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FESTIVAL RECORDS

· General Trends

TOP FESTIVAL TRAINERS - 2015 to 2019 - Mullins 32, Elliott 21, Henderson 13, Nicholls 11, Skelton 4, de Bromhead 4, Pipe 4.

W Mullins continues very steady, one up over his 5 yr average. G Elliott gallops past N Henderson moving from 10 to 21 in the past two rolling year periods. But N Henderson back from 10 to 13. A Skelton double thanks to Benie Des Dieux. Enda, Jessica, Jonjo now off the list, Pipes clinging on. W Mullins remains about 12% winners per runners and has won over £900k in prize money at each of the last five Festivals, (last year his lowest in that time, despite winning a GC). He has increased his runners numbers by 45 over the past two year up to 281 over the past 5 Festivals. Over the last three yr period on a £1 stake he has gone from +£25 to - £32 to +£1 on the five year rolling average. 12 of those 32 Festival winners were chasers.

From 2014 to 2019, G Elliott is +£58 for a £1 stake on all runners, down from +£92 last year. Those 21 winners have come from 140 runners (14%). Nine of the 21 were chasers. Shows no sign of stopping. N Henderson on a 7% strike rate. His 13 winners have taken 174 runners. Jonjo O'Neill has struck only once in the past five Festivals (Minella Rocco). D Pipe has done well to target certain races and P Nicholls stormed back with quality G1 wins in both the RSA and Ryanair. Trainer with current best percentage winners/runners is now Patrick G Kelly with his only six Festival runners winning three races, Presenting Percy and Mall Dini. Hasn't

W Mullins since 2003 is 29 winners from 53 Festival runners of those SP 3/1 and under. All three failed last year, Benie Des Dieux, Laurina, and Ballyward, all on the first day. Looking back, after winning the Supreme and the Arkle, they must have thought they were in for a real bonanza that day. Two from four won in 2018, Getabird and Un De Sceaux disappointing. In 2017 it was three from seven, the fantastic G1/G2 Thursday four timer but remember Melon, Limini, Douvan and Djakadam. Six from eight in 2016 (Min and Un De Sceaux beat). Only 16 from his total of 64 winners have been over fences but 11 of those 16 have come in the last five years. Has also trained Al Boum Photo and 5 different Gold Cup runner ups so would be fair to say he knows what he is doing with the bigger obstacles. Wouldn't say he was selective. Ran 59 over the four days last year, 64 in 2018 , 45 in 2017, 61 in 2016 and 56 in 2015.

Do be advised. I'm not sure that Mr Mullins cares that much for stats. 'The Gold Cup win just isn't going to happen.' 'Supreme winners only run a maximum of 4 or 5 times over hurdles' (Klassical Dream) 'Albert Bartlett winners have no chance in a Stayers' (Penhill). Cyborgo '96 last horse to win a Stayers without a prep run' (Penhill). All the bumper winners had different sires. Not now (Relegate, was such a nice stat, that.) 'None of his 24 runners have finished in the first two in a Coral Cup.' (Bleu Berry, Wicklow Brave) Horses that have won graded hurdles have poor records in Coral Cups' (Bleu Berry),'You have no chance of winning a G1 Festival hurdle off the back off a fall' (Nichols Canyon). 'Willie has an awful record in the Albert Bartlett' (Penhill), 'Horses never carry over 11st 8 lb to win a County' (Arctic Fire), You just don't win a G1 Festival Chase of the back of a fall (Black Hercules). Don Poli winning an RSA with only two previous runs over fences? But surely RSA winners need to have run in the calendar year (Don Poli). Sired by Montjeu and getting up hills? You can't be serious. Champion Hurdle winners need a run in the calendar year? Supreme winners need to be out no more than 45 days beforehand and shouldn't lead the whole way? He can't do this to me. Keeps writing his own stats book. Has also won eight of the h'cap hurdles in the past ten years. Do remember him being interviewed on course one day about the Montjeu stat. He politely enquired, 'what stat?' I have made up my own Willie Mullins stat to cover this- 'If the stats say the Willie Mullins runner can't win, then seriously consider the Willie Mullins runner.'

I suggested some stats last year which he didn't actually dent. We'll give him another go in 2020 - No handicap chase winner? He has never won the Bumper with a four yr old. Horse with only two hurdle runs to take Albert Bartlett? (Henry beat him to that one) Horse with only 2 chase runs wins 4 miler? What about 12 yr olds don't win G1 Novice Chases? What about a QM with a horse that has never seen Cheltenham before? Has difficulty winning a Gold Cup then two come at once, like back to back buses? Should be enough to keep him going.

Gordon Elliott - 17 winners is the last three Festivals, is also beginning to rewrite his own stats. What, a Triumph Hurdle winner could win a four miler (and two Nationals)? Catch yourself on. French bred five year old takes the Pertemps? Get a grip. Don Cossack remains his only open G1 Festival winner. Not a bad one, though.

Good to see Colm Murphy back training. His 13 placed horses came from a total of 20 Festival runners. Three placed from three runners in 2012.

9 of David Pipe's 14 Festival winners have worn blinkers. He has won 3 G1 chases, the G1 bumper and 10 handicaps. Only three runners last year (Eamon An Cnoic 4th) nine in 2018 and eight in 2017 including Un Temps Pour Tout winner of Ultima in successive years. Ran 11 in total in 2016. Knows how difficult it has become. Panic Attack, Ramsee De Tellie, Night Edition.

