Return to site

DRF, Trial Meetings, Course Form, Headgear, Tongue Ties


DUBLIN RACING FESTIVAL - Cheltenham winners from those that ran at the DRF that season.

2018 - 63 runners - 8 winners. Footpad, Samcro and Relegate doubling up. The other to win in March were Bleu Berry, Farclas, Delta Work, The Storyteller and Rathvinden. Of the 57 others who ran at the DRF, 10 gained a place at the Festival.

2019 - 55 runners - 2 winners. Envoi Allen and Klassical Dream did the double.

2020 - 55 runners - 3 winners, 18 placed. Only five of the 18 had finished outside the first 4 at Leopardstown. Only Honeysuckle did the double. Min and Concertista won in March, having been placed at Leopardstown. 18 others who ran at Leopardstown, were placed at Cheltenham.

2021 - 66 runners - 10 winners, 14 placed Only two of 14 finished outside the first 4 in the DRF. 10 of the 23 Irish trained winners in 2021 had their final run at the DRF, five did the double. Plus The Shunter 3rd at Leopardstown, who dropped in to win Kelso's Morebattle Hurdle in between. Nice bonus with the Plate. 14 others were placed plus Blue Lord and Blue Sari who would have been in not for coming down at the last. I know, there to be jumped. 

2022 - 61 runners - 5 winners - 14 placed. Only two of the 14 had finished outside of the first four. Honeysuckle (DRF 1st), Sir Gerhard 1st, Delta Work 6th, Facile Vega 1st, Vauban 1st. (and Galopin Des Champs).

2023 - 59 came - 8 winners, El Fabiolo, Honeysuckle, Gaillard Du Mesnil, Maskada, A Dream To Share, Good Time Jonny, Lossiemeouth, Galopin Des Champs. Three did the double. Only Maskada and Good Time Jonny finished outside the first four at Leopardstown. Two handicap winners in March. 10 other DRF combatants placed. Gala Marceau and Gaelic Warrior had won at Leopardstown. Nine of the Irish 18 Festival winners came for the DRF.

In the last four years 47 DRF winners have tried their luck in March, 17 won. Only Heaven Help Us won two handicaps. First since Empire Of Dirt in 2016. DRF Winners 2024 - Dancing City, Kargese, Il Etait Temps, Maxxum, Galopin Des Champs, Madara, Jeroboam Machin, Brucio, Fact To File, Ballyburn, El Fabiolo, State Man, Heart Wood, Lord Erskine, Fleur Au Fusil.

Of the 70 plus others placed at Cheltenham, only 11 had finished outside the first four at Leopardstown. Only Sharjah of those 11 wasn't in a handicap. He had finished 6th in an Irish Champion Hurdle before runner up in March 2020 to Epatante. In the last four years only Facile Vega in the Supreme and Fury Road in the Albert Bartlett, the only novices, hurdler or chaser, to get placed at Cheltenham after being unplaced in the DRF .

DRF Conclusions 2020 to 2023 - Hard to win a handicap at the two Festivals with the same horse. No shit, Sherlock. Unlikely to get close in any Festival Graded race or handicap chase if you're outside the first four in one at Leopardstown. Unplaced DRF Novices rarely improve their finishing position when at Cheltenham. In the last four years, 27 of 108 Festival winners came form the DRF, a third in 2023. (Unlikely to contest the Hunters Chase but Delta Work did win the X Country after finishing 6th in the Irish GC).

COURSE SIGHTER? - 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 2023, Delta Work had a run over the Cross Country in November, Seddon won a h'cap hurdle over the Old Course and Energumene and Paul Townend made a bit of a hash of a rearranged Clarence House Chase. Of the 10 BG winners, The Real Whacker and Satge had both won and Langer Dan had jogged round at the back of the Relkeel Hurdle. Didn't happen 2022. Not one of the Irish winners was raced over the course that season pre Festival. Of the GB winners, we had Marie's Rock, unplcd Greatwood, L'Homme Presse winner Dipper and Coole Cody ran there every other week. In 2021 of the 23 Irish winners, Galvin, Put The Kettle On, Tiger Roll Mrs Milner and The Shunter (G3 Greatwood winner) ran at Cheltenham that season. Of the five GB trainers winners only Sky Pirate (win) and Chantry House (3rd of 4) visited Prestbury Park that season. 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 not won by Irish trained. 8 of those 12 winners had ran at a Cheltenham meeting that season. Capodanno, Lossiemouth, Noble Yeats, Delta Work, Galvin. Inattendue

