What Happened Last Year
There are only two Gstat rules.
1. The beauty of each stat lies solely in the eye of the beholder.
2. All Cheltenham Stats die. It is just a matter of when.
Tues - Handicappers don't win Supremes. The Betfair Hurdle has usually a first prize of at least £30k more than the G1 so perhaps that had been the main aim for Al Dancer? G1 winning novice hurdle form is usually handy. No five winning Arkle favs in a row. Momentum kicks in early for W Mullins with Duc de. Should have been three in the first day with Benie but word was that Ruby 'all over' Prestbury Cup to finish a draw. More of that later. Willie has difficulty in handicap chases. 2018 Close Bros hero Mister Whitaker made fav for Ultima yet fails to win another Festival Race shock. Maiden over fences gets placed in Close Brothers. A Plus Tard immediately identified as 'new Arkle' and gets a 20lb hike from the handicapper. Now 160. A fine ride from Rachel but beat what, again? That's the Betvictor Chase out of the picture. You don't win a 4 miler with only two previous chase runs and being trained by N Henderson. No jockey has won that three times since 1946 but Jamie Codd continues to be worth half a stone in an amateur finish.
Wed - Challow winners. Do they not know? Seven yr old wins RSA. Favourite never sighted in Coral Cup (give it up, Bryan, I know William Henry was the 2018 jtfav but it doesn't count). Altior knows about momentum and winning races. Favourite due to win cross country, well touted and tweeted from here. Enda still has difficulty on the day. Kevin Blake will tell lies about the merits of Joseph's four year old hurdlers. Willie yet to win the bumper with a four year old. Amateurs remain well able to ride the winner.
Thurs - Winners of JLTs have run at previous Festivals. Barry, now on the board, does a semi Wichita Lineman on Sire De Berlais. Winners of qualifiers don't win the Pertemps Final. That Leopardstown Qualifier at Christmas tends to be worth watching. I love Frodon and Bryony (then perhaps you should have had the balls to tip them, you clown). G1 three mile winning form this season useful when trying to win a Stayers. There wasn't that much to chose from. You need to know when to back Aidan Coleman at the Festival. (STD, Darryl In Green, Alan King?) No headgear wearer or BF last time takes Mildmay. Willie knows a thing or two about that Mares Novice Hurdle. The Doc is a great jockey and was due a win in the Kim Muir. Jack Kennedy has his own little piece of momentum today, placed on all three of his rides at fair prices. But the real momentum story were the jockeys who just happened to be female. Frodon, Paisley Park and Siruh Du Lac had all won on Trials Day.
Fri - A tragic start to the day but NH knows how to train a horse for the Triumph. The Skeltons seem to have the County in their pocket but not with course winners. Minella Indo stretches me but he was 1st or 2nd last time in graded class and is not French bred. W Mullins also knows a thing or two about training GC horses, Al Boum's only small negative was the 2m 5f previous run at Tramore. Well played. (Paul Townend's momentum stat, 'ride one winner, immediately rides another', actually worked but his next ride was Roll Again in a Down Royal maiden hurdle the next day). No horse wins the Foxhunters three times. Returns to a decent point to pointer being successful. Croco Bay, ah now, Croco Bay. Friends on course contacted me to say they backed Croco 'on my stats'. Sorry, but beyond me. In the Martin Pipe, Irish trained first four home, Early Doors a second season hurdler.
What Didn't Work
Tues - Big things were made of the last 10 Supreme winners all running either 4 or 5 times over hurdles. Trumped by the Willie Mullins 'doesn't give a monkeys about stats' stat. Klassical, two hurdle runs in Ire, five in France. None of the last six Ultima winners had been older than eight. First four home this year all aged nine. The big beast to go this day was a 5 yr old wins Champion Hurdle. I was at Naas the day Espoir won and even now wouldn't have backed him. Segal knew antepost. The big three didn't/weren't able to show their best and Mark Walsh picked up the pieces. Good luck to him. 63 BFs last time ran at the 2019 Festival. One winner, A Plus Tard, possibly the only one to start fav this time. Le Breuil had yet to be 1st and 2nd in a chase over at least 3 miles.
Wed - City Island had no graded form and was a biggish price for the Ballymore. Segal knew. Antepost 33s. Topofthegame seems to have had most bases covered. Gary and Segal knew. Coral Cup won by a Course winner, the first h'cap hurdle to fall to one since Whisper in 2014. In fact, the first three home were all previous Course winners! Well torpedoed. Altior and Tiger Roll nice on the stats. Torpillo was the only hood wearer in the Fred Winter. Received a pointless scalded cat ride from Darryl In Green. Band Of Outlaws 5lbs higher rating than any previous winner but with hindsight probably may have won the Triumph. Envoi Allen has done well to win 4 bumpers ending in a G1. Doesn't happen that often.
