2021 Cheltenham Festival Betting Trends & Tips: DAY ONE

2021 Cheltenham Festvial Free Tips

Each day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, here at JUICESTORM, we’ll give you our quick-fire positive and negative trends for EVERY race. Apply these to the final cards and you will build-up a picture and a profile of which horses have historically done the best in recent renewals.

Did you know 31 of the last 37 Champion Hurdle winners won last time out?

We hope they help narrow down the fields and also help pin-point plenty of winners at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival for you……………………………………

 

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CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DAY ONE:

Tuesday 16th March (Old Course)   

 

1.20 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y ITV

 

2020 Winner: SHISHKIN 6/1
Trainer – Nicky Henderson
Jockey – Nico de Boinville

Pluses…..

  • 21 of the last 24 winners won their last race
  • 14 of the last 17 winners had raced in at least 4 hurdles races before
  • 9 of the last 11 winners came from the first 4 in the market
  • 8 of the last 9 winners have all won a graded novice hurdle before
  • 20 of the last 26 winners ran in the last 45 days
  • Irish-trained horses have won 16 of the last 29 runnings
  • 5 & 6 year-olds have the best record – winning 15 of the last 16 runnings
  • Willie Mullins has won the race 5 times since 2007 and for 4 of the last 8 years
  • 24 of the last 26 winners had raced that same calendar year
  • Owner Rich Ricci & trainer Willie Mullins have won 3 of the last 8 runnings (5 of the last 14)
  • 5 of the last 7 winners had been rated 153 or more
  • 8 of the last 9 winners had won a graded Novice Hurdle before
  • 7 of the last 8 winners returned a single-figure price
  • 8 of the last 12 winners were previous bumper winners

Negatives…..

  • Horses that FAILED to win last time out before coming here are just 3 from the last 24. In other words, look for horses that won last time out!
  • Since 1992 all horses (37) wearing head-gear have been beaten
  • We’ve seen just two ex-flat horses win since 2008
  • Just 2 of the last 18 winners came here unbeaten
  • Just 1 of the last 18 winners aged 7 or older
  • Just 1 outright winning favourite in the last 16 runnings
  • Betfair Hurdle winners are 0-from-7 in the last decade
  • Nicky Henderson is 2 from 39 since 1993 (Shishkin (2020) and Altior (2016) his two winners for this period)

JUICESTORM VERDICT: All eyes will be on the Willie Mullins-trained APPRECIATE IT here to get the Irish and favourite backers off to a flying start. It’s a race the Mullins yard have won three times in the last 8 runnings and being the clear top-rated in the field this 7 year-old is certainly the one to beat – especially as the ground as come right for him with all the recent rain, which will blunt the others speed and bring his proven stamina into play. He was last seen beating another hopeful here – Ballyadam – by 3 ¼ lengths at Leopardstown at the Dublin Racing Festival in early February and is now 3-from-3 over hurdles – Blue Lord was also back in third that day (beaten 6 lengths). Many felt this season he’d be upped in trip, based on his running style and even though Cheltenham – and the hill – will make this a test, the question is will he still get tapped for speed by something else – maybe if the ground was quicker, but conditions have come right for him? Those against him will note he was also the beaten favourite in the Champion Bumper here last season, but he’s clearly progressed since then as a hurdler. We can expect Mullins and Co. to make full use of his stamina, but being a 7 year-old he’s also got this age trend against him – 15 of the last 16 winners were aged either 5 or 6 years-old. A lively alternative to the favourite will be the Harry Fry-trained Metier, who is also 3-from-3 over hurdles and was last seen winning the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown by an easy 12 lengths. He’s clearly a useful horse and being a former flat runner, will have the pace I’ve already mentioned to potentially serve it up to Appreciate It. The yard report him in great order and he’s an interesting runner. However, I’m going to side with the Jonjo O’Neill runner – Soaring Glory – here. This 6 year-old ticks a lot of the key trends and even though he’s got a bit to find on the official ratings with Appreciate It (10lbs), he looks a fast-improving hurdler. He was last seen winning the Betfair Hurdle easily by 3 lengths and back in October beat a useful Nicholls horse called Bravemansgame at Chepstow. That Nicholls horse has gone onto win his next three, while the horse Soaring Glory was third to at Ascot in December – My Drogo – has also advertised the form by winning the Premier Novices’ Hurdle at Kelso recently. Yes, the Betfair Hurdle winners are 0 from 7 in the last 11 years, but many will be happy to overlook that stat based on the way he one last time out. Of those at bigger prices, the other Mullins runner – BLUE LORD (e/w) – might also be worth a small saver. Yes, he’s 6 lengths to find with Appreciate It on their last run, but the ground will suit and has still only had three runs for Mullins since coming over from France, so there is every chance they are still finding their feet with the horse.

