In-Form Trainers: February 12th

After some top quality action in Newbury this weekend (and a few Cheltenham festival clues), it’s back to the midweek racing with only 29 days to go until the highlight of the season.

As ever, here’s our update on the trainers operating at high strike rates over the past couple of weeks:

John Gosden has had 3 winners and 2 placed horses from 5 runners in the last 14 days, with form of 21211. He runs one horse today at Wolverhampton:
5:40 Wolverhampton – Orchid Lily

Mrs R Dobbin has had 4 winners from  7 runners in the last 2 weeks, although her good form stretches back slightly further than that, with form of 1211141F51 since January 26th. She has two runners today:
2:00 Catterick – Jack Devine
3:35 Catterick – Monfass

Ed Walker has had 3 winners from 6 runners in the last 14 days. He runs one horse today:
8:10 Wolverhampton – Bold Prediction

Rebecca Bastiman has had 3 winners and 2 placed horses from 7 runners in the last 2 weeks. She runs two today:
7:40 Wolverhampton – See Vermont
8:40 Wolverhampton – Gone With The Wind

J Scott has had 4 wins and a place from 10 runners in the last 2 weeks (in fact, he has had 4 wins and a place from 7 runners in the last 7 days). His form in the last 7 days reads 11118P2, with the horse than finished 8th having had a starting price of 50/1 and the horse than pulled up having had a starting price of 100/1. He has two runners today:
3:50 Plumpton – Two Hoots
4:20 Plumpton – Shoofly Milly

Dr Richard Newland has had 2 wins and a place from 4 runners in the last 7 days (2 wins and a place from 5 runners in the last 14 days). His form over the last 7 days reads 4211. He has one runners today:
2:35 Catterick – Aaron Lad

Betfair Hurdle Trends Analysis

I’ve singled out a number of key trends for the Betfair Hurdle and looked at which of this year’s runners fit the trends:

Key Trends

  1. 10 of the last 10 winners were aged between 4 and 6.
    These horses filled 77% of the total places from 63% of the total field.
  2. 10 of the last 10 winners carried 11-2 or less.
    These horses filled 85% of the total places (including 100% of the winners) from 80% of the total field.
  3. 5 of the last 10 winners were officially rated between 134 and 137.
    These horses filled 36% of the total places (including 50% of the total winners) from 23% of the total field. 3 of the last 5 winners have fit this trend, and if we focus on the last 5 years, these horses filled 40% of the total places from 26% of the total field.
  4. 9 of the last 10 winners finished in the top 3 on their last start.
    These horses filled 74% of the total places from 51% of the total field.
  5. 4 of the last 10 winners were dropping down in class.
    These horses filled 36% of the total places from 25% of the total field. This includes 3 of the last 4 winners and both of the last 2. If we focus on the last 5 years, we see that these horses filled 35% of the total places from 17% of the total field.
  6. 8 of the last 10 winners were bred in Ireland or the UK.
    These horses filled 64% of the total places from 61% of the total field.
  7. 10 of the last 10 winners had run in 16 or less National Hunt races.
    These horses filled 95% of the total places from 87% of the total field.
  8. 10 of the last 10 winners had run in 10 or less hurdles races.
    These horses filled 85% of the total places from 73% of the total field.
  9. 5 of the last 10 winners had never run in a handicap.
    These 5 winners all came in the last 6 years. This is a significant over-performance, considering these horses made up just 13% of the total field in the last 10 years, but managed to fill 23% of the total places. In the last 5 years, they have over-performed even more significantly – 35% of the total places from 20% of the total field.

This Year’s Runners

Horse 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Total
High Bridge No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 4
Jenkins Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 5
Bleu Et Rouge No No No No No No Yes Yes No 2
Verdana Blue Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 5
Charli Parcs Yes No No No No No Yes Yes No 3
Divin Bere Yes No No No No No Yes Yes No 3
Remiluc No No No Yes No No No No No 1
Moon Racer No No No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 5
Misterton No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 4
Kalashnikov Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 7
Project Bluebook Yes No No No No No No Yes No 2
Kayf Grace No No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 4
Spiritofthegames Yes No No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 5
Lough Derg Spirit Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No 7
Poppy Kay No Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 5
Lalor Yes Yes Yes Yes No No Yes Yes Yes 7
Knocknanuss No Yes Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 6
Waterlord No Yes Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes 7
William H Bonney No Yes Yes No No Yes Yes No No 4
Irish Roe No Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No 7
Silver Streak Yes Yes No Yes No Yes Yes Yes No 6
Nietzsche Yes Yes No No No Yes No Yes No 4
Coeur Blimey No Yes No No No Yes Yes Yes No 4
Zalvados Yes Yes No Yes No No No Yes No 4
Magic Dancer Yes Yes No No No Yes No No No 3
Maquisard Yes Yes No No No No No Yes No 3

So, the trends shortlist:

  1. Kalashnikov, Lough Derg Spirit, Lalor, Waterlord, Irish Roe – 7
  2. Knocknanuss, Silver Streak – 6

In-Form Trainers: February 5th

As we recover from an incredible weekend at Leopardstown, it’s time to settle back into midweek racing, so, as usual, here’s our update on the trainers who have been in hot form over the last two weeks.