NOVEMBER MEETING/FESTIVAL DOUBLE? - The Real Whacker the only one to double up last year. Didn't happen 2022. Put The Kettle On liked November at Cheltenham having done the double in both of her stellar seasons. Last Shloer/QM double before here was Sprinter Sacre 2016. Her Arkle/Trial double was the first since Azertyuiop in 2002. The Shunter did a rare Greatwood/Mildmay double. No horse in 2019 did the 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 Doran 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. In 2017 Defi Du Seuil did the double and Special Tiara definitelty 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. 2023 November contenders might include Foxy Jacks, Burdett Road, Broadway Boy, Stage Star, Iberico Lord, Impose Toi, Ginny's Destiny, Jonbon. That's a fair bunch.

THE INTERNATIONAL In DECEMBER - The 2022 Saturday was frozen off. Nothing came from the Friday. In 2022 Coole Cody did the double. Sky Pirate won three 2m h'caps in 2021 incluing this Cheltenham double. A Grand Annual Stats Buster. Happygolucky got an Ultima place when fav. Fusil Raffles a G1 second.  Nice success here in 2020 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. Both then won in March. In 2019 Frodon alone did the double, winning the Ryanair. Le Breuil improved his placing from December to score in the final 4 miler. 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 December. In 2017 Defi Du Seuil doubled up, Singlefarmpayment and Whisper went very close. Blaklion and Unowhatimeanharry 2016, More Of That 2014, At Fishers Cross 2013 the others to double up. The 2023 contenders may include ADysart Enos, Ginnys Destiny, Latenightpass, Fugitif, Shanagh Bob, Madara.

CHELTENHAM TRIALS DAY? - Last season seven of the eight Trials Day winners tried their luck. Only Stage Star succeeded. Delta Work third in the X Country h'cap improved in March. In 2022 five of the eight winners tried to complete some sort of double. None were successful, the closest were Imperial Alcazar, next time 2nd in the Plate, Pied Piper, 3rd in the Triumph and Paisley Park 3rd in the Stayers. This was the first Trials Day Meeting since 2010 that something hadn't folowed up. 2022 13 horses in total went from here to the Festival., Coole Cody, 7th in the 2m 4f handicap, then won the Plate. Five others were placed in March. FWIW Nine horses that ran on the 2022 Trials Day did win their next race so there are form lines to be followed. In 2021 Trials day was abandoned for flooding. Except in 2022 and 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. No Cotswold winner doubled up in the GC in the same year since Looks Like Trouble under Richard Johnson in 2000. There were eight races in Trials Day 2024 so look out for Sir Gino, Ginnys Destiny, GA Law, Capadanno. Elizir Du Nuts, Noble Yeats, Lossiemouth, Gidleigh Park.  

THE DRINMORE  - This century 17 winners of the Fairyhouse G1 have raced at the Festival. None of them won. I Am Maximus. However, horses beaten in the Drinmore have done very well at the Festival. Recent examples include Galliard Du Mesnil. Gabynako 2022 25/1 2nd in the Arkle, Samcro, Ronald Pump, Discorama, Rathvinden, Road To Respect, Cause Of Causes, Apache Stronghold, Bostons Angel. Found A Fifty, Letsbeclearaboutit, Sharjah, Perceval Legallois.

Gordon Elliott has trained seven winners of the Drinmore (plus Envoi Allen). Six of them came to the Festival. No winners. Against that he has trained Samcro and Shattered Love to win the Turners/Marsh. Both beaten in the Drinmore. Found A Fifty.

HATTONS GRACE - Sire De Berlais bcame the first this century to run Fairyhouse 2m 4f G1 and then win the Stayers. 32 others have tried including Teahuphoo last year. Eight had won at Fairyhouse and 10 of them started at single figure odds in March. Beacon Edge 3rd at Fairyhouse in 2021, 4th in March, Bacardys 4th and 7th. Against that since 2010, I can only find four that went down in trip to have a go at the Champion Hurdle. Honeysuckle, Hurricane Fly and Jezki both did the double, Mick Jazz, 5th at Fairyhouse, finished 3rd at 25s at Cheltenham, and Apples Jade bombed out in 2018.

