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Top 10: Statistics you need to know ahead of the Cheltenham Festival

Stats and trends that are worth being aware of for the Festival this March

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City Island and Mark Walsh after winning the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

Making a selection at the Festival can be difficult for the best of times, especially when having to consider form, the conditions, the distance and so on.

But one thing that sometimes gets overlooked are certain statistics and trends that could well narrow down your choices.

Here are 10 stats to consider for the Cheltenham Festival.

10. Only one of the last 17 favourites for the Coral Cup have won

With the Coral Cup being a big field handicap hurdle, it shouldn’t be a surprise to punters that the horse at the top of the betting does not regularly win this.

Oddly enough, the favourite won this contest last season, when late money for Dame De Compagnie pushed her to the top of the market.

She’s only the second single-odds winner for this race in 12 years, with Paul Nicholls’ Aux Ptits Soins landing the spoils at 9/1 back in 2015.

The average priced winner for the contest is hovering around the 16/1 mark, so do not be scared to take a chance on a bigger-priced runner for the Coral Cup.

9. Dan Skelton and Willie Mullins have won the last six renewals of the County Hurdle between them

Considered to be one of the most difficult races to win at the Cheltenham Festival, it seems that these two trainers have managed to crack it.

Three of Dan Skelton’s four Festival victories have come in this contest, winning the 2016, 2018 and 2019 renewals with Superb Story, Mohaayed and Ch’tibello respectively.

ch’tibello’s county victory in 2019 was dan skelton’s third success in the race [Racing tv]

Willie Mullins filled the gaps, landing the contest in 2015, 2017 and 2020 with Wicklow Brave, Arctic Fire and Saint Roi.

With Skelton and Mullins holding 18 entries between them for the County Hurdle currently, it might be worth checking them out.

8. There has not been an Irish-trained winner in the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase in 14 years

Surprisingly, there have only been two successes for Irish trainers in this contest since the turn of the century.

Tony Martin was the last trainer from the other side of the Irish Sea to win the race, with Dun Doire claiming victory back in 2006.

There has only been one Irish-trained runner to finish in the top three in this contest in the last three years, with Paul Nolan’s Discorama taking third last year.

It might be worth considering British-trained contenders for the renewal of the Festival Trophy Handicap Chase.

7. 17 of the last 18 Supreme winners had won at least 50% of their starts over hurdles in the UK & Ireland

A stat that certainly catches the eye for this contest, there are only eight runners under the price of 33/1 in this year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle that fits into this category:

  • Appreciate It (100%)
  • Bareback Jack (100%)
  • Metier (100%)
  • Thedevilscoachman (75%)
  • Third Time Lucki (60%)
  • Ballyadam (50%)
  • Gowel Road (50%)
  • Keskonrisk (50%)

An interesting trend to take note of.

Ballyadam
Ballyadam is a Grade One winning hurdler but has suffered defeats on his last two starts over timber

6. In the last 20 years, only two winners of the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle had won a qualifier

Considered a curse for some, winning a Pertemps qualifier seems to damage your chances of winning the Final contest.

Only Phillip Hobbs’ Fingal Bay in 2014 and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Ballyfitz in 2008 have managed to win a qualifier and go to win the Final at Cheltenham.

David Pipe’s Brinkley won the Exeter qualifier, while market favourite Imperial Alcazar was victorious in the Warwick contest.

Could we see Fergal O’Brien’s future star defy the trends?

5. The last seven winners of the Ryanair Chase were bred in France

This stat comes as good news for Allaho and Min backers, who were both bred across the English Channel.

In fact, five of the top seven runners in the betting for the Ryanair Chase were bred in France, with Fakir D’oudairies, Kemboy and Saint Calvados also originating from the Western Europe state.

The last British-bred winner of this contest was the mighty Cue Card for Colin Tizzard back in 2013.

It seems very likely that this title will go to another French native.

4. Willie Mullins & Nicky Henderson have won seven of the last nine renewals of the Arkle Chase

A race that has dominated by two trainers in recent years, it looks highly probable that one of them will land the Arkle once again.

Nicky Henderson has market favourite Shishkin, while Willie Mullins has second favourite Energumene.

Nicky Henderson reading a racecard at the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Nicky Henderson will be hoping Shishkin can emulate his former Arkle winners Altior and Sprinter Sacre this March

Both are top-class talents, and it will be a huge surprise if neither of these novices wins this contest.

3. Four of the last 12 winners in the Albert Bartlett were in the top three of the betting

The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle can be difficult to predict at the best of times, with runners needing incredible levels of stamina and staying ability to stand a chance of getting into the mix.

Monkfish and Paul Townend after winning at Leopardstown Racecourse at the Christmas Festival
This year’s Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase favourite, Monkfish, was the shortest priced winner of the Albert Bartlett at the Festival since 2013

It could explain why so many market favourites have failed in this contest, with only two winning in the last 10 renewals.

The one trend that has sprung up in several previous contests is that large-priced winners are not the biggest of surprises.

The prices of the last seven victors in this contest? 5/1, 50/1, 33/1, 16/1, 11/1, 14/1 and 33/1.

Do not be frightened to consider a nicely-priced runner for the Albert Bartlett this time around.

2. Willie Mullins’ last five winners in the Champion Bumper have been all at double-figure SPs

This is quite an important stat if you are looking to back a Willie Mullins runner in the Champion Bumper,

Kilcruit caught the eye in the Grade 2 Bumper at the Dublin Racing Festival and his price was slashed to pieces, dropping from 10/1 to 13/8.

Kilcruit
Kilcruit is a clear favourite for the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival following his bloodless win at Leopardstown last time out

As much as impressive as that victory was, it has been 16 years since the Closutton trainer last saw a single-priced winner in this contest.

In his last two Champion Bumper successes, Mullins has seen one of his bigger-priced runners see off one of his market favourites.

11/1 shot Ferny Hollow saw off 15/8 favourite Appreciate It last year, while 25/1 outsider Relegate pipped 6/1 chance Carefully Selected in 2018.

Make sure to look at the Irish trainer’s other contenders in this race.

1. One of the last nine winners of the Champion Chase has been Irish-trained

This is a worrying statistic for the clear market favourite Chacun Pour Soi.

The Champion Chase has been dominated by British-trained winners in recent years, with Henry De Bromhead’s Special Tiara being the only Irish winner since 2012.

Chacun Pour Soi and Paul Townend after winning at Leopardstown Racecourse in December 2020
British runners have dominated recent editions of the Champion Chase, something favourite Chacun Pour Soi will be aiming to change at the 2021 Festival

It is a contest that has eluded trainer Willie Mullins, with Un De Sceaux and Min has come the closest in giving the Closutton trainer a maiden success in the race.

As much as a talent Chacun Pour Soi has proven to be, he will need to break the Mullins hoodoo as well as the Irish runners’ trends in Champion Chase to land victory.

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