Thurs - Irish trained didn't count in the JLT. Irish winner in the Pertemps wasn't a novice. Frodon hadn't previously won a G1 but who cared. Paisley Park had one too many runs since Punchestown but the opposition here wasn't that hot. And what an hour. Siruh Du Lac smashed the previous New course winners don't win the Mildmay stat. Seven £2 pound Exchange win bets on all Willie's runners was the obvious way to go in the Mares' Novice Hurdle. And Derek O'Connor had only had won one Festival race since 2011. Obviously gone at the game. Rule No 1.
Fri - We will not dwell on the Triumph. Segal and Kealy in the RP all over Ch'tibello which drifted from 8s to 12s. Rated too high, not Irish, not second season hurdler, 19 hurdle runs, eight years old. The week's stats crusher. Minella Indo hadn't run enough over hurdles but no one told Rachel as she caught Ruby on the hop coming around the corner? Al Boum Photo covered all stats apart from that Tramore prep. See the W Mullins 'doesn't give a monkeys..' Hazel Hill was eleven yrs old but not a course winner. Croco Bay, well, too old to start with, and Early Doors wasn't running in his first handicap but shares a name with one of my all time favourite TV comedy series.
I made a few quid, mainly on Tuesday and with Paisley Park antepost. Gave far too much back on the Friday including a daft idea to try and make a book on the much vaunted Prestbury Cup without covering the draw. Not the Ryder Cup, Bryan. Unlikely to end 14.5 - 13.5. As usual and overall, it was great fun.
Day 1 - Klassical Dream, Duc De Genievres with Us And Them, Beware The Bear. A fair day.
Day 2 - Returns from Topofthegame, Tiger Roll and Ceil De Neige.
Day 3 - Returns (hopefully) from Theclockisticking, Paisley Park, Eamon An Cnoic, Black Tears
Day 4 - Couple of minor places but no real luck, my apologies. Three friends on course contacted me to say that from my stats they had picked out Croco Bay in the Grand Annual. In awe.
Tom Segal's 2019 Ante Post Glories - Espoir DAllen 25/1, City Island 33s, Topofthegame 8/1, Aso ew 33s Ryanair. Praise where praise is due.
What didn't work
It is now time to say adieu to those stats who have served me. Like saying goodbye to an old friend. There are some of us who still haven't got over the loss of Scot Lane in the 2017 Festival.
Native River killed the stat that you don't win a GC having been beaten in it before. Also hadn't started seasonal campaign before Xmas. (Now convinced that the no of days stats are irrelevant nonsense). I feel also for the 2018 Timeform Stat. Rated 150+, don't run for 200 days, then win Chelt prep, can't win at Festival. The only two qualifiers were Altior and Native River. All that work to be proved wrong. Did suggest on my GC page that the stats for the race were 'far too pretty'. Losing money over a 30 yr period on stats 'certainties' sometimes gives you a sense. And those that know me will confirm that I can be a contrary so and so.
Penhill killed the Albert Bartlett winners have no chance in the Stayers and hadn't been out this season. First since Cyborgo '96. All that can be got round with the Willie Mullins 'doesn't give a monkeys about stats' stat. Now, see, you are getting cross. Rule No 1.
Gordon Elliott might be trying to do this too, with Delta Work being the first 5 yr to win the Pertemps since Pragada in 1986. I will miss the Josh Gifford trained Pragada, having included him in my stuff ever since. Rule No 2. Delta Work was French bred and had never won over at least 2m4f. Wow! My head might explode trying to talk my way round that next year. Trainer also told us on Belfast Preview Night that it wanted better ground. Maybe D Russell was the difference.
Samcro first Deloitte/Ballymore double since Itsabraq. Samcro could be very good. When he fell at Punchestown I immediately thought of the death of Golden Cygnet in the 1978 Scottish Champion Hurdle. When Golden Cygnet fell, challenging Sea Pigeon at the last at Ayr, I was in McLeans bookies at the bottom of the Lisburn Road. Amazing what you remember. I digress. Samcro got up unscathed, fantastic. Presenting Percy had far too many previous runs to win an RSA. A machine. Willie Mullins (once again) buried my own personal favourite piece of Festival trivia with Relegate making Fleminsfirth the first horse to sire two Bumper winners. The letter A is definitely no longer important in finding the winner of what used to be called the Fred Winter. I liked that stat but it will have to go. Missed Approach Percy and Pacha Du Polder were beaten favs last time out. Hate that. Maiden wins Triumph. But a maiden that was already G1 placed.
