Previous form at Cheltenham? - Always seen to be important, facts as follows. (I do realise this part should go someday). There have been 423 races in the last 16 Festivals. 141 won by previous course winners and 82 by those with placed course form. 156 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, 10-7-9 last year, 8-5-12 in 2019, 11-4-11 2018, 8-8-8 in 2017, 12-4-8 in 2016.. The other 44 of the 423 were won by horses who had previous failed to gain a place here in the type of race they now were winning. Of those 44, 14 came from graded/conditions races.
There were two in 2020. Epatante had disappointed in the Mares Novice and It Came To Pass fell, 3 out when going nicely in the 2016 Foxhunters. In 2019 it was Al Boum Photo, (fallen in an RSA). Others 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. 30 came from the 152 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? - 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. The importance (or not) of course form is addressed in each individual race. Summerville Boy, Supreme winner in 2018, the first novice winner in a long time previously beat here in the same discipline.
WHERE HAVE THE WINNERS COME FROM?
This bit has to change. Apart from having a practice at the Cross Country, Irish trainers rarely now see any reason to bring their charges over for a 'sighter.' In 2020 there were 16 Irish Trained winners. Henry de Bromhead sent over Put The Kettle On to win the G2 Arkle Trial in November. That was the only 'double.' That left 12 races. 8 of those 12 winners ran at a Cheltenham meeting last season.
NOVEMBER MEETING/FESTIVAL DOUBLE? - Put The Kettle On did the Arkle Trial double, the first since Azertyuiop in 2002. Rouge Vif and Allmankind placed in March. No horse in 2019 did Nov/March double but Le Breuil and Frodon were both placed in Nov before winning at the Festival. Tiger Roll jogged around 5th in the Cross country under top weight in the handicap and Defi Du Seuil finished last in the 2m Nov Chase. Bun Dora 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 CHECK
THE INTERNATIONAL - Nice success here with Imperial Aura 2nd, Easysland (win) but the big story was Dame De Compagnie getting 5lbs, beating Indefatigable, the pair well clear, in a Mares H'cap Hurdle. Obvious now, Bryan. In 2019 Frodon alone did the double, Le Breuil improved his placing from December to score in the 4 miler. You were there, too. 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 previously run well. In 2017 Defi Du Seuil doubled up, Singlefarmpayment and Whisper went very close. Blaklion and Unowhatimeanharry 2016, none from 7 triers in 2015, More Of That 2014, At Fishers Cross 2013 the others to double up. The 2021 contenders may include CHECK
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 to catch breath, in 2018, Mister Whitaker. In 2019 Siruh Du Lac, Frodon and Paisley Park all did the double. Fell to Simply The Betts to bring home the bacon in 2020. Add Imperial and Lisnagar Oscar and you can see why 19 Festival winners have been win or placed at this meeting in last 10 yrs. TBF lst year most might have been looking for Galahead Quest, Cepage (ran in wrong race) Santini or Paisley Park.
DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL - Eight of the 28 Festival winners in 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. In 2019 only Envoi Allen and Klassical Dream did the double. The DRF ground in early February has been an issue. In 2020 only Honeysuckle did the double . Last year 10 others who ran at Leopardstown, also placed at Cheltenham. Melon did get up, didn't he?
IRISH TRAINED WINNERS - Recent numbers have been 2020, just the 16 winners, 2019, just the 16, 2018 17, 2017 19 (smug people did get the 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. It might sound impolite, but there are better quality Irish p2ps than some UK midweek race meetings.
IRISH TRAINED WORST FESTIVAL DAY - There just isn't one at the moment...
BLINKERS, CHEEKPIECES et al - Paul Jones picked this up a few years ago and it can pay but there now usually too many qualifiers to chose from. Bit like wind operations. Five headgear wearers won last year, Sire du Berlais repeated the trick in the Pertemps, this time in first time blinkers. The others were The Conditional, Dame de Compagnie, Easysland and Ferny Hollow, the sole G1 winner. Those four won in headgear they had worn before. In 2019, six headgear winners, this time Sire De Berlais in first time cheekpieces. Good trainer, that. The others in 2019 were Beware The Bear, Le Breuil, William Henry, Tiger Roll, Any Second Now, and Croco Bay. None in G1s. Five headgear wearers won in each of 2018 and 2017 but all wearing what they had raced in before. The five 2018 headgear winners were Tiger Roll, Delta Work, Missed Approach, Native River and Blow By Blow. In 2017 five more with Un Temps Pour Tout, Tiger Roll, Cause Of Causes, Domesday Book and Arctic Fire. Six in 2016, 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, G1 winner), The Package (first time blinkers). Since Uxizandre in 2015 only Native River (GC) and Ferny Hollow (Bumper) have won Festival G1s wearing any sort of headgear. 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. 22 'rogues' in 2020. As well as Sire du Berlais winning, 3 placed. Santini (GC), Kildisart (Ultima), both in first time cheekpieces and Bob Mahler, third in the Kim Muir with first time blinkers. And he did come home with a rattle. 5 places from the 26 qualifiers in 2019. Melon, Tower Bridge, Sire De Berlais, Gardens Of Babylon and Shantou Flyer, repeating his 2018 feat. 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 wore a type of headgear for the first time in a race. None of them won. In 2017, again 5 placed 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. Worth considering.
But NOT First Time Hoods - Horses wearing first time hoods are 0 from 21 in the last five Festivals (@racingtrends - Andrew Mount, The Great One). Mick Pastor 17/2 unpl last year in the Boodles the only qualifier. You would think Paul Nicholls would know this stuff. Footpad is the only first time hood wearer winner in the last 84 to win a Cl1 or better hurdle in UK or Ire. He won the 2016 G1 Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown.
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