THREE TIMES WINNERS - Can Buveur D'Air join Istabraq, See You Then, Persian War and Hattons Grace?
Can't speak for the latter two but I was present for all Festival wins of See You Then and Istabraq. See You Then got off to a flyer when Browne's Gazette, the 4/6 favourite, accidentally lost ground at the start in 1985. Memory would suggest that See You Then seemed to beat very little in the second and third wins. By the third win I think he had only three good legs but was still able to hold on from some American beast, Flatterer, flown over specially with a jockey by the name of Jerry Fishback. It was a great training performance by Nicky Henderson. As we know Itsabraq won four Festival races in a row (I still shudder at the flourishing finish of Fred Hutsby on Mighty Moss in the '97 Sun Alliance Hurdle). Itsabraq did seem to beat Theatreworld a lot but he strolled to win the Ryanair as was then and the Irish Champion Hurdle in the months before the third Champion Hurdle win.
Have been through the stats and the form below, I am going to have an opinion and say that Buveur D'Air won't do it. His performances over the past 12 months don't remind me of the supremacy that was shown by See You Then and Istabraq before their third win. I also think the 2019 Champion Hurdle field looks a trifle more competititive than what he beat in either 2017 or 2018.
AGE - 5 yr olds first.
2018, Charlie Parcs, a pointless frontrunner PU. 2017, Footpad 4th, Sceau Royal 6th, 2016 4 ran best Top Notch in 5th. 2015 two outsiders outclassed, 2014 Our Conor 5s tragically killed, Petit Zig 6th at 28s. 2013 Countrywide Flame 3rd (16s) Balder Success (UR). Before Katchit, only Persian War, Night Nurse and See You Then won as 5 yr olds.
To summarise, all 73 five yr olds since '85 were beaten, until 2008. Since then six of the 28 to try, have been placed. Apart from Binocular (2nd in Supreme) the other five finished in the first 4 in the previous year's Triumph (Farclas). Since Detroit City '06, the winner of the Triumph has ran 7 times in the following year's Champion Hurdle finishing 1/2/3/5/3/F/Last.
Katchit and Persian War '68 only two Triumph winners to win this the following year. See You Then was only second in the Triumph '84.
Espoir D'Allen didn't make the Triumph last year is Pricewise Antepost selection for this.
Last years Triumph form - Not so good. Apples Jade, Footpad, Lets Dance, Sceau Royal, Who Dares Wins, Clan Des Obeaux and Frodon came from the 2016 vintage. Like 2017, Defi Du Seuil's year, 2018 is not particularly exciting. Saldier won the four yr old G1 at Punchestown. This year Farclas and Mr Adjudicator, placed in the Triumph have yet to excel. Mind you 2016 was as good a form Triumph as I can remember.
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, all bar Penhill in the Champion Hurdle. Laurina
Since 1992, 8 novices competed in this. None of them were five year olds. Ex Flat runners Royal Gait, Alderbrook and Make A Stand all won, Rhinestone Cowboy was 3rd, Ashley Park and Self Defense 4th. (None ran in last nine years).
OLDER HORSES - Hurricane Fly was the first since Rooster Booster winner ‘03 to win at aged 9 yrs. Faugheen unplaced last year as a 10 yr old. One before that Royal Gait in 1992. In the last 18 renewals, four eight year olds and two nine years old have won. 3 of the 5 were returning to win it again. Only 4 winners older than 8 since 1951. To summarise, 14 of the last 15 aged between 6 and 8 years.
Sea Pigeon '81, last 11 yr old to win Champion Hurdle. One before that was Hatton's Grace '51. Both also won it as 10yr olds. Supasundae is 9 years.
REGAINING CROWN - Hurricane Fly and Comedy Of Errors in 1975 only ones to regain. The Fly won 22 Grade 1s, three in his final season beating the current champion on each occasion. Up with the greatest 2 mile hurdlers there have ever been, if not the best.
M/D Pipe - two winners and a two thirds from their 8 runners that started under 16/1 (‘08 Osana 2nd at 9/2, but stuffed in '09 at 13/2). Nothing good enough to compete for a few years. No Northern trained winner for 35 years. N Henderson leads Peter Easterby seven wins to five.
