All posts by winningracing

Cheltenham – Half-Way Observations

We’re half-way through the greatest four days of jumps racing on earth, and while there is never really time to sit back and reflect while the festival in ongoing, it might be worth making a few observations:

Irish Raiders Rule The Roost

This goes without saying – while we’re used to a few Irish bankers coming in on day one, their domination on Wednesday was incredible. Mullins has picked up 5 winners from 31 runners and has had another 5 runners make the frame. This is an over performance according the the market – his horses would have been expected (based on starting prices in the win and place markets on the exchanges) to win 3 times and place a further 6 times. It’s hard to believe, but Mullins runners could still be underestimated in the market this week.

Gordon Elliott has run less horses so far but has been similarly successful – 3 wins and 4 places from 17 runners. Again, this has been an over performance – his horses would have been expected to win twice (243% implied probability) and place another 4 times (572% implied probability). Odds-on favourite Apples Jade’s loss would have put a dent in these figures, so the performance of Elliott’s horses is most definitely worth noting.

While the Irish have been running Cheltenham, Nicky Henderson has won with both of his stable superstars so far, with Buveur D’Air and Altior getting the job done. He has had 16 runners, 2 winners and a further 5 places. This has actually been the most significant over performance of the 3 in therms of places – he would have been expected to have 2 winners (162%) and another 2 places (412%). He may not be firing in the same high-profile fashion as Ireland’s top two, but his horses are most definitely in top form.

Ruby Walsh

What can I say here – it’s absolutely sickening to see Ruby injured again. He had been riding fantastically, with two winners on the first day, and seemed to be back to his best.

His rides will essentially be taken over by Paul Townend for the remainder of the week. Townend is a very talented rider in his own right and this should be of no great concern, particularly in hurdles contests. However, in chases at Cheltenham he doesn’t have the strongest record ever. Townend has won just once and placed another 4 times from 43 rides over fences at the track. He obviously hasn’t ridden the same caliber of horse over fences at the track as Ruby has, but the odds would suggest that Townend should have done slightly better, with implied probability of 2 winners and a further 7 places.

This isn’t a definite negative, and Townend gave Min a good ride yesterday to finish 2nd, but if Invitation Only and Un De Sceaux were to be beaten today, the figures may look slightly more worrying.

Our Tipping Partner

As usual, if you’re looking for tips throughout the festival, A Racing First is highly recommended. Their results are on their website, and so far this festival include some very solid places at big prices such as Mengli Khan (advised each-way at 14/1), Rather Be (advised each-way at 12/1), Monalee (advised at 16/1), Topofthegame (advised at 20/1) and Min (advised at 20/1), as well as a couple of winners. Their members will be confident and in profit going into the last two days at the festival, and I would advise anybody to take a look at their website to find out more.

The Supreme – The Top 4 in the Market

Before Labaik’s shock win last year, 6 of the last 7 winners of the Supreme Novices Hurdle had come from the top four in the betting market. For this reason, it might be helpful to cast an eye over those horses this year…

The Race Itself

Of the three grade one novice hurdle events at the festival, the Supreme definitely attracts the most attention and hype. In fact, in terms of general interest from punters, the Supreme probably exceeds the majority of grade one contests at the festival, with the exception of a couple of Championship races.

It’s not difficult to see why – the Supreme represents the beginning of the four-day bonanza of racing, with the iconic roar rising above Prestbury Park as the tapes go up and the cream of the crop of two-mile novice hurdlers take each other on.

The hype certainly isn’t unfounded. A quick glance at the list of recent winners tells us all we need to know about the class of the race. 2016 winner Altior will go off favourite in the Champion Chase this year, as 2015 winner Douvan did last year. 2014 winner Vautour went on to win at the festival the next two years, in the JLT and the Ryanair Chase. This year’s field really could contain anything – future Champion Chasers, future Champion Hurdlers, even Gold Cup winners.

There is a perception that the 2018 renewal of the race isn’t the strongest ever. True, the most impressive novice hurdler of the season is undoubtedly Samcro, who will run in the Ballymore over 2m 5f rather than running here. I would be reluctant to think that the race is weak this year, though. There are undoubtedly horses in the field who will make an impact next year in open grade one hurdle company, as well as over fences. However, it is an open renewal.

Since Champagne Fever’s win in 2013, Willie Mullins has come into the race each year with one horse which has looked massively impressive. In 2014 and 2015, these horses showed their class and won in style. In 2016, Min was the main hope of the Mullins yard – however, he was beaten by an extremely talented English horse, Nicky Henderson’s Altior. Last year, Melon represented Mullins but had a lot more to prove than previous stable first-string heading into the race, having only run once over hurdles in Ireland. He was beaten by a quirky but talented Gordon Elliott outsider in Labaik.

Getabird

This year, Mullins trains the ante-post favourite yet again. Getabird looked like more of a Ballymore contender at the beginning of the season, particularly with stablemate Sharjah rumoured to be the yard’s best 2 mile novice hurdler. However, following an easy maiden hurdle win at Punchestown in December, he secured his place at the top of the Supreme market with the most impressive display of the division this season when winning the Moscow Flyer Novices Hurdle at Punchestown in January. This is a tried and tested route for Mullins’ Supreme hopes – Vautour, Douvan and Min all won in on their way to the festival.

It’s worth watching each of those wins and comparing them to Getabird’s – he was certainly as visually impressive as any of those three previous Moscow Flyer winners.

My main reservation around Getabird is his price. At the time of writing, the best price that I can see is 13/8, while 6/4 is standard and there are plenty of firms quoting 5/4. To put this into perspective, Vautour went off at 7/2 and Douvan was 2/1. It’s possible that on the morning of the race, some firms will push him out in what is typically a morning of highly competitive activity from bookmakers trying to lure in punters. However, at around 6/4, I’m keen to take him on.

One concern would be better ground. All of Getabird’s form is on softer ground and he hasn’t proven that he will be as effective on a better surface.

However, my real concern would be his jumping. He got a very easy lead in the Moscow Flyer and made all, clocking a time which wasn’t particularly impressive and going at a pace a lot slower than the Supreme. This meant that he was able to get into a nice rhythm and take each of his jumps nicely. This luxury won’t be afforded to him at Cheltenham, where they will more than likely take off at a ferocious pace and his jumping will need to be almost flawless. Getabird has a tendency to jump right and this hasn’t been punished to date, with all of his starts having come at right-handed tracks. However, this won’t be entertained at Cheltenham in a large field in a strongly-run race. Having said that, Douvan and Min hadn’t run at left-handed tracks before their Supremes either.

In my opinion, he jumps more like a chaser – he isn’t slick and efficient over his hurdles, but leaps over them, leaving plenty of air between horse and obstacle. These audacious jumps may be beneficial to a staying chaser, but in a two-mile hurdle it was ultimately cause him to lose ground.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that until recently, Getabird was considered a stayer – his target was definitely the Ballymore and he was probably considered a future staying chaser. One has to wonder whether he would be aimed at the Ballymore if it wasn’t for the lack of depth in the Mullin yard’s 2 mile novice hurdlers, and the presence of Samcro in the Ballymore.

Ultimately, Getabird could prove to just be too good for all of the opposition in what could turn out to be a weak Supreme. However, I can’t have him at 6/4 – he could become a betting prospect at a bigger price on the day of the race.

Kalashnikov

Amy Murphy’s Kalashnikov has become second favourite in the last week following his impressive win in the Betfair Hurdle and the withdrawal of Harry Fry’s If The Cap Fits. Firstly, he won a good race in the Betfair Hurdle, not travelling that well and still managing to win. He was given a peach of a ride by Jack Quinlan to win despite not seeming to travel that well through it, managing to come alive strongly when it mattered and finish well. One significant point is that he’s thought to be much better on good ground than on soft, and so should have been inconvenienced by the large quantities of rain that fell before the off at Newbury on Betfair Hurdle day.

Before that run, he was 2nd in the Tolworth Hurdle behind Summerville Boy, again putting in a good performance on ground that probably didn’t suit him. He’s a progressive horse who seems to be improving for every start and good ground at the festival should bring about further improvement.

However, I tend to be against horses running in grade one’s at the festival having prepped in a handicap. The Supreme is no different, and Betfair Hurdle winners coming to the Supreme have generally failed to win it – notable examples are Ballyandy last year (4th at 3/1), My Tent Or Yours in 2013 (2nd at 15/8) and Get Me Out Of Here in 2010 (2nd at 9/2).

The place record of Betfair Hurdle winners in the Supreme is actually quite respectable – 3 placed (all 2nd) from 8 runners in the last 10 years. However, winning the Supreme having run in the Betfair Hurdle remains quite a task and it’s a big negative to overcome.

I would also have had him down as more of a stayer, with the Ballymore being an interesting option – he seems to have plenty of stamina but I’m not as sure about speed. Again, I wonder whether the decision to run in the Supreme is partially due to the fact that Samcro will run in the Ballymore (after finishing 2nd in the Tolworth Amy Murphy said as much). It was a brave performance in tough conditions in the Betfair Hurdle which I thought made him look like more of a stayer. However, if connections wished to avoid Samcro, the Supreme is realistically the only option as he would carry a tough weight in any festival handicap.

Mengli Khan

I was keen to take on Mengli Khan when he was the Supreme favourite earlier in the season – while he’s a much bigger price now than he is then, and so taking him on won’t really create value for us, I’m still not very keen to have him on side for a number of reasons.

Firstly, he has form to reverse with Samcro. I understand that Elliott felt that he wasn’t at his best in the Moscow Flyer as he should probably have beaten Carter McKay in 3rd by further (I don’t necessarily agree with that as I think Carter McKay might still be a slightly underrated horse). However, there’s no denying that Getabird was by far the superior horse that day.

Before that, Megli Khan ran at Leopardstown over Christmas and was running well when he decided to run out through the wing while leading approaching the second last. Prior to these that mishap, he was probably the most impressive novice hurdler in Ireland during the first half of the season. He has run to quite a high standard and if you’re willing to overlook his last run and trust Elliott in thinking that there was something amiss, you could argue that the market has overreacted and 12/1 is too big. Admittedly, he has already run to a level that would probably see him place in a weak Supreme.

His profile is unusual for the race, however. He ran 6 times on the flat and once on the all-weather (the record of flat horses in the Supreme is notorious but this negative was overcome in last year’s unusual result) and ran two disappointing races over hurdles last season. Elliott wasn’t happy with him and decided to hold on to his novice status for this year. That decision was justified as he won a maiden hurdle, then a grade 3, then the grade 1 Royal Bond Novices Hurdle at Fairyhouse in December. His performance that day was very impressive on the clock and none of his opponents could challenge him on the run-in.

His trainer has mentioned that he should improve for better and ground and this is therefore being accepted as the general consensus. I’m not that convinced – he’s a physically massive horse and his starts this year have been on yielding, soft to heavy, soft, soft and soft to heavy in that order. I wonder whether this could be a case of a large, strong soft-ground horse putting in good performances in the winter, but will he like better ground in the spring?

Looking back on his flat form, he won once from 6 starts on turf – it was the only time that he ran on ground described as soft. On the two occasions that he ran on good ground, he was well beaten. His only other win came on his sole start on the all-weather, on ground described as standard to slow. The only point against this is that both of the disappointing performances last season came on bad ground (soft and heavy respectively). However, there could be other reasons that he simply wasn’t firing at the time.

I would have liked to see him run well on good ground before considering him for the Supreme. Even if the market has overreacted to one mishap when going well and one bad run, he’s not a betting prospect for me.

