It’s been a pretty nightmarish morning, with horrendous power and connection issues due to some work being done in our area, terrible timing! So, sincere apologies for the lateness of the email. One small update to follow, bear with me.

Day three of the Cheltenham Festival, the highlight being the Grade One Stayers hurdle at 3.30 pm.

1.30 – Cheltenham – Thursday 14th March 2019.

JLT 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 JLT Novices’ Chase is a chase run over 21 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 eight 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 both some RSA and Arkle winners and this has become a serious race in it’s own right.

Positive Trends to consider:

All 8 winners were aged 6 or 7 years old
7 year-olds have won 6 of last 8 renewals
All 8 winners had run at the Festival before
All 8 winners ran over hurdles at the previous season’s Festival (3 won)
All 8 winners won 1 of their last 3 starts
All 8 winners had run over 17 furlongs+ last time out
All 8 winners had a break of between 31 and 80 days prior to the race. All 8 winners had between 5 and 14 career starts All 8 winners had 4+ career victories
All 8 winners had between 3 and 5 starts in current season
The last 7 winners had no more than 7 runs over hurdles prior to going Chasing.
7 of the 8 winners were Irish-trained (from 28 runners)
7 of the 8 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
7 of the 8 winners came first or second last time out
7 of the last 8 winners returned 7/1 or shorter
Willie Mullins has trained 4 of the last 8 winners
6 of the last 8 winners had won a Graded Novice Chase before (from 24 runners)
6 of the last 8 winners came from the top 2 in the betting
5 of the last 8 winners won last time out
5 of the last 8 winners ran at Leopardstown last time out
The Wylies have owned two winners from just four runners

Negative Trends to note:

Only 2 winners failed to win last time out.
Only 1 winner spent two full seasons over hurdles
In the past 4 renewals only one horse has placed who had run more than 7 times over hurdles
Be careful of horses rated 146 or less (Last season’s winner (rated 144) was the only horse to have won from lower)
Just one British-trained runner so far
The top-rated horse is just 1 from 8
Since 1990 all Festival Novice Chase winners have been aged 8 or younger
There have only been 3 winning favourites in 8 renewals(1 co)
Just 1 of the last 8 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 jave dominated the winners enclosure, winning seven of the eight renewals. They again hold a strong hand with Mengli Khan, Real Steel, Voix Du Reve and Pravalaguna all holding valid chances. Of the home contingent, Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation lock horns again and they are supported by Kildisart and Vinndication. This looks likely to be run at a generous pace and there will be no hiding place up the hill in the latter stages. There’s unlikely to be much between Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation, there hasn’t been the two times they met previously, and when they clashed here on New Year’s Day it was over nearly 200 yards further. That suited Lostintranslation, who looks the stronger stayer and he was able to get up after being headed. Back at 20 furlongs Defi Du Seuil got his revenge and he may just have enough in the tank to prevail again with a clean round. Kildisart has to bring his classy handicap form into Graded company, and he can be less than fluent over his fences, but he has a large engine and responds well when he is put under pressure. He was probably being earmarked for the Close Brothers Handicap but his last victory put outside the confines of that race so he comes here. He may just lack the class. Vinndication was closing on Defi Du Seuil and Lostintranslation at the line at Sandown but he showed a tendency to jump right and he goes the opposite way round for the first time this afternoon. Willie Mullins has three in the race and Ruby Walsh is on Voix Du Reve. His form in the Racing Post Chase was franked by Us And Them in the Arkle on Tuesday and he looked set to beat that horse (and Mengli Khan) when taking a tumble at the last in the Irish Arkle. He also has a verdict over Hardline to his name. That form gives him a very solid chance here but his jumping doesn’t always convince and he could be hassled on the lead here, so his fencing will be under close scrutiny. Real Steel is the top rated horse in this race but his last two easy wins were gained in ungraded company and he never got close to winning in four Grade One outings over hurdles. Pravalaguna gets the Mares’ allowance (7 pounds) but, although she could be anything, it was a Listed race she won easily last time out and this is much tougher. Mengli Khan has stamina to prove and has done anything over fences so far to suggest he is good enough to win this. Castafiore and Capeland don’t look good enough, although the latter has been supplemented by Paul Nicholls so it would be unwise to dismiss him too readily.

