1.30 – Cheltenham – Thursday 12th March 2020.
 
Marsh Novices´ Chase (Registered As The Golden Miller Novices´ Chase) Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
 
Distance: 2 miles 3 furlongs 168 yards on the New Course.
 
The Marsh Novices’ Chase is a chase run over 20 furlongs and had its inaugural introduction at the 2011 meeting. It is open to horses five years old and upwards and was upgraded to Grade One status for the first time in 2014. With just nine renewals to work from there aren’t yet any strong patterns established but they are beginning to develop. It lacks the prestige of the Arkle and the RSA but it appeals to Trainers who are reticent to target their horses at the more attritional RSA. Based on RPR ratings the winner of this race has produced a better performance than some RSA and Arkle winners and this has become a serious race in it’s own right.
Positive Trends to consider:
 
All 9 winners were aged 6 or 7 years old
7 year-olds have won 6 of  9 renewals
All 9 winners had run at the Festival before
8 of 9 winners ran over hurdles at the previous season’s Festival (the only one that didn’t won the Triumph two season’s previously), 3 won.
All 9 winners won 1 of their last 3 starts
All 9 winners had run over 17 furlongs+ last time out

All 9 winners had a break of between 31 and 80 days prior to the race.

All 9 winners had between 5 and 14 career starts.
All 9 winners had 4+ career victories 

All 9 winners had between 3 and 5 starts in current season
7 winners had no more than 7 runs over hurdles prior to going Chasing.
7 of the 9 winners were Irish-trained (from 32 runners)
8 of the 9 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
8 of the 9 winners came first or second last time out
8 of the last 9 winners returned 7/1 or shorter
Willie Mullins has trained 4 of the 9 winners
7 of the 9 winners had won a Graded Novice Chase before.
7 of the 9 winners came from the top 2 in the betting
6 of the 9 winners won last time out
5 of the 9 winners ran at Leopardstown last time out
The Wylies have owned two winners from just five runners
Negative Trends to note:
Only 2 winners failed to win last time out.
Only 2 winners spent two full seasons over hurdles
In the past 5 renewals only three horses have placed who had run more than 7 times over hurdles, one of them winning.
Be careful of horses rated 146 or less (Only one horse has won from lower than 146)
Just two British-trained runners so far
The top-rated horse is just 1 from 9
Since 1990 all Festival Novice Chase winners have been aged 8 or younger
There have only been 4 winning favourites in 9 renewals(1 co)
Just 1 of the 9 winners had less than 3 career chase starts
Just 1 winner had been off for more than 54 days.
Analysis:
Since it’s inception the Irish have dominated the winners enclosure, winning seven of the nine renewals. They again hold a strong hand with SamcroFaugheen and Melon all holding valid chances. Of the home contingent, Itchy Feet and Mister Fisher look to have the strongest chance and they are supported by the only Mare in the race Annie Mc.
Faugheen won the Ballymore Novices’ here in 2014 and the Champion Hurdle in 2015 but has had his fair share of injury problems since. Attention switched to Chasing this season so he is the rarity of being a Novice Chaser as a twelve year old. Has won all three Chases to date and the RPR of 166 he achieved when beating Samcro by ten lengths on his second start at Limerick would’ve won three of the last four renewals of this race. He followed that Grade One success by winning another, the Flogas Novice Chase at Leopardstown. In the past 22 years only Moscow Flyer has a non-handicap Chase here aged eleven plus, 67 tried. Over the same period eighteen 12 year olds have tried and only one placed, ten were pulled up. Everything points to this being a very tough ask but if there is one horse that can defy the stats it’s Faugheen.
Samcro was thought by many to be invincible when he was a Novice hurdler but in his second season over the smaller obstacles he was beaten at short prices in all three starts. Attention switched to Chasing this season and, after a bloodless victory in a Beginners’ Chase at Down Royal, he was upsides Fakir D’oudairies when capitulating at the second last in the Grade One Drinmore at Fairyhouse in December. Made an odds on favourite for a Grade One at Limerick on Boxing Day but was easily brushed aside by Faugheen and went down by ten lengths. Has since had wind surgery but it will need to have a dramatic effect if Faugheen runs to the same level. Probably still has the inherent ability but, whether it’s physical or mental. something seems to hold him back at times.
Melon was a respectable three length second to fakir D’oudairies on his Chase debut at Navan in November and followed up with a victory in a Beginners’ Chase at Leopardstown the following month. Stepped into Grade One company at the same track in February and was beaten 20 lengths into fourth of the six runners. All his form is over shorter than today’s trip and he doesn’t look a natural over fences. However this track brought out the best of him as a hurdler and the cheekpieces are enlisted to sharpen up his jumping. Needs to improve significantly on what he has achieved as a Chaser so far.
Itchy Feet comes here on the back of a victory i the Grade One Scilly Isles at Sandown and he was strong at the finish over that 20 furlongs in soft ground. That had followed an easy win in a three runner Novice affair at Leicester. The Scilly Isles has proved a very good trial for this race and Itchy Feet has experience of this Festival, having finished third in the Supreme Novices’ last season. A good traveller and has won on both good and soft ground.
Mister Fisher has won his last two starts over fences but the strength of the form of those victories is under question. His narrow victory over Good Boy Bobby in a Novice here on his second start hasn’t been franked, other than him there hasn’t been a runner even placed subsequently from eight runs. His one length defeat of Al Dancer in a grade Two at Doncaster last time out was let down by the runner up who was well beaten in the Arkle here on Tuesday. Has plenty of potential but the balance of his form is well behind some of these and, as such, he’s not a very attractive price.
Of the others:
Annie Mc is an admirable Mare who is 3 from 3 over fences but those victories have come against her own sex and this is a much stiffer assignment. She is thoroughly genuine but has plenty to find with the principals. Reserve Tank is a dual Grade One winning hurdler who was impressive when winning a Grade Two at Wincanton in November. didn’t jump well when turned over at odds on at Newbury when last seen. Absent for 103 days but won after a similar break this time last year so could be capable of bouncing back. Midnight Shadow was fortunate to win on his penultimate start when Champ fell at the last and he has work to do to turn the tables on Itchy Feet who beat him three and half lengths at Sandown last time out. However won a Grade Two here as a hurdler and appeals more than some who are currently trading shorter in the market.
Selection: (outlay – 1 pt)
Midnight Shadow – 0.5 pts e/w. Available at 20/1. (Paddy Power, Betfair – 1/5 odds first 4)

