2017 After a fantastic duel between Pendra and Doomsday Book, Derek O'Connor's gallant partner just ran out of puff on the run in, giving a first Festival success for trainer Stuart Edmunds and Gina Andrews. The cavalry were closing in fast behind. Apart from Pendra (9yrs) the rest of the first six home were seven yr olds.
2016 Cause Of Causes an 8 yr old whoosed by the placed two seven yr olds and an eight year old. Cause Of Causes was one of those horses, as soon as you utter the words 'Well, Jamie is going to have difficulty winning from there', you realised that you know nothing about the game.
AGE - 2015 The Package aged 12 in first time blinkers. Not out for 96 days. Festival record P2431, all in handicaps. 'Clear last, pushed out, comfortably' Great Festival favourite and what a training performance by D Pipe. Another nice ride by Jamie Codd. The oldest horse before that machine to win this was Omerta in 1991 as an eleven year old. Omerta was trained by MC Pipe and ridden by a 7 lb claimer called Adrian Maguire. Loads of eleven yr olds and older tried since Omerta, 6 gained a place. (10 in total unplcd over the past three years, 6 tried in 2014, Roberto Goldback 3rd at 16s. Twenty unplaced qualifiers between Roberto and the 13 yr old Lord Of The River trained by N Henderson 2nd in 2005 @ 50s). The Package only horse over 9 years of age to win this since Maximise at 10yrs in 2004 trained by, yes you've guessed it. M Pipe.
7 to 9 years, 12 from last 13. 16 winners from last 21 older than seven yrs (not Spring Heeled, Same Difference, Cloudy Lane '07 or Stop the Waller '96, all 7 yrs olds). Placed horses behind the Package were 9 and 10 yr olds. 2014 and 2013 two second placers were Cause Of Causes (6 yrs) and Super Duty (7). No 6 yr old winner of this since 1971. Only one last year was Squouateur fav under Jamie Codd UR 'when going ok'
WEIGHT - 9 winners in last 28 years carried over 11st 2lbs to victory after taking into account jockeys claim. That includes eight of the last nine (Doomsday Book 11st 4lb, Cause Of Causes 11st 9lbs, The Package 11st 4lbs Spring Heeled carried 11st 6lbs, '12 Sunnyhillboy 11st 11, '11 Faasel 11st 9lb, '10 Ballabriggs under top weight 11st 12lbs, '09 Character Building 11st 12lb). 2013 Same Difference carried 11st after taking off Ryan Hatch's 7lbs.
But the last eight races were very compressed handicaps. Bottom weight hasn't been less than 10st 8lbs after jockeys allowances for some time. Last year bottom weight was 11st before claim 2016 was 10st 12, 2015 was 10st 11lbs and 10st 13 in 2014. It has become a skill in itself for trainers to get horses into some of these handicaps.
RATINGS - 15 of last 17 win and placed horses rated over 135 . Last 9 winners all rated at least 134. Junior 134, Character Building 139, Ballabriggs 140, Same Difference 137, Spring Heeled 140, The Package 137, Cause Of Causes 142, Doomsday Book 137. In both 2017 and 2016 first four home rated at least 137.
Since this race moved to the New Course, five of the nine winners ran in a course h'cap chase at the INTERNATIONAL Meeting, 4 in the Unicorn 3m 2f one won this season by Robinsfirth, Beat Shanroe Santos and Southfield Theatre. Looking at the ratings, you might expect it. Exceptions to running there were, Doomsday Book, Cause Of Causes and the two novices, Same Difference and Ballabriggs.
PRICE 6 winning favourites since 1977 including Sunnyhillboy 2012, Junior 2011, Cloudy Lane '07 and The Bushkeeper '02. The last 4 winners have gone Same Difference 16/1, Spring Heeled 12/1, The Package 9s, Cause Of Causes 9/2 second fav, Domesday Book 40/1.
This century 33 beaten favourites last time have gone to post. No winners including Champagne James 2015 backed from 8s to 4s in the 15 minutes before the off. None of the three qualifiers placed last year.
FORM - 15 from last 24 finished 1st or 2nd in either of last two starts. (three others were Pipe trained, Character Building, Same Difference and High Chimes only achieved a 3rd place two runs previous). Spring Heeled last run finished 10th in Leopardstown Paddy Power Chase, Cause Of Causes warmed up in a 2 mile jog in a Navan 2 miler. Doomsday Book 3rd at Leicester.
Apart from Cause Of Causes, the last 24 winners all competed in a handicap last time out. Junior and Sunnyhillboy were in handicap hurdles. Same Difference 6th in G3 Racing Plus Chase at Kempton. Will hardly be a discriminator.
16 from last 19 ran over at least 3 miles last time. Not the last two winners.
11 from last 15 has won over 3 miles. Exceptions Doomsday Book, previously 6th in a Troytown, Spring Heeled 2nd in a 3m Munster National, Character Building placed in a Hennessey, Sunnyhillboy placed in an Irish National. The latter pair were both previous Festival placed.
14 from last 20 had run between 10 and 20 times over fences. 5 others had run less than 7 times over fences. They were three winning favourites, a winning 8/1 2ndfavourite and Same Difference, a novice. Exception to the lot, Domesday Book with 9 chase runs.
9 from the last 12 no more than 11 runs over fences, but not Cause of Causes or The Package. Last 14 winners at least two runs this season.
