Our stats guru Andrew Mount crunches the key figures for the JLT, Ryanair Chase, World Hurdle and two of the handicap races, with suggested selections for each! Essential reading, for those looking to narrow the field.
1.30 – JLT Novices’ Chase
Year / Horse / SP / Age / Chase form / Prep race
2014 /Taquin Du Seuil / 7yo / 7-1 / 11321 / WON Grade 2
2013 / Benefficient / 7yo / 20-1 / 111 / 21241 / WON Grade 1
2012 / Sir Des Champs / 6yo / 3-1 / 111 / WON Grade 2
2011 / Noble Prince / 7yo / 4-1 / 122 / 2nd (by a short head) Grade 1
NB. This was run as a Grade 2 for the first three years of its short history and upgraded to a Grade 1
Three of the four winners, including 20-1 shot Benefficient, had landed a Grade 1 or Grade 2 contest on their previous outing (the exception was beaten by a short head)
None had finished outside the first four since switched to fences
The last three winners had landed a Grade 1 or Grade 2 contest on their latest start
Three of the four were trained in Ireland
Apache Stronghold tends to jump out to his left and has not had many opportunities on left-handed tracks, recording figures of : 121 (2-3). The defeat came in Grade 1 company at Leopardstown where he found Don Poli three lengths too good over three miles, a trip he was attempting for the first time. He landed a Grade 1 over 2m5f at the same venue next time and has solid claims.
Selection: Apache Stronghold
**2.05 – Pertemps Network Final***
Year / Horse / Age / Weight / SP / Won or placed in Graded race?
2014 / Fingal Bay / 8yo / 11-12 / 9-2f / WON Grade 1
2013 / Holywell / 6yo / 11-04 / 25-1 / 2nd Grade 3 handicap
2012 / Cape Tribulation / 8yo / 10-11 / 14-1 / WON Grade 2
2011 / Buena Vista / 10yo / 10-03 / 20-1 / 3rd Grade 1
2010 / Buena Vista / 9yo / 10-01 / 16-1 / 3rd Grade 1
- All recent winners had displayed a touch of class previously by winning or placing in Grade 1, 2 or 3 company, whether it was over hurdles, fences or in a bumper.
It should pay to stick with the classier runners as opposed to those who have been plying their trade in Class 2 or lower company. Only 14 of the top 40 in the weights qualify on this angle, which helps us narrow the field. Sybarite, runner-up in a Grade 2, and Brother Brian, third in a Grade 2, are two to take seriously.
2.40 – Ryanair Chase
Year / Horse / Age / SP / Ran at last year’s festival ? /Prep race
2014 / Dynaste / 8yo / 3-1f / 2nd JLT Novices’ Chase / 5th (King George)
2013 / Cue Card / 7yo / 7-2 / 2nd Champion Chase / WON Grade 1 (Ascot)
2012 / Riverside Theatre / 8yo / 7-2f / didn’t run / WON Grade 1 (Ascot)
2011 / Albertas Run / 10yo / 6-1 / WON Ryanair Chase / Pulled up (King George)
2010 / Albertas Run / 9yo / 14-1 / 9th Gold Cup / 2nd Grade 1 (Ascot)
All were British-trained and prepped in a Grade 1, two in the King George and three at Ascot
Three of the last four winners had won or finished second at the previous season’s Cheltenham festival
Balder Success won the Grade 1 Betfair Ascot Chase in February and that race has proved to be an excellent guide to the Ryanair. However, Cheltenham form of: FUF (0-3) has to be a concern – he fell in the 2012 Triumph, unseated in the 2013 Champion Hurdle and tipped up on his chase debut in October of the same year. He missed last year’s festival to wait for Aintree, where he landed a Grade 1 novices’ chase.
Jonjo O’Neill took this race twice with Albertas Run and he a decent chance with **John’s Spirit, who, like two recent winners, failed to stay three miles in the King George at Kempton where he finished a 16-length sixth to Silviniaco Conti. His Cheltenham chase record in the past two seasons reads: 115412 (3-6), though the wins came on the Old Course and the Ryanair is run on the New Course.
3.20 – Ladbrokes World Hurdle
Year / Horse / Age / SP / Form in current season
2014 / More Of That / 6yo / 15-2 / 111
2013 / Solwhit / 9yo / 17-2 / 21
2012 / Big Buck’s / 9yo / 5-6f / 111
2011 / Big Buck’s / 9yo / 10-11f / 11
2010 / Big Buck’s / 9yo / 5-6f / 11
Four were unbeaten over hurdles during the current season (the exception, Solwhit, was returning from a near two-year absence when runner-up on his reappearance)
All were aged between six and nine
All started at single-figure prices, though the last two winners were available at double-figure odds in the morning
Saphir Du Rheu didn’t take to fences at the end of last year, failing to complete at Newbury and Kempton either side of his Exeter win. He reverted to hurdles with a neck verdict over the game Reve De Sivola in the Cleeve and he’s expected to appreciate the likely better ground.
Selection: Saphir Du Rheu
5.15 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase
Year / Horse / Age / Weight / SP / Value to winner of most recent chase contested
2014 / Spring Heeled / 7yo / 11-08 / 12-1 / £86,000
2013 / Same Difference / 7yo / 11-07 / 16-1 / £56,000
2012 / Sunnyhillboy / 9yo / 11-11 / 6-1f / £56,000
2011 / Junior / 8yo / 11-06 / 100-30f / £28,000
2010 / Ballabriggs / 9yo / 11-12 / 9-1 / £11,000
The last five winners were aged between seven and nine
The Kim Muir is worth about £35,000 to the winner and the last three winners contested a more valuable race on their most recent chase start. The Irish have traditionally struggled in this contest but they were responsible for the winner, runner-up and fourth last year.
Tony Martin’s Gallant Oscar struggled in the heavy ground when fourth of 17 to Djakadam in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park but pulled 22 lengths clear of the fifth-placed runner and has peaked in March for the past two seasons. Last term, he won a big-field chase worth £24,000 to the winner at Naas on his return from an eight-week break and he landed his first spring start during the 2012/2013 season, hacking up in a beginners chase at Clonmel. He’s also entered in the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap on Tuesday but is a shorter price for the Kim Muir and the amateur riders’ contest would look the likeliest target.
Like the three Irish runners who made the frame in this race last year, **Gallant Oscar is effectively dropping in class after contesting an Irish Class A contest (the Kim Muir is a Class 2 event), and his sire has a good record at the festival. Backing all progeny of Oscar at the Cheltenham festival, in races other than the Foxhunter Chase, would have found 12 winners from 102 runners (11.8% strike-rate) for a profit of £30.38 to a £1 level stake. In chases of 3m+ Oscar’s strike-rate improves to 23.8% (five winners from 21 runners) for a profit of £40.00 to a £1 stake.
Selection: Gallant Oscar