The fourth and final day of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival with the blue riband race, the Gold Cup, due off at 3.30 pm.
 
We have had a number of selections run very well, although winners have been scarce, we have had a good few place. We will continue to not take the easy route and look for value, a strategy which has proven profitable over 20+ years.
 
Fingers crossed for a strong finish to the festival.
 
 
1.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 13th March 2020:
 
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:
20 of the last 26 winners won last time out
7 of the last 11 winners were unbeaten over hurdles
Irish have won 4 of the last 7 renewals
French-breds have filled 9 of the last 15 places (last 5 renewals)
11 of the last 15 came from the top 4 in the betting
10 of the last 12 winners returned 13/2 or shorter in the betting
Respect Henderson (7 winners), Nicholls, Hobbs and King-trained runners
7 of the last 16 first ran over hurdles by November (5 of the last 8 by mid-November)
10 of the last 14 winners returned 13/2 or shorter
The Spring Juvenile Hurdle is a good guide
9 of the last 10 winners ran in the Finesse, Adonis or Spring Juvenile Hurdles last time
6 of the last 11 winners had run in France before
Nicky Henderson has trained 7 winners of the race
Gordon Elliott has had 2 wins and 2 seconds in the last 6 years
 
Negative trends to note:
 
Take on horses that have won at 2m2f 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 12
Willie Mullins has a poor record, currently 0 from 27.
 
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. 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 16 years but they have all come in the three of the last five 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.
Selection:  (outlay – 0 pts)
 
No Bet. 
 
 
 
2.10 – Cheltenham – Friday 13th March 2020:
 
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 Irish have won 8 of the last 13 renewals
4 of the last 12 winners ran in that season’s Coral.ie Hurdle (Leopardstown)
13 of the last 14 winners were rated in the 130’s
7 of the last 12 winners returned 20/1 or bigger
5 of the last 11 winners had run in 6 or less hurdles races
10 of the last 14 winners were aged 5 or 6 years-old
12 of the last 14 winners were priced in double-figures
12 of the last 16 winners began their careers on the flat
Look for Mullins, Martins & Nicholls trained runners
Respect the Imperial Cup (Sandown Park) winner
9 winners since 2002 ran in the Ladbrokes or Betfair Hurdles that season
10 of the last 19 winners came from the top 5 in the betting
13 of the last 16 winners were first or second season hurdlers
11 of the last 13 winners didn’t win last time out
Paul Nicholls is 4 from 28 (l.s.p 18 pts)
Willie Mullins is 4 from 33 (l.s.p 46 pts)
Trainer Dan Skelton has trained 3 of the last 4 renewals (last 2)
Negative trends to note:
Previous course winners have a bad record
Since 1960 only 5 winners carried more than 11st 2lb
Since 1961, only 9 winners had run at the Festival before
Since 2005, just one winner has been rated 140+ (146 runners)
Avoid runners that hadn’t raced at least 4 times that season
Avoid horses making their handicap debuts
Since 2005 there have been only two horses to defy a mark of 140+ but they have come in two of the last three renewals (Arctic Fire in 2017 and Ch’tibello in 2019)
 
Selections: (outlay – 4 pts)
Thatsy – 1.25 pts e/w. Available at 11/1. (Paddy Power, Betfair – 1/5 odds first 6)
 
Elusive Belle – 0.75 pts e/w. Available at 20/1. (Paddy Power, Betfair, Skybet, Betfred, Betway – 1/5 odds first 6)
 
 
 
2.50 – Cheltenham – Friday 13th March 2020.
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:
9 of the last 15 winners had run at Cheltenham over hurdles before
14 of the last 15 winners contested a Graded Hurdle last time out
All of the last 15 winners won or placed in a Graded Novice before
5 of the last 8 winners had won a Point
8 of the last 15 came from the top 5 in the betting
9 of the last 15 winner ran 47 days (or more) ago
13 of the last 15 had run in a race over three miles
12 of the last 15 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
12 of the last 15 winners were first or second last time out
11 of the last 15 winners had 4+ runs over hurdles
13 of the last 14 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
4 of the last 14 favourites won
Respect Jonjo O’Neill runners (2 wins)
Negative Trends to note:
 
Horses that ran in the last 23 days haven’t fared well
Avoid horses that didn’t finish first or second last time out
Be wary of horses that have raced less than 3 times over hurdles
Willie Mullins is 1 from 35 in the race
Only 4 of the last 15 winners hadn’t raced that calendar year
Willie Mullins is 1 from 35 in the race
 
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.
Selections: (Outlay – 2 pts )
Ramses De Teilee – 1 pt e/w. Available at 14/1. (Generally available – 1/5 odds first 4)
3.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 13th March 2020:
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:

