AGE - Pacha Du Polder (what a race, what a ride Miss Harriet Tucker!) joins On The Fringe (11yrs) 2016, Cavalero (11yrs) in 2000 and Earthmover (13yrs) 2004 winning for horses over 10 yrs of age. First since Three Counties in '89. On The Fringe had become the first 10yr old winner since Baby Run 2010. In each of the last two years 12 of the 24 runners were older than 10yrs, including the first three home in that great finish last year. As a 12 yr old Barel of Laughs 14/1 3rd last year followed his fine performance in 2017 when he was the 100/1 second. 8 from 24 older than 10 yrs 2066, as well as On The Fringe, Paint The Clouds in 3rd. In 2015 , 9 from 24 last year were older than 10, Carsonstown Boy 4th. 13 from 24 qualifiers in 2014 best Pearlysteps 4th. All five of our older winners above were course winners, Pacha, the Fringe and Earthmover had won this before. Those aged 12 or over have produced two thirds from 63 triers over the last 14. Pacha Du Polder and Top Wood will both be 12 yrs young this year.
Earthmover won this as a 7yr old and a 13 yr old, trained first time by R Barber and the second time by P Nicholls.
Since 1990 Apart from On The Fringe winning in 2016, the other 27 horses that were ages 11+ and went off at less than 10/1 have been beaten. No qualifiers 2018.
In the past 16, ten aged 8 or less have been placed from 106 triers. Six won, Salsify twice. (Colman Sweeney only jockey in the past 30 odd yrs to win this on two different horses. Sleeping Knight 2005) Apart from Following Dreams 2nd 2015 at 50/1 and 2011 winner Zemsky at 33s (D O'Connor ridden), the other 6 placed 'youngsters' all priced 7/1 or less. But a seven yr old, Burning Ambition 4/1 fav last year didn't take to it, in 2017 Ask The Weatherman unpl at 13/2.
PRICE - 4 favourites and a jt fav have won in the last 17 plus one second fav at 6s. 2016 On The Fringe backed from 5/2 to 13/8 in ten minutes before the off. The rest have included a 25/1 16/1, 15/2, 14/1, 3x20/1 and 2x33/1. Eight favs and one joint favourite of the last 12 beaten favourites were trained in Ireland including Burning Ambition unpl and On The Fringe 4th at 11/8 fav in 2017. (And Salsify was pretty fortunate in 2013). Because of the ground last year Pacha Du Polder drifted from 10/1 antepost to 25/1 on the day. Luckily no one told him.
Point To Point or Handicap? - Pacha Du Polder 2018, 2017, Baby Run '10, Amicelli '08, Sleeping Night ’05 and Drombeag ’07 are recent winners not to come through point to point and hunter chase ranks. Zemsky '11 and Earthmover ’04 had been initially point to pointing before going through handicap company and then back again. Lot of debate about this recent trend but ex handicappers had been turning up in this for ages. Other examples include last year Foxrock 9/2 and Wonderful Charm 11/2 both unplaced, 2017 Wonderful Charm making it a P Nicholls 1-2 In 2016 Marito 2nd 14s for the McBratney team, Point The Toes 3rd, 2015 Point The Toes 11/4 fav, 2013 Cottage Oak (3rd) 2013 and '12 Chapoturgeon 3/1 fav and 5/1 respectively, Mighty Moss, West Tip, Flashing Steel, Cab On Target, Stearsby, Ryde Again, Lord Relic and Dorans Pride. All short enough based on past glories and beaten. Carsonstown Boy came to p2ps in 2012.
Pacha Du Polder (151) became the first ex handicapper to win this since 2005 who had been rated140+ at their peak. 59 have tried including Wonderful Charm who at one stage in his career was rated 159. Eight of them in each of the past two yrs including in 2017 those finishing in 2nd down to 6th. So be careful of previous 'class' acts. Virak, Grand Vision, Wonderful Charm, Morning Assembly, Volnay Du Thaix, Unioniste.
The last 5 different winners had all run in at least 14 chases under rules.
6 of the last nine ran in the previous years race, all finishing in the first five home.
To accentuate trend with the Irish onslaught on the Festival from Mullins and Elliott professional trainers now see this as an opportunity to get on the Festival Roll of Honour. Paul Nicholls has four wins, Enda Bolger trained On The Fringe JJ O’Neill ‘07, Twiston Davies '10 Ian Ferguson '11. The Alners in '03 with Kingscliff were the first professional trainer stables to win this since Fred Winter in the eighties. Liam Lennon was the trainer in the papers for Tammys Hill, but in post race interviews he kindly gave all the credit to JJ Smyth and his family.
Cappa Bleu, Amicelli first since Rushing Wild ‘92 not to have won a Hunters Chase at some stage. All three had never run in one. Cappa only one since Rushing Wild last one not to have won under rules.
WINNING LAST TIME OUT - 5 from last 15 did not win on previous run not winning including the three before Pacha Du Polder first time. He beat Grand Vision easy over 2m 4f at Bangor for his first win. On The Fringe seemed each year just to warm up in the Leopardstown Raymond Smith Chase before winning everything else, Tammys Hill ran 3rd to Warne over 2m 5f at Fairyhouse before his win.
