It's Cheltenham Trials Day on Saturday and with just 7 weeks until the big meeting gets under way I thought I'd start back with a comprehensive analysis of the Cheltenham Festival.
So, all this week I'll be giving you your 5 A Day, kicking off with 5 things we can take from the 2015 Cheltenham Festival:
1) Horses from the previous year
In 2015 13 of the 27 races were won by horses who had run at the previous years Festival. When you consider there are a few races where the winners couldn’t have run the previous year (4yo races and to a large extent the Bumper) it’s a big percentage (54%) and makes the previous Cheltenham Festival the first port of call when seeking the winners.
2015 Festival winners that had also won in 2014 - Vautour, Faugheen and Don Poli
2015 Festival winners that had finished runner up in 2014 - Glens Melody 6/1, Cause of Causes 8/1 and Uxizandre 16/1
2015 Festival winners that had finished third in 2014 - On The Fringe 6/1 and The Package 8/1
2015 Festival winners that had run 4th or worse in 2014 - Dodging Bullets 9/2, Next Sensation 16/1, Cole Harden 16/1, Wicklow Brave 25/1 and Kiltulagh Vic 7/1
Based on last years results it looks like the first place to look when trying to find your winners is the 2015 Festival.
2) You need a rest before running in a Festival Grade 1
There were 14 Grade 1 races at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival and the 14 winners of these races all had one thing in common, they had all been given a break of at least 31 days since their last run.
32 of the 185 Grade 1 runners (17%) had been on the track within the previous month and all were beaten with just 4 making the places. These 32 losers included 15 last time out winners and 8 runners at 8/1 or shorter.
If you're competing at the very highest level it looks like you really don't want to leave your form behind in some low grade prep race at the end of February/beginning of March
3) Stepping up from handicap company
In 2015 there were 16 non-handicap races run at the Festival but none of the 16 winners were stepping up from handicap company to do so. 19 horses tried but all failed including Sire De Grugy (5/2), The Young Master (11/2) and Djakadam (10/1).
If we look back to 2010 we can see that only 1 horse from 181 such runners has managed the feat of stepping up from a handicap to win a non handicap race at the Cheltenham Festival (11/4 Bobs Worth 2013 Gold Cup)
There's a big gap between handicaps and Graded company and none more so than at the Cheltenham Festival
4) Runners that last ran at Huntingdon
In my 2015 Cheltenham Festival stats book I included a section that looked at the tracks winners had raced at previously.
At the bottom of the pile we saw that horses coming on from Huntingdon had the worst record of all with all 91 such horses getting beat since 2004. We can now add another 10 losers to this list as that’s how many horses got beat in 2015 having had their prep run at Huntingdon. In fact all 10 finished unplaced including Fred Winter favourite Arabian Revolution, Jonjo O’Neills 11/1 shot Forthefunofit in the Martin Pipe Hurdle and quietly fancied Eduard in the RyanAir.
As I said in my book, you couldn’t find two more contrasting tracks:
Huntingdon (Right Handed, Flat, Sharp and Fast)
Cheltenham (Left Handed, Undulating, Galloping and Testing.)
For over 10 years horses have been regularly getting beaten at Cheltenham having had their last run at Huntingdon. Beware these horses!
5) The AW is not an ideal prep for the Festival
Trainers who use the AW as a prep for the Festival had better have a rethink. In fact horses coming off the flat in general have a terrible record.
Since 2003 all 82 runners that had their last start on the flat (including 72 on the all weather) have been beaten. There were 5 last year, including Quick Jack at 8/1, and all were beaten. Even finishing top 2 in a flat race is of no help as all 23 such runners have finished unplaced!
For over 10 years horses have been regularly getting beaten at Cheltenham having had their last run on the flat. Beware these horses!
So to recap, the first place to look for your Cheltenham Festival winners is last years meeting, your selection is better off having had a rest if it's running in a Grade 1, horses stepping out of handicap company don't do very well at all and it's best to dismiss any runners that last raced at Huntingdon or on the flat!
Food for thought I hope.....
Tomorrow I'll be looking at 5 specific Festival races and some helpful stats concerning them.
P.S. All Cheltenham related posts will be available for review simply by visiting the Cheltenham 2016 Micro Site. Click the Cheltenham 2016 tab on the top menu bar of this page or click HERE and see what's coming up this week.
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