Last years Champion Hurdle - Buveur D'Air got home by a neck from Melon with Mick Jazz three lengths behind. In the last 19, 10 winners ran in the previous year's race. No winner was unplaced in last years race since Fakey Dove 1994 (hard to believe, but that mare ran 11 times flat and hurdles between Champion Hurdles). Since the Champion Hurdle Buveur D'Air beat a sick? Samcro at Newcastle and been turned at fours on by Verdana Blue at Kempton at Christmas. 4 of the last 12 winners finished 3rd in previous year's race. Mick Jazz not entered. Faugheen started 4/1 for last year's Champion but was well beaten in sixth. It was far from a great renewal and Buveur just got home.
BETFAIR HURDLE/TOTE GOLD TROPHY - Make A Stand only winner in last 29 to have its last race before Cheltenham in a handicap. Make A Stand joins Persian '68 as the only winners of both in the same season. Persian War then won the second of his three Ch Hurdles in '69. Last Tote Gold Trophy winner to run in this 13 months later was '03 Copeland 25/1 allegedly 'every chance when fell 3 out' in Rooster's year. I must have been watching a different race. In '94 Flakey Dove finished 3rd at Newbury then won here. Al Dancer going to the Supreme
INTERNATIONAL/BULA HURDLE - Rooster Booster ’03 first Bula/Champion Hurdle double since Comedy Of Errors ’74. Since 1987 18 winners of the 'Bula' have attempted the double. Apart from Rooster, Valiramix probably was going to win here before tragedy happened. 4 have finished 2nd (including three of the last six), one was third, one fell and the rest were unplaced (including The New One in 2014, unlucky). Rooster is the only one of the 18 who had won at the Festival in the previous year. In 2017 My Tent or Yours bt The New One, the reverse of the 2016 result. Neither turned up here last year. Melon finished third in the International before chasing Buveur D'Air home in March.
Rooster Booster only horse to do County Hurdle then Champion Hurdle (2003). Rooster came here on the back of 4 wins including Bula. Arctic Fire was beaten in the County off 141 then finished second to Faugheen. You'd be surprised.
SUPREME NOVICES ‘18 - As with the Triumph, does not compare with the 2016 vintage. 2018 nine finished in a heap in a bog. The best in the field would be Sharjah, who to his credit this year has won a Morgiana and a Ryanair, both G1s. Melon the only one to progress from 2017. He only G2 win has been at Down Royal before being second here last year. Compare 2016. Altior, Min, Buveur D'Air 3rd. First 11 home have all won decent races. Some have said that even the ambulance has been placed since. Very much a rival to the vintage of 2013.
NEPTUNE NOVICE HURDLE - Faugheen won the Neptune '14 by 4 1/2 lengths. In the last 20 years Hardy Eustace and Istabraq also doubled up. Danoli, French Holly, Peddlers Cross and The New One all placed in the Champion the year after winning Neptune. Rock On Ruby won the 2 mile championship the year after his sh hd defeat in the Neptune. It has become very obvious that the Neptune is a better guide than the Supreme to Champion Hurdle contenders. Nichols Canyon had been 3rd in each race. Samcro has disappointed for whatever reason. Next best hurdler left behind him that day is Vision Des Flo , who is 100/1 for this.
Times - Last year's time of 4 mins 5 is hard to compare as it was on heavy going. In the fastest Champion Hurdle time of the last decade, 3 mins 45.1 secs, Annie Power 2016 went round one second faster that Altior had done an hour earlier in the Supreme. In contrast the 2017 Champion Hurdle was 6 seconds slower. In 2015 3 mins 47secs in goodish ground, Douvan's 2015 Supreme was 3 secs faster than Faugheen 2 hrs later in the Champion Hurdle. In 2014 Champagne Fever timed in 3 mins 46 secs in goodish ground, one second slower than Jezki. Novices carry 3lb less. Rock On Ruby's 3 mins 50 in 2012 Champion was 6 seconds faster than the Fly in 2013 and 2 seconds faster than the Fly in 2011. Jezki did 3 mins 45.25 second fastest of the last ten Champion Hurdles. (I wonder who presses the stopwatches) Faugheen 3.54 for 2016 Irish Champion, Fly 3.57 for same race in 2015.
