Many Clouds has to carry just a pound more than last year. As a nine year old he is well up to the task. I am concerned that he is again ridden by Leighton Aspell, but purely from a luck point of view. Leighton is seeking a hat trick of wins in the National. Top man for the job for sure and good luck to him. Although he is riding probably the best horse in the race, you need an element of luck to win a National. Fallers in front of you, loose horses, danger of being brought down. Will his luck hold up a third time ? His horsemanship is certainly up for it.
Before I have a quick run through each race at the Cheltenham Festival 2016, the following pointers must be noted:
(1) Previous Festival experience is worth 7lbs
(2) Previous Course experience is worth 3lbs
(3) Cheltenham has the most effective drainage system so Going can change quickly – view latest Cheltenham Racecourse Going and Weather
Current trainer form is important so where do they stand at the moment ? Form in last 3 weeks:
In Top Form: Colin Tizzard, Paul Nicholls, Willie Mullins, Philip Hobbs, Gordon Elliott, Nicky Henderson, Dan Skelton, Brian Ellison,Neil King, Gary Moore, Kim Bailey
In Fair Form ( maybe on the up ?): Alan King, David Pipe, Donald McCain, Nigel Twiston- Davies, Charlie Longsdon, Warren Greatrex, Jonjo O’Neill
In Poor Form: Venetia Williams, Tim Vaughan, Rebecca Curtis
Tuesday 15th March
1.30 Supreme Novices Hurdle
14 of last 15 winners had run in previous 45 days. Altior, Long Dog, Min, Moon Racer, Silver Concorde, Supasundae , Tombstone & Yorkhill all fail on this score…Interesting… I guess this trend is so strong because horses without a recent run may run too keenly. No good in a race that is usually run in a faster time than the Champion Hurdle!
2.10 Arkle Trophy
Douvan is an exceptional racehorse. This is a race to watch and enjoy. A word of caution if you intend backing him at a short price. This will be by far the biggest test to date he will have had over fences. The pace of this race will be much faster than he experienced winning his 3 chases in Ireland. That said, I hope he wins as IMO he is the best horse we will see at the Festival…and he is only a 6 year old.
2.50 Ultima Handicap Chase
Sausalito Sunrise heads the weights with 11st 12lbs but he may be supplemented for the Gold Cup. Irish have only won once in 10 runnings. Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls & Willie Mullins have yet to have a winner of this race.
3.30 Champion Hurdle
The absence of both Faugheen & Arctic Fire has made the race more open for sure. Major trend here is so strong. 15 of last 17 winners had won or been placed at a previous festival Camping Ground, Identity Thief & Old Guard don’t have previous festival form.
The probable late entry of Annie Power means that she is the current ante post favourite. Worth remembering that in last 10 years there have been big priced winners, 9/1, 11/1,9/1,22/1, 10/1 & 16/1. Only 4 favs have won.
4.10 Mares Hurdle
Dominated by Willie Mullins & Quevga, and even when Annie Power fell at the last , Glens Melody came home to win for Mullins. Interesting to note that Alan King & Harry Fry both have 3 entries this year and they may provide the challenge to the Mullins trained Vroum Vroum Mag ( assuming Annie Power runs in CH).
4.50 National Hunt Novices Steeple Chase
This is a race for Amateur riders and the key here is that the best riders get the best horses. Since the conditions of this race were changed in 2010 with the abolition of penalties, it pays to look at the top 4 in the betting market. Three favs won in last 5 years.
5.30 Festival Novice’s Handicap Chase
Only one Irish trained winner and that was not a Mullins trained horse. This is always a very compressed handicap with a weight range of just 6lbs last year. Only 2 favs have won, but not won by big outsiders. L’Antartique at 20/1 in 2007 the biggest price.
Wednesday 16th March
1.30 Neptune Novices Hurdle
Alan King has trained 15 Festival winners, and when he says that Yanworth is possibly the best horse he has ever trained , we should really take note. He is owned by the legendary JP McManus and if there is such a thing as a banker of the meeting ( Annie Power last year !) then Yanworth ( alongside Douvan) surely fits the bill. A race I shall watch and not bet in.
2.10 RSA Chase
Only two trend to consider with this novice chase (1) 7 of last 9 winners ran at previous years Festival (3 won)and (2) 5 of the last 7 winners were trained in Ireland. Big priced outsiders have a poor record in this race.
2.50 Coral Cup
Horses higher up the handicap tend to do well in this race. Second season hurdlers usually win the race. Different Gravey heads the weights on 11st 12lbs . He looks the sort who could carry this weight. Sky’s The Limit won off this weight in 2006. Lil Rockerfeller is not likely to run. Previous festival form of little consequence in this race.
