2016 Cause Of Causes an 8 yr old galloped by the placed two seven yr olds and an eight year old. Last year, Cause Of Causes was one of those horses, as soon as you uttered the words 'Well, Jamie 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 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. (5 unplcd in 2016, 3 others 2015 unplaced, 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, 11 from last 12. 15 winners from last 20 (not Spring Heeled, Same Difference, Cloudy Lane '07 or Stop the Waller '96, all 7 yrs olds). Only 5 from the last 35 were younger than eight yrs old but that now includes two of the last four. 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 since 1971.
WEIGHT 8 winners in last 27 years carried over 11st 2lbs to victory after taking into account jockeys claim. That includes seven of the last eight (Cause 11st 9lbs, The Package 11st 4lbs 2014 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 seven races were very compressed handicaps. Bottom weight hasn't been less than 10st 9lbs for some time. Before jockeys claims last year bottom weight 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 - 14 of last 16 win and placed horses rated over 135 . Last 8 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. In 2016 first four home rated over 137.
Since this race moved to the New Course, 5 of the eight run in a course h'cap chase at the INTERNATIONAL Meeting, 4 in the Unicorn 3m 2f one won this season by Theatre Guide. Looking at the ratings, you might expect Bally Longford, A Good Skin, Un Ace to come from that. Exceptions to running there were, 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 to a well punted and disappointing Doctor Harper.
This century 30 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.
FORM - 15 from last 23 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.
Apart from Cause Of Causes, the last 23 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 18 ran over at least 3 miles last time. Not last years winner.
11 from last 14 has won over 3 miles. Exceptions 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 19 had run between 10 and 20 times over fences. The 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. 8 from the last 11 no more than 11 runs over fences, but not the last two. Last 13 winners at least two runs this season.
8 of the last 17 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. Exception to all was Spring Heeled who could only manage 8th behind Alvarado in the 3m 3f Graded Cheltenham Chase in November.
8 from last 10 had competed in at least a G3 that season. The other two had won Cl2 handicap chases.
TRAINERS D/M Pipe trained four of the last 14 with The Package, Junior, Royal Predica and Maximise. Also Faasel has been second in both 2011 and 2010. Ran four in 2016 including 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.
N Henderson - ’02 The Bushkeeper 11st 2lb and ’05 Juveigneur 11st 7lbs both big weight carrying winners. Ericht hit a few fences last year, 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 6 favourites in the past 14. All beaten. Before 2016 J.P. McManus had been a particular sufferer with his Irish trained (happy enough with Jonjo, though). Two others ran in 2010 best was Sabremont in 8th. 2015, 6 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 19 runners. Mon Parrain unpl last year. Finished 2nd Ascot £19 chase next time. 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 11 winners.
CARNAGE - 4 horses F or U last year, 7 in 2015 fell, unseated or brought down. Worst race at Festival.
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. That's 5 from the last 6 winners wearing headgear.
Apart from Ryan Hatch's 7lbs on Some Difference in 2013, non claiming amateur jockeys had won 9 of the last 11. Mr M Legg (3) second on A Good Skin was the only paced claimer last year. Non claimers were 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 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 twice.
Apart from Ryan and Michael, the other 22 from 24 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). The Stats Proverb says 'Relevance Is In The Eye Of The Beholder.' 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 concerned 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.