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Course Form, Trial Meetings, Blinkers

Previous form at Cheltenham? - Always seen to be important, facts as follows. There have been 339 races in the last 13 Festivals. 112 won by previous course winners and 65 by those with placed course form. 125 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, 8-8-8 last year, 12-4-8 in 2016, 8-5-10 in 2015, 10-3-12 in 2014., 11-2-11 2013. The other 37 of the 339 were won by horses who had previous failed to gain a place here in the type of race they now were winning. Of those 37, 10 came from graded/conditions races. They were Lets Dance (previously only 4th in a Triumph) 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 both Zemsky and Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunters. 27 came from the 132 handicap winners split 10 hurdles and 17 chases. Two last year, Supasundae and Domesday Book. Three in 2016, Diamond King, Ibis Du Rheu and Solar Impulse. Two in 2015 with both Wicklow Brave and Darna being unplaced previously in their discipline.

Interpretation? - 52% of all Festival races are won by those with at least previous placed course form. 90% of all races (including all bar two Novice races since 2004) 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 have 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 7 winners of Mildmay (and Tango De Juilley in 2nd 2016) 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, it still may be Quite Interesting in this bit. I say 'may'. The importance (or not) of course form is addressed in each individual race...). Don't back a novice who has been beat here before in the same discipline.


NOVEMBER MEETING/FESTIVAL DOUBLE? - The 2016 run didn't really continue. Going to have to pay more attention to what happens in November. But Defi Du Seuil did the double and Special Tiara well improved him placing. Those placed at the Festival having run in November include Minella Rocco, Taquin Du Seuil, Theinval, Buywise, Wholestone, Fox Norton, Bouvreuil, Thomas Crapper. In 2016 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 the great Taquin De Seuil. Those two were the first since Imperial Commander (Paddy Power Chase/Ryanair Ch '09) to win at both meetings. 2018 contenders might include Minella Rocco, Movewiththetimes, On The Blind Side, Auvergnat, Poetic Rhythm, Vision Des Flos, Tully East, Black Corton, Apples Shakira, Guitar Pete, North Hill Harvey, Tully East, Fox Norton, Elgin, Slate House, Summerville Boy.

Defi Du Seuil won, Singlefarmpayment and Whisper very close to doubling up from the INTERNATIONAL meeting in December. Blaklion and Unowhatimeanharry 2016, none from 7 triers in 2015, More Of That 2014, At Fishers Cross 2013 the others to double up. This years contenders include Apples Shakira, Smaoineamh Alainn, Ms Parfois, Robinsfirth, Bless The Wings, Guitar Pete, Kilbricken Storm, My Tent Or Yours, Momella,

CHELTENHAM TRIALS DAY? - 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 Thistlecrack. 12 Festival winners win or placed at this meeting in last 7 yrs. Defi Du Seuil and Un De Sceaux last year. Apples Shakira, Mister Whittaker, Frodon, Definitly Red, Santini, Agrapart, Remiluc.

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. In 2016 none of the Leopardstown winners doubled up. Not now relevant with the two day Dublin Festival but it will be interesting to see what comes out of that. Only Sizing John doubled up last year.

IRISH TRAINED WINNERS - Recent numbers have been 2017 19 (they were 11/2 for the much vaunted Betbright Cup) 2016 - 14 (15 with Josies Orders) 2015 - 13, 2014 - 12, 2013 - 14, 2012 - 5, 2011 - 13, 2010 - 7. 2017 - Skybet say 4/5 forBetfair 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 and everything bar the Kim Muir last year. 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. Five headgear wearers won in 2017 but all wearing that they had raced in before. None on them won a G1 race. 2016 winners were Un Temp Pour Tout (bl), Ballyalton, Any Currency, Cause Of Causes, (all cheekpieces), Ibis Du Rheu (hood) and Solar Impulse (first time blinkers). Again no G1 winners. 2015 winners The Druids Nephew, Cause Of Causes, Irish Cavalier, Uxizandre, (first time visor in Ryanair), The Package (first time blinkers). 2014 list as follows, Western Warhorse 33s first time hood in the Arkle, Holywell 10s first time bl that season, Jezki 9s, first time hood in Ch Hurdle, Hawk High p, Spring Heeled p, Very Wood p in Albert Bartlett, Savello in 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). No G1s

Paul Jones, always ahead of the game exposed this stat 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. Last year 23 'rogues' wore a type of headgear for the first time in a race. Although none of them won, 5 gained a place including Missed Approach 33s, Pendra 18s, Minella Rocco 18s in GC. in 2106 apart from Solar Impulse, 18 others in first time/new type of headgear. 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? The Pipes like to do this. Very much worth considering.

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