Cheltenham Festival Trends – Handicaps 3,968/1 Lucky 15!

Sire Du Berlais taking the last in the Pertemps at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

There’s no more satisfying feeling at the Festival than doing your form study, listening to all the Cheltenham tips, and then finding a winner in one of the handicaps.

It’s where the battle between bookie and punter is won or lost over the four-day meeting, so we thought we’d give you a helping hand with some trends and stats to follow in those tricky affairs.

Luke Parkinson has put his strongest fancies into a juicy Lucky 15, starting with his first selection in the Ulitma.

Ultima Handicap Chase (Lucky 15 Pick)

  • 10 of the last 12 winners had at least 3 previous runs at Cheltenham
  • Only 1 of the last 10 SP favourites have won
  • The last 10 winners had all finished in the first six last time out, with four winning.

Conclusion: English trainers have dominated this race in recent years which goes a long way to illustrating the first stat in our trends above. With favourites not having a great record, that makes you want to take on Vinndication and that might point you in the direction of WHO DARES WINS. He fits the bill with four previous runs at Cheltenham – his best when third in 2017 Coral Cup – and has been in good form of late, winning the Grade Two Pendil Novices’ Chase last time.

Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase

  • 13 of the 15 winners were in the first six in the betting
  • 8 of the last 10 winners carried 11-04 or more
  • 8 of the last 10 winners were also trained in Britain

Conclusion: According to the stats, its fairly wise to stick with the market leaders when it comes to this one, especially if they are British trained. That opens the door for Imperial Aura, Beakstown and ESPOIR DE GUYE, who gets the pick. Horses that haven’t been placed in Graded or Listed company have won six of the last 10 renewals of this, and considering he is yet to reach that level, he ticks more than a few boxes.

Coral Cup

  • 10 of the last 12 winners were priced at 12/1 or bigger
  • Nicky Henderson has trained 3 of the last 10 winners
  • 9 of the last 13 winners had never run at the Cheltenham Festival before

Conclusion: It pays to go against the favourites in the Coral Cup with the last four winners returning at 28/1, 20/1, 16/1 and 12/1, so there’s no reason to fear backing an outsider. The Nicky Henderson trend puts the likes of Birchdale and Dame De Compagnie at the top of the market, so it might be worth taking that on with the Willie Mullins-trained STRATUM. He won the Cesarewitch on soft ground at Newmarket in October, before running back over hurdles when fourth in a Mullins 1-2-3-4 at Punchestown on New Year’s Eve. He’d be worth a crack at a big price with big field handicap experience already in the bag.

Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

  • 8 of the last 10 winners were rated 127 to 134
  • 10 of the last 12 winners had their last run within the last 32 days
  • Paul Nicholls has won 2 of the last 5 renewals

Conclusion: It’s far from an easy race to navigate with six of the last eight winners returning at bigger than 25/1. Paul Nicholls is usually a solid man to follow though, and he has THYME WHITE who could go well in this. A winner last time in the Scottish Triumph Hurdle at Musselburgh, he was also second to Goshen on his first start at Sandown, and has continued to improve in each of his three runs. Soft ground won’t be a problem and he goes there with a big chance.

Pertemps Network Final (Lucky 15 Pick)

  • Irish trained runners have won the last four renewals
  • Davy Russell has ridden 3 of the last 4 winners
  • Only 5 of the last 12 winners had won on their last start

Conclusion: Recent history suggests you stick with the Irish in this one, so its no surprise to see plenty of them towards the top of the market, including last year’s winner Sire Du Berlais. However, its another Gordon Elliott inmate who looks the one to side with, in the shape of THE STORYTELLER. He was a winner of the Plate back in 2018, and won nicely at Clonmel in December before securing his place by finishing sixth in a qualifier at Leopardstown. He’s been freshened up since that and looks a worthy favourite.

Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

  • 10 of the last 12 winners carried less than 11 stone
  • There have only been three winning favourites since 1999
  • The last 3 winners have been aged less than 8

Conclusion: EARLOFTHECOTSWOLDS would be an interesting runner in the Plate if he does get the nod for this from trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. He has been placed in all three of his completed starts this season, including a nice win over Kateson at Exeter last time. He’ll run off a mark of 139, which he won off on soft ground last time, and although he’d prefer the ground a little better, he looks nice each-way value for a trainer who has a 46% place rate with runners at Cheltenham this season.

Kim Muir (Lucky 15 Pick)

  • Jamie Codd has won 3 of the last 9 runnings
  • 8 of the last 10 winners had previously run at the Festival
  • The last 7 winners hadn’t won on their last two starts

Conclusion: All those boxes are ticked by LE BREUIL, who will once again team up with Jamie Codd in the Kim Muir. They ground out a memorable victory in the National Hunt Chase last season, and has continued to run at marathon distances this year, including when fifth in the Classic Chase at Warwick last time. He looks a good fit in a race that often goes to the best of these amateur jockeys.

County Handicap Hurdle

  • Willie Mullins has trained 4 of the last 10 winners
  • 0 of the last 12 favourites have won
  • 12 of the last 19 winners were running at the Festival for the first time

Conclusion: Janidil looks a great bet for Willie Mullins if he runs here, but with talk of him going to the Albert Bartlett, it might be best to side with FRANCIN, who was a good winner in heavy ground at Navan last time. A winner twice in France, she is lightly raced for Willie Mullins and has stamina in the tank which will be needed for his first trip to Cheltenham if the going gets tough.

Grand Annual

  • 9 of the last 15 winners were officially rated between 129-134
  • 19 of the last 20 winners had run at Cheltenham before
  • 4 of the last 16 winners have returned with an SP of bigger than 16/1

Conclusion: Considering that favourites don’t tend to do so well in this race, NOT THAT FUISSE is worth a second look at a huge price. He’s run in some good race this season, and has now twice finished second to Al Dancer over both hurdles and fences at Cheltenham. He’s currently on a mark of 132, which would certainly put him in the picture and he looks great each-way value on a track he knows plenty about.

Martin Pipe (Lucky 15 Pick)

  • All the winners apart from one, have been aged five or six.
  • 5 of the last 9 winners were trained by either Willie Mullins (3) or Gordon Elliott (2).
  • All ten winners have carried more than 11st to victory

Conclusion: Gordon Elliott has won two of the last three renewals and can continue the trend of top trainers winning this race. COLUMN OF FIRE, who won at Punchestown in January is the pick of his bunch and can get the job done in the Festival finale. He has nice form behind Longhouse Poet and Elixir D’ainay from earlier in the season, and was only just beaten when third at Leopardstown last time. Soft ground will work perfectly and he looks to have a massive chance.

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