 

1.55 – Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y ITV

2020 Winner: PUT THE KETTLE ON 16/1
Trainer – Henry De Bromhead
Jockey – Aidan Coleman

 

Pluses….

  • 13 of the last 16 winners had won (or been placed) at Cheltenham before
  • 15 of the last 21 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 chase before
  • The last 11 winners won last time out (plus 16 of the last 20)
  • 19 of the last 21 winners returned 9/1 or shorter
  • 13 of the last 14 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old
  • 14 of the last 18 winners had run 3 or 4 times over fences
  • 12 of the last 17 winners at run at the Cheltenham Festival previously
  • 11 of the last 20 winners were the top or second top-rated hurdler in the field
  • 7 of the last 9 winners were unbeaten over fences
  • Nicky Henderson has won the race 6 times
  • Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 6 runnings (all French-bred)
  • 7 of the last 9 winners trained by Willie Mullins or Nicky Henderson

Negatives…..

  • Only 2 of the last 34 winners failed to win of finish second last time out
  • Just 3 of the last 30 winners started 11/1 or bigger in the betting
  • Only 3 of the last 29 winners were older than 7 years-old
  • The last horse aged 9 (or older) to win was in 1988
  • The last 28 ex-flat horses to run have all lost
  • Only 1 winner since 2000 won with headgear
  • 5 year-olds are 0-12 in the last 12 years
  • Douvan (2016) and Altior (2017) were the first Supreme Hurdle winners (prev season) that have followed-up in this race since 1965
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls has had 12 unplaced from his last 13 runners

JUICESTORM VERDICT: The big news surrounding this race is that we unfortunately lost Energumene after being found lame, so the potential mouth-watering clash with SHISHKIN is not going to happen. We can expect the horse with only one gear – full throttle – Allmankind – to blast out from the front and try and hang on so it will be interesting to see if he can. This Dan Skelton 5 year-old is 3-from-3 over fences since making the switch to the bigger obstacles and was certainly impressive when trouncing the useful Sky Pirate by 14 lengths at Warwick last time out. Yes, he was third in the Triumph Hurdle last season, but would have been fourth and well back had Goshen not unseated Jamie Moore. He’s clearly a slightly better chaser, than hurdler and, as mentioned, will give it a good go from the front. However, you just feel this will set things up nicely for SHISHKIN, who was rated a tad higher than Allmankind over the lower obstacles too. This Nicky Henderson 7 year-old, of course, was a gutsy winner of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Festival last season too and is also 3-from-3 over fences. His jumping has caught the eye of many and even though some feel the opposition he’s beaten haven’t been top class, the horse he beat two runs ago – Tamaroc Du Mathan – has since give the form a shot in the arm with a win in the Grade Two Pendil Novices’ Chase. Allmankind is actually only rated 4lbs inferior to Shishkin over fences, so this will certainly be an interesting test for the Henderson horse. But, having also won over 2m2f over fences and 2m3 1/2f over hurdles, this proven stamina will be a big plus up the hill for the favourite – just like he showed last year in the Supreme – so, should he get into a battle with the likes of Allmankind and the two main Irish raiders, Captain Guinness and Franco De Port, this further swings things in the favour of the Henderson horse.

 

2.30 – Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f ITV

2020 Winner: THE CONDITIONAL 15/2
Trainer – David Bridgewater
Jockey – Brendan Powell

 

Pluses….

