The fourth and final day of the 2018 Cheltenham Festival with the blue riband race, the Gold Cup, due off at 3.30 pm.

1.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 15th March 2019:

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.

Positive Trends to consider:

19 of the last 25 winners won last time out
The last 15 winners had a top 4 finish last time out (5th or worse are 0 from 47 and just one place)
The last 15 winners had a break between 20 and 55 days prior to the race (<20 and >55 are 0 from 55)
The last 15 winners won 1 of their last 3 starts
The last 15 winners ran at a Grade One track last time out (Those that didn’t are 0 from 52)
The last 15 winners ran in a race worth 4k+ last time out
14 of the last 15 winners had 2-6 previous hurdle starts
14 of the last 15 winners had no more than 16 career starts
13 of the last 15 winners had a 100% win and place strike rate over hurdles
French-breds have filled 9 of the last 12 places (last 4 renewals)
11 of the last 14 winners came from the top 4 in the betting
10 of the last 13 winners returned 13/2 or shorter
Irish have won 4 of the last 6 renewals
Respect Nicky Henderson (6 winners), Paul Nicholls, and Alan King-trained runners
7 of the last 15 winners first ran over hurdles by November (5 of the last 7 by mid-Nov)
6 of the last 10 winners had run in France before
The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is a good guide

Negative Trends to note:

Take on horses that have won aover 18 furlongs or further in the past
Avoid horses that last ran 56 days or longer ago
Avoid horses that had run 3 or more times over hurdles
Be careful of horses rated 138 or lower – no winner in the last 11 renewals.

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 in 4 of the last 6 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 15 years but they have all come in the three of the last four 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.

Sir Erec has been all the rage for this race since he hosed up in a Grade One Novice hurdle last month. Rated 109 on the flat he won a Listed race on the level and was only beaten two and half lengths by Stradivarius at Ascot in October. He will be in numerous accumulators and will be many peoples Banker of the meeting. He satisfies most of the strong trends for this race and he could prove very difficult to beat. Being lightly raced it’s difficult to gauge just how much improvement each of these runners will find but to beat the favourite at least one of them is going to have to find a significant chunk. Races of this nature require a bit of guesswork and, from a betting perspective, they don’t peak our interest. We will sit this one out and watch for future reference.

Selection: (outlay – 0 pts)

No Bet.

2.10 – Cheltenham – Friday 15th March 2019:

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.

Positive Trends to consider:

The last 15 winners had 22 or less (UK) career starts (those with 23+ are 0 from 118)
The last 15 winners had between 4 and 17 (UK) Hurdle starts (<4 and >17 are 0 from 77)
The last 15 winners had between 1 and 9 (UK) Handicap Hurdle starts (<1 and >9 are 0 from 112)
The last 15 winners had no more than a 3lb claimer on board
The last 15 winners ran in a Hurdle race (Non-novice/beginners)last time out
The last 15 winners last win came over hurdles
The last 15 winners had previously run at least at Listed level
14 of the last 15 winners had 0-2 starts in the last 90 days
14 of the last 15 winners were aged between 5 and 8 years old.
14 of the last 15 winners carried 11-04 or less (those that carried > 11-04 are 1 from 56)
14 of the last 15 winners were yet to win over hurdles at the track
13 of the last 15 winners had an Official rating of 139 or less (Those 140+ are 2 from 152)
The last 13 winners were rated in the 130’s
13 of the last 15 winners were 1st or 2nd season hurdlers
11 of the last 13 winners were priced in double-figures
11 of the last 15 winners began their careers on the flat
10 of the last 13 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
10 of the last 18 winners came from the top 5 in the betting
10 of the last 12 winners didn’t win last time out
The Irish have won 8 of the last 12 renewals
7 of the last 11 winners returned 20/1 or bigger
5 of the last 10 winners had run in 6 or less hurdles races
4 of the last 11 winners ran in that season’s Coral.ie Hurdle (Leopardsotwn)
Respect the Imperial Cup (Sandown Park) winner
Ruby Walsh has ridden 4 winners in the last 15 years
Look for Willie Mullins, Tony Martin & Paul Nicholls trained runners
Paul Nicholls is 4 from 27 (+19pts)
Willie Mullins is 4 from 30 (+49pts)

Negative trends to note:

In contrast to many other Festival races, previous course winners have a bad record
Since 1960 only 4 winners carried more than 11-02st 2lb
Since 1961, only 8 winners had run at the Festival before
Since 2005 134 runners rated 140+ have lost
Avoid runners that hadn’t raced at least 4 times that season
Avoid horses making their handicap debuts

Analysis:

In 2017, Arctic Fire, was the first horse since 2005 to defy a mark of 140+ when he won with a rating of 158.