Robin Dickin has had 4 wins and 3 places from his 8 runners in the last 14 days, with form of 111342131. He runs two horses on Monday:
2:30 Southwell – Myroundorurs
4:35 Southwell – Tara Well

Rose Dobbin has had 6 wins and 3 places from her 13 runners in the last 14 days. Her more recent record is even more impressive, with form of 1211141 since the 26th of January, and 3 wins from 4 runners in the last 7 days. She runs two horses on Monday:
3:50 Newcastle – Log On
4:20 Newcastle – Le Gavroche

Kevin Ryan has had 3 wins and a place from 8 runners in the last 14 days (including 2 wins and a place from 6 runners in the last 7 days). His two runners so far this month have won. He runs one horse on Monday:
5:45 Wolverhampton – Al Khan

Anthony Honeyball has had 3 wins and 2 places from 8 runners in the last 14 days (all in the last 7 days) with form of 11288621 (the two horses to finish 8th had starting prices of 33/1 and 25/1). He runs one horse on Monday:
3:00 Southwell – Don Lami

John Gosden has had 3 wins and 3 places from 9 runners in the last 14 days (with his two runners in the last 7 days finishing 2nd and 1st at 17/2 and 5/1 respectively). He runs one horse on Monday:
7:15 Wolverhampton – Natch

Cheltenham: 3 Golden Rules

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The Countdown is On!

As racing fans, only one thing occupies our thoughts at this time of year – the Cheltenham Festival. While we suffer through cold, miserable January days we can dream ahead to Prestbury Park in March and the famous roar as the tapes go up ahead of the Supreme Novices Hurdle, the first race of the festival.

To begin our mission of finding winners over these four fantastic days in the middle of March, I’ve found three golden rules which should be followed at the festival.

1) Grade 1 Winners Win the Gold Cup

It’s generally excepted that the Gold Cup, National Hunt racing’s blue riband event, is the highlight of the week at Cheltenham. One of the most useful and strongest statistics that you will come across is that it is practically a necessity to be a grade 1 winner in order to be competitive in a Gold Cup.

In the last 10 years, 57 horses which had not won a grade 1 ran in the Gold Cup. None of them won and just 4 managed to make the frame. The 69 grade 1 winners, on the other hand, accounted for all 10 winners and the other 26 placed horses – that’s 87% of the total places on offer from just 55% of the total field in the last 10 years.

2) Handicaps Are Not Good Preparation for Festival Grade 1’s

It has been the case for a number of years that horses which had their final prep run in a handicap tend to underperform in the grade 1 races at the Cheltenham Festival. The stats back up this common observation – 9% of runners in grade 1’s in the last 10 years had their last start in a handicap, but these horses won just 2 of those 127 races.

This record remained as poor as ever last year, with just one placed horse from 19. Well-fancied horses such as Ballyandy and Brain Power had their final prep runs in handicaps and failed to make the frame.

3) Older Horses Should Be Avoided

Cheltenham has always been a chance for rising stars to shine and it pays to side with these younger contenders against the veterans of the game. The classic stat is that horses aged 11 or older do not win at the festival – this held strong last year with no wins and 4 places from 26 runners. There were exceptions in each of the 2 years before that, but overall horses aged 11 or older have performed very poorly, with just 4 wins from 305 horses in the last 10 years.

While horses aged 11 and older are probably best left alone, we should be wary around 10-year-olds too – the only 10yo winners last year were Pacha Du Polder in the Foxhunters and Special Tiara, who was probably gifted a Champion Chase due to Douvan’s injury.

The Triumph – A Champion Hurdle Trial?

It’s often noted that the previous season’s top juvenile hurdlers fail to make the transition into open company, despite having been hugely impressive in their juvenile year. This year, we’re faced with such a dilemma yet again – Defi Du Seuil looked like a wonderful horse and an exciting prospect last season, winning both the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Anniversary Hurdle at Aintree. However, this season he has failed to impress in either of his two starts, finishing 4th of 5 runners at Ascot and 7th of 8 at Leopardstown. Should we simply write off the previous season’s juveniles when considering a Champion Hurdle, or are they were keeping on side?

