The Winners - It started in 2005 with a 20/1 Irish winner, then a 40/1 shot of Charlie Egerton's which led from 4 out. Some sanity was regained with Gaspara, a Pipe trained 9/2 favourite which came straight from winning the Imperial Cup and here led the whole way. Then Crack Away Jack with a smooth Carberry ride, 'held up'. Silk Affair outstayed them all and Sanctuare, in 2010, was an armchair ride for Ruby. In 2011 What A Charm had a Irish flat rating of 105 and got in here with a hurdle handicap of 115. In 2012 N Henderson's 4 timer on the day was completed by Une Artiste, another 40/1 shot. In 2013 the winner was a 25/1 shot trained by G Elliott who I don't remember mentioning the words Flaxen or Flare at the Belfast Preview Night nine days earlier.
In 2014 Hawk High 33s trained by Tim Easterby, was a rare and welcome Northern Trained festival winner. 2015 Qualando at 25s, the Paul Nicholls third string beat the Paul Nicholls second string, the trainer's third winner of the day. 2016 Diego Du Charmil the 13/2 P Nicholls second fav (and plot) won having been fortunate in about three counts. Two Irish fell when coming with wet sails and his own stable companion got a bit hampered at the last and may have won in another couple of strides. In 2017 Flying Tiger at 33s from the Nick Williams yard gives Richard Johnson his first Festival winner since 2014. Noel Fehily on Divin Bere, the fav, did a fine job keeping it in prime position going round only to be nabbed on the run in by the champion jockey. There was a horse with Tiger in its name won the day before. That might have helped? And finally in 2018 another 33/1 shot, Veneer Of Charm (50s on machine) with a flat rating of 75, completed a Gordon Elliott three timer on the day. Trends, what trends?
6 of the 14 winners won last time out (and also six that finished second in the race). But only Qualando of the last eight won last time out. Dabiroun and What a Charm were both maidens and along with Flaxen Flare had been well beaten in a Irish G1 or G2 hurdles on previous run. But not Veneer Of Charm. Both Flying Tiger and Une Artiste finished 4th in the G2 Adonis at Kempton last time out. Spooky. Une Artiste and had previously won the Cl2 Victor Ludorum at Haydock. Check from Hawk High had finished last in a Cl2 Novice at Haydock. Qualando won a Cl4 all aged Novice at Exeter. 4th in a Listed hurdle in Auteuil. Diego Du Charmil last race was to finish 2nd in a £17 French hurdle. 'Rating of 133 looked kind' stated Mr Nicholls. Sure. Veneer Of Charm had finished last of seven finishers in a Navan rated Novice Hurdle.
Only Gaspara came from the handicap hurdle route. Won Imperial Cup at Sandown 4 days before. Penalised runners are two winners from six qualifiers. (Gaspara and Silk Affair). Eragon De Chanay unpl last year.
Diego du Charmil 2016 was still a maiden. Flying Tiger took four attempts to win a hurdle but only two of those were in the UK. Used to be that all winners took three attempts to win their first hurdle. 4 from the last eight winners won with their first attempt over hurdles. Diego Du Charmil was given his rating and P Nicholls was going to do nothing to harm it. Une Artiste and Sanctuaire had been running in France but both won on their first starts in England. 2011 What a Charm hadn't finished better than 5th on any of his three hurdle starts.
48 beaten favourites last time out have tried to win this. Only Diego Du Charmil at 13/2 has been successful. Style De Garde 12s did finish second last year for Nicky H.
4 of the last 12 winners have been fillies from only 14 runners in total (only one in the last two years, Unpl 2017, 2016 Missy Tata in 4th, 2015 none ran, 2014 Pipe trained Azza only one, finished 17th).
4 of the last 12 beat older horses on their latest start. Three others had also already run against elders including Veneer Of Charm.
Top rated horse on the flat has won three and been second in another. Hasn't worked in the last two years. Last year Act Of Valour (98) and 9th. 2017 Percy Street (98) finished 6th, Nietzsche off 86 was third. 2016 Duke Street off 83 badly hampered at last.
10 of the 14 ran in the previous 32 days. Veneer Of Charm 53, Flying Tiger 18, Diego 133 days, Qualando 19, Hawk High 25.
8 of 14 French bred or imports. 6 weren't.
No winner had run at Cheltenham before.
No winner that started its career under National Hunt rules did so in Britain or Ireland. All in France. A nice thought out stat from Matt Tombs Cheltenham Festival Guide. Not sure how much it will help.
First four winners and Flying Tiger came from the top third of the handicap. Other nine didn't. 13 of the 14 winners were rated between 124 and 134. Not What A Charm. Flying Tiger highest rated to win this of 134. Veneer was 129. Handicap can be now compressed as everyone fights to get in. Last year 139 - 126. 2017 not too bad 139-124. But do tend to be rated 129/130 to get a run. 2016 ratings between 128 and 142. 2015 and 2014 both covered by 12lbs.
