AGE - In its 46 year modern existence only Solwhit, Gaye Chance, Crimson Embers, Galmoy, Inglis Drever and Big Bucks have won this race when aged 9 or over. Solwhit was a 6 time G1 winner. All bar Solwhit were previous Festival winners and of those only Gaye Chance had not won this race before. Gaye Chance was the last of Fred Rimell's 27 Festival winners. Those possibles aged nine yrs or older in 2019 include Pallasator, Unowhatimeanharry, Faugheen, Aux Petit Soins. The latter three are all Festival winners. ( mind you, Harry Fry Feb 20th last year, Unnowhat's 'a ten year old now so he's got some task on his hands' He's now eleven)
6 and 7 year olds. They have taken 21 from the last 28. As 8 year olds, Inglis Drever and Baracouda were winning for the second time, Big Bucks for the third. The other three were Thistlecrack, Anzum and Balasani (of which I can find nothing else in common). Cole Harden and More of That at 6 yrs were first time winners. Going back 24 races, first time winners were aged Solwhit (9), Thistlecrack and Anzum (8) in 1999, Balasani (8) in 1994. The other 21 first time out winners were aged 6 or 7.
No 5 year old has ever won this race. French bred 5 yr olds such as Le Coudray, Cyborgo and Escartifigue went close and Smad Place was third in 2012. What would have happened if he had been allowed to lead, Mr King? 5 of the 11 five year olds to run in the last 14 editions have been placed (and 4 of the last 6). No five yr olds have run in the last five years. Farclas
Crimson Embers won as a 7 yr old and then in 1986 as the only 11 yr old to succeed . If I remember right he was also returning from an injury. Some present in 1985 say he was unlucky not to be awarded the race as a 10 yr old when allegedly the victim of 'slight' interference from stable mate/same owner and favourite Rose Ravine. There was no objection from connections. Indulge me and click on this. Its fantastic to hear that Voice again. I backed Rose Ravine, seemed ok to me https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tO5fuKe9BlE
HISTORY - Only Rose Ravine, Inglis Drever, Big Bucks (twice) and Thistlecrack have done the Cleeve Hurdle/Stayers double. Paisley Park from West Approach. Unowhatimeanharry 3rd here in 2017 when odds on. Saphir De Rheu 2nd here after winning on Trials Day 2016. 2015 Cole Harden when he won the Stayers was only fourth home in the January soft ground. 2014 At Fishers Cross (2nd in January, 3rd in March). 2013 Reve De Sivola winner was 4th in March. Bacchanal and Inglis were 2nd in the Cleeve and Anzum unplaced in January before coming to win here. The Cleeve was only upgraded to 3 miles and Grade 2 status in '05. The last 10 winners of the Cleeve to run here have finished 2/3/1/1/0/2/1/4/1/3 in this race. In '07 Inglis was 2nd to Blazing Bailey in Cleeve before winning World Hurdle. In '10, Time for Rupert 2nd in Cleeve and 2nd here. Grand Crus in 2011 won the Cleeve and finished runner up in March.
Inglis Drever, Big Bucks and Thistlecrack only horses to have done the Long Distance Hurdle (Newbury Hennessey day)/Stayers double. Unowhatimeanharry. Thistlecrack, Big Bucks and My Way De Solzen have both done the Long Walk/Stayers double although My Way's Long Walk was held at Chepstow. Paisley Park
Big Bucks only ran one season in all of the Long Distance at Newbury, the Long Walk and the Cleeve winning them all by 5l, 8l and 7l respectively. In 2016 Thistlecrack won all three by 6l, 8l and 12l respectively. Unowhatimeanharry won all three by 6l, 4.5l and 1.75l respectively. Unowhatimeanharry then beaten here at 5/6 in 2017.
No horse has done the Haydock Trial/World Hurdle double. Baracouda did win both when the Rendlesham was held at Kempton. Check
Penhill, Faugheen, Katchit in 2008, Istabraq and Hardy Eustace are the only winners of Festival novice hurdles since 1984 to have returned to Cheltenham and won any hurdle race the following year.
Penhill became the first Stayers Hurdle winner to have ever run in any of the 14 Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdles never mind do the double. Paisley Park. For those concerned with the fact that Paisley Park was well beaten in last year's Albert Bartlett, my thanks to Rory Delargy for pointing out to me this list of subsequent Festival winners to have suffered the same fate. Chief Dan George, Bostons Angel, Oscar Park, Cape Tribulation, Teaforthree, The Druids Nephew, O'Faolins Boy, Black Hercules, Blaklion, Native River, Balko Des Flos. Also throw in other NH big guns such as Carruthers and Elegant Escape. Not any Stayers winners I grant you, and not all in the immediate year after, but grounds for hope I would suggest.