  • 16 of the last 21 winners were officially rated 143 or less
  • 15 of the last 20 came from the top 4 in the betting
  • 17 of the last 21 winners returned 11/1 or shorter
  • 15 of the last 20 were novices or second season chasers
  • 7 of the last 13 winners were rated between 142-146 (6 between 142-145)
  • Horses rated 140+ have won 12 of the last 20 runnings
  • 9 of the last 18 won last time out
  • Horses that have run well in the race before have a good record
  • 3 of the last 11 winners ran in the Cleeve Hurdle that season
  • 8 of the last 9 winners wore headgear
  • 9 of the last 11 winners had run at Cheltenham that season
  • Jonjo O’Neill, Alan King, Nicky Henderson, Tony Martin & David Pipe are trainers to note
  • All winners since 2000 had won over 3m+ before
  • 5 of the last 6 winners ran at Cheltenham’s January meeting
  • 4 of the last 7 winners ran in the Ladbrokes Trophy that season
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had run at the Festival before

Negatives….

  • Be a bit wary of horses carrying 11-04 or more in weight – 10 of the last 16 carried 10-12 or less, although the 2017 winner carried 11-12 & the 2019 winner won with 11-8. The 2020 winner, The Conditional, carried 10-6
  • Horses aged 11 or older are just 2 from 49 to even get placed
  • Be wary of Paul Nicholls-trained horses – he’s currently 0 from 23
  • Only 2 winners in the last 12 hadn’t raced at a previous Festival
  • Only 4 winners since 2000 have returned bigger than 11/1
  • The Irish have won just 2 of the last 52 runnings (since 1967)
  • Irish-trained runners are 0-26 in the last 14 runnings

JUICESTORM VERDICT: The first of the handicaps and as expected a tricky race to unravel. The age stats suggest we can ignore the older horses with horses aged 11 or older having a poor record – this is a negative for the likes of Fingerontheswitch, Ok Corral and Vintage Clouds, who was eighth in the race 12 months ago and second in 2019. It’s also a race the Irish don’t do that well in – just two wins in the last 52 runnings, so their runners Discordantly, from the Jessie Harrington camp and Milan Native, who landed the Kim Muir at the Festival in 2020, are also overlooked. 10 of the last 16 winners carried 10-12 or less, but this trend might be taken with a pinch of salt as the 2017 and 2019 winners won with 11-12 and 11-8. Delire D’Estruval is an interesting runner for the Ben Pauling yard and even though he was pulled up last time, had an excuse as lost a shoe that day – but does ned to prove himself over this trip. The Skelton runner – Alnadam – was an easy winner at Sandown last time out and looks a contender too, but he’s up 8lbs for that, is another that is unproven beyond 2m4f (under rules), plus all wins have been on soft or heavy ground and he’s yet to race here at Cheltenham – all of which would be concerns. The Venetia Williams horses are in good form so her course winner Cepage is another to note and should find this a lot easier than the Grade Two Denman Chase he ran fourth in last time. However, he could only manage 7th in this race 12 months ago and is now rated 3lbs higher – the Williams yard are currently just 3-from 58 (5%) with their chasers at the track. The consistent AYE RIGHT was a solid second in the SkyBet Chase last time at Doncaster and Richard Johnson being booked to ride catches the eye. This season he was also third to Cyrnname (7 lengths) in the Charlie Hall and runner-up in the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase at Newbury – certainly decent form to take into this handicap. He was also 5th in the RSA Chase at the Festival last season, so has had a taster of the meeting – another bold bid looks on the cards for a horse that’s finished in the first five in seven of his chase starts. The Kim Bailey-trained Happygolucky is another that will be very popular after winning well here at the December Meeting in a Novice Chase. Novices and second season chasers often do well in this race and he looks a fast-improving chaser. Some might also remember him running fourth in the Martin Pipe Conditional Hurdle at the Festival last season too. It’s hard to crab his chance, but you just feel he’s not great value in a race like this and with only three runs over fences, will that lack of experience find him out? One For The Team is another that has the form to go well for the Nick Williams, who won this race in 2018 with Coo Star Sivola, but despite only having four runs over fences and a light weight (10-8), it would be a slight concern that he’s not won over the bigger obstacles yet. The other pick though is the Henderson runner – PYM (e/w). The yard won this in 2019 and often do well with their runners in the race overall. This 8 year-old has been a bit ‘hit and miss’ during his career, but he’s still won 3 of his 7 chase runs. He’s also a course winner here over fences and has run some good races this season when winning at Sandown and then running fifth in the Rehearsal Chase – both in November. He’s clearly been kept fresh for this since, but that’s not a worry as he won this season off a 242-day break, while his overall record from a lay-off is very good. If the ground came up soft it would be a worry, but on the opening day there is every chance he’ll get his better ground – Nico de Boinville riding is the final plus.