IRISH TRAINED WINNERS - We all know .Last two years it was 18 each time, 2021 it was 23, 2020, just the 16, 2019, 16, 2018 17, 2017 19 (shroods that year did get the 11/2 IRE 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. At Sedgefield one day, there was no much in cheekpieces, it looked to me like a bunch of Santas coming down the hill. Or even that Mark Winstanley joke, 'haven't seen that much headgear since Silence Of The Lambs.'

Previous form at Cheltenham? - Always seen to be important, facts as follows. (I do realise I should do something with this someday. Or at least be more interesting). There have been 507 races in the last 19 Festivals. 174 won by previous course winners and 93 by those with placed course form. 192 others were won by horses who had never seen either the course or the discipline they were trying e.g. Impervious unplaced ina Mares Novice, returns to win Mares Chase. The numbers went, 12- 2 12 last year, 10-4-11 2022r, 11-5-12 in 2021, 10-7-9 in 2020, 8-5-12 in 2019, 11-4-11 2018. The other 48 of the were won by horses who had previous failed to gain a place here in the type of race they now were winning. Of those 46, 16 came from graded/conditions races.

Two last year, Good Time Jonny down the field in AB, wins Pertemps, Premier Magic returns to win Hunters having been stuffed the year beore in same. Marie's Rock had finished 7th in the Greatwood and Global Citizen 20l 4th in an Arkle. None in 2021, both Mount Ida and Colreevy had been previously unplaced in Festival Mares Novice Hurdles but had never before jumped a fence on course in anger. Two qualifiers in 2020. Epatante had disappointed in the Mares Novice and It Came To Pass fell, 3 out when going nicely in the 2016 Foxhunters (sometimes those hurt). 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. The Hunters can improve from year to year.

32 of the 48 came from the 170 handicap winners split 13 hurdlers and 19 chasers. Good Time Jonny. 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 only novice winner in a long time previously beat here in the same discipline.

FIRST TIME BLINKERS, CHEEKPIECES et al - Paul Jones (Genius) picked this up a few years ago and it can pay but there now usually a lot of qualifiers to chose from. Bit like wind operations. Only Jazzy Matty last year won with first time headgear (cheek pieces). In fact four of the first five home in that race wore first time cheekpieces. The only four to have new headgear. Sire De Berlais and Premier Magic always wear them. Only two won with that support in 2022, and we had to wait til the Friday for Billaway and Elimay in their usual cheekpieces. Five headgear wearers won in 2021, 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. 

Sire De Berlais joins Native River (GC) and Ferny Hollow (Bumper, only ones since AP on Uxizandre in 2015 to win a Festival G1 wearing any sort of headgear. 

Last year 29 new bits of headgear on display. Apart from the four in the Boodles, you would have got paid on Epic Song 18/1, Its On The Line 22/1, Hitman 22s, Bold Endeavour 22sGala Marceau 100/30. 25 new pieces of assistance worn in 2022, most of them in handicaps. You would have got paid on Teaclipper 4th, 12/1, Zanahyir (I know) 28/1 3rd, Bell Ex One 28/1 3rd, Winter Fog 11/2 jt fav 4th and Didero Vallis 66/1 3rd Kim Muir.

But NOT First Time Hoods - Horses wearing first time hoods are 0 from 23 in the last six Festivals (@trendhorses - Andrew Mount, The Great One). Last year Gala Marceau 2nd, 2022 Winter Fog 11/2 jt fav Pertemps 4th (you would have thought Emmett Mullins would do his homework) Mick Pastor 17/2 unpl 2021 in the Boodles the only qualifier. (Paul Nicholls, too). 

FIRST TIME TONGUE TIES - Last year eight had a go, Diverge 3rd 25/1, Filey Bay and Might I possibly the only ones to show any improvement. 2022 plenty of them but you would have got paid on Gabynako 25/1, Fastorslow 18s, Alaphilippe 11/2 jt fav, In the 2021 Festival Colin Tizzard saddled four runners with first time tongue ties, Eldorado Allen, Fiddlerontheroof and Oscar Elite all placed in G1s at 33s and 40s.