Form Guru – Cheltenham Day 4

1.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 16th March 2018:
JCB Triumph Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo):
Distance: 2 miles 1 furlong on the New Course.
A race for four year old Novice hurdlers. The introduction of the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle back in 2005 reduced the size of the Triumph field by a third. Any trends are best restricted to the renewals since then.
10 year key trends:
The last 10 winners had last run between 19 and 55 days.
The last 10 winners had won at least 50% of their hurdle races.
9 of the last 10 winners had a top three finish last time out. (six won)
8 of the last 10 winners had an adjusted RPR of at least 150.
8 of the last 10 winners were by a Group One winning mile.
7 of the last 10 winners ran two or three times over hurdles.
5 of the last 10 winners were undefeated over hurdles.
Other trends to consider:
 
Horses that had contested a Grade One hurdle are 5 from 26 in the last 6 renewals.
Since 2005 unbeaten horses who had won a Grade One or Group Two hurdle are 6 from 16.
10 of the last 12 winners came from the first three in the market.
3 of the last 4 winners had never run on the flat.
French bred horses have filled 8 of the 9 places in the last 3 renewals.
5 of the last 6 winners had run over hurdles by the middle of November.
Nicky Henderson has trained six winners.
Only 1 of the last 13 winners has gone off bigger than 10/1.
 
Analysis:
Horses top rated have fared well in this race recently along with horses rated at or above the low 140’s. It’s maybe not too surprising that ex flat horses do well in this race since there isn’t much jumping in the second half of the race. Those from the level rated above 80 are the horses to note. Last time out winners have won a great majority of the renewals even though they often provide less than 50% of the runners. French bred/imports have began to put themselves back on the map in recent years but, even though they’ve won it in 3 of the last 5 years, the Irish had been infrequent winners prior to that. Horses from the flat will need stamina for this and most that have been successful had run over at least 12 furlongs, the ill-fated Our Conor being an exception in 2013. The introduction of the Fred Winter in 2005 has removed most of the dead wood from this race and since then nearly all the winners have come from the top three in the betting. However there has only been three winning favourites in the past 14 years but they have all come in the past three renewals. Being a race for four year olds, this is not a race that is easy to get a handle on. Most of the runners are lightly raced and open to varying degrees of improvement but it seems the market knows which form lines are the strongest and it’s probably the best guide.
Four of the nine runners go to post unbeaten. Apples Shakira heads the market after winning her three starts over 17 furlongs for her current yard at this venue (twice on the New Course and once on the Old Course). They all came on soft ground and the closest a horse has got to her is Nuba Negra who went down by three and half lengths. The distance could’ve been greater and the form wasn’t let down by the second who finished third in the Fred Winter on Wednesday. The market dictates that she is the most likely winner but, with the exception of GumballSayo andSaldier (the last two having raced just the once on these shores), the other five in opposition, Mr Adjudicator, FarclasRediceanSussex Ranger and Stormy Ireland all have progressive profiles. It’s a guessing game who will improve the most and the seven pound Fillies allowance afforded to the favourite and Stormy Ireland could turn out to be the difference. This is a good quality renewal but the nature of the race means it’s not one to have much confidence in from a betting point of view.
Those wishing to take the advantage of bookmakers offering money back as a free bet if the selection loses can have a free stab at the race.
Selection: 
 
No Bet.
 
 
 
 
2.10 – Cheltenham – Friday 16th March 2018:
Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 (CLASS 1):
 
Distance: 2 miles 1 furlong on the New Course.
The County Hurdle on the final day of the festival is a typically competitive open handicap but it’s one in which statistical trends have stood the test of time. What they inevitably point to is the ‘type’ of horse and it’s position in the handicap (weight and/or mark) required to win this race.
Ten year key trends:
 
The last 10 winners achieved a career best RPR of at least 129 on a left-handed track.
9 of the last 10 winners were Officially Rated between 132 and 139.
8 of the last 10 winners carried no more than 11st 1Ib, the two exceptions trained by Willie Mullins.
8 of the last 10 winners ran no more than 12 times over hurdles, the two exceptions trained by Willie Mullins)
8 of the last 10 winners were aged 5 or 6, the two exceptions were both aged 8.
7 of the last 10 winners had no previous form at the Festival.
7 of the last 10 winners began on the flat
6 of the last 10 winners have gone off 20/1 or greater.
In the last 10 renewals horses from Leopardstown’s Coral Hurdle are 4 from 22.
Other trends to consider:
 