 

3.05 – Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y ITV

 

2020 Winner: EPATANTE 2/1 fav
Trainer – Nicky Henderson
Jockey – Barry Geraghty

Pluses….

  • 31 of the last 37 won last time out
  • Horses unbeaten that season often do well (8 of last 10)
  • The Irish and Nicky Henderson have won 18 of the last 22 runnings between them
  • 9 of the last 12 winners came from the Henderson or Willie Mullins yards
  • The Irish have won 13 of the last 22 runnings
  • Owner JP McManus has won 6 of the last 11 (9 in total)
  • Trainer Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 10 runnings
  • 26 of the last 31 winners were aged 6 or 7 years-old (10 of last 14)
  • 12 of the last 22 winners had won at the Festival before
  • 23 of the last 36 winners were placed in the first 4 at the previous season’s festival
  • The Fighting Fifth Hurdle is a good guide (4 winners, 4 places in last 13 runnings)
  • 14 of the last 25 winners started as flat horses
  • The last 6 winners were unbeaten that season
  • Look for horses that have raced at least once that calendar year
  • Trainer Nicky Henderson has won the race 8 times, including 3 of the last 4 years
  • 6 of the last 12 winners contested the Christmas Hurdle (Kempton)

Negatives….

  • Avoid horses that failed to finish in the top three last time out
  • 5 year-olds are just 2 from 105 since 1985, but the 2019 winner was a 5 year-old
  • Since 1927 we’ve only seen 2 winners aged 10 or older (0-29 in the last 38 runnings)
  • Just 1 of the last 14 winners had raced more than 12 times over hurdles
  • Christmas Hurdle (Kempton, 26th Dec) winners are just 4 from 30, but last year’s winner – Epatante – did the Christmas Hurdle/Champion Hurdle double.
  • Just 2 horses have regained the race since 1975
  • International Hurdle winners are 0-from-13 (last 17 runnings)
  • Only 2 of the last 22 winners hadn’t raced at the Festival before

Key Cheltenham Festival Champion Hurdle Betting Trends

 

17/18 – Finished in the top 3 last time out
16/18 – Had raced at Cheltenham before
16/18 – Aged 8 or younger
15/18 – Had raced within the last 7 weeks
15/18 – Rated 159 or higher
14/18 – Won last time out
13/18 – Had finished in the top 4 in a Cheltenham Festival race the season before
13/18 – Had won 6 or more times over hurdles before
12/18 – Placed favourites
11/18 – Aged 6 or 7 years-old
10/18 – Had won at Cheltenham before
10/18 – Irish-bred winners
10/18 – Irish trained winners
10/18 – Winning distance – 2 1/2 lengths or more
8/18 – Came from outside the top 3 in the betting
8/18 – Winning favourites (1 joint)
6/18 – Ran in the previous season’s Champion Hurdle
6/18 – Had won a race at the Cheltenham Festival the previous season
4/18 – Trained by Willie Mullins
5/18 – Trained by Nicky Henderson (has won the race 8 times in all)
The average winning SP in the last 18 runnings is 8/1

Other Champion Hurdle Stats:
5 year-olds are just 3 from 106 since 1985
31 of the last 37 winners won their previous race
23 of the last 35 winners were placed in the top 4 at the previous season’s Cheltenham Festival
22 of the last 25 winners had a race that calendar year (i.e we are looking for horses that have run in 2020)
27 of the last 30 winners hailed from the first 6 in the betting market
Just 4 of the last 30 Christmas Hurdle winners has gone onto win the Champion Hurdle that season
Irish-trained horses have won 13 of the last 22 renewals

 

Champion Hurdle – UK vs Ireland (Last 23 Years)