Fastest times this year. Sharjah 3 mins 55 secs for the Ryanair Hurdle, 3.47 Morgiana. Verdana Bleu/Buveur D'Air
3 mins 47 Kempton at Christmas, 3.58 Fighting Fifth Brain Power 4 mins 5 secs for a softish ground Bula. Boy, Cheltenham was miserable that day. Samcro 3.45 when beaten at Down Royal Apples Jade 3.45 (with two hurdles missing) in Irish Champion Hurdle.
Sectional Spotlight - Simon Rowlands ATR
Bula '71 only horse ever to do Supreme/Champion double in consecutive years. Browne's Gazette '85 should... (its ok, I hardly ever think of it now, but if you watch youtube, after losing 200 yds at the start, the tramp actually had him in second coming round the corner before fading, a 1985 lesson in trying to buy money which, luckily, has stayed with me). Summerville Boy injured. Hors La Loi and Brave Inca did win both but not in consecutive years. Since '84, only 10 have tried and only the Gazette, Like A Butterfly and Go Native (all unplaced) came to the Champion Hurdle on the back of a G1 success. Not happening this year or in the last four.
Buveur D'Air and Faugheen have joined Kribensis ’90 of the last 26 Kempton Xmas Hurdle winners to come to complete the Champion double. Verdana Bleu
Up to the introduction of the WBX Million Bonus in '08 it was true to say that anything involved in the Fighting Fifth/Kempton Hurdles had little chance here. Even though the bonus no longer exists the Fighting Fifth now does tend to attract a stronger line up. Buveur D'Air cantered home in the last two years, in 2018 when only second favourite to Samcro. In 9 of the last 10 years something at least was placed in the Champion which featured at Newcastle. Petit Mouchoir fell 2016 at Newcastle when in contention. 4 winners, 4seconds and a third. 2015 Arctic Fire 3rd at Newcastle, 2nd here. My Tent or Yours 2nd 2014, Countrywide Flame 3rd 2013, Overturn 2nd 2012, Peddlers Cross 2nd all after winning the Fighting Fifth. Buveur D'Air and Punjabi only ones to do the double. Binocular and Katchit both won Champion Hurdles after being beaten at Newcastle. In 2016 both Identity Thief and Top Notch unplaced in Ch Hurdle.
No horse has won this without having a prep run that season.
Buveur D'Air, Beech Road 1989 and Morley Road 1991 gave up novice chase careers that season to return to hurdles and win this. All three trial hurdles between novice chase career and Champion Hurdle. Buveur D'Air has won Contenders at Sandown past three seasons. Chased home by Vision Des Flos this year.
All bar Faugheen and Rock On Ruby of the last 22 winners seen out since the Saturday before AIG Irish Champion Hurdle (26th January - 44 days). All bar those two of the last 23 and 30 from last 34 winners all ran since Jan 1. Faugheen and Rock On Ruby first since Granville Again to come straight from the Christmas Hurdle. Even in 2014 N Henderson brought out My Tent Or Yours to win a February jumpers bumper at Kempton to 'try and get the freshness off him'. Nicky may know his stats but Willie doesn't seem to care for them.
Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton has a reasonable record if not recently. Kribensis '90, Alderbrook '95 won both and Punjabi was third in '09 before Cheltenham. Of the last 15 winners of the Kingwell, 12 went onto the Champion Hurdle. Hors la Loi '02 and Katchit both won, 3 others were placed. Yanworth unpl 2017. Elgin finished 5th in the Champion 2018. Grand Sancy is a novice. No Kingwell runner up in the last 17 years has gone on to win at Cheltenham that year. Ch'tibello 8th in 2018. Sceaux Royal.
21 of last 29 previous course winners. Not Buveur D'Air (obviously first time) nor Jezki (both 3rd in Supreme), Rock On Ruby (2nd in Neptune), not Binocular (had been 2nd in Supreme Novice and Ch Hurdle), Punjabi (had been 3rd in '08 Champion), Sublimity (4th in a Supreme Novice), Make A Stand (had been beaten in a h'cap). Both Royal Gait and Alderbrook were novices and had never been here before but were both Group 2 Flat winners. Hurricane Fly also not been here before his first win. Came here on the back of beating Solwhit in 4 successive G1s. Those sired by Montjeu wouldn't get up the hill, they said.
