The Grand National – Age Stats

When the Grand National comes around, trends and stats are used more than ever to analyse the big race (often viewed as an impossible puzzle). Rather than taking these at face value (eg, 8 of the last 10 winners were aged between 9 and 11), it’s worth taking a closer look at them:

10-Year Age Stats

10 Year Age

The grid above shows that all of the last 10 winners were aged between 8 and 11, as were 38 of the total 40 horses to which finished in the top 4. However, so were 84% of the total field. This suggests that this group of horses over-performed, if not by a huge amount. There was a significant underperformance from horses aged 7 or younger, despite this sample being relatively small. The slight underperformance from 10yo’s may suggest that we should focus on 8- and 9-year-olds, but the significant over-performance of 11yo’s would suggest otherwise.

The changes to the race in recent years are well documented, and it may be worth looking at the last 5 renewals to find out whether the trends are changing.

5-Year Age Stats

5 Year Age

3 of the last 5 winners were aged 8 or 9 – however, the other 2 were aged 11. Again, we see an underperformance from 10yo’s, but there is also an underperformance from the 9yo’s in the last 5 renewals. Some might argue that this shows a shift towards younger horses, but the 9% over-performance from 11yo’s (including 2 wins) suggests that this would be a knee-jerk reaction.

Conclusion

Horses aged younger than 8 or older than 11 have struggled to win the race –  although not a huge amount of them have run and it’s difficult to simply discard such runners on this basis.

Of the others, the best record has been that of 11yo’s, with 8yo’s also performing well. However, any useful trends should be backed up by logic and it’s hard to make a case for 11- and 8-year-olds performing well when 9- and 10-year-olds don’t.

Ryanair Gold Cup

It’s sometimes difficult to analyse a race at Fairyhouse based on previous renewals, as the make-up of the race can be quite different each year due to the fact that the date of the meeting varies a lot in comparison to other big meetings in the spring. The proximity of Fairyhouse’s Easter meeting to Cheltenham varies each year, and it can fall on either side of Aintree’s Grand National meeting. However, it tends to attract a few high-class Irish novice chasers, a couple of which have come from Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Last Time Out

This brings us to the first point – most years, horses run here having had their last run at the Cheltenham festival. Overall, their record has been fairly poor.

Year Horse Days Since Cheltenham Run Odds Finishing Position
2009 Golden Silver 33 days 11/2 7th
2010 Nicanor 17 days 16/1 Pulled up
2011 Noble Prince 38 days 13/8 Fell
Mikael Dhaguenet 39 days 3/1 4th
Loosen My Load 38 days 4/1 2nd
Realt Dubh 40 days 9/2 1st
2012 White Star Line 26 days 16/1 6th
Call The Police 25 days 6/1 4th
2014 Ballycasey 39 days 11/8 Fell
2015 Apache Stronghold 24 days 5/1 Fell
Valseur Lido 24 days 4/1 6th
Smashing 26 days 25/1 3rd
2016 Mckinley 12 days 14/1 4th
Outlander 10 days evens 2nd
2017 Baily Cloud 31 days 66/1 4th
Road To Respect 31 days 7/2 1st
Some Plan 33 days 20/1 6th
Yorkhill 31 days 4/7 2nd

 

According to Betfair SP, this table should include 3.4 winners and 7.2 total places. It actually contains 2 wins and 6 total places, so there’s just a small underperformance.

Last year, the success did come from Cheltenham runners. However, it had been over a month since the festival. If we narrow this down to years in which the race came within 30 days of the Cheltenham start, the table is shorter and shows less success:

Year Horse Days Since Cheltenham Run Odds Finishing Position
2010 Nicanor 17 days 16/1 Pulled up
2012 White Star Line 26 days 16/1 6th
Call The Police 25 days 6/1 4th
2015 Apache Stronghold 24 days 5/1 Fell
Valseur Lido 24 days 4/1 6th
Smashing 26 days 25/1 3rd
2016 Mckinley 12 days 14/1 4th
Outlander 10 days evens 2nd

 

If we look at these horses alone, they underperformed, but only marginally – the market would have expected 1 winner and there were none, while according the Betfair SP there should have been 3 places (there were 2).

Willie Mullins

Mullins has traditionally been the man to follow in Irish National Hunt racing at the end of the season, but this race has been an exception. In the last 10 years he has had 18 runners, with no winners and 5 places (this record doesn’t get any better if you go back further, with no winners and just 5 places from 26 runners this century).

