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The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Amateur Riders)
A three mile one furlong handicap for amateur riders, the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup takes place on Thursday 16th March 2017 and has a £65,000 purse.
Our tip for the Kim Muir Challenge Cup 2017 is Tom George’s Whats Happening, who looks to continue the yard’s good form this year and cap it off with a well deserved Cheltenham winner. He was twice a course winner in 2015, with the latest of those coming in October of that year over the 3m 1f trip. He was five lengths down at the final fence but turned on the afterburners up the hill to win by two lengths.
He hadn’t been seen since that effort before returning at Exeter in February and despite the fact he had been off for well over a year, he was a gallant second behind Perfect Candidate who was given a soft lead. He finished well that day which is a trait of his and he should have gained a lot from that experience, most notably race fitness. He should come on leaps and bounds for it and back at Cheltenham, he looks likely to be a main protagonist with conditions to suit. He’s only a pound higher in the weights than when winning on his penultimate start and can continue Tom George’s fine season.
Here are the key Kim Muir Challenge Cup betting trends:
- 10 of the last 10 winners had previous experience over at least 3 miles
- 10 of the last 10 winners had an Official Rating of 124+, with the last 8 all being rated 134+
- 9 of the last 10 winners were aged between 7 and 9 years old (The Package is the exception, winning aged 12)
- 9 of the last 10 winners had hurdle experience and 8 of these were rated at least 126 over hurdles
- 7 of the last 10 winners had won over at least 2 miles 7 furlongs
- Only 2 of the last 10 winners placed last time out; only 1 of those won
- Only 2 of the last 10 winners was Irish trained (Spring Heeled in 2014, Cause Of Causes 2016).
Two trainers have won this race twice in the last ten years – David Pipe (2011, 2015) and Donald McCain (2007, 2010). Jamie Codd has been the top jockey in this race recently (and all time), winning it in 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2016 on four different horses for three different trainers.
Trends Analysis: One of the more curious trends across the Cheltenham Festival is the lack of success that Kim Muir Challenge Cup winners have on their last start before the big race. Just two horses placed on their previous start before the Festival, so do not rule out horses who ran poorly before coming here. On the other hand, proven stamina is a strong trend, with seven of the last ten winners having won over at least two miles seven furlongs. The exceptions had also at least run well over that distance in quality races, if not quite managing to win.
Considering he had been off for over a year, Whats Happening‘s return effort at Exeter in February was a brilliant performance. Twice a winner over fences in 2015, he resumed his progress after a layoff when second to Perfect Candidate in that race at Exeter, which was no disgrace considering that rival was given a soft lead. He should have come on leaps and bounds from that effort and a mark of 137 (the same as that latest run) could very well underestimate him. Tom George’s ten year old is only a pound above his last winning mark and with conditions to suit, he looks a likely big challenger in this. His two course wins in 2015 only further helps to aide his case further.
It’s been a brilliant Festival thus far for Gordon Elliott and JP McManus, and they team up in the form of Squouateur. He’s been a slow burner over fences but posted a career best for on his fifth effort over the larger obstacles when second at Naas in February, running on well. Much better can be expected of him going back up in trip, with his sixth in a Grade 3 over the three mile trip at Aintree showing he can stay this sort of trip. His chasing mark is 8lb below his hurdling one which indicates better can be expected of him and with conditions likely to suit, he isn’t one to discount lightly with Jamie Codd taking the ride.
Winner of the 2016 Pertemps Final, Mall Dini has taken well to fences and has not been disgraced on any of his five runs in this sphere to date, unable to gain his first win just yet. With form figures of 33323 he has been very consistent over the larger obstacles at a number of trips, and the obvious positive of him not winning just yet is that his handicap mark has stayed low, with his chasing mark now nine pounds below his hurdling one. On that basis, there should be much more to come from Patrick Kelly’s seven-year-old over fences, who has already proved his Cheltenham suitability with that Pertemps Final win last season. He looks worthy of his joint favouritism at this stage and, as a ground versatile sort, that concern is also out the window and further aids his cause.
Returning this season, Premier Bond has taken brilliantly to the larger obstacles and bids to continue Nicky Henderson’s fine Cheltenham Festival thus far. Rated 137 over timber, he finished second on chasing debut when fourteen lengths behind Might Bite. There was clearly no disgrace in that effort and he improved on that effort when winning easily at Catterick in January, jumping well and never looking in any particular danger. In his final novices run he pulled out a very game performance when gunning down Kerrow at Doncaster in January, fifty yards from the line. He starts off in handicaps off a mark of 137, which is only two pound above his one over timber and he remains with scope for progress over these obstacles. He is a very interesting candidate and should be respected with conditions to suit.
A close second here over slightly further on New Year’s Day, Doctor Harper ran well despite jumping poorly at times and stuck to his task dourly. Although poor on his latest run in the Betfred Classic at Warwick, he probably did not appreciate going further in distance and is likely to run much better put back down in trip. He is currently on a mark of 143 – a career high – but is lightly raced for his age. If he gets softer conditions – which are likely to show his best – he could be a good each way angle into the race. However, off this mark at the Festival he does look vulnerable for win purposes as many are likely to come much better handicapped on the day, therefore it will be interesting to see if he runs again before the Festival to try to get his mark altered.
Ballabriggs picked up the Kim Muir in 2010, a season prior to his victory in the National. Junior was a massive 24 length winner in 2011 for Jamie Codd, with David Pipe also training Faasel, the horse who came in second. Whilst Junior was the short priced favourite for this renewal, the last winning favourite was Sunnyhillboy in 2012, Becauseicouldntsee recording his second of two Festival seconds in this race.
Same Difference grabbed the 2013 victory by a head following an energy-sapping battle with eventual second and 11/2 favourite Super Duty.