24 of last 26 had shown 'good' if not winning previous course form (not Solwhit or My Way De Solzen, Long Walk Winner. Both SP under 9/1). Penhill we know about. Nichols Canyon 3rd in both a Neptune and a Champion Hurdle. More of That won the G2 Relkeel. Cole Harden 3rd of 7 in a Relkeel, 4th of 6 in the Cleeve. Good course form? I'll give it to him.
15 of last 18 had won at least a G2 Hurdle over less than 2m 5f. Taken a hit recently. Not Penhill, (only a G3), Cole Harden nor Thistlecrack. The latter went straight from 5th in the Imperial Cup Sandown h'cap to cruising home in the G1 Aintree 3 mile novice. Never looked back from there.
IRISH TRAINED - Willie Mullins has now taken the last two with Penhill and Nichols Canyon. Solwhit in 2013 first Irish Trained winner since Dorans Pride 1995. Placed Irish trained Supasundae 6/1, Annie Power (11/8 fav 2nd), Voler La Vedette, Mourad, Powerstation (3rd in 2010 and 2009) Kazal, Rule Supreme, Limestone Lad (twice), Golden Cross, Bannow Bay and Le Coudray as all placed in the last 16 races. Solerina and Sallie's Girl were also 4th.
Penhill, Nichols Canyon, Voler La Vedette and Powerstation in 2010 were not the shortest priced of the Irish runners. Snow Falcon, 5th behind Nichols Canyon in 2017, best of the Irish rest. 3 in 2016, best Alpha Des Obeaux in 2nd chasing Thistlecrack. Five tried in 2015, a disappointing bunch, best home was 8th. Supasundae, Apples Jade, Penhill, Lets Dance, Shaneshill.
Penhill, Nichols Canyon and Solwhit did not come from the Boyne Hurdle at Navan in mid February. The three previous Irish trained did. Also Golden Cross was 2nd here. Check. Solwhit won the 2m 4f Limestone Lad hurdle at Naas. The race has been shortened to a 2 miler (Espoir D'Allen in 2019).
Mares with their 7 lbs allowance. 21 have tried in the past 23. One winner, 3 seconds, 2 thirds and four fourths. (Voler La Vedette 2nd under a great ride by Andrew Lynch in 2012, Annie Power 2nd 2014). None ran in 2016 or 2017, three last year, best Colins Sister RIP 33s in fourth.
31 from last 33 winners all 1st or 2nd in either of last two runs. Not Cole Harden. Apart from Nichols Canyon (fell in Irish Champion Hurdle, everything since ’86 had finished in the first four last time out. All bar Nichols and Cole of the last 15 winners were 1st or 2nd last time out. All bar Nichols and Cole of the last 15 winners did not finish outside the first 2 in any hurdle run that season. More Of That was unbeaten throughout career before this.
Second season hurdlers - 14 of the last 23. 6 other versions were won by multiple winners after their first win. Nichols Canyon and Solwhit the first exceptions to this all since Anzum '99.
16 of last 18 had won that season (Penhill and 2004 Iris’s Gift – one run 2nd). Nichols Canyon had won the Morgiana. Cole Harden won the Wetherby G2 on Charlie Hall day.
Apart from Penhill, last 18 winners number of previous runs that season between 1 and 4. Nichols and Cole had 4. Thistlecrack and the nine previous winners to Cole Harden had no more than 3 runs..
Solwhit's win in 2013 was his 20th race over hurdles, Big Bucks' fourth win was his 29th, Inglis's third win was his 21st over hurdles, Nichols Canyon's was his 17th. Besides those, 15 of last 20 had between 6 and 17 runs over hurdles before this. Other exception was More Of That, only 4 previous runs. Big Bucks retired after 33 runs over hurdles. Penhill - nine hurdle runs.
Rustle, Karshi, Trapper John, Inglis Drever all placed in previous years Neptune Novice Hurdle before winning this. Cole Harden had finished 7th. N/A in 2016 though Nichols Canyon showed up a year later. None coming this year although Supasundae won the 2017 Coral Cup easy enough a little later. He carried 3 lb less than Willoughby Court but his time was 4 seconds faster than the Ballymore. Comparing years, Yorkhill's Neptune was two seconds faster than Diamond King's Coral Cup in 2016. Black Op
More Of That (Haydock 2m 4f Fixed Brush), Big Bucks (first time) and My Way De Solzen all ran in a handicap hurdle in the same season they won this. Paisley Park
HEADGEAR - No headgear winners from last 54 triers til Nomadic Way in 1992 (3 last year, all unplaced. Seven in 2017, valiant effort by Lil Rockerfeller in 2nd (should be in the four miler this year says my torn up antepost docket). Only At Fishers Cross in 2016 , his third attempt and PU. Four tried in 2015, Zarkandar 3rd).