I’ve taken a look at all of the previous season’s Triumph Hurdle runners to run in the following season’s Champion Hurdle. Here is the list, along with a few conclusions:

2017 Champion Hurdle / 2016 Triumph

Horse Triumph Placing Champion Odds Champion Placing
Footpad 3rd 14/1 4th
Sceau Royal 12th 25/1 6th

2016 Champion Hurdle / 2015 Triumph

Horse Triumph Placing Champion Odds Champion Placing
Peace And Co 1st 16/1 PU
Top Notch 2nd 14/1 5th
Hargam 3rd 16/1 10th

2015 Champion Hurdle / 2014 Triumph

None

2014 Champion Hurdle / 2013 Triumph

Horse Triumph Placing Champion Odds Champion Placing
Our Conor 1st 5/1 F

2013 Champion Hurdle / 2012 Triumph

Horse Triumph Placing Champion Odds Champion Placing
Countrywide Flame 1st 16/1 3rd
Balder Succes F 100/1 UR

2012 Champion Hurdle / 2011 Triumph

Horse Triumph Placing Champion Odds Champion Placing
Zarkandar 1st 9/1 5th
Brampour 9th 50/1 7th

2011 Champion Hurdle / 2010 Triumph

None

2010 Champion Hurdle / 2009 Triumph

Horse Triumph Placing Champion Odds Champion Placing
Zaynar 1st 15/2 3rd
Starluck 4th 14/1 5th
Jumbo Rio 9th 50/1 8th

2009 Champion Hurdle / 2008 Triumph

Horse Triumph Placing Champion Odds Champion Placing
Celestial Halo 1st 17/2 2nd
Won In The Dark 3rd 33/1 10th

2008 Champion Hurdle / 2007 Triumph

Horse Triumph Placing Champion Odds Champion Placing
Katchit 1st 10/1 1st
Punjabi 4th 25/1 3rd

Form of Triumph Winner

12353FP – 1 win and 3 places from 7 runners.

This actually looks better when you break it down:

  • 1st at 10/1
  • 2nd at 17/2
  • 3rd at 15/2
  • 5th at 9/1
  • 3rd at 16/1
  • Fell at 5/1
  • Pulled up at 16/1

If anything, the Triumph winners have performed fairly consistently in the Champion Hurdle – they generally haven’t managed to have quite enough to win the big race the following year, but have done a good job at making the frame at decent prices.

The previous year’s Triumph winners have taken up 6% of the total field in the last 10 years but have managed to make up 13% of the total places on offer. This record may be even better if Our Conor, the shortest-priced Triumph winner in a Champion Hurdle in the last 10 years, had not tragically taken a fatal fall in the early stages of the races, missing out on a chance to show his true talent.

While the record of 5yo’s in winning the Champion Hurdle is famously poor, this record excluding Triumph winners is simply dire. In the last 10 years, 5yo’s (excluding the previous year’s Triumph Hurdle winner) took up 18% of the field but only 7% of the total places, with 2 places filled.

Gold Cup – Never This Century

Courtesy of Gaultstats.com, there are a list of 4 things that have not happened this century in a Gold Cup… this is a closer look at the stats behind them.

1)    No Horse Has Won the Gold Cup Having Been Beaten Favourite Last Time Out

The last horse to win the Gold Cup having been a beaten favourite on their last start was Cool Dawn back in 1998. Since the turn of the century, 37 have tried and none have succeeded.

Year Runners Wins W% Places P% W/P W/P%
2017 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2016 1 0 0% 1 100% 1 100%
2015 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2012 3 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2011 4 0 0% 2 50% 2 50%
2010 2 0 0% 1 50% 1 50%
2009 3 0 0% 1 33% 1 33%
2007 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2006 4 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2005 6 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2004 3 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2003 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2002 2 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%
2000 1 0 0% 0 0% 0 0%

37 isn’t an absolutely massive number and does include a number of outsiders. However, I wanted to have a look at how many of these horses were relatively well fancied for the race. 13 of these horses had starting prices of 12/1 or shorter, and they are listed below:

Year Horse Odds Finishing Position
2017 Djakadam 3/1 4th
2016 Djakadam 9/2 2nd
2011 Kauto Star 5/1 3rd
2011 Denman 8/1 2nd
2010 Denman 4/1 2nd
2009 Denman 7/1 2nd
2005 Celestial Gold 9/2 7th
2005 Strong Flow 5/1 6th
2005 Beef Or Salmon 5/1 PU
2004 Keen Leader 10/1 6th
2004 Therealbandit 15/2 7th
2003 Hussard Collonges 8/1 PU
2002 Florida Pearl 10/1 11th

5 places from 13 horses is a worse place rate (38%) when compared to all horses running in the Gold Cup at odds of 12/1 or less (a 45% place rate from 51 runners in the last 10 years).