2.10 – Cheltenham – Thursday 12th March 2020.

 
Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
 
Distance: Three miles on the New Course.
 
The Pertemps Final is a Grade Three handicap hurdle race open to horses five years and upwards who have finished in the first six on at least one occasion in a Pertemps Hurdle Race (Series Qualifier) since the start of the current season. This is a good test of stamina and tough older horses are suited to this race more than most handicaps at this Festival. 
 
Positive Trends to consider:
 
30 of the last 31 winners had run in January or February (exception was last season and the winner ran on 28th December)
The last 13 winners had previously ran over 24 furlongs but no further than 26 furlongs
9 of the last 15 winners had won over at least 23 furlongs 
The last 13 winners had 6+ hurdle starts 
6 of the last 7 winners had run six or seven times over hurdles
10 of the last 13 winners had run 10 times or less over hurdles
The last 13 winners had 0-2 previous handicap hurdle wins 
12 of last 13 winners had a break of between 12 and 62 days prior to the race
12 of last 13 winners had a mark of at least five pounds higher than for their last win. 
11 of the last 13 winners ran in a Class 2 or Class 3 Hurdle race last time out. 
12 of the last 13 winners ran in a Handicap Hurdle last time out. 
10 of the last 13 winners had between 1 and 4 previous handicap hurdle starts
The last 9 winners were rated  between 138 and 148.
9 of the last 13 winners were rated between 132-142 (inc)
7 of the last 14 winners were aged 8 or older
8 of the last 10 winners started their careers in bumpers (6) or points (2)
10 of the last 19 winners were from outside the top 5 in the betting
8 of the last 19 winners won their last race
9 of the last 12 winners had won or placed in their last race (5 won)
3 of the last 11 winners finished in the first 5 in the Betfair Hurdle
3 of the last 4 winners (all Irish trained) were Novices’ and ridden by Davy Russell.
Respect Pat Kelly, Jonjo O’Neill, Nigel Twiston-Davies, Willie Mullins and David Pipe-trained runners
Respect JP McManus-owned horses
 