3.30 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Usually won by horses who race prominently. Two key trends (1) 12 of last 15 winners ran in previous Arkle or Champion Chase & (2) 11 of the last 15 winners ran in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown.
4.10 Cross Country Handicap Chase
Not a race for outsiders as 8 of the 11 winners have come from first 3 in the market. 9 winners trained in Ireland and don’t be put off by age as 7 winners have been aged 10+.
4.50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
The key to this race is a recent run, as all 11 winners had run in previous 37 days. 2 favs have won but winners at 40/1 (x2) 33/1, 25/1 (x2)… Horses that have run outside juvenile company have done well. If Gibralfaro runs in the Triumph , it could leave Frodon with top weight. Looks a wide open renewal again this year.
5.30 Champion Bumper
Last time out winners win this race. Only 32 entries at this stage and Willie Mullins has 10 of them. He has won the race 8 times, but not always with his most fancied horse
Thursday 17th March
1.30 JLT Novices Chase
Only 5 renewals of this race to date, and Irish trained horses have won 4 of them. All 5 winners had run at the previous seasons Festival meeting!
2.10 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle
Not a race in which Irish trained horses do well, but horses aged 8+ do very well having won 7 of last 10 races. Only one winning fav and only 2 winners in single figures.
2.50 Ryanair Chase
Will Vatour run here or in the Gold Cup ? This looks much easier for him to win. 7 of the last 8 winners had previously won at Cheltenham. Front runners do really well in this race.
3.30 World Hurdle
Don’t look for outsiders as 14 of last 15 winners were from first 4 in the market. It remains to be seen if either Annie Power or Vroum Vroum Mag take on the short priced fav Thistlecrack
4.10 Brown Advisory Plate
This is the race to look for a nice priced outsider. Only one winning fav in last 10 runnings, but 66/1, 33/1(x2) 25/1 , 18/1. David Pipe & Venetia Williams have both won it three times in last 10 years.
4.50 Kim Muir Handicap Chase ( Amateur Riders)
Top Jockey is the key here. This race is usually won by experienced riders riding sound jumpers. The last 16 winners had run over 3m + on their previous run.
5.30 Trull House Stud Mares Novices Hurdle
It will come as no surprise to see that the ante-post odds on fav, Limini, is trained by Willie Mullins. He has 5 of the 36 entries. This is a new race at the Festival.
Friday 18th March
1.30 Triumph Hurdle
Irish trained only won twice in last 10 years, but ex-French horses have done well in recent times winning 4 of the last 7 runnings. Nicky Henderson & Paul Nicholls are regularly acquiring horses from France, and they have won 5 of the last 10 runnings between them.
2.10 County Hurdle
Desert Quest in 2006 was the last single figure priced winner . Irish trained have won 7 of last 10 runnings. The race certainly suits horses who are held up off the pace. Very few front runners win the County Hurdle.
2.50 Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
7 of the last 11 winners had Course experience over hurdles. I must say that I am somewhat surprised that the unbeaten ante post favourite , Barters Hill, has not been given valuable Course Experience. He is a seriously good horse , but surely a course run would have. been sensible.
3.30 The Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Irish have yet to confirm which of their stars will run in the Gold Cup and indeed who will ride them. One thing for sure, we have an exciting, quality race in prospect. A few important trends. Virtually all recent winners come from first 3 in betting market…Last 10 year old to win was Cool Dawn in 1998.. Cue Card is 10…Djakadam has fallen twice in three visits to Cheltenham which does little for confidence. Interesting to note that both Mr. Mulligan & Dawn Run won their Gold Cups having fallen in their previous race. Willie Mullins is yet to train the winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
4.10 Foxhunters Steeple Chase
This is the amateur riders “Gold Cup” run over same course & distance. Irish trained have won on the last five occasions. Must have run in last 35 days and no harm if they are ridden from the front.
4.50 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
Naturally a race David Pipe would love to win. This year he has 5 entries, Starchitect, Dell Arca, Fingertips, Batavir & Mount Haven. At the moment only Starchitect is likely to make the cut as he has been allocated 11st 6lbs. They usually go far too fast in this race, so you need to look for a horse who can come from off the pace
5.20 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase
Big Trend here, 10 of the last 12 winners had run at the Festival before! Enjoy the greatest feast of National Hunt Racing that is the Cheltenham Festival!
If you enjoyed reading these Cheltenham Festival Trends from West Country Racing you might be interested in their Cheltenham Festival package – find out more.
STOP PRESS: West Country Racing’s tip at Doncaster today (4 March 2016) just won at 12/1.