Veneer of Charm, Flying Tiger, Hawk High, Flaxen Flare, Gaspara, Shamayoun and Crack Away had winning times in 2 miles in soft under 4 minutes 16 secs. Both Dabiroun and What A Charm who had been placed in Listed flat on soft ground. Flaxen Flare Irish flat rating of 80. Veneer of Charm 70. Hawk High rating of 80. Qualando's hadn't run over 2 miles. Its last run was over 2m 2f. Diego Du Charmil 3 mins 56 when 2nd on last run. Silk Affair had never won over the trip before (had won over 2m 2f) but was rated 94 on the Flat in Britain. What A Charm had won over 2 miles on the Flat.
11 of the 14 winners had only ran three times over hurdles. In order to get a handicap mark. The 3 others had run up a sequence of at least 3 wins that season. In Une Artiste's case, the sequence started in France. Qualando only 2 runs in Britain, unsuccessful in 3 runs in France.
BETTINGS STATS ON THE FRED WINTER - In the last four years only five in total from the first six home under 16/1. That's five from a possible thirty. 2014 Katgary (P Nicholls trained and unlucky here) in 2nd only one in the first 11 home under 16/1. Shortest priced animal in the first 14 home 2013 was 14/1. Two horses priced 10s and under finished in the first 6 in 2012. 2 in 2011, 3 in 2010. That brings the total to 23 in the 14 runnings. That's 23 out of the first 84 home returned under 16/1. (favourite has been placed in five of the last eight years, Nuba Negra 3rd at 15/2 last year). Last 5 winners priced 33s, 33s, 13/2, 25s, 33s, 25s, 40s.
D Pipe has had a winner, two second, a third and a fourth so far from a total of 13 runners. Gaspara and Ashkazar (2nd) came directly from the Imperial Cup at Sandown the Saturday before. Kazilian 4th 2012, T Scudamore went off like a scalded cat. Only three unplaced runners in total over the past six years. Changed times.
P Nicholls has run 19 French breds in this. 3 winners (in the last 8) and 7 placed. Three unplaced between the last two years.
W Mullins 0 from 12 though Voix Du Reve unlucky in 2016, Venetia Williams 0 from 9 and Philip Hobbs both 0 from 8.
Four Irish trained winners at 33s 20s, 25s and 9s, all 'mid div' or 'held up'. Three of the four Irish trained winners had contested a G1 or G2 race last time. Not Veneer Of Charm. Gordon Elliott trained the last two Irish winners.
Only 5 of the 42 horses rated 120 or less were placed. 1st and 3rd 2011 from 10 runners. Lowest rating in the last four years has been 124.
JOCKEYS - 4 conditionals have won including Nina on Dabiroun when she was claiming 5lb (second female rider to be successful at the Festival in non amateur races), Andrew Glassonbury on Gaspara, Jeremiah McGrath on Une Artiste both claiming 5. Brian Hughes good ride 2014 on Hawk High. Lizzie Kelly in 5th best conditional finisher in 2017. Bet she was both pleased and annoyed when Flying Tiger won for Richard Johnson and her father. Lizzie and James Bowen unplaced in 2018 both claiming three.
BLINKERS CHEEKPIECES etc - Four winners in thirteen races, Hawk High, Flaxen Flare, What a Charm and Shamayoun. All had worn them before but it was Flaxen Flare's first try with them over hurdles. 5 headgear wearers in rach of the last two years, beat last year Style De Garde 2nd. In 2017 best Nietzsche in 3rd. 10 headgear wearers in 2016 Romain De Senam best in 2nd. 3 first timers. In 2015, 6 headgear wearers, finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th. None first time wearers but first time tongue ties did finish 2nd and 3rd. 8 headgear wearers in 2014 with 1st and 3rd, 5 in 2013 including winner.
James Pyman, Racing Post tried to make a case that those returning to the festival the season after running in this can run well. Hmmm. Look out for Veneer Of Charm, Style De Garde, Nuba Negra or Padleyourowncanoe. Didn't work last two years. Bouvreil 2nd in this, came back to be second in the nov h'cap chase in 2016. Caid Du Berlais 3rd in this 2013, placed in Martin Pipe Hurdle 2014.
Stats? Who needs stats? Nine of the fourteen had the letter A in the first three letters of their names but none started with the letter A. Two others, Silk Affair and Une Artiste have 'A' at the start of the second bit of their name. (2015 only 9 Qualifiers including 1st, 4th and 5th. 15 qualifiers 2014 including the 1st and 2nd). Like QuAlando. In 2016 this theory didn't work from the 7 qualifiers. I am claiming that it morally worked as CAmpeador was 'mounting a strong challenge' under B Geraghty before crumpling at the last. And his next run in an all age £43k Fairyhouse H'cap might suggest that he would have gone very close here. Can't even claim a moral victory in 2017 or 2018. Best finisher 2017 was DiAblo De Sivola in 5th (Mind you, I've heard some say he was unlucky). Last year best was PAdleyourowncanoe 4th.
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.