Negative Trends to note:
Just 5 Irish-trained winners in the last 14 renewals but they have won the last 4
Avoid horses with less than 6 runs over hurdles
5 year-olds have won just twice since 1973
French-bred horses are currently on a run of 2 from 86
All horses rated 150+ since 2000 have failed to finish in the top 2
2 winning favourites in last 14 years
Paul Nicholls is currently 0 from 18 (One third and two seconds in the last 6 runnings)
Horses aged 7 or younger and priced in single-figures are just 3 from 41
Since 200 only one horse didn’t have a run that calendar year.
 
This race has tended to lack the quality of some of the other handicaps at the Festival but, in an effort to improve the standard, the race organisers have made a few changes. As of 2016 horses are only eligible to run if they have finished in the first six of one of the 17 qualifiers. Last time out winners have historically done well in this race. Favourites have a poor record with only two winning in the past 14 renewals. Horses from these shores have dominated this race this century, although the last four winners were Irish trained.
 
The handicaps at the Festival are very competitive and contain too many potential winners to list in detail so analysis will be mainly confined to those horses selected for backing purposes.
 
Analysis:
 
Skandiburg has won three of his last four starts and was a close second in the other. Has improved almost every time he has stepped over hurdles and has been placed in six of his eight starts over the smaller obstacles, winning four times. A five pound rise for his C/D victory on New Year’s Day looks manageable and he looks the type to thrive given this sort of test. Can be hard work for his jockey but he does respond to pressure and the cheekpieces go back on in an attempt to help him concentrate. He has victories in both good and soft ground and has won both his races over three miles. Stamina looks to be his forte and it’s likely we still haven’t seen the best of him.
 
Rapper was second to Skandiburg on New Year’s Day for which he has gone up two pounds. Prior to that he had gone up eleven pounds for a Market Rasen victory by four lengths from the re-opposing Copper Gone West. He has produced two career best efforts on his last two starts, the first time he had stepped up to around three miles. Has victories in good and soft ground and represents a yard in good form whose runners here so far have run well at big prices. Richard Johnson returns and the pair were successful the only previous time he was on board.
 
Selections: (outlay – 3.5 pts)
 
Skandiburg – 1.25 pts e/w. Available at 10/1. (Betfair – 1/5 odds first 6)
 
Rapper – 0.5 pts e/w. Available at 22/1. (Paddy Power – 1/5 odds first 7)   
 
 
 
2.50 – Cheltenham – Thursday 12th March 2020.
 
Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy Chase) Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
 
Distance: 2 miles 4 furlongs 127 yards on the New Course.
 
The Ryanair Chase is afforded Grade One status and is open to horses five years old and upwards. It’s run at a trip which is an intermediate between the Champion Chase and the Gold Cup and it’s viewed by some, somewhat unfairly, that it’s a race for horses not good enough to win those Blue Riband affairs. It is usually run at a strong gallop and, more often than not, suits those that front run and stay the trip well.  
 
Positive Trends to consider:
21 of the 29 winners and runners-up had won at the course before
13 of the last 15 winners had won at Cheltenham previously
9 of the last 12 winners had won a Grade 1 Chase before
11 of last 15 winners were favourite or second favourite
6 of the last 7 winners were second season chasers
The King George VI Chase is often a good guide (7 from 26)
The previous year’s renewal is often a good guide
7 of the last 8 winners were aged 7 or 8 years-old
11 of the last 12 winners were rated 161+
12 of the last 15 winners returned 6/1 or shorter
4 of the last 15 winners were placed in the top 3 in the Ascot Chase last time out
7 of the last 8 winners had 11 (or less) runs over fences
Trainers Jonjo O’Neill, David Pipe & Nicky Henderson are respected
Respect first time headgear (2 from 8)
8 of the last 12 winners didn’t win last time out
Last 6 winners were French-bred
Negative trends to note:
The Irish are 3 from 51 runners in this race
Avoid horses priced 7/1 or bigger
Avoid horses aged 11 or older
Just 4 of the last 12 won last time out
All winners ran 4 or less times that season
No winner was having their Festival debut
Stamina for the trip is an important asset, especially since the race was elevated to Grade One status. Last time out winners don’t have a good record in this race. Horses that have run in the King George are often underestimated in the market and previous Cheltenham form is a positive. Up to 2016 this race was dominated by British trained horses, with all 32 Irish trained horses being beaten, but the Irish have won three of the past four renewals. Horses sporting first time headgear have done well and those to the fore in the market have dominated. Key races include last season’s renewal and the Paddy Power Gold Cup at the November meeting here.
 