There isn’t a horse that stands out in this race and those that would make a short-list are plenty short enough.

Selection: (outlay – 0 pts)

No bet.

2.10 – Cheltenham – Thursday 14th March 2019.

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:

The last 30 winners had run in January or February
The last 12 winners had previously ran over 24 furlongs but no further than 26 furlongs
9 of the last 14 winners had won over at least 23 furlongs
The last 12 winners had 6+ hurdle starts
The last 6 winners had run six or seven times over hurdles
9 of the last 12 winners had run 10 times or less over hurdles
The last 12 winners had 0-2 previous handicap hurdle wins
The last 12 winners had a break of between 12 and 62 days prior to the race
The last 12 winners had a mark of at least five pounds higher than for their last win.
11 of the last 12 winners ran in a Class 2 or Class 3 Hurdle race last time out.
11 of the last 12 winners ran in a Handicap Hurdle last time out.
10 of the last 12 winners had between 1 and 4 previous handicap hurdle starts
The last 8 winners were rated between 138 and 148.
9 of the last 12 winners were rated between 132-142 (inc)
7 of the last 13 winners were aged 8 or older
8 of the last 9 winners started their careers in bumpers (6) or points (2)
10 of the last 18 winners were from outside the top 5 in the betting
8 of the last 18 winners won their last race
9 of the last 11 winners had won or placed in their last race (5 won)
3 of the last 10 winners finished in the first 5 in the Betfair Hurdle
The last 3 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 4 Irish-trained winners in the last 13 renewals but they have won the last 3
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 1-80
All horses rated 150+ since 2000 have failed to finish in the top 2
1 winning favourite in last 13 years
Paul Nicholls is currently 0 from 18 (One third and two 2nds in the last 5 runnings)
Horses aged 7 or younger and priced in single-figures are just 2 from 37.

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 21 renewals. Horses from these shores have dominated this race this century, winning 13 of the 17 renewals, although the last three 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:

Not Many Left fits many of the trends for a typical winner of this race and he did us a favour when we supported him at Huntingdon last time out. His Irish yard brought him over for that qualifying race and, on his first attempt at three miles plus, he stayed on all the way to the line. He is three pounds higher this afternoon, which is seen as a negative, but he has bags of potential as a stayer after just six starts over hurdles. He has won on both G/S and Heavy ground so conditions here will not faze him. His win in Ireland was gained at an undulating left-handed track in a 20 runner field and this is just his second start in handicap company. The booking of Mark Walsh, who had a winner here yesterday, is a positive.

Samburu Shujaa likes to lead and he may have company for those duties in a field of this size. However he has been improving all season and he has been very convincing in winning his last two starts, the last coming on his handicap at Chepstow. He has gone up seven pounds for that victory but there is a strong likelihood of more to come and he has formed a very good relationship with Richard Johnson. His two victories have been on G/S ground but he handles softer and he is still relatively unexposed over this sort of trip. If he is not too exuberant on the front end he may have enough left to still be in there pitching up the hill.

Selections: (outlay – 4 pts)

Samburu Shujaa – 1 pt e/w. Available at 11/1. (Betfair – 1/5 odds first 6)

Not Many Left – 1 pt e/w. Available at 14/1. (Betfair, Paddy Power, Coral – 1/5 odds first 6)

2.50 – Cheltenham – Thursday 14th March 2019.

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:

19 of the 27 winners and runners-up had won at the course before
9 of the last 11 winners had won at Cheltenham previously
The last 11 winners were aged 7 – 10 years old
6 of the last 7 winners were aged 7 or 8 years-old
The last 11 winners previously raced over the Cheltenham fences
The last 11 winners had a break of between 26 and 90 days prior to the race.
The last 11 winners didn’t wear a tongue tie
The last 11 winners previously ran over 3 miles+
The last 11 winners had 1-6 starts in the past 365 days
The last 11 winners were ridden by a jockey whio had ridden the horse at least twice previously
The last 11 winners ran in a non-handicap chase at Grade One or Grade Two levellast time out
The last 11 winners last won in a Listed+ Chase worth 30k+ to the winner (below that level are 0 from 50)
10 of the last 11 winners had an OR of 161+ (Those rated 160 or less are 1 from 65)
10 of the last 11 winners previously won at Grade One level
10 of the last 11 winners won 1 of their last 4 starts
10 of the last 13 winners returned 6/1 or shorter
8 of the last 11 winners didn’t win last time out
The King George VI Chase is often a good guide (7 from 25)
The previous year’s renewal is often a good guide
5 of the last 6 winners were 2nd season chasers
Trainers Jonjo O’Neill, David Pipe & Nicky Henderson are respected
Respect first time head-gear (2 from 7)

