AGE - Since Minnehoma ’92 all 31 horses aged 9 and above have been beaten (No qualifiers in the last four years, Call The Police 3rd in 2012). 19 of last 23 winners were 7 or 8 years of age. Seven year olds won 14 of last 17 and 9 of the last 10. Exceptions were the 5yr old Star De Mohaison ’06 (with a big allowance) and three 6 yr olds, Florida Pearl ’98, Young Hustler ’93 and Don Poli in 2015. Those are the only three six year olds to have won since 1978 although Burton Port was 2nd in 2011. 5yr olds recently - Adriana Des Mottes 4th in 2015, Unioniste 3rd as fav 2012, Long Run 3rd 2010 at 11/4. Ten five year olds have run in the last 22 years, Star De Mohaison won and three others were placed. Star got a 10lb allowance in 2006. Now only 2lb and mares 7lbs. The three 6 yr olds winners were priced 11/8 fav, 9/4 2nd fav and 13/8 fav respectively in what were, with hindsight, uncompetitive renewals. Last year Blaklion and Shaneshill were both seven year olds.
PRICES - 2007 to 2009 Cooldine, Albertas Run and Denman won as jollies. Don Poli first since. Nick Dundee, Royal Athlete, Mr. Mulligan, Harcon, Barton Bank, One Man, Keen Leader, Our Vic, Comply or Die and since 2009, Punchestowns, Time For Rupert, Long Run, Grand Crus and Unioniste all 3/1 or under and beat. In 2016 with More Of That 6/4 fav, No More Heroes at 5/2, Blaklion 8s, this should have been a good result for the books.
THE OLD BOGEY RACE. - O'Faolains Boy 2014 joined Albertas Run in 2008 in completing the Reynoldstown/RSA double, first since Killiney ’73. 209 have tried, 11 started favourite here, only 6 others achieved a place. Bobs Worth, Nahthen Lad '96, Envopak Token, The West Awake and Kildimo all beaten in the Reynoldstown went on to win at Cheltenham. Vyta Du Roc 5th here but Minella Rocco (2nd at Ascot) took the 4 miler and Ballyalton (F) won the 2m 4f nov h'cap. Since 1996 only 8 horses have ran in the RSA after being beaten in a Reynoldstown. Bobs Worth only winner. Bigbadjohn cost me a few quid catching the brave Flintham on the line.
All 19 Kempton Feltham (now the Kauto Star Novice Chase) winners to come here have failed to do the double. Royal Vacation fortunate that Might Bite fell. Coneygree went elsewhere. Annacotty well beaten 2014, 2012 Dynaste beat in the Jewson. Even Trabolgan '05 winner was beaten a short head at Kempton before coming here. 6 horses beaten in Feltham. Frodon, Amore Alato.
Last 14 all placed at least in a Grade 1 or 2 chase. Blaklion won the G2 Towton at Wetherby.
Last years Neptune Hurdle winner hasn't figured in the finish of this since at least 1991. Yorkhill
All bar Don Poli of the last 52 winners had a run since 31 December. Don Poli won G1 Leopardstown 29th December. A difference of two days. Daft stat.
Apart from Hussard Collonges’ success in 2002, Royal Emperor placed ‘04 and According To John's 3rd in '07, 32 other Northern based have failed to reach frame during last 15. Those to flop recently include Seeyouatmidnight, Corrin Wood, Vintage Star, Mr Moonshine, Wymott. '10 legend Knockara Beau finished 4th.
FORM 38 from last 42 winners were 1st or 2nd last time (exceptions Kildimo 4th in a Reynoldstown, Lesley Ann Fell, Hanakham, 3rd in the Wincanton Gold Cup Trial and, after a gap of 16 yrs, Lord Windermere 3rd G1 PJ Moriarty).
18 of last 24 were in the first four in the market. That means 6 weren't. Not a shock.
22 of last 25 had run no more than 5 times over fences. 21 from last 23 had run at least three times over fences (not Florida Pearl nor Don Poli - unbeaten over 2. Trainer connection?).
Lord Windermere joined Cooldine, Brief Gale, Florida Pearl and Star De Mohaison to be the only 5 of the last 30 winners yet to be tried in a chase over 3 miles. The latter four all won their previous start, all bar Star in a Graded race. Lord Windermere's notes say 'kept on well' in Moriarty. Of the other 25 only Hussard Collonges (2nd twice, ‘staying on’), Nahthen Lad and Bobs Worth (both 2nd in a Reynoldstown) and Trabolgan (short head 2nd in a Feltham) had not been successful over that distance. Bobs Worth had won an Albert Bartlett.
13 from last 17 'raced up with the pace' or 'tracked leaders'. Not O'Faolains Boy, Weapon's Amnesty, Bobs Worth or Lord Windermere. Last 18 hadn't run within the last 24 days. O'Faolains Boy at 25 days the most recent runner of the 18 (and he would never have won if Smad had been allowed to go on and make the pace. Bitter? Me?).
