AGE - Since Minnehoma ’92 all 32 horses aged 9 and above have been beaten. None ran in the last two years. So close, Whisper 2017 but I think Might Bite would have been unlucky to lose the race. No qualifiers in the previous four years, Call The Police 3rd in 2012). 21 of last 26 winners were 7 or 8 years of age. Seven year olds won 12 of the last 13. Exceptions were Might Bite at 8 years and then you have to go back to 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 Delta Work 3rd last year and Burton Port was 2nd in 2011. 5yr olds recently - None ran two years, 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 25 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. 1-2 last two both pairs of seven year olds.
PRICES - From '07 to '09 Cooldine, Albertas Run and Denman all won as jollies. Don Poli, Might Bite and Presenting Percy those since. That's three in the last five. 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, Unioniste, More Of That (6/4) and Delta Work (15/8) all 3/1 or under and beat.
21 of last 27 were in the first four in the market. That means 6 weren't. Not a shock. Mind you only O'Faolains Boy, 12/1 in 2014 is the only winner above 8/1 in the last eight.
THE REYNOLDSTOWN. THE OLD BOGEY RACE. - O'Faolains Boy joined Albertas Run 2008 in completing the Reynoldstown/RSA double, first since Killiney ’73. 22 have tried, 11 started favourite here, only 6 others achieved a place. Mister Malarkey 4th las year, Black Corton, fifth to Presenting Percy at Cheltenham. Bobs Worth '12, Nahthen Lad '96, Envopak Token, The West Awake and Kildimo all beaten in the Reynoldstown went on to win at Cheltenham. Ms Parfois, 2nd at Ascot, just outstayed by Rathvinden in the 4 miler.
(I'll digress for a minute. My Uncle Gerald and I went to the Festival in 1987. On the Wednesday he had a serious view on Kildimo for the RSA. Strode towards the ring, money firmly in hand, keen on the 5/1. As he approached a rails bookmaker, one very dapper snooker player, a Mr Willie Thorne, stepped in front of my uncle. Willie said to the bookie '£5000 to two, Bolands Cross.' Bookie just nodded. It was 1987. My uncle paused and said to himself, 'well, Willie must know what he's doing...' Uncle Gerald not great craic that night. Never forgave Willie..)
Back to the Reynoldstown. In 2016 Vyta Du Roc won at Ascot but 5th here. Minella Rocco (2nd at Ascot) took the 4 miler and Ballyalton (F) won the 2m 4f nov h'cap. Since 1996 only 10 horses have ran in the RSA after being beaten in a Reynoldstown. Bobs Worth only winner. Now McGinty and Top Ville Ben unsuccessful. Copperhead easy from Two For Gold. In a time 2 secs faster that Ballyoptic won slighty later off a handicap mark of 157. Did carry 10lbs more.
All 21 Kempton Feltham (now the Kauto Star Novice Chase) winners to come here have failed to do the double. Some have said this stat survives thanks to Darryl Jacob on Might Bite. Royal Vacation very fortunate at Kempton the day Might Bite fell at the last and therefore this stat may have be consigned to dust. Last year La Bague Au Roi took the easier 68k at the DRF, then Aintree. Very wise, Mr Greatrex. Topofthegame was second at Kempton. Annacotty well beaten here 2014, 2012 Dynaste beat in the Jewson. Even Trabolgan '05 winner was beaten a short head at Kempton before coming here. 2017 at Kempton Black Corton beats Elegant Escape and then only 5th to Presenting Percy. A fortunate winner at Kempton after Fountains Windfall RIP fell going strongly 4 out. Slate House from Black Op. Slate House's time was about 15 seconds slower, ground was soft compared to good to soft in 2018.
Last 17 RSA winners all placed at least in a Grade 1 or 2 chase. Not Might Bite but I am going to give it to him (Kempton). Percy second at Gowran. Blaklion won the G2 Towton at Wetherby.
Last years Neptune Hurdle winner hasn't figured in the finish of this since at least 1991. City Island can't jump, Samcro went another route.
Topofthegame joined Don Poli to be the exceptions of the last 55 winners had a run since 31 December. Don Poli won G1 Leopardstown on the 29th December. Goes back to Boxing Day now, that 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. No triers last three years.
FORM - 41 from last 45 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). The better stat is that all bar Lord Windermere this century 1st or 2nd last time out.
24 of last 27 had run no more than 5 times over fences. 24 from last 26 had run at least three times over fences (Topofthegame, three chases over two seasons. Exceptions to last Florida Pearl and Don Poli - but they were unbeaten over 2 chases. W Mullins. Don't think he is a stats man).
4 of the last 6 Irish Winners ran in the Flogas Chase on Dublin Festival Day. But no winner of this since Lord Windermere in 2013. Not Percy, Monalee was second at Cheltenham. Faugheen.
Neville Hotels Chase Xmas Leopardstown - Bostons Angel and Don Poli won both, No More Heroes 4th at Cheltenham when 5/2, Delta Work third when fav. Battleoverdoyen
Young Hustler '93 last horse to win this with more than 10 previous chase runs. He had 13. Thats a lot.
Lord Windermere joined Cooldine, Brief Gale, Florida Pearl and Star De Mohaison to be the only 5 of the last 33 winners yet to be tried in a chase over at least 3 miles. Only winner in the last ten. 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. To be honest, you wouldn't have backed him in a fit three out here until Boston Bob fell at the last. Of the other 26 only Topofthegame, 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 chase distance. Bobs Worth had won an Albert Bartlett.
