Kim Muir Challenge Cup – An Overview

Experienced Jockeys

The Kim Muir is an unusual race in terms of the angles I take into it. The first is not original and has been well known for a while, but it still appears to have an edge on the market – jockeys claiming weight have a poor record in the race.

Claiming Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
No 144 9 6.25 35 24.31 -3.9 0.92 1.22
Yes 88 1 1.14 5 5.68 -70.65 0.29 0.44

The theory here is clear – it’s an amateur race at the festival, and the best jockeys tend to take part. Jamie Codd is the obvious example, with form of 1P10P11U3 in the last 10 years. It can pay to stick with a top jockey here, and the less experienced jockeys who can claim tend to suffer as a result. Last year 11 of the 20 jockeys in the race weren’t claiming, and they filled the top 6 finishing positions. The theory is backed up both by the A/E and A/E taking places into account – although one would assume that the public latch on to the rides of top amateurs in the race, these horses still appear to outperform the expectations of the market in comparison to those who receive the benefit of carrying a few pounds less but the disadvantage of an inexperienced rider.


Headgear Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
Yes 88 7 7.95 20 22.73 30.02 1.44 1.32
No 144 3 2.08 20 13.89 -104.57 0.36 0.8

Another key angle which I don’t delve into often is headgear, and again it seems to be significant in this race. Around 38% of the horses to run in this race in the last 10 years wore some sort of headgear, yet these horses accounted for 70% of the winners and 50% of the horses to make the frame (including winners). They vastly outperformed market expectations and those without headgear underperformed significantly.

These two angles alone can narrow the field significantly – only 27% of the total field in the last 10 years fit both criteria, but these included 6 of the last 10 winners, with an A/E of 1.57. Whilst these appear to be the two strongest angles into the race, there are a few others which are worth noting:

Career Starts Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
0-11 39 0 0 3 7.69 -39 0 0.4
12+ 193 10 5.18 37 19.17 -35.55 0.94 1.13


Not a huge number of inexperienced horses tend to run in this race, but when they have, they’ve been unsuccessful. Horses with 11 or less previous starts under rules have failed to win the race from 39 attempts, despite a number of high profile, well-fancied horses attempting it (Indian Castle at 7/2 in 2014 and Champagne James at 4/1 in 2015 are a couple of examples). If we wanted to break this down further, it would seem that a huge number of starts isn’t a massive plus either:

Career Starts Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
0-11 39 0 0 3 7.69 -39 0 0.4
12-18 78 6 7.69 18 23.08 47.2 1.16 1.19
19+ 115 4 3.48 19 16.52 -82.75 0.73 1.09

A high number of veterans have run in the race, with 19 or more starts to their names, and these horses haven’t run as well as those with 12-18 previous starts. In fact, they’ve underperformed based on their odds.

Prep Runs – Staying Handicaps

The prep run is often a key factor and there are two criteria which stand out in that regard:

Last Run Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
Level Weights 40 1 2.5 7 17.5 -34.58 0.34 0.86
Handicap 192 9 4.69 33 17.19 -39.97 0.87 1.03

Those horses which had their last start in a level-weights contest underperformed, with just one win from 40 runners. The majority of horses do tend to prep for this in a handicap, but it’s still worth noting.

Last Run Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
>3m 76 2 2.63 10 13.16 -16.76 0.45 0.8
3m+ 156 8 5.13 30 19.23 -57.79 0.91 1.08

The majority of winners also tend to have their warmup in a race over 3 miles or further, which makes sense considering the fact that this is a tough test over the same trip as the Gold Cup.

Hcp 3m+ LTO
Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
137 8 5.84 27 19.71 -38.79 1.05 1.12

When combining these two factors we see a group of horses which has won 8 of the last 10 renewals (admittedly making up the majority of the field) but still manage to punch above their weight in terms of wins and in terms of wins and places.

Going Unnoticed in a Hurdles Prep

Hurdles LTO
Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
26 2 7.69 6 23.08 -11.81 1.4 1.44

As a quick side note when looking at prep runs, a prep run over hurdles is hardly a new concept when coming into a big handicap chase, but it has been useful in this race. The horses to do it in the last 3 years may have had finishing positions of PFP, but their odds were 25/1, 50/1 and 100/1. Back in 2011 it was more common (10000P) and 2012 (12900) it was more common, and these horses weren’t without success in recent years (the one horse to do it in 2015 was 5th and one of the three to do it in 2013 was 3rd). A lot of horses to take this route in the past have been big-priced outsiders, but if we look just at those with starting prices of 20/1 or shorter, we see a stronger record:

Hurldes LTO (SP 20/1 or shorter)
Runners Wins W% W/P W/P% P/L(BF) A/E A/E(W/P)
12 2 16.67 6 50 2.19 1.79 1.96

These 12 horses had form of 52P0012153F3.

More Festival Content can be found in the Cheltenham 2019 Section.

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