Analysis:
 
Frodon is likely to give it a good shot in trying to retain his crown and his four efforts over fences here last season were all top class. May need to improve even on those efforts if A Plus Tard progresses on his eighth start over fences. There is also Festival regular Min to consider. He has form figures of 12111 over 20 furlongs, including three Grade One victories. Riders On The Storm is unbeaten for current connections and made the breakthrough in Grade One company at Ascot last time out. The form of that four runner race is open to debate with Cyrname not running his race and Traffic Fluide coming down at the last when challenging. He needs to find a bit with the principals here but he could make the frame if one of them under-performs. Saint Calvados was a close second over C/D last time out and, although that was a handicap, he went down narrowly trying to give the winner 13 pounds. It was achieved under a hold up ride after being a front runner for much of his career. Aso has been placed at big prices twice in this race previously and it’s not out of the question he can do so again, even though at ten years old he won’t be getting any faster.    
 
Selection: (outlay – 0 pts)
 
No bet
3.30 – Cheltenham – Thursday 12th March 2020.
 
Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)
 
Distance: Three miles on the New Course.
 
Positive Tends to consider:
 
17 of the last 19 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
15 of the last 178 winners finished first or second in all their hurdling runs that season
13 of the last 15 winners started 10/1 or less in the betting
The last 16 winners were aged 6 – 9 years old. 
The last 16 winners had an OR of 153+ (Those 152 or less are 0 from 82) 
The last 16 winners had won at Grade 1 or Grade 2 level 
The last 16 winners had no more than 32 career starts 
The last 16 winners had previously run at the track 
The last 16 winners had no more than 20 Hurdle starts 
The last 16 winners had 0-4 starts in current season. 
The last 16 winners had 4+ career wins 
The last 16 winners wore no headgear 
The last 16 winners had 2-6 starts in the last 365 days. 
The last 16 winners had their last win in a Graded hurdle race 
14 of the last 15 winners had won 1 of their last 3 starts.
11 of the last 15 winners won last time out
8 of the last 18 were French Bred
Respect the Cleeve Hurdle and Long Walk Hurdle form
Respect past winners of the race
Negative Trends to note:
Avoid horses that didn’t finish either first or second last time out (2 from 20)
A 5 year-old is yet to win the race
Trainer Willie Mullins has only won the race twice
Avoid front runners
The Irish are have won the race just three times since 1995
Avoid horses that were beaten in the race before
Previous Albert Bartlett winners have an overall poor record (1 from 16)
Horses wearing headgear are 0 from 63
Horses aged 10 or older have all been beaten since 1986 (0 from 55)
 
Analysis:
 
The form of  ‘trial races’ tends to hold up and it’s rare that the Stayers’ Hurdle winner is beaten in any of the 3 mile conditions hurdles races earlier in the season. They traditionally go steadily in this race so a winner usually needs to possess plenty of basic speed. It could be a different scenario this year with a a few who like to lead or force/pressure the pace. Horses that win this usually prove their stamina by winning a recognised trial at around three miles. The Irish don’t seem to take much interest in this race so their record is misleading, although they did win this two years ago. Neither youngsters or veterans fare well. Headgear seems to have a negative effect and Albert Bartlett runners don’t do well. Key trials include the Long Distance Hurdle over three miles at Newbury in November, the Long Walk Hurdle over an extended three miles at Ascot in December, the Cleeve Hurdle here in January and the Silver Cross Stayers’ Hurdle at Aintree in April.
 
