AGE IN CHAMPIONSHIP RACES. RUNS THAT SEASON BEFORE G1 attempt. R,F,U,P or B last time out? WHICH SIRES? 1st or 2nd last time out?

AGE IN CHAMPIONSHIP RACES - Real class will usually bury stats. This century 178 horses have contested the four championship races this century when aged 10 or older. 175 were beaten. Only winners Special Tiara 10yrs @11/1 (benefitting from Douvan's injury and a good ride), Sprinter Sacre 5/1 aged 10 in 2016, Moscow Flyer 6/4 fav 2005 aged 11, Queen Mother Champion Chase winners. The latter pair were regaining thetitle. Last year 5 elders tried. TBF the best was Tobefair 6th in Stayers. You tipped Supasundae, Bryan, a very slow 7th in the Champion Hurdle. 2019 seven came, best a magnificent 3rd by Faugheen in the Stayers when aged 11yrs. In 2018 of the four that tried, Gods Own at 10yrs gained an admirable place in the QM at 40s. 2017 My Tent Or Yours placed in CH. 2015 9 tried, Hurricane Fly and Somersby placed. This year's triers may include, Altior, Native River, Benie des Dieux. To move it to all Festival G1 races, 5 from the last 194 triers have won, the other two successes being Our Vic (10 yrs '08 Ryanair) and Albertas Run (10yrs '11 Ryanair). Both were also under 10/1. Faugheen again 3rd in Marsh last year at 3/1 fav.

RUNS THAT SEASON - This one took a couple of big hits last year. 25 horses ran in Festival G1s having had five or more runs in UK or IRE since May. Two big winners Put The Kettle On 16/1 with six runs and Lisnagar Oscar 50/1 with five. Between 2011 and 2018, only Presenting Percy, Shattered Love, Captain Chris, Taquin De Seuil, Sire De Grugy and Blaklion beat this stat. No qualifying winners 2019. Check.

Horses who achieved the letter R, F, U, P, or B last time out - 41 LLTs (Letter Last Time) ran in 2020. Three big winners, the biggest. It Came To Pass 66/1 (P), Ravenhill 12/1 (F), Champ 4/1 (F). And boy, was there some discussion about Champ. Honourable mentions for Theinval 50/1 5th (P) and Mill Green 6th 80/1 (P). 34 LLTs went to post in 2019. One winner, William Henry (P) at 28s, placers Top Wood (P), Faugheen (F), Tingtangle, (F), 36 n 2018. One winner Rathvinden (U) 4 miler at 9/2 (is there a theme here Mr Mullins? ) Anibale Fly (F) and Ballyalton (F) placed. Willie Mullins again did for me in 2017 with Nichols Canyon in the Stayers Hurdle being the first winner of a Festival hurdle since at least 1990 having (F) fallen last time out. 70 odd had tried. And none have been successful since. In 2016 Willie also helped to kill the 'you don't win a Festival chase off the back of a fall' stat with Black Hercules (JLT) following on from Ballyalton (2016 Close Bros Chase). First since St Pirran, Grand Annual 2004.

Apart from Nichols Canyon in 2017, there were 38 other letter runners, mentions for Missed Approach U 2nd at 33s in the four miler and Minella Rocco (U) 2nd 18/1 in GC. In 2016 there were 49 other LLTs, Long House Hall (U) second in the Coral Cup, Djakadam (F) 2nd in the GC and Savello (P) 4th in Grand Annual. In 2015 there were 33 'letter' horses. It was a good year for horse P or U last time. 4 winners, Rivage D'Or (P) 16s, Uxizandre (U)16s, The Package (P) 9s, Wicklow Brave (P) 25s.

Ravenhill, Champ, Rathvinden, Missed Aproach, Ballyalton, Black Hercules and Darlan the only ones to gain a return in a Festival novice event the race after the 'letter' since 2011. We are ignoring Labaik on official advice. If he had refused for a third time in Ireland, he wouldn't have been here.

That now only makes a total of 30 winners since 1991 (about 676 races) who had one of the letters beside their name from their last run. 10 fell, 6 unseated and 14 pulled up. Most other recent 'letter' winners were 2014 Ballyngour P 12s, 2013 Carrickboy P 50s, 2011 Albertas Run P 6s, '10 Pause and Clause U 14s, '08 High Chimes P 14s, '07 Voy Por Estedes U 5s, '06 Whyso Mayo U 20s and '06 You're Special P 33s. Check

Robert Hall on his final day at RTE Racing DRF Sunday 2020 said about Aspire Tower 'you don't want to be going to Cheltenham on the back of a fall.' Shrewd to the end.

William Henry P, Nicholls Canyon F, Wicklow Brave P and then Pause for Clause U in the Conditional Jockeys 2010, Illnamar U in '92 are the last horses to have won a Festival hurdle with a letter as last form entry.

CURRENT TOP UK and Ire NH SIRES (money won) - Season 2020 to 12th February 2021

This is not up to date yet but here were the standings up to 12th February 2020.


