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. 173 horses have contested the four championship races this century when aged 10 or older. 170 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. Last year seven elderly geldings tried, best a magnificent 3rd by Faugheen in the Stayers when aged 11yrs. In 2018 of the four that tried, Gods Own at 10 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 Supasundae, Altior, Lady Buttons, Un De Sceaux, L'Ami Serge (wouldn't that be funny), William Henry, Native River, Bellshill.To move it to all G1 festival races, 5 from the last 191 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. Un De Sceaux and Sub Lieutenant unplaced in Ryanair last year

RUNS THAT SEASON - Between 2011 and 2019, only Presenting Percy, Shattered Love, Captain Chris, Taquin De Seuil, Sire De Grugy and Blaklion have won a Festival G1 after having run 5 times in UK or Ireland since No qualifying winners last year. Paisley Park four wins before Cheltenham. A Wave Of The Sea 6 runs, Darver Star 6, Ballyandy 5, Anything Will Do 7, Conflated, Soviet Pimpernel Pacify, Lord Du Mesnil all 5 runs so far this season.

Horses who achieved the letter R, F, U, P, or B last time out - Willie Mullins 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. Aspire Tower. 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 (Close Bros Chase). First since St Pirran, Grand Annual 2004.

34 LLTs (Letter Last Time) went to post in 2019. One winner, William Henry (P) at 28s, Top Wood (P), Faugheen (F), Tingtangle, (F), 36 LLTs (Letter Last Time) went to post in 2018. One winner Rathvinden (U) 4 miler at 9/2 (is there a theme here Mr Mullins? ) Anibale Fly (F) and Ballyalton (F) placed.

Apart from Nichols Canyon in 2017, there were 38 other letter runners, honourable 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 other 'letter' horses, two placed. The 2015 Festival 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. In 2014, 37 other 'letters' ran, all unplaced. In 2013 apart from Carrickboy, one placed from 29 others Our Mick U placed in JLT Handicap. 29 non paying others. In 2012 Darlan (F) was second in the Supreme Novices, Glam Gerry (U) and Exmoor Ranger (F) both placed in handicap chases at 33s. 26 others did not pay any other type of return. Balthazar King had an O against his name as 'carried out' last time. Going to forgive that as its not his fault and unlikely to be as traumatised as by a BD.

Rathvinden, Missed Aproach, Ballyalton, Black Hercules and Darlan the only five 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 27 winners since 1991 (about 648 races) who had one of the letters beside their name from their last run. 8 fell, 6 unseated and 13 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. Aspire Tower, Hang In There, Apples Jade, Battleoverdoyen, Tower Bridge, Ravenhill, Dallas Des Pitons, Laurina, Lostintranslation.

Robert Hall RTE Racing DRF Sunday says 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, Wicklow Brave 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 2019 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. Lost In Translation. Milan's total this season has been helped by Roaring Bull, Monalee and Santini. All Beneficial's six Festival winners have won at 2m 4f or further. Milan's festival duck was broken in 2013 and doubled with Mall Dini in 2016. Ivanovich Gorbatov in the 2016 Triumph was Montjeu's third Festival winner. Hill? What hill?

WHICH SIRE IS HOT at the Festival? - Bucks Boum, Voix Du Nord and Oscar topped the sire scales in last years 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, the 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 Kings Theatre, sire of 15 Festival winners in the last 11 years. only two handicap places in 2018. Oscar 15, Presenting has 14 winners, Robins Des Champs 13. (Robin's numbers helped slightly by Quevega). Accordion has sired 9 Festival winners since Dato Star in 1995. Bob Back 8 winners, none last four years. In the last six Festivals the numbers of different winning sires covering the now 28 races are 25, 28, 27, 23, 26, 22, 23. The 26 different Champion Bumper sires are named on that page. This does show the variety and numbers in the breeding programme.

Last year, 14 winners were Irish bred, 14 were French bred. No English bred. No wonder Bruce Millington wants those names changed. In 2018, 14 winners were Irish bred, 11 French and three English.


Of the 324 races over the last 12 Festivals, 102 have been won by French breds. That percentage is rising.

Ruby Walsh on RTE has 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. Not enough time, and not enough knowledge on the topic. Maybe for another year. Jane Mangan on the Final Furlong Podcast is always fascinating on the breeding topic when a guest.

And finally, my original stat from 1985. 'Back something that was 1st or 2nd last time out.' A big year last year, 22 from 28, all 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 only 16 from 27. In some races this is unlikely to be a big distinguisher. But in 1985 there was no bumper or Mares Novice!

My work here is now done.


All Posts

Almost done…

We just sent you an email. Please click the link in the email to confirm your subscription!