No Cheltenham Champion Bumper winner has ever been placed in a Champion Hurdle. Not relevant this year either.
18 of last 20 were placed at a previous Festival. 12 from last 21 were previous Festival winners. (Buveur D'Air, Faugheen, Fly, Istabraq three times, Hardy Eustace twice, Rooster Booster, Brave Inca, Hors La Loi and Katchit. Not Annie Power although she would have gone close in the 2015 Mares).
29 of last 35 won on most recent start, including eight of the last nine. Exceptions being Celtic Shot ’88, 2nd in an Agfa Hurdle, Granville Again ’93, 3rd in a Christmas Hurdle, Hardy Eustace ‘04 2nd in a Red Mills, Punjabi 3rd in a Kingwell, Rock On Ruby 2nd in Xmas Hurdle, Jezki last in the 2014 AIG. All the wins were over 2m or 2m1f.
27 from last 30 were favourite or second favourite on last run.
Only Rock On Ruby and Sublimity of the past 13 had yet to win a Grade 1.
All bar Buveur D'Air, Annie Power, Faugheen, Jezki, Rock On Ruby and Hardy Eustace of the last 20 winners had run at least 18 times (Flat and Jumps combined) and had won at least 6 times (includes Sublimity). Buveur D'Air 15 runs, 12 wins. Annie Power was 15 runs, 13 wins, Faugheen was unbeaten over 9 races, Jezki was 14 and 9, Rock On was 10 and 6, Hardy was 15 and 5 in ‘04. Hurricane Fly was 21 and 11 in 2011, Binocular was 18 and 11 in 2010. Against all that, only Hurricane Fly of the last 12 had run more than 12 times over hurdles.
18 from last 22 (not Buveur D'Air (6), Faugheen (7), Rock On Ruby or Sublimity) had run between 9 and 25 times over hurdles.
18 of last 22 had previously won a Grade I hurdle. Rock On Ruby short head 2nd in a Neptune. Rooster Booster came here from winning the Bula G2, Make A Stand from the G3 Tote Gold Trophy. Al Dancer for the Supreme. 17 from the last 22 had won a Grade I or 2 Hurdle that season. Annie won a G1 at the Punchestown Festival. Sublimity broke both these stats but was a listed Flat winner. Buveur D'Air first time only won a Contenders Listed Hurdle at Sandown.
Since 1984 only 6 winners were unplaced in any completed run that season. ( Jezki most recent, Binocular 5th in a Fighting Fifth ). Only Jezki, Punjabi and Binocular of last 14 unplaced in any of previous 2 runs (latter two in Kempton Xmas Hurdle, Punjabi fell when challenging). Buveur D'Air second of four at Kempton?
Faugheen only winner since at least 1993 started his racing career in a 4 yr old Irish p2p. To be fair can't think of any other runners from that route.
HEADGEAR - Blinkered runners in last 14 races - 3 wins (Hardy Eustace, great rides from C O'Dwyer, Jezki never in blinkers but straight to first time hood) and 7 placed from 42. My Tent always wears a hood. Rock On Ruby won without blinkers but wore them for the first time when second to the Fly in 2013. Mick Jazz 3rd in 2018 in a hood.
Record of previous years winner P11PR213246932441. Hardy Eustace 2005 last to win two in a row.
Punjabi in 2009 only winner this century having been beaten favourite last time out. Two last year, both unplaced.
BREEDING - 4 mares have won this in 90 years, Annie Power first since Flakey Dove '94, Dawn Run '84. Not many run. Verdana Blue
PRICE - 22 of last 26 winners found in first five in the market. Not Sublimity, Hardy Eustace ‘04, Punjabi or Binocular. You would expect that. Five favourites have won in the last eight.
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. Oh yes, and if you're called Rory Delargy, you can't win the quiz too often. Beware GO SEA - Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouraged by Alcohol. A Cotswold condition very common at this time of year.