Last 19 winners had 72 completed starts over fences. Only six unplaced completions, three of which were in Irish Grade 1 Chases. (Lord Windermere 3rd of 6 beaten 1/2 length). Blaklion was 4th of 7 in his first chase, O'Faolains Boy was 2nd of 4 in his. Don Poli, Denman, Florida Pearl and Rolling Ball in 1991 the last four to have 100% success rate over fences before this race. Don Poli and Denman the only two in last 13.
All the last 10 had between 6 and 13 runs in total over hurdles and chases.
No winner since Hussard Collonges 2002 made their chase debut over 3 miles. Also last one to fall in any of last three starts. Might Bite
No mares have won since Brief Gale in '95. (Adriana Des Mottes in 4th in 2015, only mare in last seven years. Did get a 9lb allowance).
BLINKERS CHEEKPIECES etc - No headgear winners in last 16 (Le Mercurey in 2016 finished last, two tried 2015, finished last and PU, Annacotty 8th in 2014, Wymott PU 2011)
BEATEN FAVS LAST TIME - Best race in Festival this century for beaten favourites last time winning. 3 from 23 qualifiers. Lord Noellie 2000, Hussard Collonges 2002, Trabolgan 2005. None since. Shaneshill went close last year. Now that excites me.
BREEDING 22 of last 25 NH Bred. 17 from last 20 Irish NH Bred (Blaklion by Kayf Tara (GB), Star De Mohaison and Hussard the French bred exceptions, Bostons Angel sired by Winged Love, a dual purpose sire) Since '94 no ex Flat horse has gained a place.
HURDLES Last eight winners rated 134 plus over hurdles (Blaklion 144, Don Poli 153. O'Faolains Boy 4th in an Albert Bartlett under 143, Bob Worth 150+), 11 before that weren't.
TIMES - 2016 6 mins 6, 2015 6 mins 9 secs. 2014's fast time of 6 mins dead would confirm a good pace and good ground. O'Faolains Boy, surprisingly for a son of Oscar, hadn't run over good ground since he won an Irish point. 2013 6mins 25s would suggest softish ground. In 2012, 6 mins 8 secs suggest the going as good.
Conclusion - Previous times have not been much help as an indicator. However, lets not be negative. Best times for this years candidates so far:-
Bellshill - yet to run over 3m chases but did 6 mins dead in G1 three mile novice hurdle at Punchestown
Might Bite - Would have been faster than the King George 5 mins 53 if he had stood up in Feltham
Coney Island - Leopardstown 6 mins 7secs when second to Our Duke at Christmas
Our Kaempfar - 6 m 7 secs hcap chase at Kempton
Disko - 2 m 5f Flogas G1 5 mins 31secs (26 secs above Leopardstown standard)
COURSE FORM - 5 of last 11 placed at least in a course chase that season but only Blaklion of the last six. Bostons Angel PU in an Albert Bartlett, Cooldine 7th in the Bumper 2 years previous, Lord Windermere had never been here before, O'Faolains Boy 17l 4th in Albert Bartlett. Don Poli won the Martin Pipe hurdle Ibis Du Rheu. Singlefarmpayment (Pricewise Selection) won the same December Novice Chase as Blaklion.
9 of the last 10 had previously ran at a Festival.
No horse won this since Lord Noelie '00 having raced two seasons over hurdles. And he had only one run in his first hurdle season. Rolling Ball in 1991 the last winner of this to have previously spent two full seasons over hurdles.
Blaklion first since Weapons Amnesty to have fallen that season. 2 winners out of 35 unseat/fall qualifiers.
21 of last 24 were novice hurdlers the previous season.
8 of the last 10 winners had all won listed/graded races over hurdles (not O'Faolains or Bostons Angel).
TRAINERS Paul Nicholls won in '06 and '07. Both winners ran at Exeter before the New Year. Willie Mullins has trained four Irish Winners since '85. Of his other 12 runners, three were second, one third, one fourth and six fell (2015 Don Poli, 2014 Ballycasey 4th, 2013 Boston Bob fell 2 out when right there, 2012 Call The Police 3rd. Only 6 Irish victories since 1985 but 5 of the last 8 in in '15, '13, '11 '10 and '09, three runner ups in Shanehill, Horner Woods and Lyreen Legend, a 3rd in 2014 with Morning Assembly. All five Irish trained winners finished in the first three at Leopardstown over Christmas, three in a 3m G1, one in a 2m 1f G1 and one in a beginners chase.
As 5 of last 8 Irish Trained, all bar Don Poli ran in PJ Moriarty at Leopardstown. Disko beat Our Duke (not coming). Bellshill fell when beaten.
Corals, Hills and Ppower only went 1/5 odds three places.
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). The Stats Proverb says 'Relevance Is In The Eye Of The Beholder.' 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 concerned 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.