13/23 – Irish-trained winners
10/23 – British-trained winners

JUICESTORM VERDICT: A cracking renewal of this day one feature and really it will be a shock if the winner isn’t coming from one of three horses – the current champ, Epatante, last season’s Mares’ Hurdle winner – Honeysuckle – or Goshen, who had the Triumph Hurdle at his mercy last term until unseating at the final flight. Yes, of those at bigger prices the likes of Sharjah, who was runner-up 12 months ago, Silver Streak, who beat Epatante last time out, and Abacadabras are all players of those priced between 10/1 and 20/1 and you feel there is every chance one of that bunch could hit the frame. Anyway, back to the main three. For me, it was disappointing to see the current champ – Epatante – getting beat so easily by Silver Streak in the Christmas Hurdle last time and even though that was probably not her true running, it would still sow a few seeds of doubt. Her mares’ allowance will be massive again though here against the boys, but the problem she’s got – unlike last year – is that there’s another top mare in the race this time – HONEYSUCKLE – who will also get the handy 7lbs weight pull. She landed the mares’ Hurdle here last season and is now 10-from-10 over the sticks. She couldn’t have been more impressive in winning the Irish Champion Hurdle last time at Leopardstown and of the three main players she looks the most reliable. We also know she stays further than this 2m trip, but also has bundles of pace to cope with this 2m. The hill will bring her stamina into play again and we can expect connections to make full use of that. The other big name in the race is Goshen, who bounced back to his best last time out to win the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton after flopping in the International Hurdle here the time before. Many would deny him the win after what happened to him in the Triumph Hurdle at the Festival last season and his trainer, Gary Moore, reports him in top order. He often likes to get on with things near the pace and if in the same mood as last time (or in the Triumph) it will certainly be interesting to see if the others can reel him in up the hill. Of the three, he’s one that I certainly wouldn’t put you off, but I just keep coming back to the fact he’s got to give a hefty 7lbs away to two classy mares, while at 5 years-old he does have this age trend against him. Yes, Espoir D’Allen defied this stat two years ago, but we’ve only had two winners that age since 1985. Overall, a race to saviour and a clear ‘day one’ highlight, but the reliable Honeysuckle has done nothing wrong so far in her career and I’ll take her winning run to continue here, with Goshen the main danger for me and the likes of Sharjah and Silver Streak the two to play if you are looking for an upset or something each-way against the main trio.

 

3.40 – Close Brothers David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 3f 200y ITV

2020 Winner: HONEYSUCKLE 9/4
Trainer – Henry De Bromhead
Jockey – Rachael Blackmore

 

Pluses….

  • Follow Irish-trained mares (11 of last 13)
  • The favourite (or 2nd fav) have won 11 of the last 13 runnings
  • 7 of the last 13 favourites have won
  • 12 of the last 13 winners had won over at least 2m4f
  • Willie Mullins have trained 9 of the last 12 winners
  • Look for Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson, Paul Nolan & Alan King runners
  • Novices generally do well
  • 10 of the last 13 winners had won a Grade 1 or 2 before
  • 6 of the last 9 winners had won over 2m6f+ before
  • Horses that began their careers in bumpers have done well
  • Respect French-bred mares – won 9 renewals
  • 11 of the last 13 winners returned 6/1 or shorter
  • 11 of the last 13 winners had won (or placed) in a graded race against the males

Negatives….

  • Avoid front-runners
  • British-bred mares are currently 1-80
  • All 28 runners to wear headgear have been beaten (just 1 placed)
  • Be wary of Paul Nicholls, Philip Hobbs and Noel Meade runners
  • Benie De Deaux is the only ex-flat horse to win the race

 