Paisley Park (169) is clear at the top of the ratings and by some way (12 pounds) and it’s not surprising that most of the support is for last season’s winner. He would be a popular winner and the rest have to find plenty of improvement if they are to trouble him, they are probably playing for places. Emitom has won four of his six starts over hurdles and his best two performances have come the only time he has tackled three miles.  The first of them came in the Grade One Doom Bar Sefton Novices’ at Aintree last April where he was a three length second to Champ against a pace bias. The second was when beating Donna’s Diamond eight lengths in the Grade Two Rendlesham at Haydock last time out. That came on heavy ground but he has won over shorter under quicker conditions so he possesses a good blend of both pace and stamina. He is rated 16 pounds inferior to the favourite but only four pounds below the second top rated so he has valid claims to finishing second if he improves again. At a bigger price Ronald Pump is capable of running a big race. He has form figures over three miles over hurdles of 41112, all of them in double figure fields. He has progressed in each of those five starts and has victories in both good and soft ground (has won on heavy over shorter). Bryan Copper rides for the first time and he has a very profitable 2 from 9 record for the yard in Ireland recent seasons.     
Selection: (Outlay – 4 pts)
 
Emitom – 2.5 pts win (w/o Paisley Park market). Available at 5/1. (Skybet)
 
Ronald Pump – 0.75 pts e/w. 16/1. (Betvictor – 1/5 odds first 4)
 
 
 
4.10 – Cheltenham – Thursday 12th March 2020:
 
Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (A Handicap Chase) Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+):
 
Distance: 2 miles 5 furlongs on the New Course.
 
Positive Trends to consider:
27 of the last 32 winners were officially rated 141 or less
10 of the last 11 winners carried under 11-0
17 of the last 20 winners came from outside the top 4 in the market
7 of the last 10 winners had 9 or less chase runs
10 of the last 16 winners had won a race in Feb or March
16 of the last 19 winners returned at double-figure odds
20 of the last 28 winners had run at the Festival before (but 7 of last 9 were having Festival debut)
19 of the last 20 winners had run in no more than 16 chases
Venetia Williams & Pipe-trained runners should be noted
The Pipe yard have won 7 of the last 22 renewals
Look out for French-breds
Negative Trends to note:
 
Avoid horses that are yet to win at Class 3 or better
The Irish have only sent out 4 winners since 1951
2 winning favourites in the last 14 years
Only 3 of last 25 won with 11st+
Winners of a chase at Cheltenham before have an overall poor record, but the 2019 winner did defy this trend.
Only 2 of the last 16 winners hadn’t run that calendar year
 
Analysis:
 
This has proved to a Bookmakers benefit over the years with no less than eleven winners being priced 25/1+ since 1988. The three favourites to succeed in the past 24 years were sent out by the Pipe yard (twice) and, two years ago, by Gordon Elliott. 24 of the last 31 winners had a prep run within six weeks of the race. This race has not been kind to those rated above 141, although the last three winners were rated 142,145 and 147. French breds perform well in this race as they tend to do in all Chases at the Festival up to 21 furlongs. This isn’t a race the Irish used to target but they have three of the last four renewals, all with different Trainers.. David Pipe, Nicky Henderson and Venetia Williams have all done well in this race but Paul Nicholls hasn’t, only 2 of his 27 runners have hit the frame. 
 
Simply The Betts heads the market and he has won three of his four Chases this season (second in the other). His career best in wining over this C/D in January was franked by the second, Imperial Aura, who won the National Trust Company Novices’ handicap here on Tuesday and the third subsequently won in convincing fashion at Kempton. A nine pound higher mark demands more but this seven year old is making just his fifth start over fences so he has plenty of potential for improvement. He deserves his place as favourite but a best priced 7/2 are not appealing odds in a field of 24.
 
Not Another Muddle:has been off the track for 335 days, which is a negative for a typical winner of this race, but he has gone well on his reappearances in his three seasons racing so there is optimism that he will do so again. He has only been out of the frame once is his six starts as a Chaser and that was when coming fifth here in the Grand Annual last season. He runs from just two pounds higher here and he is relatively lightly raced over this sort of trip. He is now a nine year old but he hasn’t stood much racing so there’s not many miles on the clock. Gets in here off bottom weight and all four victories have come in soft ground.
 