15 from last 20 'raced up with the pace' or 'tracked leaders'. Percy not so in the bog. Might Bite very much so. Not O'Faolains Boy, Weapon's Amnesty, Bobs Worth or Lord Windermere. Last 21 hadn't run within the last 24 days. Percy and O'Faolains Boy at 25 days the most recent runner of the 20 (and he would never have won if Smad had been allowed to go on and make the effing pace. Two years later Wayne Hutchinson in the 2015 Hennessey decides to go against trainer instructions, take the lead and wins by an ever increasing 12 lengths. Alan King asked gently on C4 by AP after he won the Cotswold. 'Do you think he could make the running?' Now stop it, Bryan. Smad was placed in a Stayers as a five year old. He was never going to get any faster. A great trier).
Last 21 winners had 76 completed starts over fences. Only seven unplaced completions, three of which were in Irish Grade 1 Chases. (Lord Windermere 3rd of 6 beaten 1/2 length). Might Bite made a hash of the last when 2nd of 3 in his first chase, Blaklion was 4th of 7 in his, 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 15.
All the last 12 had between 6 and 13 runs in total over hurdles and chases. Topofthegame had 10, Percy had 13, Might Bite had nine.
No winner since Hussard Collonges 2002 made their chase debut over 3 miles. Might Bite the first since Hussard last one to fall in any of last three starts.
No mares have won since Brief Gale in '95. (Drinks Interval 100/1 PU last year, Briery Belle 25s and PU 2017, Adriana Des Mottes in 4th in 2015, only ones to run in last nine years. The latter ran when as a five year old and got a 9lb allowance).
BLINKERS CHEEKPIECES etc - No headgear winners in last 18 (Delta Work 3rd last year in usual hood, Full Irish PU 2017 Royal Vacation PU regularly wears blinkers, Le Mercurey in 2016 finished last, two tried 2015, finished last and PU, Annacotty 8th in 2014, Wymott PU 2011) Last year 5 of the 11 runners wore som sort of headgear but none of the first two home.
BEATEN FAVS LAST TIME - Best race in Festival this century for beaten favourites last time winning. 4 from 26 qualifiers. Presenting Percy had been evens fav at Gowran. First since Trabolgan 2005, Hussard Collonges. Shaneshill went close in 2016.
BREEDING 25 of last 27 NH Bred. 19 from last 24 Irish NH Bred (Topofthegame by Fleminsfirth, Presenting Percy by Sir Percy (GB), fast ground Derby winner. Might Bite by Scorpion, Irish 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.
TIMES - 2019 6 mins 17 in soft 2018 6mins 32 also in soft 2017 6 mins 9 including that bit when Might Bite went missing. 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 6 mins 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:-
Feltham - Slate House in 6 mins 17, slower than last two renewals.
Leopardstown Flogas Chase - Faugheen from Easy Game in 5 mins 34 secs, 2mile 5f (great to have been there)
Leopardstown Neville Hotels Chase Xmas Battleoverdoyen 6 mins 15 secs good ground in a three horse race.
Simon Rowlands ATR Sectionals Spotlight
COURSE FORM - 5 of last 14 placed at least in a course chase that season but only Blaklion of the last eight. Topofthegame had been touched off in the previous year's Coral Cup at 9/1. Percy strolled the Pertemps in 2017 (when vastly overhandicapped, I believe) . Might Bite had won a £10k novice hurdle but had not impressed in two attempts at course novice chases. 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 Champagne Classic. Champ, Pym, Black Op
11 of the last 13 had ran previously at a Festival. Not Might Bite nor Lord Windermere.
Topofthegame joins Might Bite as being the first since Lord Noelie '00 to have raced two seasons over hurdles. The latter two had only one hurdle in one of those seasons. Last years winner came back to hurdles from one unsuccessful chase. Rolling Ball in 1991 the last winner of this to have previously spent two full seasons over hurdles.
Might Bite, Blaklion first since Weapons Amnesty to have fallen that season. Might Bite first one to fall within last three starts. The Feltham,. Darryl.
HURDLES - Last six winners rated at least 143 over hurdles (Top 154, Percy 157, Might Bite 148, Blaklion 144, Don Poli 153. O'Faolains Boy 4th in an Albert Bartlett under 143, Lord Windermere 135, Bob Worth 150+ Bostons Angel 139, Weapons Amnesty 140+), 11 before that weren't.
23 of last 26 were novice hurdlers the previous season. Not Topofthegame.
ALBERT BARTLETT HURDLE - Blaklion, Bostons Angel and O'Faoloins were beaten in the Albert Bartlett before coming to win this race. Bobs Worth and Weapons Amnesty both did the double. Santini, Monalee placed in both. Elegant Escape placed in RSA after finished 7th in an Albert Bartlett. No More Heroes 4th in RSA after being 3rd in AB. That's 5 winners from the last decade. Minella Indo, Allaho, First Approach
10 of the last 13 winners had all won listed/graded races over hurdles (not Might Bite, O'Faolains or Bostons Angel. Might Bite had won a £20k Cl2 at Kempton).
TRAINERS Paul Nicholls won three '06 and '07 and last year. Danny Whizzbang. All three winners ran at Exeter before the New Year. Willie Mullins has trained four. Faugheen, Alloha, Easy Game Of Willie's other 15 runners, three were second, two thirds, one fourth and seven fell (No runner last year, Al Boum Photo fell in third at the second last in 2018, Bellshill 3rd 2017, Shanehill 2nd 2016, 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 6 of the last 11 and three runner ups in Shanehill, Horner Woods and Lyreen Legend, 3rds in 2014 with Morning Assembly and Delta Work. All bar Presenting Percy of the last 6 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.
Six of the last 10 were Irish trained from 5 different trainers. Four of the Irish winners ran in PJ Moriarty/Flofas at Leopardstown. Not Percy, not Poli.
Gordon Elliott yet to win this.
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.