Summerville Boy

Having moved to Tom George’s yard from Ireland at the beginning of this season, Summerville Boy came up short on all of his first three starts this season despite running respectable races. He came close in his maiden hurdle at Stratford and then in a grade 2 Supreme Trial at Cheltenham in November, finishing 2nd by less than a length on both occasions. He then returned to Cheltenham before Christmas to finish 3rd in a race which really didn’t suit, having been run at a very slow pace.

It doesn’t actually seem that connections felt that he was particularly inconvenienced by the testing ground on these occasions, as the decision was made to send him to Sandown in early January for the grade one Tolworth Hurdle on heavy ground. He won well that day, with that form having subsequently been franked by Kalashnikov. Having said that, the Paul Nicholls horse which finished a well-beaten 3rd that day went off favourite in the Dovecote Hurdle at Kempton at the end of February and was well beaten in 4th, over 14 lengths behind the winner. It is very possible that Kalashnikov improved of his own accord, and that the form of the Tolworth isn’t as strong as the Betfair Hurdle win would suggest.

The overwhelming narrative after that race was that he would improve significantly for good ground – he supposedly wouldn’t have liked the heavy ground at all and will be seen to much better effect on spring ground.

He did stay on well in the Tolworth and he certainly won’t be short of stamina here, with the Ballymore having been suggested as an option earlier in the season. He beat Kalashnikov by 4 lengths (although the runner-up supposedly didn’t like the ground either) and stayed on well up the run-in. However, one major concern would be his jumping. He has made significant mistakes a few times over hurdles and these question marks certainly hadn’t disappeared in the Tolworth when he stumbled over the last.

My hope after that race would have been that he would run again over hurdles before the Supreme in order to gain more experience and improve his jumping. Following his Tolworth win, Noel Fehily commented that he’ll be a better horse next season as he continues to run green (“He will be twice the horse next year – he is still very babyish”). I would have to wonder whether heading straight to Cheltenham is the best option for a horse crying out for more experience. Despite these question marks, it’s possible to argue that he’s overpriced at 12/1 considering Kalashnikov (4 lengths behind him in the Tolworth) is as short as 5/1.

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Stayers Hurdle Profiles

Bacardys

  • Overall Record: 11 runs – 5 wins – 3 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-1
    • 3rd in the Champion Bumper in 2016
    • Pulled up in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 207
  • It’s hard to see a preference in terms of ground, with wins varying from good to yielding (2-1-1) to heavy (1-1-0).
  • The furthest he has won over is 2m 4f (1-1-0). 1-0-0 over 2m 5f and hasn’t run over further.
  • Patrick Mullins has the best record on him (5-4-1). Ruby Walsh is 3-1-1 and Paul Townend is 3-0-1.
  • He seems to prefer smaller fields – 6-4-1 in fields of 11 or less, 5-1-2 in larger fields.
  • He needs a relatively recent run – 7-4-1 when back out within 60 days of his last start, 3-0-2 after a longer break. He did win on his debut, however.
  • It’s hard to tell whether there is a particular preference in terms of the time of year – he’s just 2-0-1 in November but 3-2-0 in December and 1-1-0 in February. This drops to 2-0-1 in March but picks up to 3-2-1 in April.
  • He may prefer flatter tracks – 6-4-0 on flat tracks, 5-1-3 on more undulating tracks.
  • Summary: Ground not an issue. Not a proven stayer. Likes small fields. Needs a run within the last 60 days. May prefer flatter tracks.

Diakali

  • Overall Record: 13 runs – 6 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-1
    • 4th in the Triumph Hurdle in 2013
    • 4th in the grade 3 2m 1f County Hurdle in 2014
  • Soft ground is the preference – 7-2-1 on good to soft or better, 6-4-1 on yielding to soft or worse, including 4-3-0 on heavy.
  • There’s no reason to think that this would be his trip – 8-6-1 over 2m, 5-0-1 over further.
  • Ruby Walsh has a strong record on him (5-4-0), as does Paul Townend (5-2-1). Danny Mullins placed once (1-0-1), while A P McCoy and David Casey are 1-0-0 each.
  • He may prefer smaller fields (10-6-1 in fields of 7 or less, 3-0-1 in fields of 8 or more).
  • He hasn’t run well when back out very quickly (4-0-1 when back out within 30 days). 8-5-1 after a break of at least 30 days, and he also won on his debut.
  • He seems to begin the season well (this makes sense considering the last stat) with a record of 2-2-0 in November. 3-1-1 from December to February and just 3-0-1 in March, but this picks up to 3-2-0 in April.
  • He seems to prefer right-handed tracks (6-4-0 compared to 7-2-2 going left-handed).
  • He runs well at undulating tracks – 6-2-1 at flatter tracks and those with just slight undulations, compared to 7-4-1 at more undulating tracks.
  • Summary: Soft ground is better. Not a proven stayer. Small fields. At least 30 days off. First half of season. Right-handed, undulating track.

Knight Of Noir

  • Overall Record: 20 runs – 5 wins – 5 places
  • Cheltenham record: 3-0-2
    • 2nd in a class 3 2m 5f handicap hurdle in November 2014
    • 2nd in a class 2 3m handicap hurdle in January 2015
    • 9th in the listed 3m Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at the 2015 festival
  • It’s difficult to find a preference in terms of ground – 13-3-4 on good to soft or better, 7-2-1 on soft or worse. He has won on ground ranging from good to heavy.
  • The records worth noting are Noel Fehily (5-2-1), A P McCoy (1-1-0) and Tom Scudamore (7-1-3). Nick Scholfield is 4-1-0, Paul Townend 1-0-0 and J A Best 2-0-1.
  • He hasn’t run at this level – 1-0-0 in grade 3 races. His highest win was actually in a class 3, and his record at class 2 or higher is 5-0-1.
  • He has a poor record both when back out within 30 days of his last start (5-0-1) and after a long layoff (3-0-1 after over 120 days off). However, after a break of between 30 and 60 days (he has never run after a break of between 60 and 120 days) his record reads 11-5-2.
  • Place records would suggest that he’s seen to his best at a left-handed track (11-3-4 compared to 9-2-1 going right-handed).
  • Summary: Any ground is fine. 30-60 days off. Unproven at this level.

Lami Serge

  • Overall Record: 19 runs – 6 wins – 7 places
  • Cheltenham record: 4-0-3
    • 4th in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2015
    • 3rd in the JLT Novices Chase in 2016
    • 2nd in the grade 2 2m 4½f Relkeel Hurdle in January 2017
    • 2nd in the grade 3 2m 1f County Hurdle at the 2017 festival.
  • Soft ground is a big plus – 10-5-2 on soft or heavy compared to 9-1-5 on good to soft or better. He has won on good, though (3-1-2) so he’s hardly majorly inconvenienced by a sounder surface.
  • Barry Geraghty has a particularly strong record (4-3-0), while the others are Nico De Boinville (3-1-2), Daryl Jacob (11-2-4) and Davy Russell (1-0-1).
  • He may prefer smaller fields (15-6-5 in fields of 11 or less, 4-0-2 in fields of 12 or more).
  • Very strong record when back out quickly (3-3-0 when back out within 15 days of his last start). 15-2-7 after a longer break. He has won after a break of 299 days, and also won on his debut, so going fresh isn’t a major concern either.
  • His record is strongest from November to January (combined record of 11-5-4). This drops to 2-0-0 in February, 3-0-2 in March and a slightly better 3-1-1 in April.
  • He could prefer right-handed tracks (6-3-2 compared to 13-3-5 going left-handed).
  • Summary: Soft ground and a very recent run are both major pluses, but not vital. November to January.

Lieutenant Colonel

  • Overall Record: 24 runs – 6 wins – 3 places
  • Cheltenham record: 3-0-0
    • 6th in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2014
    • 10th in the Stayers Hurdle in 2015
    • Pulled up in the Stayers Hurdle in 2016
  • He seems to like some sort of a cut in the ground (just 10-0-2 on good to yielding or better, 14-6-1 on yielding or worse). However, he is just 3-0-1 on heavy ground.
  • The best records are Bryan Cooper (10-4-2), J J King (1-1-0) and B T O’Connell (2-1-0). Less impressive records are those of Davy Russell (3-0-1), David Mullins (3-0-0) and Jack Kennedy (5-0-0).
  • Although he has been unplaced on both starts when back out within 2 weeks of his last start (2-0-0), his overall record when back out within 30 days is still decent (10-4-1). After a longer break he’s 12-1-2.
  • His best record is in the first half of the season – 12-5-2 from October to January, 3-0-1 in February, 3-0-0 in March, 5-1-0 in April and 1-0-0 in May.
  • His wins have generally come at right-handed tracks (16-5-1 compared to 8-1-2 going left-handed) but these are similar place records.
  • Summary: some sort of cut in the ground. Back out within 30 days. October to January. Right-handed tracks.

Lil Rockerfeller

  • Overall Record: 29 starts – 7 wins – 10 places (6 of these starts, 2 of the wins and 1 place were on the flat, so I’m going to focus on his National Hunt record of 23 starts, 5 wins and 9 places).
  • Cheltenham record: 5-0-3
    • 3rd in a class 2 2m½f hurdle in October 2015
    • 2nd in the grade 2 2m 4½f Relkeel Hurdle in January 2016
    • 7th in the Champion Hurdle in 2016
    • 4th in the grade 2 2m 4½f Relkeel Hurdle in January 2017
    • 2nd in the Stayers Hurdle in 2017
  • He probably prefers better ground – 15-4-6 on ground with “good” in the going description, 8-1-2 on anything softer.
  • Trevor Whelan usually rides (19-4-8), while Sean Bowen is the only other jockey to have won on him (1-1-0). Noel Fehily is 1-0-1, while Richard Johnson and Harry Skelton are 1-0-0 each.
  • It’s hard to see very many patterns in his form based on the other variables which we would usually check.
  • Summary: Ground with good in the going description.

Old Guard

  • Overall Record: 28 starts – 9 wins – 5 places (3 runs, 1 win and 2 places were on the flat so I’m focusing on the National Hunt record – 25 runs, 8 wins, 3 places).
  • Cheltenham record: 10-3-1
    • 9th in the Triumph Hurdle in 2015
    • Won a class 3 2m½f handicap hurdle in October 2015
    • Won the grade 3 2m½f Greatwood Handicap Hurdle in November 2015
    • Won the grade 2 2m 1f International Hurdle in December 2015
    • 3rd in the grade 2 2m 1f International Hurdle in December 2016
    • 7th in the grade 2 3m½f Cleeve Hurdle in January 2017
    • 7th in the 2m 5f grade 3 Coral Cup at the 2017 festival
    • 3rd in the grade 3 2m½f Greatwood Handicap Hurdle in November 2017
    • 5th in the grade 2 2m 1f International Hurdle in December 2017
    • 4th in the grade 2 2m 5f Relkeel Hurdle in January 2018
  • He’s 3-0-0 on heavy, but other than that it’s hard to see any strong preference. He can certainly cope with soft (8-2-2) as well as good ground (6-3-0). 8-3-1 on good to soft.
  • Harry Cobden’s 8-4-0 is an impressive record. Bryony Frost is 4-1-1, Nick Scholfield 3-1-0 and Sam Twiston-Davies 10-2-2.
  • He has tended to come up short at this level (4-0-0 in grade one races, 7-2-0 in grade 2 races).
  • He begins the season well (9-5-1 in October/November). This begins to drop (6-2-0 in December, 5-1-0 in January/February, 5-0-1 in March/April).
  • Summary: Possibly doesn’t like heavy ground. Has come up short at this level. First half of the season.