What did work
A few I am quite pleased with. Posted on this page 'Wed February 28th - Phil Smith and Irish handicap marks. He doesn't annoy anyone, not even Kevin Blake. The Irish are obviously thrown in. No winning favourite in ANY of the last 36 Festival Handicaps, hurdles or chases. An 'overripe' stat?' Coo Star Sivola, first h'cap favourite up, cracks it, followed in by The Storyteller. Was hoping that William Henry would win as clear fav for the Coral but that one will have to wait for another year (I sense that backing unnamed Coral Cup favs will continue to cost me).
In the Mildmay I got (friendly?) feedback for tipping Splash Of Ginge and Guitar Pete 'winners of the big 2m 4f Chelt pre Xmas h'caps don't oblige in March?' They didn't either this time but my reasoning was that this March ground somewhat different than normal. Rule No 1. Both produced a return via Skybet.
Handicappers don't win Supremes. No course winner won a handicap hurdle. When Willie brings a bundle to the Bumper, he doesn't have a clue which one is the one. The Storyteller, Footpad, Buveur D'Air, Altior (despite Timeform) all had clear lines on my stats grids. Yes, its true, the sad man makes stats grids for each race and even keeps them. I find it helps to keep me slightly more sensible when making tipping decisions later each Festival evening. I know I should tip more short priced but I don't like doing it. You see, contrary.
Momentum - hard to know where to start. Willie Mullins, Tom George, Gordon Elliott, Irish trained, Jack Kennedy, Paul Townend, B Geraghty, C Tizzard, P Nicholls. You pick. Not poor Aidan Coleman whose fruitless week could be summarised when he was caught on TV falling off 9/2 fav Acey Milan on his way to the Bumper start. I'm not sure that helped the horse. In previous years Aidan has been quoted as saying that 'Cheltenham doesn't matter that much.' Someone should have asked Anthony Honeyball what he thought. Mr Honeyball did seem distraught when Ms Parfois was touched off by Rathvinden in the 4 miler so I'm not sure if Aidan's antics in the Champion Bumper would have brought a smile to his face.
It is hard to change tack for 'momentum' when you have spent all morning making reasoned? decisions in each race. Aftertiming I know, but when scattergunning the Fred Winter, I just remembered as they were circling the start to throw a couple of quid at Jack Kennedy. I still believe that we treat Festival races too much as separate events when that may not be the case. Steve and I outsmarted ourselves by covering all Davy Russell's Wednesday rides in yankees. Davy had three winners on the Thursday.
2018 Festival Tipping- After Relegate's confidence boosting (for me) swoop at 28s in the bumper, kicked on Thursday with Shattered Love, Penhill and Laurina. Hopefully ew money gained on Splash Of Ginge 25s Actinpieces 33s and (with Skybet) Guitar Pete 14s. More success on Friday with the Triumph 1-2 from only two selections (£40 exacta) and Blow By Blow at 11s. Earlier reasonably priced placed selections included Shantou Flyer and Urgent De Gregaine. I remain too nervous to tip winners on the Tuesday. No idea why.
PUNTING - 2018 Festival - I made a few quid, don't really know how and I know my tipping doesn't reflect it. It seems I can make money but I can't tell you when its going to happen. My antepost book was full of good grounders. Told Steve on the morning of each race that Balko Des Flos and Pacha Du Polder had 'no chance' as I had backed both of them at shorter prices ante post. Horses and fools eh? My luckiest, luckiest piece of punting was on 11th Feb -Skybet ew doubles and treble - Edwulf 20s, Penhill 8s, Pacha Du Polder 8s. Not in my thinking at all at that time but Skybet were going NRNB BOG. An offer which made a helluva difference to me. Enough now.
THANKS - Big thanks to those who helped me publicise the site. Robin Gibson for another generous review in the Racing Post, Margie McLoone for a full column in the Irish Field, Richard Pugh for access to www.p2p.ie. Richard Ross for Gstats first ever entry in the Belfast Telegraph. ATR links to Simon Rowlands' excellent timespeed figures. Rory Delargy for a big plug on Williamhill Radio and for humouring me on Twitter. Pat Healy. All those people who used The Sunday Service and seemed to donate immediately, all the quiz entries. Gary for proof reading and pointing out mistakes and all those others who offered feedback, both positive and constructive.
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