8 of the last 18 had never raced at Cheltenham before. 8 other had placed course form. . Cause Of Cause had been placed in this before and won the 4 miler as a second season novice. The Package loved the place. Junior 2nd season before in G3 course chase. Character Building had been 2nd in the 4 miler in '07. Sunnyhillboy placed in this in 2010 and was a course winner. Exceptions to all are Domesday Book unpl Close Bros h'cap and Spring Heeled who could only manage 8th behind Alvarado in the 3m 3f Graded Cheltenham Chase in November.
9 from last 11 had competed in at least a G3 that season. The other two had won Cl2 handicap chases. Domesday 6th in Troytown.
TRAINERS D/M Pipe trained four of the last 15 with The Package, Junior, Royal Predica and Maximise. Also Faasel has been second in both 2011 and 2010. Ran seven in total over the last two years including in 2016 Dr Harper fav and disappointing, Amigo 5th at 33s and Top Wood 25s 'disputing close second when fell 4 out'.
The last four horses D Pipe trained to finish 1st or 2nd in this had not been seen for 96, 267, 75 and 97 days respectively. Amigo 5th last year, hadn't been seen for 293 days. Spring Heeled not out for 76 days, Same Difference only 19 days. Pendra, runner up last year hadn't been let lose by Charlie Longsdon for 341 days.
N Henderson - ’02 The Bushkeeper 11st 2lb and ’05 Juveigneur 11st 7lbs both big weight carrying winners. Last year, saddled four, Premier bond 3rd, Sugar Baron 6th. 2016 Ericht hit a few fences, unpl. Roberta Goldback 3rd 2014. One runner unplaced in each of 2013 and 2012, no runner in 2011.
IRISH TRAINED - IMPROVING - Cause of Causes and Spring Heeled shatter the stat of Greasepaint being the only Irish trained winner in 30 years. Ireland has provided 7 favourites in the past 15. All beaten. Before 2016 J.P. McManus had been a particular sufferer with his Irish trained (happy enough with Jonjo, though). Last year Pendra nearly made up for Squouteur' unseat. 2015, 6 Irish Trained ran finishing 2nd, 3rd and 5th. 2014 Irish Trained finished 1st, 2nd, 4th (Ballinaslow for W Mullins). 2013 4 ran, best was Romanesco in 3rd (and some said that Nina gave those in front of her a touch too much rope) also Becauseicouldntsee in 5th. 2012 5 tried, finished 2nd, 4th and 5th. '11 Deal Done 3rd at 20s from 3 runners. '10 3 tried, all unplaced. In' 09 best of Irish 3 was Newbay Prop in 3rd, '08 3 tried all unplced, '07 3rd and 4th achieved from 4 runners. Punching weight well above numbers
OTHER TRAINERS - Apart from Henderson and Pipe, Messrs McCain, Alner and Ferdy Murphy have all saddled at least 2 winners of this. McCain fav 2014 with Indian Castle (7th), 2nd 2013 with Super Duty, Khachaturian 5th to Ballabriggs. P Nicholls has not done well here with a 4th best finish from his 20 runners. Unioniste and Mon Parrain unpl last two years. Just A Par unpld 2105, 2 runs later he won the Whitbread/Bet365. (Referred again to lack of success in his column, feels his handicap chasers tend to come to the Festival 'a bit exposed' - no runners in 2012 nor 2013).
Trevor Hemmings has owned 3 of the last 12 winners.
CARNAGE - 4 horses F or U 2016, 7 in 2015 fell, unseated or brought down. Can be the worst race at Festival for this.
BLINKERS ETC - Before 2011 horse with any type of headgear were 0 from 64 over the previous 12 years. Changed now. In 2011 the first seven home were blinkered, those finishing 3rd and 5th were for the first time. In 2012, 9 tried, best Exmoor Ranger in 3rd. In 2013 Same Difference won in a first time visor, Alfie Sherrin 4th in cheekpieces. In 2014 10 of the 23 runners wore some sort of headgear including Spring Heeled (always wears it) and Same Difference in 5th. In 2015 The Package wins in first time cheekpieces. Ten others wore headgear including 2nd and 4th home. Only other first time headgear was Sixty Something at 33/1 who was tanking along at the top of the hill before trying to demolish 4 out. The man beside me had backed it. Not happy. Last year Cause Of Causes wore his usual cheekpieces as did Knock House in 4th. 10 others raced, but no first timers. Last year Pendra was in first time blinkers, Premier Bond, 3rd, had worn them before. That's 5 from the last 7 winners wearing headgear and plenty of placers.
Apart from Ryan Hatch's 7lbs on Some Difference in 2013, non claiming amateur jockeys had won 10 of the last 12. Mr M Legg (3) second on A Good Skin in 2016 was third as a non claimer last year. Non claimers rode the first five home last year, the first three home 2015, first four home in 2014, the first 6 home in 2012, a 1-2-3-4 in 2011 and 4 out of the first 5 home in both 2010 and 2009. In Ryans year, the next 4 home were all non claimers. Jockey's current role of honour reads G Andrews, JJ Codd ('16 and '15), Robbie MacNamara, Ryan Hatch, A J Berry, JJ Codd, RO Harding, Codd, JE Tudor (3lb), R Burton, Harding, Burton. Mr D O'Connor yet to win this. He will. Has been second three times.
Apart from Ryan and Michael, the other 25 from 27 1-2-3 jockeys non claimers since race moved to New Course in 2009.
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 (Gary). I take no responsibility for (but am keen to hear of) any factual errors. 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.