Penhill

  • Overall Record: 27 runs – 11 wins – 3 places (The majority of this form is on the flat, but I’m going to take it into account as his record of 9 runs, 6 wins and 1 place over jumps will be difficult to find patterns in).
  • Cheltenham record: 1-1-0
    • Won the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2017
  • It’s hard to see a preference in terms of ground – 13-4-2 on good (mostly on the flat), 4-3-0 on soft or worse.
  • Just including National Hunt jockeys, Ruby Walsh is 6-3-1 on him and Paul Townend is an impressive 3-3-0.
  • He has finished outside the places on all starts in large fields of 16 runners or more (4-0-0). 23-11-3 in fields of 15 or less, including a particularly impressive 8-6-1 in fields of 7 or less.
  • He has a very strong record when back out quickly – 5-4-0 when back out within 15 days of his last start. However, he has also won after a long break (3-2-0 after over 120 days off the track).
  • He seems to love undulating tracks such as Cheltenham – 7-5-1 at undulating tracks, 20-6-1 on flatter surfaces and those with just slight undulations.
  • Summary: Fields of 15 or less – 7 or less is ideal. Back out quickly or long lay-off. Undulating tracks.

Sam Spinner

  • Overall Record: 9 runs – 6 wins – 3 places
  • He has never run at Cheltenham.
  • He has shown versatility in terms of ground, having won on heavy (1-1-0), soft (3-2-1) and good to soft (5-3-2).
  • J Colliver’s record on him (6-4-2) is almost identical to that of Brian Harding (3-2-1).
  • He may have a preference for smaller fields, with a rock-solid record of 6-5-1 in fields of 11 or less (form of 121111) compared to 3-1-1 in fields of 12 or more (form of 221).
  • One of his defeats came in April (1-0-1) and one came in October (1-0-1). His record between November and February reads 7-6-1.
  • Summary: Smaller fields may be a positive but it’s really hard to knock him on anything.

Supasundae

  • Overall Record: 17 runs – 6 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 6th in the Champion Bumper in 2015
    • 7th in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2016
    • Won the 2m 5f grade 3 Coral Cup in 2017
  • Soft ground seems to be a plus – 8-4-3 on yielding to soft or worse, 8-2-1on yielding or better. However, 3-1-1 on good suggests that no ground should be of any real worry.
  • The records of Robbie Power (8-3-2), Andrew Tinkler (1-1-0), Barry Geraghty (1-1-0) and J J Burke (4-1-1) are worth noting. Danny Mullins is 1-0-1, while Jamie Codd and Noel Fehily are 1-0-0 each.
  • He seems to run better when back out relatively quickly (10-4-3 when back out within 60 days of his last start compared to 6-1-1 after a longer break). He did win on his debut, however.
  • Summary: Back out within 60 days.

The New One

  • Overall Record: 36 runs – 20 wins – 7 places
  • Cheltenham record: 14-6-3
    • Won a 1m 6½f listed bumper in January 2012
    • 6th in the Champion Bumper in 2012
    • Won a class 2 2m 5f novices hurdle in October 2012
    • 2nd in a grade 2 2m 4½f novices hurdle in January 2013
    • Won the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2013
    • Won the grade 2 2m 1f International Hurdle in December 2013
    • 3rd in the Champion Hurdle in 2014
    • Won the grade 2 2m 1f International Hurdle in December 2014
    • 5th in the Champion Hurdle in 2015
    • 4th in the Champion Hurdle in 2016
    • Won the grade 2 2m 1f International Hurdle in December 2016
    • 5th in the Champion Hurdle in 2017
    • 4th in the grade 3 2m½f Greatwood Handicap Hurdle in November 2017
    • 2nd in the grade 2 2m 1f International Hurdle in December 2017
  • Completely versatile in terms of ground, from 10-5-2 on good to 4-3-1 on heavy.
  • Sam Twiston-Davies usually rides, and has a record of 32-18-6 on him. Z Baker is 1-1-0, Noel Fehily is 1-0-1 and Richard Johnson is 2-1-0.
  • His record after a lay-off is worth noting – 6-6-0 after over 120 days off the track. He also won on his debut.
  • He starts the season particularly well (9-8-0 in October/November). This drops to 8-3-4 in December but he’s a very strong 7-6-1 in January. This drops again in March (6-1-1) and April (6-2-1).
  • Summary: Long lay-off beneficial. Start of the season.

The Worlds End

  • Overall Record: 10 runs – 5 wins – 1 place
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-0
    • Fell in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2017
    • 4th in the grade 2 3m½f Cleeve Hurdle in January 2018
  • He’s 2-0-0 on heavy ground but 3-2-1 on soft and 5-3-0 on good to soft or better.
  • Paddy Brennan and Wayne Hutchinson are both 1-1-0, while Adrian Heskin has rode him on all of his other starts (8-3-1).
  • It’s hard to see any real trends based on the other variables which we’d normally check.
  • Summary: Might not like heavy ground.

Unowhatimeanharry

  • Overall Record: 26 runs – 11 wins – 10 places
  • Cheltenham record: 5-4-1
    • Won a class 3 2m 5f handicap hurdle in November 2015
    • Won a grade 2 3m novices hurdle in December 2015
    • Won the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in March 2016
    • Won the grade 2 3m½f Cleeve Hurdle in January 2017
    • 3rd in the Stayers Hurdle in 2017
  • 14-7-5 on soft or worse is slightly better than 12-5-4 on good to soft or better. However, if we exclude his record on heavy and look at just his record on soft, it reads 8-6-2. It’s possible that he likes a cut in the ground but doesn’t necessarily like very testing conditions. Having said that, he has won on ground ranging from good (5-1-3) to heavy (6-1-3).
  • The strongest records are those of Noel Fehily (6-5-1), Barry Geraghty (6-4-2) and Liam McKenna (1-1-0). The others are Chris Davies (3-1-1), Paul Moloney (7-0-4) and C V Ring (3-0-2).
  • His record since moving to the yard of Harry Fry is extremely consistent (13-10-3).
  • He may be better after a break (8-4-3 after at least 60 days off compared to 17-6-7 when back out within 60 days of his last start). He also won on his debut.
  • Summary: Soft ground ideal (just soft, not heavy). 60 or more days off ideal.

Wholestone

  • Overall Record: 14 runs – 6 wins – 6 places
  • Cheltenham record: 7-4-3
    • Won a class 3 3m novices hurdle in October 2016
    • 2nd in a grade 2 2m 5½f novices hurdle in November 2016
    • Won a grade 2 3m½f novices hurdle in December 2016
    • Won a grade 2 2m 4½f novices hurdle in January 2017
    • 3rd in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2017
    • Won the grade 2 2m 5f Relkeel Hurdle in January 2018
    • 2nd in the grade 2 3m½f Cleeve Hurdle in January 2018
  • His record on good ground is very strong (5-3-2). 9-3-4 on softer, though, including 2-1-1 on heavy, so no ground should be a major issue.
  • Daryl Jacob normally rides (13-5-6). Sam Twiston-Davies is 1-1-0.
  • All of his wins have come in smaller fields (11-6-3). 3-0-3 in fields of 12 or more.
  • Summary: 11 runners or less is a plus.

Yanworth

  • Overall Record: 18 runs – 12 wins – 3 places
  • Cheltenham record: 5-2-1
    • 4th in the Champion Bumper in 2015
    • Won a grade 2 novices hurdle over 2m 4½f in January 2016
    • 2nd in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2016
    • 7th in the Champion Hurdle in 2017
    • Won a grade 2 2m 5f novices chase in January
  • He has an extremely strong record on softer ground (7-6-1 on soft or heavy compared to 11-6-2 on good to soft or better).
  • Barry Geraghty has a fantastic record on him (13-10-2). AP McCoy (3-1-1) and Gerard Tumelty (1-1-0) have also won on him, while Mark Walsh (1-0-0) hasn’t been as lucky.
  • He’s probably better after a break – 4-4-0 after over 120 days off the track (he also won on his debut when fresh). His record after between 30 and 90 days off is similarly strong (6-4-1) but the majority of his defeats have come when back out within 30 days of his last start (7-3-2).
  • March is probably his worst month (3-0-1, all at the Cheltenham festival). This picks up in April (1-1-0) and May (1-1-0). He begins the season well (combined record of 6-5-0 in October and November). He has lost twice in December (4-2-2) but has a strong record in January and February (combined record of 3-3-0).
  • He may have a preference for right-handed tracks, although not a major one (9-7-1 compared to 9-5-2 going left-handed).
  • He probably likes flatter tracks (2-2-0 on flat tracks and 8-6-2 on tracks with slight undulations compared to 8-4-1 on more undulating tracks).
  • Summary: Soft ground is ideal. At least 30 days off, 120 days ideal. Might like right-handed tracks, flat tracks.

Augusta Kate

  • Overall Record: 13 runs – 5 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-0
    • 7th in the Champion Bumper in 2016
    • 6th in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2017
  • She’s 2-0-0 on proper good ground but 3-2-0 on good to yielding. 8-3-2 on yielding or worse.
  • Patrick Mullins has the strongest record (3-3-0). David Mullins is 3-1-1, Ruby Walsh is 4-1-1, Paul Townend is 2-0-0 and Danny Mullins is 1-0-0.
  • Her record is stronger in larger fields (7-4-1 in fields of 8 or more, 6-1-1 in fields of 7 or less).
  • She seems to begin the season well (3-3-0 from September to November) and finish it well (4-2-1 in April) but she’s just 6-0-1 from January to March, including 2-0-0 in March itself.
  • Summary: Might not like real good ground. At least 8 runners. First half of the season.

Colins Sister

  • Overall Record: 14 runs – 5 wins – 3 places
  • Cheltenham record: 4-0-2
    • 4th in a class 3 2m½f bumper in October 2015
    • 5th in a listed 2m½f bumper in November 2015
    • 3rd in the grade 2 2m 5f Relkeel Hurdle in January 2018
    • 3rd in the grade 2 3m½f Cleeve Hurdle in January 2018
  • Her best record is on soft ground (6-4-1). 3-0-2 on heavy isn’t bad, making her overall record on soft or worse 7-4-2. In comparison, she’s just 5-1-0 on good to soft or better.
  • Paddy Brennan is usually on board (10-5-2). C P Shoemark is the only other jockey to have rode her, with a record of 4-0-1.
  • 3 of her wins have come in fields of 7 runners or less (5-3-0). She’s 9-2-3 in bigger fields.
  • 4-0-1 when back out within 30 days of her last start so this is probably a negative. 9-5-2 after a longer break.
  • She hasn’t tended to be as effective at the end of the season (3-0-1 from March to May). 5-3-0 in October/November, 6-2-2 from December to February.
  • 4 of her wins have come at left-handed tracks (10-4-2, compared to 4-1-1 going right-handed).
  • Summary: Soft ground or worse. At least 30 days off. End of season not ideal.

Jers Girl

  • Overall Record: 15 runs – 5 wins – 4 places (3 runs, 1 win and 1 place were on the flat, so I’m going to focus on her 12 runs, 4 wins and 3 places in National Hunt races).
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • Fell in the Mares Hurdle at the 2017 festival
  • It’s hard to see a strong preference in terms of ground. She has won on yielding (3-2-0) but is 2-0-1 on good to soft and 1-0-0 on good to yielding. Her record on soft or worse is strong (9-3-3).
  • A number of jockeys have rode her in the past. Richard Johnson, J A Heffernan and G N Fox are all 1-1-0. Robbie Power and R P Cleary are both 2-0-1, Mark Walsh in 1-0-0 and Barry Geraghty is 7-2-2.
  • She hasn’t been successful in very small fields – 5-0-2 in fields of 7 or less. 10-5-2 in fields of 8 or more.
  • She has a preference for right-handed tracks (7-4-3 compared to 8-1-1 going left-handed).
  • Summary: At least 8 runners. Right-handed track.