Clondaw Castle blew out over C/D on his penultimate start but produced a career best when winning a good handicap over 20 furlongs at Warwick last time out.  That was his third victory from nine starts over fences and just his second start at this sort of trip. Bred to stay, it’s likely there is more to come if he doesn’t find the ground too soft. He was fourth in the Arkle here last season and the six pound rise he has been handed for his Warwick win could have been worse considering the ease by which he won the race. NON RUNNER
 
Ben Dundee was third in the Novice handicap here last season and bettered that form when a close second at Navan on his reappearance over 20 furlongs in December. Not disgraced when seventh of the 25 runners dropped back to two miles over hurdles later the same month and hasn’t been seen since. Four pounds higher here than at Navan but yard, who won this race in 2018, are adept at preparing their horses for Festival Handicaps and the booking of Davy Russell is a big positive. He has a 40% strike rate in Cheltenham Handicaps when the horses are 16/1 or less, ran in Ireland last time out and had a top three finish in one of it’s last three starts. Ben Dundee satisfies all that criteria and has plenty of experience of big fields. Versatile regarding ground conditions. 
Selections: (Outlay – 3.5 pts)
 
Ben Dundee – 1 pt e/w. Available at 12/1. (Generally available – 1/5 odds first 5)
 
Not Another Muddle – 0.75 pts e/w. Available at 20/1. (Generally available – 1/5 odds first 5)
 
 
 
4.50 – Cheltenham – Thursday 12th March 2020.
 
Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Registered As Dawn Run Mares´ Novices´ Hurdle) (Grade 2) (CLASS 1) (4yo+):
 
Distance: 2 miles 5 furlongs on the New Course.
 
This was a new addition to the Festival in 2016. Willie Mullins is imperious with his Mares at this Festival and has won the four previous renewals of this race. He has a squad of four this time round and three fill second, third and fifth place in the market. Henry De Bromhead saddles the favourite, Minella Melody, and the Nicky Henderson Floressa slips into fourth place in the betting. This race is chock full of unexposed  and who is going to improve and by how much is very difficult to gauge so it’s not a race that is of much interest to us from a betting perspective. We will keep our powder dry and take a watching brief.
 
Selection:
 
No Bet
 
 
 
5.30 – Cheltenham – Thursday 12th March 2020:
 
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders) (CLASS 2) (5yo+ 0-145):
 
Distance: Three miles two furlongs on the New Course.
 
Positive Trends to consider:
 
9 of the last 12 winners failed to win earlier in the season
The last 10 winners were rated 134 to 143
9 of the last 10 winners were aged 7 to 9.
8 of the last 10 winners ran over at least three miles last time out.
7 of the last 10 winners won over at least three miles.
8 of the last 10 winners had no more than 11 runs over fences.
6 of the last 10 winners finished in the first three in either or both last two starts
Jamie Codd has ridden 4 of the last 11 winners
8 of the last 9 winners wore headgear.
7 of the last 10 winners were sent off 9/1 or shorter (and were in the top three in the betting)
8 of the last 11 winners ran during February
4 of the past 11 winners had run over hurdles earlier in the season.
Respect J.P McManus owned runners (especially if high up in both the betting and the weights)
The past three Irish Trained runners contested the Paddy Power Chase.
6 of the last 11 winners had won or placed at the Festival
 
Negative trends to note:
Just three Irish winners for 36 years (but have won 3 of the last 6)
Horses that fell or unseated that season have a poor record
Avoid Paul Nicholls-trained horses – he’s just 1 placed horse from his last 21
Trainer Willie Mullins has a poor record in the race
Horses carrying less than 10-10 have a poor record
French breds are 0 from 59 since 2005
Avoid claiming jockeys – 1 from 89 since 2009
Just 1 of the last 17 winners won last time out
Selections: (outlay – 4.5 pts)
 
Plan Of Attack – 1.5 pts win. Available at 9/1.
 
Fitzhenry – 1.5 pts win. Available at 9/1. (William Hill)
 
Cloth Cap – 0.75 pts e/w. available at 16/1. (Paddy Power, Betfair, 888Sport, Betvictor – 1/5 odds first 5)
 
All prices correct via oddschecker as of 11.40 hrs