8 of the last 11 renewals have been won by Irish-Trained runners.
Horses that had run by the end of October are 12 from 186 in the past 13 renewals.
9 winners this century had never won over as far as the 17 furlong trip.
10 winners this century had run in 9 hurdle races or less.
14 winners this century were in their first (3) or second (11) season over hurdles.
3 winners this century carried a penalty.
Horses held up have a good record.
Horses making their handicap debut over hurdles are 0 from 67 since 1993.
Only 2 of the last 11 winners won their previous race.
Analysis:
 
Last year’s winner, Arctic Fire, was the first horse since 2005 to defy a mark of 140+ when he won with a rating of 158.
We took an Ante-Post position on this race:
A Hare Breath – He may now be into veteran status at ten years old but a near two year absence from the track from Dec. 2103 until Nov. 2015 has seen him restricted to just twelve appearances under rules. He was progressive over hurdles the season before last but after finishing fourth, beaten just over two lengths, in the Greatwood on his reappearance last season he embarked on a Novice Chase campaign. Initial signs were good when he beat the subsequent 145 rated Gala Ball by five lengths with the ill-fated Starchitect a further four and half lengths away in third. He was beaten in a Grade Two four runner Novice Chase on his next start but, not to be deterred, his Trainer allowed him to take his chance in the Arkle at last season’s Festival. Unfortunately his jumping didn’t pass muster and he was well beaten. His heavy defeat at Aintree back over hurdles on his final start of the season three weeks later was probably nothing more than an afterthought. Remaining over hurdles he reappeared in a Listed Handicap at Sandown last month in ground softer than ideal and did well to run down an in-form, fit rival with four lengths back to the third. That has seen him lumbered with a six pound rise to a rating of 145, which may seem stiff for a horse in his latter years, but that performance was his best to date over the smaller obstacles and it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that he could improve on that this season. He goes very well fresh and his Trainer has stated that it’s likely he will not be seen again until Cheltenham, a move that will protect his mark. He handles soft ground and stays further but he is very well suited to a well run race of around two miles on good or good to soft ground. He has performed very well on all three previous visits to the venue, on both the old and new courses, and the County Hurdle looks tailor-made for him. His handler has intimated as much and we can be fairly confident that’s where he will turn up.
In addition to that selection:
Spiritofthegames has produced cracking efforts on all three starts this season. After winning over an extended 19 furlongs in soft ground at Lingfield on his reappearance in November he has been placed in two of the toughest handicaps over hurdles since. He was beaten three quarters of a length over 21 furlongs in the Listed Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Newbury in January and that form was well advertised in the Coral Cup yesterday. We supported him last time out when he was beaten into third of the 24 runners in the Grade Three Betfair Handicap Hurdle over an extended two miles at Newbury. He was twelve and half lengths behind Kalashnikov, who went close in the Supreme on Tuesday, and eight lengths behind Bleu Et Rouge who he re-opposes on eight pounds better terms here. The stiffer nature of this track will suit and the choice to take in a likely well run race over 17 furlongs rather than go for the 21 furlong Coral Cup could pay dividends. He is a lightly raced second season hurdler who gets in here off a good weight. Stable form is a concern but they had a runner finish third in the Fred Winter here yesterday.
Selections: (outlay – 3 pts)
(ANTE-POST) A Hare Breath – 0.75 pts e/w. Available at 20/1 for the County Hurdle (William Hill, BetVictor)
Spiritofthegames – 0.75 pts e/w. Available at 20/1. (Bet365 – 1/4 odds first 5)
2.50 – Cheltenham – Friday 16th March 2018.
Albert Bartlett Novices´ Hurdle (Registered As The Spa Novices´ Hurdle) Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)
Distance: Three Miles on the New Course.
10 year key trends:
The last 10 winners had run at least three times over hurdles.
9 of the last 10 winners won over at least 21 furlongs.
8 of the last 10 winners had an adjusted RPR of at least 150.
8 of the last 10 winners had a top three finish in a Graded Hurdle last time out, four won.
8 of the last 10 winners were aged six or seven.
7 of the last 10 winners were rated within 9Ib of the RPR top rated.
Other trends to consider:
 
