nd. 6 qualifiers in each of the previous two years, Fingal Bay winning in 2014, Shutthefrontdoor best in 4th 2013. 3 qualifiers in 2012, best Bellflower Boy in 7th. In 2011, 3 from 23 best the great Knockara Beau in 4th. 2010 6 qualifiers, best Prince Erik 2nd, Cross Kennon 4th. They do punch weight above numbers.
COURSE WINNERS - Fingal Bay joined Buena Vista to be the first previous course winners to win this since at least '91 ('10 Buena Vista had also been second in '09 to Kayf Aramis). Last year 7 of the 24 strong field were course winners. Best placing achieved was 8th. 2016 two course winners ran including unplaced 11/2 fav Leave At Dawn. In 2015 five course winners lined up, Unique De Cotte best in 2nd. Apart from Fingal, four other course winners in 2014 including Southfield Theatre beaten a nose (with Whisper winning the Coral Cup it was not a good year for this theory). 9 course winners 2013, best Captain Sunshine 2nd.
9 from last 12 had won at least at Class 2 level (not Holywell, best before was 2nd in G3 handicap Haydock in November). Davy Russell did his best not to win a 15k Fairyhouse hurdle on Percy by too far. Fun to watch again. Mall Dini only a winner of a £7k Thurles maiden hurdle. Placed in a Cl2. Call the Cops won Cl2 at Doncaster
16 from last 19 between 6 and 15 hurdle runs (Percy 6 runs, Buena Vista - 21 in 2010, 29 in 2011).
Front runners. Used to be never placed. But in the last seven years Berties Dream, Ballyfitz, Kayf Aramis, Buena Vista (twice) and some of the placed horses were kept prominent. As this race is now run on the New Course where they only jump 2 hurdles in the last mile, maybe less chance of making up ground? However front runners swallowed up in 2014 and again in the last two years. In 2015 both 1st and 2nd home were up with the pace.
Form races - last 21 years - Warwick Qualifier - January. Two from that route Black Ivory beat Sykes. Leopardstown Qualifier 28 Dec 5 winners (Mine Now bt A Great View). Previous seasons race - 3 winners. Don't see any of the top five to finish coming back this year. Haydock G3 Fixed Brush - 3 winners in last 9 races. Sam Spinner beat The Dutchman, Theo's Charm and No Hassle Hoff. Haydock Qualifier - . Arpege D'Alene second in 2016, won the Chepstow qualifier that last year Jury Duty finished 2nd in. Haydock this year, Tommy Rapper from Theo's Charm.
The four Irish winners in the last 13 ran in the Leopardstown Qualifier. Mall Dini was the only one of those four to get placed there. Mall Dini ran off 129 at Leopardstown, put up to 139 at Cheltenham. Needed to be 135 to get a run last year. 2015 Zabana also finished third in this qualifier last season off 130 before being touched off by Aux Ptit Soins in the Coral Cup. His rating that day was 144. Percy in 5th was off 129 at Leopardstown, ran off 146 at Cheltenham. Enough on that subject. Mine Now, A Great View (tenderly ridden at the Dublin Racing Weekend) and Dunloe most likely to get in from that route in 2018
Irish trained have won 7 in last 23 from a small proportion of runners. 5 last year 1st and 3rd home. Percy and Mall Dini is the only winners in the last ten. Well done Mr Pat Kelly. Three runners up in the last eight. (5 ran last year 1st and 3rd home, 7 ran in 2016, 1st and 4th. Only Edeymi at 8s ran 2015, unplaced. 3 in 2014, best Jetson in 5th warming up for Quevega at Punchestown. 2013, 5 ran best again Jetson 'never nearer' third. 6 ran 2012, Catch Me 2nd. 6 in 2011 best Son Amix 2nd, Sivota 3rd. 8 in 2010, best Prince Erik in 2nd). Fair performance.