HORSES IN FESTIVAL FORM - Cole Harden and My Way de Solzen only ones of the last 20 not to have been placed (at least) in a Grade I hurdle in the previous years Festival if given the chance (Solwhit injured in 2012 - no appearance). Doran’s Pride as well, but he fell at the last when disputing second in the Sun Alliance Novice Hurdle. Thistlecrack went to Aintree and missed Cheltenham.
Of the 27 different winners since ’83 only Cole Harden, Big Bucks, My Way, Doran’s, Balasani and Shuil Ar Aghaidh had been unable to gain a place at the previous Festival when given the opportunity to do so. The latter pair had been unplaced in one of the handicap hurdles. Big Bucks was unplaced in Jewson '08. .
The Relkeel was won by Camping Ground with Cole Harden well behind in 2015. Relkeel had been won in 2013 by More Of That before winning here. Midnight Shadow from Wholestone.
Can't find a winner of this who finished unplaced in it the previous year. Sams Spinner?.
PRICE - Penhill 12s, Nichols Canyon 10s, Cole Harden biggest priced winner since 1999. More Of That 15/2 2014. There have been 7 favourites win in last 18. Before that the previous three went 40/1, 16/1 and 20/1. 12 horses outside the first 4 in the betting have been placed since 2002. (Penhill and Wholestone 3rd last year, Lil Rockerfeller 33s, Bobs Worth 33s, Celestial Halo 40s, Smad Place 9s, Powerstation did it twice. Not a remarkable stat).
Cole Harden first frontrunner to be successful since Cyborgo in ’96. Limestone Lad placed in '02 giving his all behind the Fish (Baracouda). Bog Warrior a gallant 5th in 2013. Fractured his near fore coming down the hill.
TIMES: Fastest recent time was Bacchanal ‘00 in 5 mins 36 secs on good to firm followed by My Way De Solzen in 5.38. Cole Harden 5mins 41 the same time as Call The Cops in the Pertemps. Penhill 6 mins 20 in slow ground, 10 seconds slower than Delta Work earlier that day. Nichols Canyon 5 mins 50 secs, the same as Presenting Percy slightly earlier. Thistlecrack 5mins 43s, 6 secs faster than Mall Dini earlier. Iris Gift did it in 5.49, the Fish in ’03 was 5.41. More Of That 5 mins 49s was again the same time as the earlier h'cap.
Solwhit's 2013 Stayers Hurdle win was timed at 6 minutes 25 secs on officially good to soft ground. This was a full 25 secs slower than Holywell's win in the earlier handicap hurdle and the latter carried only 6lbs less.
Times for three 3 mile novice hurdles run on the next day. Black Jack Ketchum 5.38 (same time as that years Stayers) and Witchita Lineman in 5.43 which was three seconds faster than his elders. Very Wood 5.50 in 2014. 2015 Martello Tower 6 mins dead after overnight rain. 2016 Unowhatimeanharry 5 mins 48 secs. 2017 Penhill in 5.50, he same as Nichols Canyon and Percy. Spooky. Novices carry 5 lb less. Kilbricken Storm last year was 6 mins 14 sec after Fabulous Saga tried to stretch them out.
FORM OVER 3 MILES. Since 1989 there have been 22 different winners of this race. 8 of them were attempting 3 miles for the first time in UK or Ire. They were Nichols Canyon (had actually tried it in America) More Of That, Solwhit, Inglis Drever, Bacchanal, Karshi, Princeful and Nomadic Way. Inglis actually came here from winning the Haydock Champion Hurdle Trial and then the Kingwell at Wincanton in 3m 47secs. He had been second to Fundamentalist in the Neptune Novice Hurdle the previous season. Petit Mouchoir, Farclas
Up to 2013, only 4 of the previous 33 win and place had not won over 3 miles. Inglis was joined by Kazal and Crystal D'Ainay who were placed in Graded 3 milers before this and Smad Place 2011 on his first run over 3 miles. Kazal had won a Graded Race over 2m 6f in a Limerick bog. . None of More of That, Annie Power, Solwhit or Celestial Halo had previously tried 3 miles over hurdles. All placed horses in last four years had Graded place form over 3 miles. In 2018 they had had previous G1 form over 3 miles.
Nichols Canyon and Solwhit are the first ex champion hurdle contenders to win since Nomadic Way in 1992. He had been 6th to Binocular in 2010. Since Nomadic Way, Zaynar, Ashkazar, Hardy Eustace and Oscar Whisky tried unsuccessfully. Celestial Halo ran with merit when 2nd to Solwhit. He had been 4th to Binocular and 2nd to Punjabi in Champion Hurdles. Yanworth, Petit Mouchoir.
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. 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.