JUICESTORM VERDICT: The Dan Skelton-trained Roksana won this race in 2019 and being the joint top-rated in the field she’ll have every chance again. We last saw her dotting-up at Ascot at the end of January and has now only finished out of the first three twice from her 15 runs over hurdles. Connections have opted for this slightly easier option over a tilt at the Stayers’ Hurdle on Thursday – she can go well. But, with the Willie Mullins yard having a cracking record in this race I’m happy to stick with their CONCERTISTA, who was an easy winner of the Mares’ Novice Hurdle at the Festival last season. She beat another runner – Dolcita – a horse that is now with the Fergal O’Brien yard, but an easy 12 lengths. Since that win 12 months ago she’s done nothing wrong either – winning both starts at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown – seeing off Minella Melody well both times. Of the rest, the Denise Foster runner – Black Tears (2nd in the Coral Cup last season) – actually beat the selection in Feb 20, but hasn’t really progressed like the Mullins horse has. Henderson has Dame De Compagnie and Floressa in the race – of the pair the former was a good winner of the Coral Cup last season here and on that running is certainly no back number either, having won three times now at the track. But of those at a bigger price, last season’s Martin Pipe Hurdle winner – INDEFATIGABLE (e/w) – might be worth a small saver to bounce back to form. Yes, she’s been poor this season, but she’s had a wind op since her last run and looks worth chancing at a track she often runs well at. Her form at Prestbury reads an impressive 5-1-2-1.

 

4.15 – Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle (Handicap Hurdle) 2m 87y) ITV

2020 Winner: ARAMAX 15/2
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Mark Walsh

Pluses….

  • 10 of the last 16 winners had run just 3 times over hurdles before
  • French bred horses have a good record
  • 9 of the last 16 winners started their careers in France
  • Respect Fillies
  • 8 of the last 16 winners won last time out
  • 7 of the last 10 winners all came from the bottom half of the weights/handicap
  • 11 of the last 16 had run in the last 25 days
  • David Pipe, Paul Nicholls, Gordon Elliot and Alan King-trained horses often do well
  • 6 of the last 9 winners returned between 25/1 and 40/1
  • 10 of the last 16 winners returned a double-figure price
  • Respect horses wearing headgear
  • 12 of the last 16 winners were rated between 124-134
  • 8 of the last 13 winners were British-trained
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls has won 3 of the last 11 runnings
  • 11 of the last 16 winners had won no more than once over hurdles

 

Negatives….

  • Just 1 recent winner had last raced in January or further back
  • Trainers Willie Mullins, Philip Hobbs and Venetia Williams are 0 from 33 between them
  • Just 2 of the last 16 winners rated 135+
  • Horses bred in Britain are 0-54 (last 12 years)
  • Willie Mullins runners are 0 from 14 (just 1 placed in top 5 too)
  • Only 3 winners had run in a handicap hurdle before
  • No winner had raced at Cheltenham before
  • Horses with 2+ wins over hurdles are 1 from the last 11 years
  • British-bred runners are currently 0-51

 

JUICESTORM VERDICT: Trainer Paul Nicholls has won three of the last 11 runnings so it’s no shock to see the support for his Houx Gris. This 4 year-old was a fair third in the Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle last time out on his hurdles debut in this country, but he’s got some fair French form to his name and off a mark of 128 could easily be very well-handicapped. He’s form on all ground too and looks another French-bred that’s been laid out for the race. But, unless you’re on at bigger prices there seems to be little value in a race with 22 runners in, while even though the Nicholls camp have a fine record in his race at the moment their recent hurdles record at Cheltenham is just 4-from-103 (4%) – Nicholls also has Hell Red. Willie Mullins doesn’t have a great record in the race – just 0 from 14 – so their entries Youmdor and Saint Sam – have this to overcome. The Gary Moore runner – Nassalam – was Triumph hurdle bound earlier in the season but hasn’t quite progressed as many thought. That said, he’s still run some solid races in defeat this season (second both times) to some nice sorts so all might not be lost. He does have 11-10 in weight to carry though and is rated 141, we’ve only had two winners in the last 16 rated 135+. The John C McConnell yard have a decent 30% record with their hurdlers at the course, so this is a plus if you fancy Longclaw. The Gordon Elliott yard have won two of the last three runnings too, so even though his horses are now running under trainer Denise Foster, their GLORIOUS ZOFF and RIVIERE D’ETEL are ones to have onside too. Both are rated 134 or lower, and with exactly three previous hurdles runs they fit the trend that’s seen 10 of the last 16 winners run just three times (hurdles) before. The hat-trick seeking Cabot Cliffs and Homme Public are others to consider, but the other interesting Irish raiders are COLTOR, from the Dermot Weld stable, and BUSSELTON, from Joseph O’Brien’s team. The former kept on well to win at Naas last time out and into a handicap for the first time looks interesting off a mark of 127 – Jonjo O’Neill Jnr has been booked to ride and with the shrewd Weld camp not having many runners at the Festival, it’s interesting they are making the trip over with this one. Then Busselton has some eye-catching form – third and second – behind the useful pair of Zanahiyr and Quilixios, who are both leading players for Friday’s Triumph Hurdle. Therefore, any progress on those efforts would also make him interesting, with the first-time cheekpieces on here too.