La Bague Au Roi

  • Overall Record: 13 runs – 10 wins – 0 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 7th in the Mares Novices Hurdle at the 2017 festival
  • Her defeats have come on good (6-4-0) and on soft (3-2-0) so it’s hard to see where the preference lies. 4-4-0 on good to soft ground.
  • All 3 defeats have come with Gavin Sheehan on board (6-3-0). Richard Johnson is 3-3-0, H A A Bannister is 3-3-0 and Noel Fehily is 1-1-0.
  • All 3 defeats have come in grade one (1-0-0) and grade two (3-1-0) races. 4-4-0 in listed races and 5-5-0 in class 4 or lower.
  • She’s 9-9-0 in fields of 11 or less, and just 4-1-0 in fields of 12 or more.
  • 2 of her 3 defeats came after a break – she’s 5-3-0 after over 90 days off the track, compared to 7-6-0 after a shorter break.
  • Her defeats have all come in the spring – 8-8-0 from October to January, but just 5-2-0 in March and April.
  • All 3 defeats have come at left-handed tracks (9-6-0, she’s 4-4-0 going right-handed).
  • Summary: Hard to tell if these are real negatives or not, but possible negatives would be: Gavin Sheehan, grade one/two, 12 or more runners, over 90 days off, spring, left-handed.

Lets Dance

  • Overall Record: 14 runs – 6 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-1-0
    • 4th in the Triumph Hurdle in 2016
    • Won the Mares Novices Hurdle at the 2017 festival
  • Her wins were on ground ranging from good (3-2-0) to soft (2-2-0). 5-2-2 on anything between those two, and 4-0-2 on ground worse than soft.
  • Ruby Walsh has rode her more than any other jockey (10-4-4-). Danny Mullins is 1-1-0 and Paul Townend is 3-1-0.
  • She has come up short in grade one races (5-0-3) but is 3-2-0 in grade two contests and 2-2-0 in grade three races.
  • She seems to prefer left-handed tracks (7-4-2 compared to 7-2-2 going right-handed).
  • Summary: Probably doesn’t want it worse than soft. Has come up short in grade one company. Left-handed.

 

Champion Chase Profiles

Altior

  • Overall Record: 15 runs – 13 wins – 1 place
  • Cheltenham record: 3-3-0
    • Won a grade 2 2m½f Supreme Novices Hurdle Trial in November 2015
    • Won the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2016
    • Won the Arkle in 2017
  • He has proven himself to be effective on any going description, from 5-5-0 on good, to 4-3-1 on soft.
  • Nico De Boinville has a perfect record on him (10-10-0), as does Noel Fehily (3-3-0). Barry Geraghty (1-0-1) and Katie Harrington (1-0-0) were beaten on him in his bumper days.
  • He is unbeaten in fields of 7 or less (8-8-0).
  • He’s unbeaten when back out within 60 days of his last start (8-8-0).
  • Really, the main thing to take from this profile is that he is proven at the track, versatile in terms of ground, and unbeaten in his last 12 starts, including 5-5-0 over hurdles and 7-7-0 over fences.

Charbel

  • Overall Record: 15 runs – 5 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-0
    • 5th in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2016
    • Fell in the Arkle Chase in 2017
  • Seems to prefer softer ground – 5-3-1 on soft or worse, compared to 10-2-1 on good to soft or better.
  • Patrick Mullins has a 100% record on him (2-2-0), while D R Bass has also done well on him (11-3-2). The only other jockeys to have rode him are Noel Fehily (1-0-0) and K E Power (1-0-0).
  • He has tended to come up short in grade 1’s (7-0-0). 2-0-1 in grade 2’s and 1-1-0 in listed races.
  • His record isn’t particularly strong in small fields (8-2-1 in fields of 7 or less). However, he has finished outside the places on both starts in fields of 12 or more (2-0-0). 5-3-1 in fields of between 8 and 11 runners.
  • He seems to run well fresh – 3-2-0 after over 120 days off the track, and he also won on his first start of his career. 11-2-2 after a shorter break.
  • He starts the season well (2-2-0 in October). This makes sense considering his strong record after a long break. It does drop to 5-0-2 in November/December but his record in February is strong (2-2-0). 3-1-0 in March and 3-0-0 in April.
  • A slight preference for left-handed tracks is possible (7-3-1 with form of 11251F3 compared to 8-2-1 with form of 14215244 going right-handed).
  • He has a strong record on flat tracks (4-3-0). 6-1-2 on tracks with slight undulations and 5-1-0 on more undulating tracks.

Douvan

  • Overall Record: 14 runs – 13 wins – 0 places
  • Cheltenham record: 3-2-0
    • Won the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2015
    • Won the Arkle Chase in 2016
    • 7th in the Champion Chase in 2017
  • He has won two grade ones at the festival. However, it could be suggested that Douvan doesn’t run as well here as elsewhere. If we look at his novice hurdling season, Douvan beat Sizing John by 12 lengths at Gowran before beating him by just 7 lengths in the Supreme, then by just over 7 lengths at Punchestown. In his novice chasing season, he beat Sizing John by 18 lengths at Leopardstown, then by 7 lengths in the Arkle, then by 22 lengths at Punchestown. If we use Sizing John as a yardstick, we see him getting closer than ever to Douvan on the two occasions that they ran at Cheltenham. Of course, Sizing John’s subsequent Gold Cup win suggests that the reason for this could just be that he runs very well at Cheltenham.
  • He is proven on all types of ground, from good to soft (4-3-0) to heavy (2-2-0).
  • 3 jockeys have taken the reins – Patrick Mullins (1-1-0), Paul Townend (3-3-0) and Ruby Walsh (10-9-0).
  • There is no real point in going through his whole profile as he has won on almost all of his starts.

Gods Own

  • Overall Record: 31 runs – 7 wins – 8 places
  • Cheltenham record: 4-0-1
    • 14th in a class 3 2m 5f handicap hurdle in November 2013
    • 2nd in the Arkle in 2015
    • 4th in the Champion Chase in 2016
    • 5th in the Champion Chase in 2017
  • It could be the case that moderate ground is key – 15-5-4 on good to yielding and good to soft. 8-1-2 on soft ground and 8-1-2 on good ground, so something in the middle may be best.
  • Paddy Brennan has rode him on the majority of his starts (22-6-5). Adrian Heskin has been less successful on his 7 rides (7-0-2), while Barry Geraghty (1-1-0) and Aodhaghan Conlon (1-0-0) each rode him once.
  • He is a proven grade one horse with 3 wins at this level (12-3-3).
  • Win records may suggest a slight preference for smaller fields (25-6-6 in fields of 11 or less, 6-1-2 in fields of 12 or more). However, win/place strike rates are almost identical.
  • Winless when back out within 2 weeks of his last start (3-0-0). Howver, being back out relatively quickly seems to be a plus – 20-5-7 when back out within 90 days of his last start compared to 7-1-1 after a longer break.
  • Despite good records in November (7-3-1) and February (3-1-1), his overall record from October to March (24-4-6) isn’t as strong as at the end of the season (7-3-2 in April/May). 4-0-1 in March.
  • He probably runs better at right-handed tracks (18-5-4 compared to 13-2-4 going left-handed).
  • His record at very undulating tracks such as Cheltenham isn’t great (7-1-1) compared to flat tracks and those with less extreme undulations (24-6-7).

Min

  • Overall Record: 8 runs – 6 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-1
    • 2nd in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2016
  • He has actually been beaten twice on better ground (3-1-2 on good to soft or yielding). 5-5-0 on yielding to soft or worse, including 2-2-0 on heavy. I’m not sure that better ground is actually an inconvenience, but he clearly handles difficult conditions.
  • Ruby Walsh usually rides (5-4-1). Paul Townend (2-1-1) and David Mullins (1-1-0) have also been on board in the past.
  • Both of his losses were in grade one contests (3-1-2). 2-2-0 in grade two races.
  • Both losses came at left-handed tracks (5-3-2). 3-3-0 going right-handed.
  • It’s dangerous to go through as horse’s form and find reasons for losses when there are only two of them – in this case, he ran a very good race in the Supreme to finish 2nd behind Altior, who went on to prove himself to be a fantastic horse. He was also beaten at Leopardstown over Christmas despite passing the post first – this could be down to the bounce factor or race tactics, but he certainly wasn’t himself that day.

Politologue

  • Overall Record: 14 starts – 7 wins – 1 place
  • Cheltenham Record: 3-0-0
    Unseated in a 2m 1f class 3 novices hurdle here in December 2015
    20th in the Coral Cup in 2016
    4th in the JLT in 2017
  • Wants some sort of cut in the ground – 3-0-0 on good ground, 3-3-0 on good to soft and 8-4-1 on worse.
  • Sam Twiston-Davies normally rides (12-5-1) but Harry Cobden has been on board twice (2-2-0).
  • Probably prefers a smaller field (10-6-1 in fields of 7 or less, 4-1-0 in fields of 8 or more).
  • Starts the season well (2-2-0 November, 5-3-0 December, 1-0-1 January, 3-2-0 February) before this drops (3-0-0 in March and April).
  • Strong preference for right-handed tracks (6-6-0 compared to 8-1-1 going left-handed).
  • Possible preference for flat tracks (5-3-1 compared to 9-4-0 on tracks with more undulations).

Special Tiara

  • Overall Record: 32 runs – 7 wins – 9 places
  • Cheltenham record: 8-1-3
    • 3rd in the listed 2m Shloer Chase in November 2013
    • 6th in the Champion Chase in 2014
    • 3rd in the Champion Chase in 2015
    • 3rd in the Champion Chase in 2016
    • 3rd in the grade 2 2m Shloer Chase in November 2016
    • 5th in the grade 1 2m½f Clarence House Chase in January 2017
    • Won the Champion Chase in 2017
    • 3rd in the grade 2 2m Shloer Chase in November 2017
  • He probably prefers decent ground (18-5-5 on good to soft or better, 14-2-4 on yielding to soft or worse). However, he is 3-0-2 on heavy, so has shown some versatility in this regard.
  • A large number of jockeys have been on board throughout his career – Noel Fehily (13-3-4), Phillip Enrihgt (5-2-3), Barry Geraghty (2-1-0) and Bryan Cooper (2-1-0) are the only winners. The others were A E Lynch (4-0-1), Davy Russell (2-0-0), D P McDonagh (1-0-1), and Andrew McNamara, Robbie Power and Brian Hayes (1-0-0 each).
  • He has been successful in grade one company (including this race last year). 12-3-4 at this level.
  • He may prefer larger fields (4-2-2 in fields of 12 or more).
  • He seems to run well when back out relatively quickly (20-6-4 when back out within 60 days of his last start, 11-1-4 after a longer break).
  • 7-0-2 in October/November but 4-2-1 in December. 3-0-0 in January/February but 5-1-2 in March and 6-2-1 in April. 4-1-3 from May to July. 2-0-0 in August, 1-1-0 in September.
  • He has a slightly better record going right-handed (16-5-4 compared to 16-2-5 going left-handed).
  • The majority of his wins have come on flat tracks (11-4-2). 21-3-7 on more undulating tracks (a fairly similar place record).