Negative trends to note:

The Irish are 3 from 43 runners in this race
Avoid horses priced 7/1 or bigger
Avoid horses aged 11 or older
Just 3 of the last 11 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 the last three 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:

Road to Respect can be a bit sketchy in the jumping department but he has never fallen and he bolted up here in the Plate a few seasons back. He hasn’t run over a trip this short for almost two years but this race looks likely to be run at a good pace and his stamina for further could be an asset up the hill in the latter stages. A winner of six of his fifteen starts over fences, three of them coming in Grade One Company, he has plenty of class and he is still young enough to win plenty of races at the top level. His fourth in the Gold Cup last season over a trip he probably didn’t stay is a testament to how good he is and he is the joint top-rated in this race. With Footpad not having an ideal preparation and Un De Seaux reaching his twilight years, his biggest threat may come from Monalee.

Selection: (outlay – 3 pts)

Road To Respect – 3 pts win. Available at 4/1. (Generally available)

3.30 – Cheltenham – Thursday 14th March 2019.

Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

Distance: Three miles on the New Course.

Positive Tends to consider:

16 of the last 18 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
14 of the last 17 winners finished 1st or 2nd in all their hurdling runs that season
12 of the last 14 winners started 10/1 or less in the betting
The last 15 winners were aged 6 – 9 years old.
The last 15 winners had an OR of 153+ (Those 152 or less are 0 from 77)
The last 15 winners had won at Grade 1 or Grade 2 level
The last 15 winners had no more than 32 career starts
The last 15 winners had previously run at the track
The last 15 winners had nomore than 20 Hurdle starts
The last 15 winners had 0-4 starts in current season (5+ starts are 0 from 51)
The last 15 winners had 4+ career wins
The last 15 winners wore no headgear
The last 15 winners had 2-6 starts in the last 365 days (<2 and>6 are 0 from 59)
The last 15 winners had their last win in a Graded hurdle race
14 of the last 15 winners had won 1 of their last 3 starts.
10 of the last 14 won last time out
8 of the last 17 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 1st or 2nd last time out (2 from 19)
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 52)

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 last year. 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 (168) and Faugheen (167) are clear at the top of the ratings and it’s not surprising that most of the support is for the younger pretender. He would be a popular winner and the rest have to find plenty of improvement is they are to trouble the two at the top of the market. They are probably playing for places but one who may have crept in under the radar is last season’s Albert Bartlett winner, Kilbricken Storm. He is only rated 152 but he is two from two over this C/D and the only other time he tackled three miles he went down narrowly to Next Destination and Delta Work at the Punchestown Festival. His two starts this season have been over fences, which is not an ideal preparation for this, but he may have unfinished business over staying trips over hurdles and he relishes soft ground. If this becomes attritional he will be one who won’t be shirking the issue. The Trainer is one to note when he uses Harry Cobden on his hurdlers in Graded company, they have had four wins and six places from 19 such runners in recent seasons and that improves to 4 wins from just eight entries when you take into account runners just at this track. Both sets produce a handsome profit.

Selection: (Outlay – 2 pts)

Kilbricken Storm – 1 pt e/w. Available at 14/1. (Coral, totesport,com – 1/5 odds first 4)

4.50 – Cheltenham – Thursday 14th March 2019.

Trull House Stud 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 three previous renewals of this race. He has a squad of seven this time round but none of them look particularly special and it’s the Nicky Henderson trained Epatante who is the short priced market leader. This race is chock full of horses who have had few runs. Whose 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