Horses that began their hurdling careers over no more than two miles are 8 from 52.
Winners of a Grade Two hurdle at Cheltenham are 6 from 16.
Graded hurdle winners at three miles plus are 5 from 29.
The last 4 winners have gone off at 11/1 or greater.
7 of the last 8 winners were Officially Rated 140+.
7 winners had won a Graded Hurdle.
Winners of the Classic at Cheltenham are 3 from 5.
4 winners had raced at least twice at Cheltenham, all had won at the course.
All 34 horses that had contested less than 3 hurdle races were beaten.
Only 3 winners hadn’t run over hurdles by the end of October.
No winner had contested a Graded Bumper at the 3 big Spring Festivals.
Willie Mullins is 1 from 29.
Analysis:
Despite reservations, since it’s introduction in 2005 the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle has been a good source of top class horses. The majority of winners had previous Cheltenham experience and had won at the track. This can be a severe test for a young horse and those to have run over the trip before have fared well in this race. All previous winners of this race had previously run at least three times over hurdles. This is the kind of race where older Novices can perform well, probably because age brings about strength, and therefore stamina. This has been a decent race for favourite backers, even those at short prices. This is a difficult puzzle to solve with plenty open to further improvement at the trip and we would prefer to take a watching brief for future reference.
Selection:
No Bet.
3.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 16th March 2018:
Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase Grade 1 (CLASS 1):
Disatance: 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs on the New Course.

10 year key trends:

 
The last 10 winners had won a Grade One Chase.
9 of the last 10 winners were aged 7 to 9.
9 of the last 10 winners had 2 to 5 runs that season.
9 of the last 10 winners had an adjusted RPR of at least 172.
9 of the last 10 winners had won over at least three miles.
8 of the last 10 winners had won a Graded Chase that season.
8 of the last 10 winners had no more than 10 career starts over fences.
8 of the last 10 winners had won or placed at a previous Festival.
8 of the last 10 winners were within 12 Ib of RPR top rated.
Other trends to consider:
13 winners this century had won their previous start.
15 winners this century came from the first three in the betting.
all 17 winners this century had won a Grade One Chase.
16 of the last 20 winners had won (8) or been placed (8) at the Festival before.
11 of the 14 winners this century spent only one season over hurdles.
15 of the 17 winners this century had run in 12 Chases or less.
In the last 20 renewals horses that had run on heavy ground that season are 0 from 79.
Horses beaten in their first Gold Cup are 0 from 66 this century when running in the race again.
Horses aged 10+ are 0 from 67 this century.
Only one winner this century has gone off bigger than 8/1.
Runners in headgear are 0 from 42 this century.
Horses that had run over further than the Gold Cup trip under rules are 1 from 80 this century.
Analysis:
 
Eighteen line up for this season’s renewal. Having won his last six completed starts over fences,Might Bite has been a strong favourite for this race throughout the Winter. That has included the King George and the RSA here last season. He has his share of quirks and the doubts over whether he will see out the trip in testing ground has seen his odds drift in recent weeks. Our Duke won the Irish National last season and has worked his way back to form after an injury caused him to disappoint on his seasonal reappearance. His defeat of Presenting Percy giving him seven pounds in the Red Mills at Gowran Park over a trip shorter than ideal looks strong form with the runner up comfortably winning the RSA Chase yesterday. He can make the odds bad blunder but, if he can put in a relatively clean round, his stamina could be an asset in the latter stages. Native River and Minella Rocco ran well in this race last season. They both act in soft conditions and stay well but no horse has won this race after failing in their first attempt, a stat that Djakadam will also have to buck if he is to prevail. Definitely Red and Double Shuffleare more exposed than a typical winner and Anibale Fly’s busier campaign saw him take a very heavy fall on his fourth and last start. Killutagh Storm and Total Recall have yet to win at Grade One level. If the favourite is to be taken on, Our DukeEdwulf and Road To Respectlook the best equipped to do so. Of those narrow preference is for Road To Respect at the relevant prices.
Road To Respect was an easy winner of the Brown Advisory Plate over 21 furlongs at this Festival last season and followed up by narrowly beating Yorkhill in the Ryanair Novice Gold Cup at Fairyhouse. Those victories saw him begin this campaign rated 157 but stepping up to 24/25 furlongs for his three starts this season has seen him improve again. His victory over Balko Des Flos was well advertised by the winner who impressively beat Un De Seaux in the Ryanair here yesterday. Road to respect is now rated 168, the second highest in this race, just one pound behind Might Bite. He has been staying on well in his races this season which augurs well for his ability to stay this longer trip and he is a second season Chaser who has won five of his ten starts over fences. He is still open to further improvement and acts in very soft ground.
Selection: (Outlay – 2 pts)
 