RSA Chase Profiles

Allysson Monterg

  • Overall Record: 7 runs – 2 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 3-0-1
    • 2nd in a class 3 2m 4½f novices hurdle in January 2016
    • 6th in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2016
    • 7th in a 3m 2f listed handicap hurdle in November 2016
  • He seems to prefer heavy ground – 4-2-2 on heavy, 3-0-0 on soft or better.
  • Furthest win was over 2m 4½f. His record over further is 2-0-0 (over 3m and 3m 2f).
  • A P Cawley has won on him (4-1-2), as has J J Burke (1-1-0). Aidan Coleman and Richard Johnson are 1-0-0 each.
  • 2-0-0 in anything above class 3.
  • He seems to like small fields – 2-2-0 in fields of 7 or less, 5-0-2 in larger fields.
  • He’s 1-0-0 in November, 4-2-2 from December to February, and 2-0-0 in March and April.
  • He probably prefers right-handed tracks (3-2-1 compared to 4-0-1 going left-handed).
  • Summary: Heavy ground preferable. Unproven over this trip or at this class. Probably likes smaller fields, peaks slightly earlier in the season and runs better going right-handed.

Al Boum Photo

  • Overall Record: 7 runs – 3 wins – 2 places
  • Never ran at Cheltenham
  • He hasn’t really been seen on decent ground – 6-3-2 on yielding to soft or worse, 1-0-0 on good to yielding. Wins came on heavy (2-1-0) and soft to heavy (2-1-1).
  • Paul Townend has a strong record on him (3-2-0) as does Ruby Walsh (2-1-1). David Mullins is 2-0-1.
  • Unplaced on both starts when back out quickly (2-0-0 when back out within 30 days of his last start). 4-3-1 after a longer break.
  • 3-1-0 on undulating tracks wouldn’t be hugely encouraging – 4-2-2 on flat tracks and those with slight undulations
  • Summary: We don’t know whether he’ll handle good ground. He hasn’t been seen at Cheltenham but seems to be better on flatter tracks. He should be avoided when back out within 30 days.

Ballyoptic

  • Overall Record: 16 runs – 6 wins – 1 place
  • Cheltenham Record: 3-0-0
    • 4th in the grade 2 3m½f Cleeve Hurdle in January 2017
    • Pulled up in the Stayers Hurdle in 2017
    • 2nd in a class 2 3m 1f novices chase in November 2017
  • Soft ground is key. 10-5-1 on soft or heavy, 6-1-0 on good to soft or good.
  • Ryan Hatch has the best record (5-3-1), with Sam Twiston-Davies (4-2-0) and T Bellamy (1-1-0) also worth noting. Richard Johnson 4-0-0, J P McKeown (1-0-0), Z Blake 1-0-0.
  • He probably prefers left-handed tracks to right-handed (12-5-1 compared to 4-1-0).
  • Summary: Good to soft may be okay, but anything on the better side of good to soft is a problem. 3 good jockeys, Richard Johnson record is worrying. Left-handed is fine.

Black Corton

  • Overall Record: 18 runs – 12 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-2-0
    • Won a class 2 3m½f novices chase in October 2017
    • Won a class 2 3m 1f novices chase in November 2017
  • Versatile in terms of ground. 10-7-2 on good (and 1-1-0 on good to firm), 2-1-1 on good to soft, 5-3-1 on soft.
  • Bryony Frost has an excellent record on him (8-7-1). Nick Scholfield’s 5-3-1 is decent too, as is Sam Twiston-Davies’ 5-2-2.
  • His record is slightly more solid after a break – 7-6-0 after over 30 days off the track, 10-6-3 when back out within 30 days.
  • 6-6-0 from July to October. October itself is his best month (4-4-0).
  • 5-5-0 on undulating and very undulating tracks.
  • Summary: Likes Cheltenham, performs on any ground. Ideally should be off for at least 30 days, have Bryony Frost on board, be at an undulating track. Start of the season is best.

Bonbon Au Miel

  • Overall Record: 5 runs – 2 wins – 1 place
  • Never ran at Cheltenham
  • May prefer softer ground – 4-2-1 on heavy, 1-0-0 on good to yielding.
  • 3-2-1 over 2m 4f or shorter, 2-0-0 over further.
  • 1-1-0 with David Mullins, 3-1-1 with Ruby Walsh, 1-0-0 with Danny Mullins.
  • 3-2-0 when back out within 60 days of his last start. 1-0-0 after a longer break, and he was also beaten on his debut when running fresh (finished 2nd).
  • 2-1-1 on left-handed tracks is slightly better than 3-1-0 going right-handed.
  • 2-1-1 on flat tracks is slightly better than 3-1-0 on more undulating tracks.
  • Summary: Hard to tell whether he’ll perform on good ground, whether he’ll like an undulating track like Cheltenham, whether he’ll stay the trip. Left-handed may be a plus and needs 60 days off.

Dounikos

  • Overall Record: 11 runs – 4 wins – 2 places
  • Never ran at Cheltenham.
  • He seems to be fairly versatile in terms of ground, considering he has won on good (1-1-0) and on heavy (3-2-0). 3-1-1 on yielding or better, 8-3-1 on yielding to soft or worse.
  • The furthest he has run over is 2m 7f (3-1-1).
  • K M Donoghue, A Ring and Ruby Walsh are all 1-1-0 on him, while Nina Carberry is 2-1-0. Bryan Cooper and Katie Walsh are 1-0-1 each, while all others (Jamie Codd, Cian Collins, Luke McGuinness and Jack Kennedy) are 1-0-0.
  • Preference for smaller fields (8-4-2 in fields of 11 or less, 3-0-0 in fields of 12 or more).
  • His best record is in the first half of the season (7-4-1 from October to December, 4-0-1 from February to May).
  • He has only run twice on left-handed tracks (2-0-0) but 9-4-2 going right-handed is a strong record.
  • He hasn’t run much on flatter tracks (3-0-1) but he’s a strong 8-4-1 on undulating tracks such as Cheltenham.
  • Summary: He prefers smaller fields and the first half of the season. He may prefer left-handed, undulating tracks.

Elegant Escape

  • Overall Record: 11 runs – 4 wins – 3 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-0
    • 5th in a grade 2 2m 4½f novices hurdle in January 2017
    • 7th in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2017
  • He may not like proper good ground (3-0-1 on good) but his record on good to soft is impressive (4-3-0). 4-1-2 on soft or worse (including 1-1-0 on heavy).
  • He has won over 3m½f (2-1-1).
  • T J O’Brien (5-2-1) and Harry Cobden (1-1-0) have strong records on him, but Tom Scudamore’s 5-1-2 is solid too.
  • He has come up short in grade one company (4-0-1). 2-1-0 in grade two races.
  • He probably likes smaller fields (5-2-3 in fields of 7 or less, 6-2-0 in fields of 8 or more).
  • He has a strong record when back out within 30 days of his last start (6-2-2, compared to 4-1-1 after a longer break).
  • His record is better in the first half of the season (10-3-3 from October to December, 4-1-0 from January to April).
  • He probably prefers right-handed tracks (4-2-2 compared to 7-2-1 going left-handed).
  • Summary: Ground and trip should be fine. He’s unproven at this level. May prefer smaller fields, right-handed tracks and the first half of the season. His last run was 31 days ago, which should be a plus.

Full Irish

  • Overall Record: 11 runs – 3 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 5th in a class 2 2m 5f novices handicap chase in January 2018
  • Hard to tell what his preferences are in terms of ground – it may be that he needs a cut in the ground. 3-1-0 on heavy, 6-2-1 on soft, 2-0-1 on good to soft.
  • Aidan Coleman is 5-2-1 and Leighton Aspell 1-1-0. Tom Scudamore is 1-0-1. Nobody else has made the frame on him – Daryl Jacob 2-0-0, Davy Russell and Nick Scholfield are both 1-0-0.
  • He hasn’t raced at this level – 1-0-0 in a grade 3 is the closest he has come to it.
  • He was beaten on both of the occasions that he ran after a significant lay-off (2-0-0 after over 120 days off the track). However, he did win first time out.
  • He has a better record in the first half of the season (7-2-2 in November/December, 4-1-0 from January to March).
  • He may prefer right-handed tracks (5-2-1 compared to 6-1-1 going left-handed).
  • 7-1-1 on flat tracks and those described as having slight undulations, 4-2-1 on more undulating tracks.
  • Summary: Might not like proper good ground. Hasn’t been seen at this level. First half of the season is probably his time. An undulating track shouldn’t be much of a worry but he wasn’t great on his sole start at Cheltenham.

Invitation Only

  • Overall Record: 9 runners – 5 winners – 1 place
  • Never ran at Cheltenham.
  • He seems fairly versatile in terms of ground – 2-2-0 on yielding or better, 7-3-1 on soft or worse.
  • The furthest he has won over was 2m 4f (5-2-0), and he has only run once over further (1-0-1 over 2m 5f).
  • Patrick Mullins (2-2-0) and David Mullins (1-1-0) have 100% records on him, while Paul Townend (2-1-1) also has a strong record. Ruby Walsh is 4-1-0.
  • He runs well when back out relatively quickly (5-3-1 when back out within 60 days, 3-1-0 after a longer break). He did win on his debut, however.
  • Summary: Ground will be fine. Back out within 60 days is a plus (he ran 38 days ago). Ruby Walsh wouldn’t be as much of a plus as one might suspect. He’s unproven over this trip.

Kemboy

  • Overall Record: 6 runs – 2 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 5th in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2017
  • He probably prefers softer ground – 2-0-1 on good to yielding or better, 2-1-0 on yielding, 2-1-1 on heavy.
  • Paul Townend (2-1-1) and Ruby Walsh (1-1-0) have won on him; Danny Mullins (1-0-1) and David Mullins (2-0-1) haven’t.
  • He has come up short at this level, finishing outside of the places on both grade one starts (2-0-0). 1-0-1 in grade two’s.
  • Unplaced on both starts in the spring (2-0-0 in March/April). 4-1-2 in December/January.
  • His success has mainly been at right-handed tracks (4-2-1 compared to 2-0-1 going left-handed).
  • Summary: Hasn’t run up to this level. He may be better at right-handed tracks and may be better in mid-winter than spring.

Livelovelaugh

  • Overall Record: 14 runs – 4 wins – 6 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-0
    • 15th in the Champion Bumper in 2015
    • 10th in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2017
  • Maybe a slight preference for tough ground (8-3-1 on soft or worse, 6-1-1 on yielding to soft or better). He seems to be able to deal with any sort of ground, though, with wins on heavy (1-1-0) and good to yielding (3-1-1).
  • 3-1-0 over 2m 5f is the furthest he has won over. 2-0-0 over 3m.
  • Paul Townend has a very strong record (4-2-1), while Patrick Mullins and Ruby Walsh are 2-1-0 each. Katie Walsh is 3-0-1, David Mullins is 1-0-0 and Danny Mullins is 2-0-0.
  • He has consistently come up short at this level (3-0-0 in grade one races, 5-0-1 in grade two and three races).
  • He seems to like larger fields (9-4-1 in races with 8 runners or more, 5-0-1 in fields of 7 or less).
  • He may prefer right-handed tracks (10-4-2 compared to 4-0-0 going left-handed).
  • Summary: Ground is fine. Might not be up to this level. Will like the larger field but probably prefers going left-handed.

Monalee

  • Overall Record: 10 runs – 4 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-1
    • 2nd in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2017
  • He prefers a cut in the ground (6-4-2 on soft or worse, 4-0-2 on good to soft or better).
  • 5-2-2 with Danny Mullins, 1-1-0 with Noel Fehily, 2-1-0 with Davy Russell, 2-0-2 with D Roche.
  • He runs well after a break (2-2-0 after over 120 days off the track, and he also ran well to make the frame on his debut). 7-2-2 when back out within 60 days of his last start.
  • 2-2-0 in November is strong but it drops to 2-0-1 in December. 2-2-0 in February is also strong. 2-0-2 in March and 2-0-1 in April.
  • Possibly prefers right-handed tracks (6-3-2 compared to 4-1-2 going left-handed).
  • Summary: He’s seen at his best on soft ground. A break is beneficial. Right-handed tracks might be better.