After finishing fourth on his hurdling debut last October Crooks Peak has rattled up a hat-trick, progressing from race to race as he has done so. His last two victories have been by narrow margins, the last on his handicap debut for which he has endured a five pound penalty here. He takes up a significant step up in class but he has a likeable profile and fits many of the stronger trend for this race. He has the assistance of Richard Johnson and the yard have returned to form in recent weeks.

Eclair De Beaufeu also has a progressive profile. He finished a three length fourth in a field of nineteen on his handicap debut at Leopardstown last time out and runs from just two pounds higher her. He had previously hit the frame in all six of his races, winning twice, and his placed efforts all came in large fields. He looks the ideal type for this race and has been successful on both good and soft ground. He represents a powerful yard and looks the owners first choice of his three runners.

Selections: (outlay – 4 pts)

Crooks Peak – 1 pt e/w. Available at 11/1. (SkyBet – 1/5 odds first 6)

Eclair De Beaufeu – 1 pt e/w. Available at 12/1. (SkyBet – 1/5 odds first 6)

2.50 – Cheltenham – Friday 15th March 2019.

Albert Bartlett Novices´ Hurdle (Registered As The Spa Novices´ Hurdle) Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4yo+)

Distance: Three Miles on the New Course.

Positive Trends to consider:

The last 14 winners had an OR of 135+
The last 14 winners had a break of at least 26 days prior to the race
The last 14 winners had a top 4 finish LTO
The last 14 winners previously ran at Grade 1 or Grade 2 level
The last 14 winners previously ran over at least 20 furlongs but no further than an extended three miles
The last 14 winners ran in a C lass1 or Class 2 Hurdle worth between 10.5k – 30k over 20-24 furlongs last time out.
The last 14 winners had 4 – 25 career starts
The last 14 winners had a previous top 3 finish at Graded level
13 of the 14 previous winners won over 20 furlongs but no further than an extended three miles
13 of the last 14 winners were ridden at least once by today’s jockey

Negative Trends to note:

Horses that ran in the last 23 days haven’t fared well
Avoid horses that didn’t finish 1st or 2nd last time out
Be wary of horses that have raced less than 3 times over hurdles
Willie Mullins is 1 from 32 in the race
Only 3 of the last 14 winners hadn’t raced that calendar year

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.

Derrinross is an eight year old Novice who has won on his last two starts over three miles, both in testing ground. They were his first attempts at the trip after finishing placed in his three previous attempts over shorter. Staying looks his game and he is joint top-rated among those that have been allocated a mark. He hails from a yard who have sent just the one to this meeting and they could make it pay.

Selection: (outlay – 2.5 pts)

Derrinross – 1.25 pts e/w. Available at 11/1 (Coral – 1/5 odds first 5)

3.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 15th March 2019:

Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase Grade 1 (CLASS 1):

Disatance: 3 miles 2 and a half furlongs on the New Course.

Positive Trends to consider:

The last 19 winners were aged 9 or younger
15 of the last 19 winners ran in the Lexus or King George that season
16 of the last 18 finished first or second last time out
13 of the last 18 had won or placed second at the Festival before
16 of the last 22 winners were bred in Ireland
16 of the last 18 winners hailed from the top 3 in the betting
17 of the last 18 winners had raced no more than 12 times over fences
The last 15 winners were aged 6 – 9 years old (aged 10yo+ are 0 from 52)
The last 15 winners won at Grade 1 level (those that hadn’t are 0 from 97)
The last 15 winners had previously run at track
The last 15 winners had between 3 and 20 previous (UK) Chase starts
The last 15 winners had a break of at least 33 days before the race (32 or less are 0 from 45)
The last 15 winners won 1 of their last 4 starts ( those that hadn’t are 0 from 61)
The last 15 winners ran in a Graded Chase last time out
The last 15 winners had their last win come in a Chase at Graded level
The last 15 winners had no more than 26 (UK) career starts
14 of the last 15 winners had an OR of 160+
10 of the last 11 winners ran 3 or less times that season
10 of the last 13 winners won last time out
5 of the last 13 favourites won

Negative Trends to note:

Non Grade One winners have a poor record
No winner older than 10 years-old since 1969 (0 from 70)
Horses rated 166 or less are only 4 from last 24
Avoid horses that had run on ‘heavy’ ground that season (0 from 80)
Horses wearing headgear have a bad recent record
Willie Mullins is yet to win the race, 0 from 26 (although had seconds in four of the last six renewals)
Just 1 of the last 11 winners had raced more than 3 times that season
Horses that were beaten in their first Gold Cup are 1 from 67 when running again

Analysis:

Kemboy is one of four runners for Willie Mullins, who bids to win this race for the first time. He has hit the crossbar in four of the last six years, having the runner-up on each occassion. Kemboy may not be the first choice of the yard, Ruby Walsh is on Bellshill, and he does have a few questions to answer. His jumping can be ‘iffy’ at best at times and he has yet to run in a really fast race, according to the clock. However he didn’t run badly at the past two Festivals here and he produced a clear best by some way on his just his second completed attempt at three miles or more. He fulfils most of the trend of a typical winner of this race and the form of his latest win has held up on a number of occasions since. Stepping up to a trip which is further than he has gone before could unlock the potential for better which he undoubtedly has.