1. Milan 2. Fleminsfirth 3. Yeats 4. Stowaway 5. Presenting 6. Oscar.

Deceased sires Presenting and Kings Theatre move down the table to 5th and 7th respectively. Milan up from 5th to 1st, Fleminsfirth back up to 2nd from 6th, big jump for Yeats to 3rd and Stowaway to 4th and the rest just shuffle positions. At the moment Milan leads £1.5 million with 300k covering the first five. Some might say a blanket. Kayf Tara was 2nd in 2017 but has slipped to 7th last year and 13th now. As per last year 38% of Kings Theatres to run this season have won. Has the best strike rate. The rest have a strike rate in the 20 percents Flemensfirth's sole Festival winner at a distance over 2m 5f is Imperial Commander. Milan's total this season has been helped by and All Beneficial's six Festival winners have won at 2m 4f or further. Milan's festival duck was broken in 2013 and doubled withMall Dini in 2016. Ivanovich Gorbatov in the 2016 Triumphwas Montjeu's third Festival winner. Hill? What hill?

WHICH SIRE IS HOT at the Festival? - Doubles for sires becoming all the rage over the past two years In 2020 achieved by Poligote (Politilogue and Sire du Berlais), Stowaway (Monkfish and Put The Kettle On), Kalanisi (Imperial Aura and The Conditional) and Nathaniel (Burning Victory and Concertista). Did the staying on performance of the latter two mares not remind you of their father powering home in a soft ground King George? Said he, knowing nothing about the subject. No Risk At All responsible for Epatante and Alloha which is an interesting mix. Bucks Boum was top sire, usually happens when you are responsible for the GC winner. Also had Dynamite Dollars RIP and Duc de Genievres. Of the at the time current top five current UK and Ire sires it went in money earned, Milan (Milan Native, Santini), Oscar (Lisnagar Oscar, Latest Exhibition) (Fleminsfirth (Lostintranslation), Yeats (Pileon, Chantry House). Presenting only won £3k. Champ is a Kings Theatre

Bucks Boum, Voix Du Nord and Oscar topped the sire scales in the 2019 Festival with two winners each. They finished in that order due to prizemoney earned. Fleminsfirth, Milan (Hazel Hill) and Kings Theatre (William Henry) one winner each.

No horse sired more than one winner in the 2018 Festival making Indian River the 2018 leader as he sired Native River, GC Winner. Oscar achieved one winner in Kilbricken Storm and 4 places, Milan had five horses placed. Fleminsfirth became the first to sire two different bumper winners. He was also responsible for four other places.

In 2017 Authorised took the plaudits being the only sire of two Festival winners, Tiger Roll and Nichols Canyon. However Midnight Legend with Sizing John and a few placers was the top money earning sire with £340k. French breeders came well to the fore with the big three prizes on Day 1. In 2016 Kayf Tara won best sire with Thistlecrack, Ballyandy and, Blaklion. Robin Des Champs had Un Temps Pour Tout and Vautour, High Chaparral has Altior,Walk in the Park Douvanand Min.

Kings Theatre was the only sire in 2015 to have 2 winners and that was lucky as the second was Glens Melody after Annie Power's fall. Leading sire in 2015 was the late Karinga Bay solely because he sired Coneygree. Top money earner at the 2014 Festival was Oscar with Lord Windermere, O'Faolains Boy, Apache Jack. Eight of Oscar's 13 Festival winners won over at least 3 miles. No sire in 2014 had more than two winners. Beneficial had three Festival winners in 2013, Oscar, Kings Theatre and Bob Back two each.

Best Festival performer at the moment is Oscar with 16 Festival winners, Kings Theatre with 15, Presenting has 12 winners, Robin Des Champs 13. (Robin's numbers helped slightly by Quevega). Accordion sired 9 Festival winners since Dato Star in 1995. Bob Back 8 winners. In the last six Festivals the numbers of different winning sires covering the now 28 races are 24, 25, 28, 27, 23, 26, 22, 23. The 26 different Champion Bumper sires are named on that page. No expert, so I'm not sure what it proves.

Last year, 16 Irish Bred, 11 French and Aramax from Germany. In 2019 it was 14 each, IRE and FRE bred. No English bred last two Festivals. No wonder Bruce Millington in the Post wants those names changed. In 2018, 14 winners were Irish bred, 11 French and three English.

Of the 362 races over the last 13 Festivals, 113 have been won by French breds. That percentage is rising.

Ruby Walsh on RTE has regularly made the point that we tend to make too much of the sire of the winner and should concentrate more on he breeding on the dam's side as that's where the stamina tends to comes from. Wouldn't dare to disagree. Jane Mangan when a guest on the Final Furlong Podcast is always fascinating on the topic of breeding.

And finally, my original stat from 1985. 'Back something that was 1st or 2nd last time out.' 20 out of the 28 last year, 6 from 7 on Gold Cup Day, In 2019, a big year, it was 22 from 28, all seven winners on Gold Cup day. Only 18 from 28 in 2018. In 2017 only 16 from 28 races, a poor return. 2016 18 from 28. 2015 16 from 27. In some races this is unlikely to be a big distinguisher. But in 1985 there was no bumper or Mares Novice to enhance stats!

My work here is now done.


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