8 of Jonjo O'Neill's 9 handicap winners have been in races over 3m+.

All time Trainers Festival Wins leaderboard - W Mullins 65, N Henderson 64, P Nicholls 45, F Walwyn 40, M Pipe 34, F Winter 28, F Rimell 27, JJ ONeill 26, T Dreaper 26, G Elliott 25, V O'Brien 23, B Turnell 23. (Nicky leading trainer 9 times but Willie has won 5 of the last 8). After 17 winners in the last three Festivals, G Elliott moves up the board.

In 8 of the last 10 Festivals, N Henderson has had at least 2 G1 winners. Altior and Pentland Hills last year, Altior and Buveur D'Air 2018, three the year before. Whisper, Coral Cup, was his only winner in 2014, Call the Cops and Peace and Co (Triumph) 2015.

Trainers Cold List - P Hobbs was in tears on RUK after Defi Du Seuil in the 2017 Triumph broke the 55 losing run. She didn't mean it but Lydia's interview was nearly an intrusion on the man. (This is important to these people). Defi once again broke his two year run and is his sole Festival winner since Fingal Bay benefitted from Darryl Jacob's photo misjudgement in the 2014 Pertemps. He's a nice man. In January 2000 he took my call as I, a nobody punter, practically wept down the phone after Dr Leunt died after the Cotswold Chase in exactly the same circumstances as Many Clouds. Good luck in the Queen Mother, sir. (Sorry, I keep this story because I like to remind myself).

Current Cold Festival list, A King 69, C Longsdon 62, V Williams 58, N Twiston-Davies 54, D McCain 41, T Vaughan 41. It doesn't take long to build up a Festival losing run. Ask Jonjo 37 now, Rebecca Curtis 26, Tom George 25. Even ask Willie. In 2019 between Duc de Genievres winning the Arkle and Eglantine Du Seuil the Mares Novice, he built up a losing run of 33 in two days! Tom George has a lot to thank Summerville Boy for. Henry De Bromhead came off this list in 2017 with Special Tiara (RIP) in the QM. He'll never forget and hasn't looked back since. On the 17th October 2017 Master Dancer won a Cl3 H'cap hurdle at Cheltenham trained by T Vaughan. 140 odd runners before he had any winner at Cheltenham. And every trainer present came up to shake his hand. Great TV. He tweeted 'It. Just.Happened.' (This place is important...)

All Course Cold list. Leaders now, Seamus Mullins 16 yrs, (65 runners) Dartnall 10 yrs (40 runners), Bailey 5 yrs (54), Daly 4yrs (42) Leech 3yrs (38). It seems harsh with the technical disqualification of Any Currency but Messrs Keighley, Longsdon, Webber, Richards Mann have yet to saddle a Festival winner. A King nothing since AP's final Festival winner, Uxizandre. 9 of his 15 Festival winners have been in G1s. But 0 from 17 with Festival Favourites.

CHAMPION TRAINER Paul Nicholls - Stormed back last year in Grade 1 company here with Topofthegame and Frodon. And with a dual KG winner. I used to bleat on that he couldn't train winners of Festival handicap chases. As he has changed a bit due to the Irish invasion, his success in these has improved. Has had a career 150 odd runners in the h'cap chases. Seven last year, best Brelan D'As Grand Annual third. Five winners in total, Le Prezien 15/2 2018, Solar Impulse 28s 2016, Andreas '07 and St Pirran '04. All four in the Grand Annual along with Chapoturgeon in '09 Jewson. Eight ran 2018. Ibis De Rheu in 5th Close Bros next best. Three of his last four Festival Chase winners close on the back of a Festival success. Le Prezien followed Pacha last year, Solar Impulse followed Ibis De Rheu in 2016 and Aux Petit Soins immediately preceeded Dodging Bullets' 2015 Queen Mother. (Momentum?) Dodging broke a losing run of 81 in all types of Festival. Dodging was his first stable Festival chase winner since Kauto Star's 2009 Gold Cup. Last year Mr Nicholls won a chase at the Festival for the fifth successive year. Eight of his last 12 successes were achieved in handicaps. Yet to win Ultima and knows. Was all over Give Me a Copper in the Ultima beaten when fell. I would suggest look out for Roman De Semain, Dolos 154, Brelan D'As, Give Me A Copper, Le Prezien, Magic Saint.

Apart from Big Bucks, he has only been successful with one out of 21 favourites in the past 10 Festivals (Sanctuaire, 2010 Fred Winter). Magic Saint, Le Prezien, the ill fated Stilletto 2016 and both Saphir De Rheu and Silviniaco Conti beaten favs in 2015 (he has said, 'the festival isn't the be-all and end-all...its not all about Cheltenham...more enjoyable not having so many high profile horses going there.' Sure it is. Watching the TV coverage of him in the parade ring riding Frodon home in the Ryanair might suggest different. Love that passion). In the last 6 festivals Mr Nicholls has had 12 winners, Dodging Bullets, 7 handicappers (5 of which were hurdlers), Pacha twice and 2 G1 chases last year. As said, none were favourite. With no big owner firepower any longer that is an excellent performance. I have seen it suggested that Dodging Bullets won a handicap disguised as a Queen Mother Champion Chase but that's unfair. With none of the handicap winners being a favourite the average price for these winners has been about 14/1. Dynamite Dollars, Frodon, Clan Des Obeaux

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