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Course Form, Trial Meetings, Blinkers

Previous form at Cheltenham? - Always seen to be important, facts as follows. There have been 367 races in the last 14 Festivals. 123 won by previous course winners and 70 by those with placed course form. 135 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, 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 39 of the 367 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, 11 came from graded/conditions races. They were 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. 28 came from the 132 handicap winners split 11 hurdles and 17 chases. Mohaayed last year, previously 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? - 53% 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 8 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, 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. 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. Those placed at the 2017 Festival having run in November include Minella Rocco, Taquin Du Seuil, Theinval, Buywise, Wholestone, Fox Norton, Bouvreuil, Thomas Crapper.

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, 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. 2019 contenders might include Lalor, Elixir Du Nutz, Quel Destin, Bun Doran, Frodon, Defi Du Seuil, Le Prezien, Ibis Du Rheu, Josies Orders, Fact Of The Matter, Tiger Roll, Brain Power, Sceau Royal, Royal Vacation.

Kilbricken Storm alone did the double, Coo Star Sivola, Le Prezien, Tiger Roll and Summerville Boy again all improved their placing from the INTERNATIONAL to score at the 2018 Festival. 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 Elixir Du Nuts, Frodon, Cepage, Al Dancer, Coo Star Sivola, Drovers Lane, Brain Power, Rockpoint, Cogry, Josies Orders, Ozzie The Oscar.

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 last year, Mister Whitaker. 13 Festival winners win or placed at this meeting in last 8 yrs. In 2017 the following also ran with merit in January, The Last Samurai, Sizing Tennessee, Shantou Flyer, Coo Star Sivola, Santini, Black Op and Colin's Sister. So there should be at least one Festival winner from Fakir D'Oudairies, Kildisart, Siruh Du Lac, Frodon, Birchdale, Paisley Park and/or Bennys Bridge.

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 in 2016 'take your pick from those that ran and not just the winners. 13 Festival winners ran here in last 6 years of Hennessey day. In 2016 none of the Leopardstown winners doubled up. In 2017 only Sizing John doubled up.

DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL - Eight of the 28 Festival winners last year 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.

IRISH TRAINED WINNERS - Recent numbers have been last year just the 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 isn't 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 each of the last two years but all wearing that they had raced in before. Native River was the only one of the 10 to win a G1 race. Last years 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 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.

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. 5 places last year were gained by those wearing a first time certain type of headgear for the first time e.g Shantou Flyer 14s, William Henry, Mall Dini, Top Wood 50s and Top Gamble. Its hard to believe because yes, I've counted them but in both 2018 and 2017 23 'rogues' wore a type of headgear for the first time in a race. Again 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, 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. Worth considering.

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