 

 

4.50 – Sam Vesty National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase) (Grade 2) 3m 5f 201y RTV

 

2020 Winner: RAVENHILL 12/1
Trainer – Gordon Elliott
Jockey – Jamie Codd

 

Pluses…..

  • 11 of the last 19 winners finished 1st or 2nd last time out
  • 10 of the last 15 winners were aged 7 or 8 years-old
  • Favourites have won 3 of the last 11 runnings
  • 4 of the last 10 winners were top-rated
  • 9 of the last 11 winners had run in a Graded Novice chase
  • 5 of the last 10 winners had run in a Grade One Novice Chase that season
  • 7 of the last 14 had run in a chase at Cheltenham before that season
  • 7 of the last 11 winners had run at a previous Cheltenham Festival
  • 7 of the last 10 winners returned a single-figure price
  • Note horses wearing headgear
  • 7 of the last 10 winners were rated 145 (or more)
  • Look out for JP McManus-owned runners (6 winners)
  • Jonjo O’Neill has trained 6 winners in the race (5-from-21)
  • Jockey Derek O’Connor has 2 wins / 4 places (from 15 rides)
  • Derek O’Connor, Jamie Codd & Patrick Mullins have won 7 of the last 10 (3, Codd, 2 Mullins, 2 O’Connor)
  • Jockey Jamie Codd has won 3 of the last 6
  • Gordon Elliott has won the race 4 times from just 8 runners

Negatives….

  • 5 and 6 year-olds are just 2 from 80 since 1989
  • Trainer Paul Nicholls has NEVER won this race – he’s currently 0 from 18
  • Trainer Nicky Henderson has NEVER won this race
  • Horses with less than 3 chase starts don’t fare well
  • Horses rated in the 130’s have a poor record (1 from 9)
  • Just 2 winners in the last 13 returned bigger than 12/1

 

JUICESTORM VERDICT: This has been a poor race for the Paul Nicholls yard, so they will be trying to put that right here with their hat-trick seeking Next Destination. The step up to 3m6f looks sure to brig out more improvement after hitting a few flat spots in his races of late over 3m, but then staying on well to land the spoils. He was third in the 2018 Ballymore Hurdle too, so has tasted the Festival before too – he’s the top-rated in the field and based on that is the one to beat. However, the betting suggests otherwise as the former Gordon Elliott runner – GALVIN – is hard to oppose for me. Now with the Ian Ferguson yard, this stable is more famed for their Hunter Chasers, but they also know this horse well with Galvin’s owner often sending the horse to the Ferguson yard for summer breaks in the past. He’s won 4 of his 8 chase starts and ran a blinder to be second at the Festival last season and added to that a nice win at the October meeting here this season. At just 7 there should be more to come and we know the track suits. The step up in trip is a slight unknown, but he’s a strong stayer over 3m, so there is every chance to think the extra yardage will be fine – hey, it might even improve him again! The other former Elliott runner – Escaria Ten – has to enter the mis too after running Monkfish to 15 lengths back in November – form that’s been more than franked since. Willie Mullins pins his hopes on Lord Royal, but at 6 years-old the others might just have an experience edge on him. The home challenge is led by the Pipe-trained REMASTERED, who has improved a lot this season to win his last three, including a Grade 2 Novice Chase at Ascot last month. He’s another that has the trip as an unknown, but that applies to most in the field. He’s won his last two since having a wind op and likes to run from the front, so will at least keep out of trouble up top – he might just be hard for the others to peg back and rates the biggest danger to the selection.

 

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