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Course Form, Trial Meetings, Blinkers

Previous form at Cheltenham? - Always seen to be important, facts as follows. (I do realise this part will have to go someday). There have been 395 races in the last 15 Festivals. 131 won by previous course winners and 75 by those with placed course form. 147 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, 8-5-12 last year, 11-4-11 last year, 8-8-8 in 2017, 12-4-8 in 2016, 8-5-10 in 2015, 10-3-12 in 2014. The other 42 of the 395 were won by horses who had previous failed to gain a place here in the type of race they now were winning. Of those 42, 12 came from graded/conditions races. They were Al Boum Photo, (fallen in an RSA). Balko Des Flos (had fallen in a JLT),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. 30 came from the 142 handicap winners split 12 hurdles and 18 chases. Ch'Tibello previously not disgraced in a course G1 and a G2. 2018, Mohaayed, had been well beaten in two graded course handicap hurdles. Two in 2017, 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 three 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. 6 of the last 9 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...). Summerville Boy Supreme winner 2018, first novice in a long time beat here before in the same discipline.


NOVEMBER MEETING/FESTIVAL DOUBLE? - Going to have to pay more attention to what happens in November. No horse in 2019 did Nov/March double but Le Breuil and Frodon were both placeds in Nov before winning here. Tiger Roll jogged around 5th in the x country under top weight in the handicap and Defi Du Seuil finished last in the 2m Nov Chase. Bun Doran was won in November, was placed in December and placed again in March. In 2018 no horse did a November/Festival double, however the following ran in November and won in March, Summerville Boy, Coo Star Sivola, Le Prezien and Mohaayed. The following ran in November and were placed in March 2018, Chesterfield, William Henry, Urgent de Gregaine, Splash Of Ginge, Theinval and Connetable. In 2017 Defi Du Seuil did the double and Special Tiara well improved his placing.

2016 was special. 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, 2020 November contenders might include Thyme Hill, Allmankind,West Approach, Brelan D'As, Diesel D'Allier, Rouge Vif, Defi Du Seuil, Dame De Campagnie, Israel Champ.

Frodon alone did the double, Le Breuil improved his placing from the INTERNATIONAL to score at the In 2018 Kilbricken Storm alone did the double. Sizing Tennessee, Remiluc, Splash Of Ginge, Ms Parfois and Melon all performing with honours in March having run well here. In 2017 Defi Du Seuil and doubled up, Singlefarmpayment and Whisper went close from December 2016. 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 may include Chantry House, Pym, Imperial Aura, Mister Fisher, Eamon AnCnoic, Robin Des Foret, Mossy Fen, Dame De Compagnie Easyland, Cogry,

CHELTENHAM TRIALS DAY? - Except in 2010 there has 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, Defi Du Seuil, Un De Sceaux, and in 2018, Mister Whitaker. Last year Siruh Du Lac, Frodon and Paisley Park all did the double last March. 16 Festival winners win or placed at this meeting in last 9 yrs. So there should be at least one Festival winner from Galahead Quest, Simply The Betts, Cepage, Santini, Harry Senior, Paisley Park and Back On The Lash.

Dublin Racing Festival - Double done in 2018 by Footpad, Samcro and Relegate. Last year it was Only Klassical Dream and Envoi Allen.

DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL - Eight of the 28 Festival winners 2018 had their last run at the DRF. Footpad, Samcro and Relegate did the double. The others were Bleu Berry, Farclas, Delta Work, The Storyteller and Rathvinden. 57 others who ran at the DRF, then travelled to Cheltenham. Only 10 of those gained a place in March. Last year only Envoi Allen and Klassical Dream did the double. The only ones to win coming from Dublin. This year take your choice from Appreciate It, Asterion Forlonge, Delta Work, Faugheen, Treacysenniscorthy, Latest Exhibition, Chaun Por Soi et al.

IRISH TRAINED WINNERS - Recent numbers have been last year just the 16, 2018 17, 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.

IRISH TRAINED WORST FESTIVAL DAY - There just isn't one at the moment...

BLINKERS, CHEEKPIECES et al - Headgear pays but there now are a lot of qualifiers to chose from. Six headgear wearers won last year, only Sire De Berlais in first time cheekpieces. Five headgear wearers won in each of the previous two years but all wearing that they had raced in before. Native River was the only one of the 15 to win a G1 race. Last year's headgear wearers were Beware The Bear, Le Breuil, William Henry, Tiger Roll, Sire De Berlais Any Second Now, and Croco Bay. The 2018 headgear winners were Tiger Roll, Delta Work, Missed Approach, Native River and Blow By Blow. In 2017 it was Un Temps Pour Tout, Tiger Roll, Cause Of Causes, Domesday Book and Arctic Fire 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 last G1 winner in headgear), 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 G1.

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. 6 places from the 26 qualifiers last year. Melon, Tower Bridge, Sire De Berlais, Gardens Of Babylon and Shantou Flyer, once again! This time in first time blinkers.   In 2018, 5 places were gained by those wearing a first time certain type of headgear e.g Shantou Flyer 14s first time visor, William Henry, Mall Dini, Top Wood 50s and Top Gamble. In both 2018 and 2017 23 'rogues' wore a type of headgear for the first time in a race. None of them won but, again 5 gained a place including Missed Approach 33s, Pendra 18s, Minella Rocco 18s in GC. in 2016 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 than Uxizandre (winner), Orgligo Bay and Ned Buntline placed. The Pipes like to do this. Worth considering.

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