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Course Form, Trial Meetings, Blinkers

Previous form at Cheltenham? Always seen to be important, facts as follows. There have been 311 races in the last 12 Festivals. 104 won by previous course winners and 57 by those with placed course form. 117 others were won by horses who had never seen either the course or the discipline they were trying e.g. Black Hercules 7th in an Albert Bartlett, returns to win a JLT. The numbers went, 12-4-8 last year, 8-5-10 in 2015, 10-3-12 in 2014., 11-2-11 2013. The other 33 of the 283 were won by horses who had previous failed to gain a place here in the type of race they now were winning. Of those 33, those in graded/listed races were Minella Rocco (well beaten in two course chases), Cole Harden (unpl in 3 previous course hurdle runs), Solwhit (6th in Ch Hurdle on previous course visit), Big Zeb and Kauto Star (fallers in previous year's QM), Riverside Theatre (5th in an Arkle), Moulin Riche in the Albert Barlett and Zemsky in 2011 Foxhunters. 25 came from the 122 handicap winners split 9 hurdles and 16 chases. Three last year with Diamond King, Ibis Du Rheu and Solar Impulse. Two in 2015 with both Wicklow Brave and Darna being unplaced previously.

Interpretation? Just over 50% of all Festival races are won by those with at least previous placed course form. Over 90% of all races (including nearly all Novice races) are won by those who had at least placed course form or who were fresh to the demands of the discipline they are attempting. 1 in 5 of all handicap winners will have no course form and will have previously failed to show placed course form in the type of race they are contesting. This rises to 1 in 4 in handicap chases and is very much current in the Mildmay. 5 of the last 6 winners of Mildmay (and Tango De Juilley in 2nd last year) had no placed course form but all had been given a 'sighter' over the Cheltenham fences (and on the New Course) in the previous 12 months (After all these years, I may have at last found something Quite Interesting in this bit. I say 'may'. The importance (or not) of course form is addressed in each individual race...)


NOVEMBER MEETING/FESTIVAL DOUBLE? - The run continues and in a big way. Going to have to pay more attention to what happens in November. Altior, Sprinter Sacre, Ballyandy, Unowhatimeanharry and technically Josies Orders all completed the November/Festival Double. Superb Story, Ballyalton, Un Temps Pour Tout all were unsuccessful at the November Meeting but won in March. In 2015 Uxizandre did the double, 2014 it was Balthazar King and Taquin De Seuil. Those two were the first since Imperial Commander (Paddy Power Chase/Ryanair Ch '09) to win at both meetings. 2017 contenders might include Defi Du Seuil, Viconte Du Noyer, Minella Rocco, Taquin Du Seuil, Le Prezien, Some Plan, Fox Norton, Modus, North Hill Harvey, Moon Racer, Ballyandy, Behind Time, Tudor City, Peregrine Run, Wholestone, West Approach, OO Seven.

Blaklion and Unowhatimeanharry last year, none from 7 triers in 2015, More Of That 2014, At Fishers Cross 2013 most recent to double up from the INTERNATIONAL meeting in December.  This years contenders include Singlefarmpayment, Theatre Guide, Cantlow, Call To Order, Defi Du Seuil, Whisper, Eastlake, Frodon, Wholestone, The New One, Briery Queen.

CHELTENHAM TRIALS DAY? RIP MANY CLOUDS - A WARRIOR. - Except in 2010 therehas been at least one winner doubling up in March every year since 2007. They were Katchit, Wichita Lineman, Inglis Drever, Big Bucks (twice), Bobs Worth (Albert Bartlett year), At Fishers Cross, Sprinter Sacre (rerouted V Chandler Chase 2012), Lac Fontana, Peace and Co and Thistlecrack. 10 Festival winners win or placed at this meeting in last 6 yrs Defi Du Seuil, Royal Vacation, Foxtail Hill, Un De Sceaux, Urgent De Gregaine, Wholestone, Unowhatimeanharry, William H Bonney.

IRISH GOLD CUP (HENNESSY) DAY - 2013 Our Conor, Flaxen Flare, Lord Windermere, Salsify, Champagne Fever. 2014 - Tiger Roll, Lord Windermere, Vautour and Tammys Hill. 2015 Windsor Park and On The Fringe (both 2nd at Leopardstown) 2016 Ivanovich Gorbatov, On The Fringe. As I said last year 'take your pick from those that ran and not just the winners. 13 Festival winners ran here in last 6 years. As you can see in 2016 none of the Leopardstown winners doubled up.

IRISH TRAINED WINNERS - Recent numbers have been 2016 - 14 (15 with Josies Orders) 2015 - 13, 2014 - 12, 2013 - 14, 2012 - 5, 2011 - 13, 2010 - 7. 2017 - Betfair Sportsbook go 5/6 11 to 13 inclusive, 3/1 ten or less.

Thursday used to be the bad day for Irish trained winners that is before they won everything bar the World Hurdle on St Patrick's Day 2016. Don't know if you could call any day a bad one at the moment.

BLINKERS, CHEEKPIECES et al - Continuing the Paul Jones theme, headgear pays but there now are a lot of qualifiers to chose from. 2016 winners were In Temp Pour Tout (bl), Ballyalton, Any Currency, Cause Of Causes, (all cheekpieces), Ibis Du Rheu (hood) and Solar Impulse (first time blinkers). 2015 winners The Druids Nephew, Cause Of Causes, Irish Cavalier, Uxizandre, (first time visor), The Package (first time blinkers). 2014 list as follows, Western Warhorse 33s first time hood, Holywell 10s first time bl that season, Jezki 9s, first time hood, Hawk High p, Spring Heeled p, Very Wood p, Savello hood. 2013 was similar. Golden Chieftain (regular cheekpiece wearer 25s), Flaxen Flare (first time blinkered 25s), Benefficient (first time headgear, hood, 20s), Holywell (first time blinkers 25s), Same Difference (first time headgear, visor, 16s).

This stat exploded in 2013 but now lots of trainers will try to eke out a little improvement with first time headgear. Check for those that are wearing them for the first time. apart from Solar Impulse, 18 other first time/new type of headgear in 2016. Wait For Me and Savello both placed, both Campeador and Voix Du Reve about to pounce when falling at the last in the Fred Winter. 2015 19 new wearers, Modus, The Saint James and Aqalim (5th) all placed. In 2014 there were 16 others, Orgligo Bay and Ned Buntline placed. In 2013, 15 first time out headgear runner, 3 others placed, His Excellency, Rock On Ruby and Ackertac. Level stakes over the past four, I think you are still in front?

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