Selection: (Outlay – 2.5 pts)

Kemboy – 1.25 pts e/w. Available at 12/1 (Betfair, Paddy Power – 1/5 odds first 4)

4.10 – Cheltenham – Friday 15th March 2019.

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 15th March 2019:

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.

Positive Trends to consider:

6 of the last 8 winners carried 10-11 or more in weight
18 of the last 19 winners had run no more than 12 times over fences
13 of the last 15 winners had run at the Festival before
The last 15 winners were aged between 6 and 10 years old.
10 of the last 15 winners were aged 8 or older
The last 15 winners had an OR of 150 or less
6 of the last 8 winners were rated between 140-147
The last 15 winners carried 11-08 or less
The last 15 winners had no more than 7 starts in current season
The last 15 winners had 2-7 career victories (<2 or >7 are 0 from 77)
The last 15 winners had 3-8 starts in the last 365 days (<3 or >7 are 0 from 69)
The last 15 winners last win came in Class 2 – Class 4 level
The last 15 winners had 13-31 career starts (<13 or >31 are 1 from 130)
14 of the last 15 winners had previously run at track
14 of the last 15 winners had no more than 3 chase wins (>3 are 1 from 91)
14 of the last 15 winners previously run at Grade 1 or Grade 2 level (those that hadn’t are 1 from 84)
14 of the last 15 winners had 4-12 previous Chase starts (<4 or >12 are 1 from 164)
14 of the last 15 winners were at least 4 pounds higher than for their last win
14 of the last 15 winners were not ridden by a claimer
14 of the last 15 winners had no more than 8 handicap chase starts (>9 are 1 from 110)
7 of the last 15 winners ran in the previous renewal
7 of the last 9 winners came from outside the top 5 in the betting
Henderson, Nicholls, King-trained horses are respected
Keep the Irish horses on your side (won 3 of the last 6)
Respect JP McManus-owned horses (4 winners, 8 placed)
The last 8 winners were rated at least 138
5 year-olds have a good record (from few runners of that age that have run)
Novices have won 5 of the last 10 renewals

Negative Trends to note:

Horses aged 10+ are just 1 win in the last 23 renewals
Horses that last ran more than 45 days ago have won just six renewals since 1990
Last time out winners have won just one renewal in the past 13 years
Horses aged 6 or younger (from top 3 in the market) are just 1 from 27 since 2005
There have been just 2 winners rated 147+ since 1992
Horses that won a handicap chase that season have a bad recent record

Selections: (outlay – 4 pts)

Brelan D’As – 1.5 pts win. Available at 8/1.

Bun Doran – 1.25 pts e/w. Available at 12/1. (Generally available – 1/5 odds first 5)

5.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 15th March 2019:

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 11th running of the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle and the eighth since it was upgraded to a 0-145 handicap.

Positive Trends to consider:

The last 10 winners were aged between 5 and 7 years old (<5 and>7 are 0 from 43, 3 placed)
The last 10 winners had an of between OR 133 and 144 (<133 and>144 are 0 from 49, 4 placed)
The last 10 winners carried 11-01+ ( those that carried 11-00 or less are 0 from 78)
The last 10 winners had 17 or less career starts (>17 are 0 from 59, 2 placed)
The last 10 winners had 0-1 previous starts at track
The last 10 winners had a break of 21 – 60 days prior to the race (<21 or >60 are 0 from 84)
The last 10 winners ran in a race worth 4k – 30k last time out
9 of the last 10 winners had 8 or less hurdle starts
9 of the last 10 winners had 4 or less Handicap Hurdle starts
9 of the last 10 winners had 2 or less Hurdle wins (3+ wins are 1 from 90)
9 of the last 10 winners are at least 7lbs higher than for their last win (those >7 are ) from 70, 1 winner yet to have won a race)

Selections: (Outlay – 1.5 pts)

Discordantly – 0.75 pts e/w. Available at 33/1 (Ladbrokes, Coral, BetVictor – 1/5 odds first 5)