Presenting Percy

  • Overall Record: 16 runs – 8 wins – 3 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-1-0
    • Won the 3m listed Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle at the 2017 festival.
  • Probably seen to his best on soft ground (10-6-3 on soft or worse, 6-2-0 on good to soft or better).
  • Davy Russell has a strong record on him (11-6-1), as do Katie Walsh and Sean Flanagan (1-1-0 each). S D Bohan and Danny Mullins are 1-0-1 each, while Jane Mangan is 1-0-0.
  • He has come up short in grade one company (2-0-0) but is 4-2-1 in grade two races.
  • His record is slightly stronger in the second half of the season (9-4-3 from January to April compared to 7-4-0 from October to December).
  • Summary: Soft ground is beneficial, runs well at the end of the season, has come up short at this level.

Pylonthepressure

  • Overall Record: 9 runs – 4 wins – 2 places
  • Never ran at Cheltenham.
  • He has won on good (1-1-0) and on soft to heavy (2-1-1) so seems fairly versatile.
  • 3-0-0 over 2m 4f or further.
  • Patrick Mullins (3-2-1), Paul Townend (2-1-1) and Robbie Power (1-1-0) have strong records on him. The others to have rode him are Ruby Walsh (1-0-1), Danny Mullins (1-0-0) and Jane Mangan (1-0-0).
  • He runs particularly well when back out relatively quickly (4-3-1 when back out within 60 days of his last start). 4-0-2 after a longer break.
  • An undulating track such as Cheltenham should be no cause for concern – 6-4-1 on undulating tracks compared to 3-0-2 on flat tracks and those with slight undulations.
  • Summary: Ground shouldn’t be of any concern. A run within the last 60 days is a plus. Unproven at Cheltenham but it’s not a major concern.

Rathvinden

  • Overall Record: 16 runs – 7 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-2
    • 2nd in a grade 2 2m 4½f novices hurdle in January 2014
    • 3rd in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2014
  • He seems to be completely versatile in terms of going conditions, with wins ranging from good (4-1-2) and good to firm (1-1-0), to soft (3-1-1) and worse (5-3-1).
  • He has won over 3m 1f (1-1-0) and this is the longest distance he has run over.
  • Ruby Walsh (6-3-1) and Paul Townend (5-2-2) have good records on him. Maxine O’Sullivan (1-1-0) and Patrick Mullins (2-1-0) have also won on him. David Casey (1-0-0) and Barry Geraghty (1-0-1) haven’t.
  • He has come up short in grade 1 and 2 races but has managed to make the frame (4-0-2 in grade 1’s, 2-0-1 in grade 2’s) and has a good record in grade 3 races (2-2-0).
  • His record in larger fields (12 runners or more) is very strong (5-3-1). However, 11-4-3 in smaller fields is decent too.
  • He’s 7-6-0 from June to November. This drops from December (4-1-1) to January (2-0-1) and February (1-0-0). 1-0-1 in March and 1-0-1 in May.
  • He seems to have a preference for right-handed tracks (7-5-2 compared to 9-2-2 going left-handed).
  • He may prefer undulating tracks such as Cheltenham (4-2-2 compared to 12-5-2 on flatter tracks and those with slight undulations).
  • Summary: Decent profile overall. Preference for right-handed tracks a concern, and form in the second half of the season isn’t fantastic.

Sizing Tennessee

  • Overall Record: 20 runs – 5 wins – 3 places
  • Cheltenham record: 9-1-2
    • 21st in the Champion Bumper in 2013
    • 20th in the grade 3 2m 1f County Hurdle in 2016
    • 2nd in a class 2 2m 4½f novice chase in November 2016
    • 3rd in a class 2 2m 5f novice chase in December 2016
    • Pulled up in the Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase at the 2017 festival
    • Fell in a class 2 3m½f novices chase in October 2017
    • Won 3m 2f class 2 novices chase in December 2017
    • 2nd in a grade 2 2m 5f novices chase in January 2018
    • 3rd in a class 2 2m 5f novices chase in January 2018
  • He seems to want a cut in the ground. 11-1-2 on good to soft or better compared to 9-4-1 on soft or worse.
  • He has won over 3m 2f (1-1-0).
  • Patrick Mullins (2-2-0), A E Lynch (2-1-0), Bryan Cooper (6-1-2) and J J Burke (3-1-0) are the jockeys with the best records on him.
  • He has come up short in graded and listed races (6-0-1).
  • He seems to prefer smaller fields – 13-4-2 in fields of 8 or less compared to 7-1-0 in fields of 9 or more.
  • He runs particularly well after a lay-off – 4-2-2 after over 120 days off the track.
  • He definitely seems to peak in December (6-3-0) and January (4-2-1). 4-0-2 in October/November and 6-0-0 from February to April.
  • His place record would suggest a preference for left-handed tracks (13-3-3 compared to 7-2-0 going right-handed).
  • Summary: He would prefer the ground to come up soft or worse. He isn’t proven at this level. Prefers smaller fields. His form in the second half of the season is poor. A longer layoff would be ideal.

Snow Falcon

  • Overall Record: 32 runs – 9 wins – 9 places (7 runs, 2 wins and 1 place were on the flat so for the purposes of this profile I’m focusing on 25 runs, 7 wins and 8 places in National Hunt races)
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-0
    • 5th in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2015
    • 5th in the Stayers Hurdle in 2017
  • Seems versatile in terms of ground – 12-4-4 on yielding or better, 13-3-4 on yielding to soft or worse.
  • 2-0-1 over 3m 1f but he has won over 3m (6-1-2).
  • Sean Flanagan usually rides (15-4-4) but G N Fox has a very strong record (3-2-0). Nina Carberry also has a good record (3-1-2) and the only other jockey to ride him was Paul Carberry (4-0-2).
  • His win record is better in smaller fields but his place record is almost identical so it’s probably not a major preference (12-5-2 in fields of 7 or less, 13-2-6 in fields of 8 or more).
  • He’s definitely able to run well fresh (3-2-0 after over 120 days off the track) but again, it doesn’t seem to be a major preference.
  • His record from October to February (17-6-6) is better than in March and April (6-0-2).
  • He has run well at left-handed tracks but it would appear to be a minor preference (16-5-5 compared to 9-2-3 going right-handed).
  • Summary: He may prefer flatter tracks (17-6-4 on flat tracks and those described as having slight undulations, compared to 8-1-4 on more undulating tracks).

Up For Review

  • Overall Record: 10 runs – 4 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-0
    • 18th in the Champion Bumper in 2015
    • Pulled up in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2016
  • His record is best on heavy ground (3-2-1 on heavy, 2-1-0 on soft, 1-0-1 on yielding, 4-1-0 on good).
  • Ruby Walsh has the best record on him (2-2-0). Patrick Mullins is 2-1-0, Paul Townend 3-1-0, Katie Walsh and Danny Mullins are 1-0-1 each and David Casey is 1-0-0.
  • He has come up short in grade one company twice (2-0-0). 2-1-0 in grade two races.
  • He has finished outside the places on both starts when back out quickly (2-0-0 when back out within 30 days of his last start). 7-3-2 after a longer break, and he also won when fresh on his debut.
  • Strong record at the start of the season (combined record of 3-3-0 in November and December). 5-0-1 from January to March but 2-1-1 in April.
  • Seems to prefer right-handed tracks (5-3-2 compared to 5-1-0 going left-handed).
  • He may prefer flatter tracks (4-3-0 on flat tracks and those with slight undulations, 6-1-2 on more undulating tracks).
  • Summary: Likes testing ground. A break of over 30 days is a plus. Probably better in the first half of the season but his April record would say otherwise. Prefers right-handed, flatter tracks.
  • His form seems to dip at the end of the season (6-0-1 from February to April, although he is 1-1-0 in May). 2-1-1 in October, 3-0-1 in November, 5-1-0 in December, 3-1-1 in January.
  • He may prefer left-handed tracks (14-3-3 compared to 6-1-1 going right-handed).
  • Summary: Yet to win from 9 starts at Cheltenham. Ground shouldn’t be a concern. He may not be up to this level. He seems to like small fields and left-handed tracks, but his form at the end of the season is poor.

Vintage Clouds

  • Overall Record: 21 runs – 3 wins – 13 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • Fell in the grade 3 3m 1f Ultima Handicap Chase at the 2017 festival
  • May prefer softer ground – 12-2-8 on soft or worse, compared to 9-1-5 on good to soft or better.
  • He has won over 3m 1f (4-1-2).
  • Brian Hughes has a strong record on him (2-1-1). Danny Cook usually rides (15-2-10). Harry Haynes is 1-0-1, J England is 2-0-1 and Sean Quinlan is 1-0-0.
  • He has come up short in everything above class 3 (10-0-6 in class 2 or better). 1-0-0 in grade one races but 3-0-2 in grade two contests.
  • He may prefer smaller fields (14-3-11 in fields of 11 or less). 7-0-2 in fields of 12 or more.
  • 3-0-0 in March and April isn’t as strong as 18-3-13 earlier in the season.
  • Summary: He should be fine on the ground but might prefer it softer. Trip isn’t an issue. May not be up to this level, may prefer smaller fields and may run better earlier in the season.

Mias Storm

  • Overall Record: 12 runs – 6 wins – 1 place
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 9th in a 2m 4½f mares handicap hurdle in December 2016
  • Good ground seems essential – 5-5-0 on proper good ground, 3-1-1 on good to soft, 4-0-0 on soft or worse.
  • Wayne Hutchinson has a strong record (7-4-1), as do Denis O’Regan and T J Cannon (2-1-0 each). Jamie Moore is 1-0-0.
  • She hasn’t won at this level (1-0-0 in grade one races and 1-0-0 in grade two races). 2-1-1 in listed races.
  • Her record is stronger after a break of over 60 days (4-3-0, compared to 7-3-0 when back out within 60 days of her last start).
  • She has a preference for left-handed tracks (7-5-0, compared to 5-1-1 going right-handed).
  • Summary: Needs proper good ground. Left-handed tracks are preferential, as is a break of less than 60 days. She hasn’t won at this level yet.

Pearl Royale

  • Overall Record: 8 runs – 2 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 5th in a 2mf½ listed bumper in November 2016
  • Soft ground is definitely not an inconvenience – 4-1-2 on soft and 3-1-1 on heavy. However, she has only run once on ground better than soft (1-0-1 on good), so it’s difficult to call soft ground a preference.
  • Sean Bowen (1-1-0) and Gavin Sheehan (1-1-0) have been on board for her wins. Jockeys to have made the frame on her were T Bellamy (1-0-1), Tom Scudamore (1-0-1) and Aidan Coleman (2-0-2). T J Cannon and Harry Cobden are both 1-0-0 on her.
  • She hasn’t run at a level above grade 2 (1-0-0). 1-0-0 in listed races too, with her highest win coming in a class 3 (1-1-0).
  • She has run well in small fields (5-2-2 in fields of 7 or less). 3-0-2 in fields of 8 or more.
  • Summary: Ground shouldn’t be an issue. She hasn’t won at this level. Small fields may be preferential.