Going back to ’91, 9 of last 26 had previously won at Cheltenham. Also Baby Run and Amicelli had previously been placed in a course Grade 2 hurdle, ’07 Drombeag had been 3rd in the 4 miler, ’96 Elegant Lord had been third to Fantus ’95. On The Fringe (first time) 3rd to Tammys Hill in 2014. 10 others, including Tammys had never raced at Cheltenham before. Exceptions to them all, Pacha Du Polder, beaten at two previous Festivals and Zemsky - 4th and last home in a 3 mile December course novice chase when trained by N Henderson. I must get out more.
COMING BACK AGAIN - Pacha Du Polder had been 5th in 2016 when tenderly 'supported' in the saddle by Victoria Pendleton. Well, she did her best. If you think the difference that Byrony Frost must have brought, how much did he have in hand in 2017? Then last year, Miss Harriet Tucker with an injured collar bone clung on to Pacha. He knew where the winning post was. On The Fringe has won as favourite twice 13/8 and 3/1 jt fav and 4th in 2011 as a five yr old, 11/2 second fav and third in 2014 as an 8yr old. 2013 Salsify (and Oscar Delta), Amicelli 1st '08 then 4th in '09, Whyso Mayo '07 followed up his win with a second. Last Option '03 his win with a third the next year. Behind Cappa Bleu '09 was Baby Run in third. Baby Run trifle unlucky 2011 when UR at second last. (The Doc had him covered with Zemsky) Pacha Du Polder, Wondeful Charm.
Record of previous winner is 204U1141.
Before Pacha, the Fringe and Salsify, last back to back victory Double Silk '94. Although Fantus and Earthmover have also been double winners but not in successive years.
THIRD WIN? - Hasn't been done - Double Silk (11/4) finished 5th to Fantus in his quest for a third win. Fantus (5/1) in turn ironically finished PU behind Earthmover in trying to win 3 times. Earthmover (7/1) finished 6th behind Sleeping Night when he had a go. Pacha Du Polder.
22 from last 23 last run between 12 and 41 days previous, whenever the date of the old Leopardstown race. Not Drombeag, professionally trained first run of the season.
Pacha Du Polder only one from the last 20 not to have won over 3m before this. Had been placed twice over 3m 3f at Stratford. Pacha's last run was to win a 2m4f hunter at Bangor in mid February. Check.
Don't see any recent winner in the last 10 coming from the Walrus Hunter Chase (Haydock Mid February) 2018 Virak scraped home in a swamp from Shotavodka. Both well down the field here. check
Zemsky first in cheekpieces since Drombeag. No blinkered winners. Cheekpieces and blinkers are now allowed in point to points. Neither cheekpieces nor tongue ties are recorded anywhere due to the difficulties of ensuring correct information. My thanks to Richard Pugh at the excellent www.p2p.ie. Best finisher last year, Top Wood 2nd in first time visor. 2017 best Wonderful Charm in his regular cheekpieces. 2016, best finisher Marito 2nd.
IRISH TRAINED - Last seven Irish winners On The Fringe (x2), Tammys Hill, Salsify (x2), Drombeag '07 and Whyso Mayo '06 came from Leopardstown Inn Hunter Chase (better known as the Raymond Smith) on old Irish Hennessey day won well in '10 by Kilty Storm (2nd here). '11 On The Fringe finished 4th here. 2016 You Must Know Me led all the way from It Came To Pass and Salsify, On The Fringe well beaten in 7th at Evens. Salsify weakened in fourth in 2017 after a long lay off. PU at Cheltenham. Those involved in finish of this race used to go off at too big a price at Cheltenham. THis race was one of the casualties from the successful Dublin Festival. Now moved to the Punhestown Trials Day on the 11th February. Derek O'Connor is his weekly p2p column in the Racing Post 2018 was not totally happy with this switch, stating that the inside Punchestown track is not ideal for these hunters. The 2018 version was a fantastic race, though, with Gilgamboa (not qualified) just getting the better of Burning Ambition, the new Irish p2p star. Unplaced 4/1 fav at Cheltenham.
P NICHOLLS - Won with Earthmover, Sleeping Night, 1-2 in 2017 with Pacha Du Polder and Wonderful Charm . (Some said Katie on Charm was too busy watching Jamie on The Fringe and didn't pay much attention to the PN second string. Then Pacha came back to win again Pacha Du Polder, Wonderful Charm, Virak.
Carsonstown Boy 4th 2015 year had been a fast finishing second in the 2m 5f Fairyhouse Hunter Chase 21st Feb where Tammys Hill 3rd in 2013. Check
6 from last 21 made virtually all the running (and Carsonstowns Boy 2nd 2014). Definitely not Pacha, Salsify or Zemsky, all given fine rides by Harriet Tucker, Bryony Fost, Colman Sweeney and Derek O'Connor. Jane Mangan took the lead on Oscar Delta from 4 out. Pacha Du Polder 'chased leaders' and 'held up.' The Fringe tended to 'lead last'.
50 last time beaten favourites have run this century. 5 winners Pacha Du Polder last year at 25s, On the Fringe both times, Tammys Hill and Earthmover. The latter came from Fontwell, a course that would probably not have suited him. Level £1 stakes backing all 50 puts you £4.75 in front.
JOCKEYS - Harriet Tucker became only the third winning jockey this century who could normally claim 7lb
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.