Road To Respect – 1 pt e/w. Available at 12/1 (Coral, Paddy Power, Betfred, Boylesports, totesport.com – 1/5 odds first 4)
4.10 – Cheltenham – Friday 16th March 2018.
St Jame’s Palace Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup (CLASS 2) (5yo+)
Distance: 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs on the New Course
This is a spectacle worth watching but it’s not a race we get involved for betting purposes.
Selection:
No Bet.
4.50 Cheltenham – Friday 16th March 2018:
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys´ Handicap Hurdle (CLASS 2) (4yo+ 0-145):
Distance: 2 miles 4 and a half furlongs on the New Course.
This is the 10th running of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle and the seventh since it was upgraded to a 0-145 handicap.
Key 9 year trends:
All 9 winners were rated 133-143
All 9 winners were aged 5 or 6.
8 of the 9 winners had a top three finish in at least one of their last two starts
8 of the 9 winners had run no more than 8 times over hurdles.
7 of the 9 winners were rated within 6Ib of RPR top rated
7 of the 9 winners had won that season.
7 of the 9 winners have gone off 16/1 or shorter.
Other trends to consider:
 
5 winners had run 5 times or less over hurdles.
7 winners had contested a Graded hurdle, only one had won.
All 4 Irish-Trained winners were making their handicap debuts.
All 5 British-Trained winners had run in at least 3 handicaps.
Only 2 winners had run at the Festival before.
Horses ridden prominently have struggled.
All 43 horses in blinkers, cheekpieces and visors have been beaten.
David Pipe is 0 from 18, including 3 favourites.
Willie Mullins is 3 from 14
Paul Nicholls is 2 from 17
Gigginstown are 3 from 8.
Analysis:
A ‘compressed’ handicap with just eight pounds between top and bottom weight.
Diese Des Bieffes makes just his fifth start over hurdles. A winner of his first two Novice races he improved to finish a five length second to the classy If The Cap Fits at Kempton. Those all came at around two miles but he was stepped up to 21 furlongs for his return to Kempton for his handicap debut in the Lanzarote. He put in some good late work to be beaten just under four lengths after hitting a flat spot. That form has been well advertised at this Festival and the stiffer nature of this track and likely fast pace will suit. He has only been put up two pounds for his last effort and the excellent takes the reins for the first time in this Conditional Jockeys’ race. He has a progressive profile and, although he would prefer better ground it was soft for the Lanzarote so he may handle conditions well enough
Selections: (Outlay – 3 pts)
 
Diese Des Bieffes – 1.5 pts e/w. Available at 8/1. (Boylesports – 1/5 odds first 5)
 
 
 
 
5.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 16th March 2018:
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup Handicap Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+):
Distance: 2 miles half a furlong on the New Course.
The final race of the Festival and one of the most fiercely competitive handicaps on the jumping calendar over two miles.
10 year key trends:
The last 10 winners were all distance winners
9 of the last 10 winners had no more than 12 career runs over fences.
9 of the last 10 times were aged 9 or under.
8 of the last 10 winners had a top three finish in at least one of last two starts.
8 of the last 10 winners carried no more than 11st 2Ib.
8 of the last 10 winners were rated 134 to 147.
8 of the last 10 winners had yet to win that season.
7 of the last 10 winners had run at a previous Festival.
6 of the last 10 winners had no more than 4 runs since August.
Other trends to consider:
 
7 winners this century had never won a handicap over hurdles or fences.
6 of the 7 winners were rated in the 140’s.
7 Novices have won this century, including 5 first season Novices.
13 winners this century had run at the Festival before.
11 winners this century were winning their first handicap chase.
In the last 13 renewals, horses that had won a handicap chase that season are 0 from 106.
Only 1 of the last 8 winners cane from the first 5 in the market.
Horses aged 7 and under from the first 3 in the market are 1 from 28 in the last 14 renewals.
Only 1 winner this century won a Chase over further than 19 furlongs during their career.
Selections: (outlay – 4.5 pts)
 
Bouvreuiel – 1 pt e/w. Available at 14/1. (Paddy Power – 1/5 odds first 5)
 
Dolos – 0.75 pts e/w. Available at 16/1. (Paddy Power – 1/5 odds first 5)

Born Survivor – 0.5 pts e/w. Available at 33/1. (Paddy Power – 1/5 odds first 5)