Shattered Love

  • Overall Record: 14 runs – 8 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 12th in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2017
  • She has a very strong record on testing ground – 10-7-3 on yielding to soft or worse. 4-1-0 on good to soft or better.
  • Jack Kennedy has a perfect record of 5-5-0 on her. Mark Walsh and Luke McGuinness also have 100% records, at 1-1-0 each. Bryan Cooper is 5-1-2. Sean Flanagan and David Mullins are 1-0-1 each.
  • She may prefer smaller fields – 11-7-3 in fields of 11 or less, 3-1-1 in fields of 12 or more.
  • She may prefer flatter tracks – 7-5-1 on flat tracks and those with slight undulations compared to 7-3-3 on more undulating tracks.
  • Summary: Prefers soft ground. Jack Kennedy has a very strong record. Possible preferences for smaller fields and flatter tracks.

 

Ultima Handicap Chase – The Unexposed Chasers

There’s generally a full field in this race these days, although this hasn’t really resulted in compression of the rates to the same extent as in some other festival handicaps. The horses towards the top of the handicap have done well. However, one point which is definitely worth noting is that classy horses with strong form over hurdles who are relatively unexposed over fences have a very strong record in recent years.

This stands to reason – if a horse hasn’t run in very many races over fences but has shown talent over hurdles, the mark that they run off in this is unlikely to reflect the full extent of their potential. This theory is backed up by a number of stats:

  1. 8 of the last 10 winners had previously run in 9 or less chases – these horses filled 67% of the total places from 48% of the total field in the last 10 years. In the last 5 years, they’ve filled 70% of the total places from 49% of the total field.
  2. 9 of the last 10 winners were either novices or second-season chasers – the exception was The Druids Nephew in 2013, who had previously run in 12 chases and was a third-season chaser. This stat just backs up the idea that we want something relatively unexposed over fences, who could be a couple of steps ahead of the handicapper. The three novices to win had all won a hurdles race worth £10,000 or more to the winner, which brings us on to the next point…
  3. 5 of the last 10 winners ran off a chase mark at list 7lb lower than their hurdles mark. 5 of the last 10 may not seem like a huge number, but there were only 14 horses in the last 10 years which fit this description. There were no horses which fit the description last year, but there are a couple of contenders this time around.

These stats give a clear idea of the type of horse we’re looking for – in their first or second season over fences, they’re relatively unexposed over these obstacles but showed some good form over hurdles (more specifically, were officially rated 7lb higher over hurdles than over fences).

Let’s begin by looking at the horses which fit all 3 of these trends (although I’ll be lenient on the 7lb requirement)

  1. Snow Falcon – A novice chaser, having run just 4 times over fences, he’s officially rated 149 over these obstacles (compared to 157 over hurdles).
  2. Knight Of Noir – A second-season chaser who has run in 6 chases (but also ran in 5 hurdles races since going chasing). He’s rated 142 over fences and 147 over hurdles.
  3. Ballydine – A novice chaser with just 4 chase starts to his name, he’s rated 135 over fences and 139 over hurdles.
  4. Gwencily Berbas – A second-season chaser who has run in 8 chases and is officially rated 132 over fences compared to 149 over hurdles.
  5. Ibis Du Rheu – A second-season chaser who has run in 5 chases and is officially rated 141 over fences and 146 over hurdles.

These aren’t a definitive shortlist, but it is one angle into the race and so I’m going to profile each of these horses in order to find out whether any of them will be particularly suited by the conditions in this race:

Snow Falcon

  • Overall Record: 32 runs – 9 wins – 9 places (7 runs, 2 wins and 1 place were on the flat so for the purposes of this profile I’m focusing on 25 runs, 7 wins and 8 places in National Hunt races)
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-0
    • 5th in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2015
    • 5th in the Stayers Hurdle in 2017
  • Seems versatile in terms of ground – 12-4-4 on yielding or better, 13-3-4 on yielding to soft or worse.
  • 2-0-1 over 3m 1f but he has won over 3m (6-1-2).
  • Sean Flanagan usually rides (15-4-4) but G N Fox has a very strong record (3-2-0). Nina Carberry also has a good record (3-1-2) and the only other jockey to ride him was Paul Carberry (4-0-2).
  • His win record is better in smaller fields but his place record is almost identical so it’s probably not a major preference (12-5-2 in fields of 7 or less, 13-2-6 in fields of 8 or more).
  • He’s definitely able to run well fresh (3-2-0 after over 120 days off the track) but again, it doesn’t seem to be a major preference.
  • His record from October to February (17-6-6) is better than in March and April (6-0-2).
  • He has run well at left-handed tracks but it would appear to be a minor preference (16-5-5 compared to 9-2-3 going right-handed).
  • He may prefer flatter tracks (17-6-4 on flat tracks and those described as having slight undulations, compared to 8-1-4 on more undulating tracks).

Knight Of Noir

  • Overall Record: 20 runs – 5 wins – 5 places
  • Cheltenham record: 3-0-2
    • 2nd in a 2m 5f class 3 handicap hurdle in November 2014
    • 2nd in a 3m class 2 handicap hurdle in January 2015
    • 9th in the 3m listed Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle at the 2015 festival
  • He has a strong record on good ground (6-2-1). 14-3-4 on good to soft or worse is strong too, however, and includes a win on heavy (2-1-0), so he’s definitely versatile.
  • He has won over 3m 1f (1-1-0). 1-0-0 over 3m 1½f.
  • Noel Fehily has a strong record on him (5-2-1), as does Tom Scudamore (7-1-3). Nick Scholfield is 4-1-0, Paul Townend is 1-0-0 and J A Best is 2-0-1.
  • 2-0-0 in fields of 16 or more may be worth noting but it’s a small sample size to start with – 6-1-1 in fields of 7 or less isn’t overly impressive either, while 12-4-4 in fields of between 8 and 15 is more encouraging.
  • He has a poor record when back out within 30 days of his last start (5-0-1) and after a break of over 120 days (3-0-1). The rest of his starts have come after a break of between one and two months, and his record after this length of time off the track is 11-5-2.
  • His place record would suggest a definite preference for left-handed tracks (11-3-4 compared to 9-2-1 going right-handed).
  • He has a strong record on flat tracks (5-2-2), and while his record on more undulating tracks isn’t encouraging (15-3-3), his record on tracks with extreme undulations such as Cheltenham is decent (7-2-2).

Ballydine

  • Overall Record: 9 runs – 3 wins – 3 places
  • Never ran at Cheltenham.
  • His form is generally on soft ground – 6-3-3 on soft, 1-0-1 on heavy. 2-0-2 on good, so it may not actually be that important.
  • He has won over 3m (1-1-0) and placed over 3m½f (2-0-1).
  • T J O’Brien (1-1-0), Richard Johnson (2-1-1) and Sean Bowen (1-1-0) have won on him. Noel Fehily (1-0-0), Brian Hughes and J J Burke (2-0-1 each) haven’t.
  • He may prefer larger fields (6-3-1 in fields of 8 or more, including 3-2-0 in fields of 12 or more, compared to 3-0-2 in fields of 7 or less).
  • His record is very strong when back out quickly (3-3-0 when back out within 30 days of his last start).
  • Contrary to the last stat, he starts the season well (3-2-1 in October/November). 1-0-1 in December, 2-0-1 in January, 1-1-0 in February and 2-0-0 in March/April.

Gwencily Berbas

  • Overall Record: 13 runs – 3 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 9th in the grade 3 2m½f Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the 2015 festival.
  • Seems to prefer softer ground (9-3-1 on yielding to soft or worse, 4-0-1 on yielding or better).
  • 1-1-0 over 3m 1f.
  • Paul Townend (1-1-0) and Adrain Heskin (5-2-0) have been on board when he won. Denis O’Regan (7-0-2) has been less successful.
  • 4-1-0 on undulating tracks isn’t as strong as 9-2-2 on flat tracks and those with slight undulations.
  • It’s hard to see very many trends and patterns in his form.

Ibis Du Rheu

  • Overall Record: 12 runs – 1 win – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 4-1-1
    • 6th in the a grade 2 2m 1f juvenile hurdle in January 2015
    • Won the class 2 2m 4½f Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at the 2016 festival
    • 3rd in a class 2 2m 5f handicap novice chase in January 2017
    • Pulled up in the Ultima Handicap Chase last year
  • His sole win was on good ground (1-1-0), 3-0-1 on good to soft and 8-0-3 on soft.
  • He hasn’t won over further than 2m 4½f (1-1-0). 7-0-3 over further. Being pulled up in this race last year was the furthest that he had ever run over.
  • J Sherwood was on board for his win (2-1-0). Harry Cobden (1-0-1), Sam Twiston-Davies (8-0-3) and Nick Scholfield (1-0-0) have also rode him.
  • He has come up short at anything better than class 2 (6-0-1, with the place coming in a listed race).
  • His win came in a large field (24 runners in the Martin Pipe). 4-0-0 in fields of 7 or less, 4-1-4 in fields of 8 or more.
  • Almost all of his success has come after a moderate break – 3-0-0 when back out within 30 days, 3-0-1 after over 120 days off the track, but 5-1-4 on the rest of his starts, which came after a break of between 30 and 60 days.
  • 9-1-3 going left-handed is better than 3-0-1 going right-handed.
  • 7-0-2 on flatter tracks, 5-1-2 on more undulating tracks such as Cheltenham.

Update on March 12th: Interestingly, only 1 of these 5 horses will run in the race tomorrow – Knight Of Noir.

While many firms are offering enhanced each-way terms for this race by adding an extra place, it’s worth noting that most of these are offering only a fifth of the odds for a place. William Hill are still offering a quarter of the odds each-way. If you open an account with William Hill using this link, you’ll receive €30/£30 of free bets once you place your first bet of €10/£10 or more. If you’re interested, take a look at our Free Bets page to find out how you could win some cash prizes from The Parade Ring as well as picking up your free bets. 

National Hunt Chase Analysis

The class of horse we see in this race has undoubtedly improved over the last few years. My angle into the race isn’t a particularly complicated one – if anything, it’s very simplistic. 6 of the last 7 winners (and 4 of the last 5) were officially rated 143 or higher. Horses rated 143 or higher have filled 75% of the total places from 38% of the total field in the last 5 renewals of this race.

Looking at last year’s race, the finishing positions of those rated 143 or higher were 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, 9th (5 failed to finish). In contrast, those rated 142 or lower had finishing positions of 6th, 8th, 10th (3 failed to finish). The ratings are increasing, so we’re talking about two thirds of last year’s field. However, this still gives us an angle from which to take on the race. It seems that horses with a high official rating have the edge over those without – in other words, class has come to the fore here in the last few years.

For this reason, I’m going to focus on the following horses, all of which are rated at least 140 (based either on their UK or Irish ratings over fences).

  1. Barney Dwan – probably runs in the Close Brothers
  2. Dounikos – runs in the RSA
  3. Duel At Dawn
  4. Fagan
  5. Jury Duty
  6. Keeper Hill
  7. Mossback
  8. No Comment
  9. Rathvinden
  10. Sizing Tennessee – he has been left in the race, but it will be interesting to see whether he’s left in the RSA too
  11. Ms Parfois

With that as a starting point, I’m going to take a look at each of them individually. I’ll construct a profile for each horse, attempting to identify trends and patterns in their form which tell us the conditions under which they excel. I’ll also be trying to identify which of them will stay this trip – there aren’t many tests tougher than 4 miles at Cheltenham.