In those last 10 races, he has failed to train a winner despite his runners accounting for 27% of the total field. On that basis, they’ve underperformed just marginally in terms of making the frame, filling 24% of the total places from 27% of the total field.

However, if we look at the horses behind these numbers we see that this underperformance is more significant than it may seem at first. Mullins trained the favourites in 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014 at 4/7, evens, 5/4 and 11/8 respectively. They finished 2nd, 2nd, 4th and fell. Whilst it seems clear that Mullins horses underperform, it’s possible that they’re also overestimated by the market – the market certainly doesn’t seem to factor in this poor record. Based on Betfair starting prices, Mullins would have been expected to train 3.7 of the last 10 winners (actual number is 0) and 8.3 horses to make the frame (actual number 5).

2018 Renewal

Footpad was due to represent Willie Mullins here, and may have been a favourite worth taking on with these two angles in mind. However, it is interesting to see that the majority of the field are either trained by Mullins (only he and Elliott are represented in the race) or ran at Cheltenham:

  1. Al Boum Photo – Willie Mullins, ran at Cheltenham
  2. Invitation Only – Willie Mullins, ran at Cheltenham
  3. Montalbano – Willie Mullins
  4. Saturnas – Willie Mullins
  5. The Storyteller – ran at Cheltenham
  6. Tombstone
  7. Tycoon Prince – ran at Cheltenham
  8. Up For Review – Willie Mullins
  9. Shattered Love – ran at Cheltenham

William Hill are offering 5 places in this year’s Irish Grand National. When you sign up through our exclusive link, you’ll get €30 of free bets when you place your first bet of €10 or more. By signing up, you can support The Parade Ring and also be in with a chance of winning some cash prizes – find out more on our Free Bets page

The Irish Grand National – One For The Small Yards

This year, the Irish Grand National will play a vital role in the year’s Trainer’s Championship, which both Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott desperately want to win. Mullins has 4 runners, which Elliott has an incredible 13. Last year was similar, however, with Elliott running 9 horses but the race ultimately going to Jessica Harrington’s Our Duke.

Whilst Harrington’s can hardly be called a small yard, it has been worth looking beyond the obvious powerhouses in this contest in the past. In the last 10 years, only Mouse Morris has won the race twice. 5 of the last 10 winners were their yards’ sole representatives at the track that day, and these horses (96 of them in total) were, as one might expect, underestimated by the market (Betfair SP’s would have suggested that they would account for 3.3 winners – although the Betfair place market would have suggested 13.9 places, despite only 9 of them actually making the frame).

It’s quite incredible that neither Elliott nor Mullins has ever won this race despite the attractive prize money on offer and the fact that both have won the English equivalent. Mullins has fired 23 darts at the race in the last 10 years and has had just 2 placed horses to show for it, despite 7 of his runners going off at 10/1 or less (none of these 7 even made the frame). Elliott, meanwhile, has had 20 runners in the last 10 years and has come away with just 3 places. He hasn’t trained as many contenders at the top of the market as Mullins has (just one horse with a starting price of 10/1 or less), but last year his runners took up around 30% of the total book and just one made the frame.

This is not a critique of either Mullins or Elliott – the reason for their ducks in this race aren’t clear and it’s never an easy task to win a National of any description, but it may be worth looking beyond the obvious big names (particularly in a race which attracts once a year punters who are likely to back horses from iconic yards, causing their prices to contract). Indeed, at the time of writing, 7 of the top 8 in the market are trained by either Mullins or Elliott. It may pay to look beyond the obvious.

William Hill are offering 5 places in this year’s Irish Grand National. When you sign up through our exclusive link, you’ll get €30 of free bets when you place your first bet of €10 or more. By signing up, you can support The Parade Ring and also be in with a chance of winning some cash prizes – find out more on our Free Bets page

Leopardstown Competition

Thanks to Leopardstown Racecourse, we have two flexi-tickets to give away for Bulmers Live At Leopardstown this summer!

Following a hugely successful Bulmers Live at Leopardstown in 2017, the 2018 Bulmers Live at Leopardstown series will be kicking off on Thursday June 7th 2018.

All summer Leopardstown are bringing a fantastic line-up of live gigs, great food, and thrilling horse racing from Leopardstown Racecourse. With a strong Irish card, Bulmers Live at Leopardstown gives you all the makings for a great night out, with a difference. Concert & Racing only €20!

Entry is free – just enter your email address in the form below.

However, you can gain extra entries:

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.

William Hill is the only bookmaker paying double winnings in cash on all bets in the Supreme Novices Hurdle.

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. 

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.