16 of the last 20 winners ran in the Savills Chase or King George that season
17 of the last 19 finished first or second last time out
17 of the last 20 winners were second or third season chasers
10 of the last 14 winners had run 9 or less times over fences
The last 20 winners were Grade 1 winners
15 of the last 19 had won or placed at the Festival before
16 of the last 19 winners hailed from the top 3 in the betting
18 of the last 19 winners had raced no more than 12 times over fences
11 of the last 12 winners ran 3 or less times that season
16 of the last 23 winners were bred in Ireland
11 of the last 14 winners won last time out
5 of the last 14 favourites won
The last 20 winners were aged 9 or younger
Horses placed in a previous Supreme Novices’ Hurdle have a good record
 
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 5 from last 33
Avoid horses that had run on ‘heavy’ ground that season 
Horses wearing headgear have a bad recent record
Willie Mullins had his first winner of the race last season from 30 attempts (although had seconds in four of the last seven renewals)
Just 1 of the last 12 winners had raced more than 3 times that season
Horses that were beaten in their first Gold Cup don’t fare well
Selection: (Outlay – 2 pts)
 
Santini – 2 pts win. Available at 6/1.
 
 
 
4.10 – Cheltenham – Friday 13th March 2020.
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 13th March 2020:
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup Handicap Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (5yo+):
Distance: 2 miles half a furlong on the New Course.
This is one of the most fiercely competitive handicaps on the jumping calendar over two miles.
Positive Trends to consider:
16 of the last 20 winners carried 11st or less
14 of the last 16 winners had run at the Festival before
8 of the last 16 winners ran in the previous renewal
Irish have won 3 of the last 7 renewals
8 of the last 10 winners came from outside the top 5 in the betting
11 of the last 16 winners were aged 8 or older
Henderson, Nicholls, King-trained horses are respected
Respect JP McManus-owned horses (4 winners, 9 placed)
The last 9 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 11 renewals
6 of the last 9 winners were rated between 140-147
7 of the last 9 winners carried 10-11 or more in weight
18 of the last 20 winners had run no more than 12 times over fences
Negative Trends to note:
Horses aged 10+ are just 1 win in the last 24 renewals
Horses that last ran more than 45 days ago have won just seven renewals since 1990
Last time out winners have won just one renewal in the past 14 years
Horses aged 6 or younger (from top 3 in the market) are just 1 from 28 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 – 3.5 pts)
 
Lisp – 1.75 pts e/w. Available at 15/2. (Unibet, 888Sport – 1/5 odds first 5)
 
 
 
5.30 – Cheltenham – Friday 13th March 2020:
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:
10 of the last 11 winners were second season hurdlers
8 of the last 9 winners placed in the top 3 last time
All of the last 11 winners carried 11-1 or more
10 of the last 11 winners had 8 or less runs over hurdles
4 of the last 6 winners were Irish-based Novices
Irish have won 6 of the last 9 (5 making handicap debuts)
31 of the 33 win and place horses were first or second season hurdlers
Look for Henderson, Nicholls, Mullins, Elliott trained horses
9 of the 11 winners were placed in the top 4 last time out
5 of the 11 winners won last time out
5 of the last 6 winners had run over a longer trip that season
7 of the 11 winners were rated 133-139
7 of the 11 winners returned at a double-figure price (9 of the last 11 were 16/1 or less)
5 and 6 year-old have won 10 of last 11 renewals
Look for jockeys that have ridden 20+ winners
Willie Mullins is 3 from 16 runners in the race (won 3 of the last 9 renewals)
Respect any Gigginstown House Stud-owned runners (4 winners, 5 places)
Paul Nicholls has won the race twice in the last 7 years
Gordon Elliott has won 2 of the last 3 renewals
 
Negative trends to note:
Despite being named after his father the David Pipe stable has a poor record so far (0 from 19, inc 3 favs)
Just 1 winning fav in the 11-year history (7/10 returned in double-figures)
Horses in headgear are currently 1 from 54
Only 3 winners had previous Festival experience
Horses with 11st or less are currently 0 from 87
Selections: (Outlay – 6.75 pts)
 
Five O’Clock – 1.5 pts win. Available at 8/1.
 
The Bosses Oscar – 1 pt e/w. Available at 14/1. (Generally available – 1/5 odds first 5)
 
Pileon – 1.25 pts win. Available at 10/1. (William Hill, Paddy Power)
Escaria Ten. 1 pt e/w. Available at 14/1. (Paddy Power – 1/5 odds first 6) 
 
All prices correct via oddschecker as of 9.30 hrs