Duel At Dawn

  • Overall Record: 9 runs – 3 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 2nd of 4 in a class 2 3m 2f novices chase in December 2017
  • It’s hard to see a preference in terms of ground, with winners having come on good (2-1-1), good to soft (2-1-1) and soft (5-1-2). It could be argued that 4-2-2 on good to soft or better is better than 5-1-2 on soft, but it hasn’t been shown to be a major preference.
  • He’s 3-2-1 over 2m½f and his only start over further was when he finished 2nd at Cheltenham over 3m 2f.
  • K K Woods is usually on board (6-2-2). Leighton Aspell is 1-1-0 and H A A Bannister and Bryan Cooper are 1-0-1 each.
  • He probably runs better when back out relatively quickly after his last start – 4-2-1 when back out within 30 days and 6-3-2 when back out within 60 days. 2-0-1 after over 120 days off the track.
  • There isn’t a huge amount to go on here and it’s hard to find very many patterns in his form. Ground won’t be an issue and his last start was 59 days before this race.

Fagan

  • Overall Record: 11 runs – 4 wins – 2 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-2
    • 2nd in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle in 2016
    • 2nd in a class 2 3m½f in October 2017
  • He has a preference for good ground – 6-2-2 on good and 1-1-0 on good to soft, compared to 4-1-0 on soft or worse.
  • He has won over 3m (4-1-1) and placed over 3m½f (1-0-1).
  • Richard Johnson is 6-3-0 on him, while Davy Russell is 3-1-2. G B Watters and K M Donoghue are 1-0-0 each.
  • The highest level he has won at is class 4 (5-4-0 at class 4 and below). He did place in an Albert Bartlett, however.
  • He may prefer larger fields (7-2-1 in fields of 7 or less, 4-2-1 in fields of 8 or more).
  • His best records are in the summer (4-2-0 from July to September) and across the first half of the season (3-2-1 from October to December). This drops in the New Year (4-0-1 from January to April).
  • He would want the ground to be decent on the first day. His Albert Bartlett run aside, he hasn’t necessarily shown himself to be up to this standard. He should get a decent-sized field here, but his form in the second half of the season is discouraging.

Jury Duty

  • Overall Record: 16 runs – 4 wins – 9 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-1
    • 3rd in the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle in 2017
  • He’s very much proven on softer ground (12-4-6 on yielding to soft or worse). However, 4-0-3 on yielding or better is a strong place record.
  • The furthest he has actually won over is 2m 6½f (3-2-0). However, he has placed 6 times from 7 starts over further (7-0-6, all over 3 miles).
  • Jack Kennedy (5-2-2), Robbie Power (4-1-2) and Davy Russell (2-1-1) are the jockeys to have won on him. The others to have rode him were Nina Carberry (1-0-0), K M Donoghue (2-0-2), David Mullins (1-0-1) and K C Sexton (1-0-1).
  • He certainly runs well fresh (2-2-0 after over 120 days off the track). However, his two other wins both came when back out within 30 days of his previous start (8-2-5). 1-1-0 when back out within 2 weeks.
  • His wins have mostly come at the start of the season (6-3-3 in October/November). However, he’s 3-0-2 in December/January, 3-1-1 in February, 2-0-2 in March and 2-0-1 in April.
  • Could be some question marks over his ability on good ground, but he has run well on it. Hard to knock him, although he may peak in the first half of the season.

Keeper Hill

  • Overall Record: 12 runs – 6 wins – 1 place
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-1
    • 7th in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2017
  • Hard to see any preferences in terms of ground – 4-2-1 on good, 5-2-0 on good to soft, 3-2-0 on soft.
  • He has won over 3 miles (1-1-0). Unplaced on his sole start over further (1-0-0).
  • Andrew Tinkler (1-1-0) and Wayne Hutchinson (1-1-0) have perfect records on him. Gavin Sheehan is 7-3-1 and Adrian Heskin is 3-1-0.
  • His best record is in the first half of the season – 7-5-1 from November to January, 2-1-0 in February and 3-0-0 in March/April.
  • He may prefer right-handed tracks (4-3-0 compared to 8-3-1 going left-handed).
  • He’s 2-0-0 at very undulating tracks such as Cheltenham – it’s a small sample, but may suggest that he prefers flatter tracks.
  • Hard to knock him on a lot of things and he has been a fairly consistent horse. However, he seems to run best in the first half of the season and may prefer right-handed tracks.

Mossback

  • Overall Record: 9 runs – 3 wins – 1 place
  • Never ran at Cheltenham
  • It looks like heavy ground is ideal – 2-2-0 on heavy, 4-1-0 on soft to heavy 3-0-1 on soft or better. However, he hasn’t been seen much on good ground.
  • The furthest distance he has won over is 2m 4f (2-1-0). 3-0-0 over further, including 2-0-0 over 3 miles.
  • E Dwan (1-1-0), Bryan Cooper (2-1-0) and Jack Kennedy (4-1-1) have been on board for his wins. The other jockeys to have rode him were Davy Russell and Sean Flanagan, who are 1-0-0 each.
  • He has come up short in graded contests (3-0-0).
  • He doesn’t seem to like small fields (3-0-0 in fields of 7 or less). 6-3-1 in fields of 8 or more.
  • Again, not much to go on. He might want it really heavy, but he hasn’t been seen very much on better ground. He hasn’t proven himself over this trip and has come up short at this level. He won’t be in a very small field here, which is a plus.

No Comment

  • Overall Record: 12 runs – 4 wins – 5 places
  • Cheltenham record: 1-0-0
    • 7th in the class 2 2m 4½f Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle at the 2017 festival
  • While he hasn’t won on proper good ground (4-0-2 on good), he seems fairly versatile – 3-3-0 on good to soft, 4-1-2 on soft or worse.
  • His furthest win was over 2m 5f, with a place over 3m (1-0-1) and 3m 1f (1-0-1).
  • Previous winners on him were Jamie Codd (1-1-0), Barry Geraghty (5-2-2) and Richard Johnson (3-1-2). T J O’Brien (2-0-1) and C Gethings (1-0-0) have also been on board.
  • He has come up short in races higher than class 3 (5-0-2), including 4-0-2 in graded contests.
  • He seems to run well when back out relatively quickly (6-3-3 when back out within 30 days of his last start). It may not need to be as short as 30 days – when we extend this to within 60 days, the stat barely changes (7-3-4). He’s 4-1-0 after a longer break.
  • Ground shouldn’t be an issue. Not proven at this level or over this trip. Needs a relatively recent run.

Rathvinden

  • Overall Record: 16 runs – 7 wins – 4 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-0-2
    • 2nd in a grade 2 2m 4½f novices hurdle in January 2014
    • 3rd in the Neptune Novices Hurdle in 2014
  • He seems to be completely versatile in terms of going conditions, with wins ranging from good (4-1-2) and good to firm (1-1-0), to soft (3-1-1) and worse (5-3-1).
  • He has won over 3m 1f (1-1-0) and this is the longest distance he has run over.
  • Ruby Walsh (6-3-1) and Paul Townend (5-2-2) have good records on him. Maxine O’Sullivan (1-1-0) and Patrick Mullins (2-1-0) have also won on him. David Casey (1-0-0) and Barry Geraghty (1-0-1) haven’t.
  • He has come up short in grade 1 and 2 races but has managed to make the frame (4-0-2 in grade 1’s, 2-0-1 in grade 2’s) and has a good record in grade 3 races (2-2-0).
  • His record in larger fields (12 runners or more) is very strong (5-3-1). However, 11-4-3 in smaller fields is decent too.
  • He’s 7-6-0 from June to November. This drops from December (4-1-1) to January (2-0-1) and February (1-0-0). 1-0-1 in March and 1-0-1 in May.
  • He seems to have a preference for right-handed tracks (7-5-2 compared to 9-2-2 going left-handed).
  • He may prefer undulating tracks such as Cheltenham (4-2-2 compared to 12-5-2 on flatter tracks and those with slight undulations).
  • This is a decent profile overall. Preference for right-handed tracks a concern, and form in the second half of the season isn’t fantastic.

Sizing Tennessee

  • Overall Record: 20 runs – 5 wins – 3 places
  • Cheltenham record: 9-1-2
    • 21st in the Champion Bumper in 2013
    • 20th in the grade 3 2m 1f County Hurdle in 2016
    • 2nd in a class 2 2m 4½f novice chase in November 2016
    • 3rd in a class 2 2m 5f novice chase in December 2016
    • Pulled up in the Close Brothers Novice Handicap Chase at the 2017 festival
    • Fell in a class 2 3m½f novices chase in October 2017
    • Won 3m 2f class 2 novices chase in December 2017
    • 2nd in a grade 2 2m 5f novices chase in January 2018
    • 3rd in a class 2 2m 5f novices chase in January 2018
  • He seems to want a cut in the ground. 11-1-2 on good to soft or better compared to 9-4-1 on soft or worse.
  • He has won over 3m 2f (1-1-0).
  • Patrick Mullins (2-2-0), A E Lynch (2-1-0), Bryan Cooper (6-1-2) and J J Burke (3-1-0) are the jockeys with the best records on him.
  • He has come up short in graded and listed races (6-0-1).
  • He seems to prefer smaller fields – 13-4-2 in fields of 8 or less compared to 7-1-0 in fields of 9 or more.
  • He runs particularly well after a lay-off – 4-2-2 after over 120 days off the track.
  • He definitely seems to peak in December (6-3-0) and January (4-2-1). 4-0-2 in October/November and 6-0-0 from February to April.
  • His place record would suggest a preference for left-handed tracks (13-3-3 compared to 7-2-0 going right-handed).
  • He would prefer the ground to come up soft or worse. He isn’t proven at this level. Prefers smaller fields. His form in the second half of the season is poor. A longer layoff would be ideal.

Ms Parfois

  • Overall Record: 12 runs – 6 wins – 0 places
  • Cheltenham record: 2-1-0
    • 7th in a listed 2m½f bumper in November 2016
    • Won a class 3 2m 5f handicap chase in December 2017
  • She seems versatile in terms of ground, having won on good to soft (3-1-0). However, 9-5-0 on soft or worse is slightly better.
  • She has won over 3m (4-2-0).
  • Noel Fehily has a perfect record on her (2-2-0). Daryl Jacob and Sean Bowen are 2-1-0 each, Harry Cobden is 1-1-0, Aidan Coleman is 4-1-0 and D G Noonan is 1-0-0.
  • The season gets off to a slow start (3-0-0 in November) but picks up quickly (3-2-0 in December, 2-2-0 in January). This drops to 2-0-0 in February but she’s 2-2-0 in March/April.
  • She has only had two runs at right-handed tracks but has finished outside the places on both occasions (2-0-0, compared to 10-6-0 going left-handed).
  • Everything here is positive, it’s hard to knock her based on her profile. Soft ground would be beneficial to her.

While these profiles are here in order to assist you in your own analysis, my view on the race is that Jury Duty looks to have the best chance from this shortlist. He has been running to a very high standard in decent races in Ireland this season. The only real concern in his profile was his record in the second half of the season, but his 3rd place finish in the Pertemps was probably a career best effort at the time. Jamie Codd being booked to ride is an obvious plus – his last five rides in this race have finished 4th at 7/1, 5th at 33/1, 1st at 8/1, fell at 15/2 and 5th at 4/1. In other words, they seem to always be there or thereabouts.

Codd being booked to ride this horse is probably an indication of Elliott’s view on the horse too. Elliott’s record itself is of great interest – the form of his runners in the race to date reads 1P1F1. This will be the first year that he has had more than one runner, with Fagan, Mossback and Jury Duty all due to run.

As ever, the evening before the race the bookmakers are offering good prices to draw in punters, and Jury Duty is 9/2 with William Hill at the time of writing, having been shorter during the week. If you open an account with William Hill using this link, you’ll receive €30/£30 of free bets once you place your first bet of €10/£10 or more. If you’re interested, take a look at our Free Bets page to find out how you could win some cash prizes from The Parade Ring as well as picking up your free bets.