What Happened Last Year
Before you get cross, please remember the site rules. 1. The beauty of each stat is solely in the eye of the beholder. 2. All Cheltenham Stats will die. It is just a matter of when.
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 was a beaten fav 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 the great 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 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 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.
My spring flower will now die back, if spared, to return in 2019
A big thank you to Ashleigh Watson at firstname.lastname@example.org for her work on Gaultstats.
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