The Festival previews are doing the rounds, but it’s nice to get some facts behind those Cheltenham Festival tips.
Trends are often a big helping hand in finding the winner of these big races at Cheltenham, so we’ve cast an eye over some of the key stats to follow for the Championship races.
- 4 of the last 5 winners have been from the top two in the betting
- 11 of the last 12 winners won or placed in their last run before Cheltenham
- All of the last 5 winners were unbeaten that season going into the Champion Hurdle
Conclusion: With Honeysuckle confirmed for the Mares Hurdle, it’s hard to look beyond EPATANTE, who ticks all of the boxes above and is the only unbeaten horse this season. She showed herself to clearly be the best in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, and as long as she is over the bout of coughing, she appears to be the one to beat. Pentland Hills would be the alternative if his wind operation can make all the difference.
- 7 of the last 12 winners ran in the Clarence House Chase on their last run, with five winning.
- 15 of the last 17 winners had run over fences at Cheltenham before
- 22 of the last 35 winners had previously won at the Cheltenham Festival
Conclusion: Altior hasn’t had the greatest preparation heading into the Champion Chase this year and looks vulnerable against some talented youngsters. DEFI DE SEUIL is the pick, over the Willie Mullins-trained Chacun Pour Soi. He was a comfortable winner of the Clarence House Chase last time, which has proved to be a reliable marker and has won at the Festival twice in the past. He looks the one to be with.
- 6 of the last 12 winners ran in the Cleeve Hurdle on their last run, with 5 winning it.
- 12 of the last 17 winners had won over hurdles at Cheltenham before
- Horses that ran at the previous season’s Cheltenham Festival are 21 from 25
Conclusion: It’s impossible to look past PAISLEY PARK in this one, and that is accounting for Benie Des Dieux coming into the picture. He has been electric in this division and looks to be far better that the rest, proven by his iconic victory in this race last season. He won the Cleeve last time, just as he did last season, and is perfectly poised to make it back-to-back victories in Thursday’s feature race.
- 4 of last 12 SP favourites have won, with the average winning SP in the last 17 renewals being 11/2
- 10 of the last 17 winners were rated 170 or higher
- 9 of the last 18 winners hasn’t raced in that same calendar year
Conclusion: Al Boum Photo was an impressive winner of the Gold Cup last year, but it’s not easy to win back-to-back runnings and favourites have a disappointing record. On the stats, it looks worth siding with the Paul Nicholls-trained CLAN DES OBEAUX who won the King George for the second time over Christmas. Nicholls is adamant that he is a better horse this season and hasn’t run him since that victory which could make all the difference in helping him up the hill.