Overall, this has to be considered a negative for the Gold Cup. These horses also performed worse than would be expected of them in terms of the places they filled – they filled 10% of the total places on offer from 16% of the total field.

2)    No Horse Aged 10 Years or Older Has Won the Gold Cup

Again, the las horse to buck this trend was Cool Dawn in 1998, a rather untypical winner at 25/1. Since the turn of the century, however, 67 horses have run in the Gold Cup at an age older than 9, and none have managed to win. Those at short prices are listed below:

Year Horse Odds Position
2000 See More Business 9/4 4th
2002 Looks Like Trouble 9/2 13th
2006 Beef Or Salmon 4/1 11th
2010 Denman 4/1 2nd
2010 Kauto Star 8/11 Fell
2011 Imperial Commander 4/1 PU
2011 Kauto Star 5/1 3rd
2012 Kauto Star 3/1 PU
2016 Cue Card 5/2 Fell
2017 Cue Card 9/2 Fell

There are some memorable and surprise losses included in the list, with Kauto Star and Denman featuring again, along with some other veterans such as Beef Or Salmon and more recent stars such as Cue Card.

It’s fair to say that these horses went into the race with solid chances and disappointed. When we look at all 67 older Gold Cup runners since the turn of the century, we see a similarly unimpressive result:

Runners Wins W% Places P% W/P W/P%
67 0 0% 7 10% 7 10%

7 places from 67 runners is hardly too promising when we consider that these horses made up 28% of the total field but managed to fill just 15% of the places. It looks like horses aged older than 9 are worth avoiding in the Gold Cup.

3)    No Horse Has Won the Gold Cup for the First Time Having Previously Been Beaten in the Race

For this statistic, we’re discounting horses which ran in the Gold Cup and won it on their first run before returning to the race again. If we look at just runs this century which were horse’s 2nd/3rd/4th/5th Gold Cup starts (no horse has run in it this century for a sixth time), we see the following figures:

Runs Wins W% Places P% W/P W/P%
68 0 0% 9 13% 9 13%

That’s no wins from 68 attempts, a startlingly low figure. The place record may not look terrible, but in terms of filling the places, these horses performed considerably worse than have been expected of them (19% of the total places from 29% of the total field). Therefore, it’s best to steer clear of horses which have previously been beaten in the race.

Full details of these horses can be seen here.

4)    No Horse Has Won the Gold Cup Having Raced on Heavy Ground That Season

This is a very difficult one to find the correct stat for, with a 0/79 strike rate commonly cited. Taking into account only runs in the UK or Ireland, I came up with the following stats:

Runners Wins W% Places P% W/P W/P%
70 0 0 13 19% 13 19%

The vast majority of these were outsiders with big starting prices, but 0 wins from 70 runners is still fairly worrying, particularly considering that we’re talking about almost a third of the total Gold Cup field since the turn of the century. The place record isn’t nearly as bad (a 19% strike rate with these horses filling 27% of the total places on offer from 30% of the total field) which would make me less worried about this stat. However, we will be wary of horses which ran on heavy this season.

Nicky Henderson in the Supreme

It is always worth noting Nicky Henderson’s strong record in the Supreme:

Year Runners Wins Places W/P W/P%
2017 2 0 1 1 50%
2016 2 1 1 2 100%
2015 1 0 0 0 0%
2014 2 0 2 2 100%
2013 2 0 1 1 50%
2012 2 0 1 1 50%
2011 3 0 2 2 67%
2010 2 0 0 0 0%
2009 1 0 0 0 0%
2008 3 0 1 1 33%
2007 1 0 1 1 100%
2004 2 0 1 1 50%
2003 1 0 1 1 100%

This is something which will be looked into in greater detail between now and the festival as it is quite significant. Ahead of the 2016 festival I viewed his record as being one of a trainer who always just comes up short and saw it as a negative for Altior. Altior’s win caused me to reconsider this view and I noticed just how strong Henderson’s win/place record is. Winners may be fairly rare but he has a seriously consistent strike rate in terms of making the frame – 9 of his 14 runners since 2011 managed to do so, which is a 64% W/P rate from a decent sample size.

The actual form in that time reads 032/92/82/32/4/31/63. The horses to finish 10th, 9th, 8th and 6th had starting prices of 22/1, 12/1, 18/1 and 16/1 respectively.

This year, Henderson is represented by just one horse in the race, Claimantakinforgan.

At the time of writing, Claimantakinforgan can be backed at odds of 16/1 with William Hill. However, William Hill are the only bookmaker offering double winnings in cash on all bets in the race.

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