19 of last 26 had previously won over a minimum of 3 miles (Ok, Fingal Bay only 2m 7.5f at Exeter. But not Percy, Mall Dini nor Holywell. Percy won that 2m 4f h'cap, Mall Dini had won a 2m 6f maiden. Holywell had been close 2nd in the Warwick Qualifier and was fitted here with first time blinkers. Not Buena in 2010 but 2nd in this in '09). 11 from last 12 winning form over 2m4f to 2m 6f. Fingal Bay had won the Challow three seasons before in 2011.
JP McManus has owned 3 winners two of which were priced 50/1. Does run a few. Only For Good Measure last year, 9th. 6 in 2016, best If In Doubt in 3rd.
BREEDING - 69 French breds this century have tried to win this. None successful. Mr Mix last to finish in 2017. 4 tried in 2016, Arpege D'Alene close but no cigar. Both Nichols trained
RATINGS - Fingal on 148 broke the glass ceiling. Previous 12 rated between 120 to 142. Percy 146, Mall Dini 139, Call the Cops off 138. As stated, since it now takes you to be 135 to get in, not surprising that last six winners rated from 138 to 148. Last 20 all rated between 120 and 150.
17 of last 27 had not run in the previous 30 days. Percy 19 days, Mall Dini 26 days since last run, Call The Cops won 12 days before this and was winning under a 5lb penalty.
BLINKERS ETC - 3 headgear wearers last year, all finished own the field. 7 headgear wearers in 2016 including 2 first timers, only Tagliatelle in the first six. 7 Headgear wearers in 2015 including 3 first timers, best Henryville in 4th in a hood he always wore 7 headgear wearers turned up in 2014, including one first timer. Best was Cross Kennon in 10th. 2013 Holywell won in first time blinkers (7 others tried 2013). Before that, Buena Vista, in 2010 was first blinkered runner to win in 14 races from 66 triers (2010 also Chamirey 3rd. '09 5 qualifiers Bueno Vista 2nd, Pennek 3rd). Buena also wore blinkers to victory 2011.
PRICE - Before Fingal 9/2 fav the previous 10 winners average price over 25/1. Inching Closer 2003 9/2 the only other favourite to win since '98. Call The Cops 9/1 third fav and the only other winner priced under 10s since 2003. Percy 11s, Mall Dini at 14s. 34 horses 7 yrs or under 7yrs of age have started at under 10s. Jury Duty placed at 9s last year. Only Call The Cops has won. Buena Vista one of 5 winners to repeat success. Willie Wumpkins '79, '80, '81 the previous multiple winner.
Since 1983 7 novices have won off ratings up to 141. Southfield Theatre 2nd in 2014 was a second season novice.
JOCKEYS - Since 1992 8 conditional jockeys have won this. 8 claiming jockeys, including amateurs tried last year, best Kevin Dowling (10) in fourth 4 tried in 2016, best the excellent Jack Kennedy(3) also fourth. 3 unsuccessful 2015 but Mr W Biddick (3) had a great spin in fourth. 6 unsuccessful 2014, 4 unsuccessful in 2013. Davy Russell the first jockey in 20 yrs to win this twice. Winners include Andrew Tinkler, Dickie Johnson, Barry,Ritchie McClernon, Conor O'Farrell, Aiden Coleman, Paddy Brennan. Ruby has yet to win it. Isleofhopendreams didnt have any but Ruby was about to have a G1 four timer so I'm sure he got over the disappointment. No ride 2016.
This century no beaten fav last time out has won this. One unpl trier in 2017
If your bookie doesn't pay 5 places in this, with 24 runners, they are stealing from you. Go somewhere else.
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 (Gary). I take no responsibility for (but am keen to hear of) any factual errors. Previous years ‘stats on stats’ would suggest we may identify a decent priced winner from manageable groups every three or four races. I tend to improve as a tipster as the week goes on, possibly too worried on the Tuesday. 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.