Cheltenham Championship races trends – Main feature races trend picks
Brian Healy looks over the Cheltenham Championship races trends and picks out four horses who could run big races in the feature events according to the stats.
On each of the four days of the Cheltenham Festival there is one Championship crown up for grabs. The Champion Hurdle is the first of those and goes to post on Festival Tuesday; while 24 hours later the Queen Mother Champion Chase is the main event of day two.
The Stayers’ Hurdle dominates day three of the Cheltenham Festival; while the fourth and final day sees the Cheltenham Gold Cup – the biggest race of the four days – take centre-stage.
Brian Healy takes a look over the key Cheltenham Championship races trends and picks out a runner in each of the Festival main events who could run big races according to the stats.
CHELTENHAM CHAMPIONSHIP RACES TRENDS – TREND PICKS
CHAMPION HURDLE CHELTENHAM TRENDS
The main event on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, the Champion Hurdle goes to post as the fourth race of the afternoon and is usually one of the most eagerly anticipated and biggest betting races of the four days.
Sadly, last year’s winner Encore D’allier won’t be returning to defend his crown having tragically lost his life following a fatal accident; while previous dual-winner Buveur D’air also misses out. In the absence then of any real superstars this year’s renewal looks a particularly open affair.
Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins have combined to win all but three of the last ten renewals with the Irish handler leading that particular series 4-3; but Henderson has seven Champion Hurdle wins overall stretching back to triple-winner See You Then in the 80s.
TOP 10 CHAMPION HURDLE TRENDS
20/20 winners had won at least once in the six months prior to the Festival.
20/20 winners won five or more races before winning the Champion Hurdle.
20/20 winners had been paired up with winning jockey prior to Cheltenham.
20/20 winners had between two and seven runs in the season.
20/20 winners had run in a Grade 1 prior to Cheltenham.
19/20 winners had won at least one of their last three races before the Festival.
19/20 winners had raced over two miles on their previous run.
19/20 winners had won with their intended Champion Hurdle jockey on board.
19/20 winners had competed against fewer than 10 rivals last time out.
18/20 winners were 16/1 or shorter in the betting.
Ten of the last 12 Champion Hurdle winners also had a previous run at Cheltenham so track form is important, especially if they boast a prior win here with six of those ten winners having won at the track.
Grade One-winning form is also significant with ten of the past 12 having won at the top level; while experience tends to favour the winner and a similar number of winners had at least eight prior hurdles starts before the Champion Hurdle.
Another of the notable Cheltenham Championship races trends surrounds five-year olds who have dismal records in the contest despite Espoir d’Allen bucking the trend for five-year olds last year. Prior to Gavin Cromwell’s charge winning, Katchit in 2008 was the last five-year old winner. That one had won the Triumph Hurdle the previous year but he’s one of only a select few to win that race and the Champion Hurdle which doesn’t augur well for Pentland Hills.
The one who most closely matches the Champion Hurdle trends although he has to bounce back from a poor last time outing is SHARJAH (14/1, William Hill) from the Willie Mullins camp.
The Doctor Dino gelding meets all the key trends for the race having had three runs this term which includes a Grade One win at Leopardstown over Christmas.
He seems to have been around a while, but he’s still only a seven-year old and he’s won three times at Grade One level in his career as well as making the frame on a number of occasions. He was brought down in last year’s Champion Hurdle and ran the year before in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
There is a question mark over whether he’s good enough to win a Champion Hurdle; but in an open year and ticking plenty of trends boxes it wouldn’t come as a huge surprise to see him bounce back.
CHAMPION CHASE CHELTENHAM TRENDS
The feature race of day two, the Queen Mother Champion Chase is a strong race for favourites and Altior will be bidding to land a hat-trick of wins in the race and become only the second triple-winner of the race following Badsworth Boy in the 80s.
12 of the last 14 Champion Chase winners have run in no more than 16 chases; Altior will be making his 17th chase start in the Wednesday feature which is perhaps the only negative to his chances of a third crown.
TOP 10 CHAMPION CHASE TRENDS
22/31 winners have won or placed at the Festival previously.
20/20 winners were 16/1 or shorter in the betting.
20/20 winners had at least one month off before running in the Champion Chase.
20/20 winners last ran in a field of between three and eight runners last time out.
19/20 winners won at least one of their last three starts prior to Cheltenham.
19/20 winners had been ridden at least three times by that jockey.
19/20 winners had ran between one and four times in the season leading up to the Festival.
15/20 winners ran in the previous season’s Arkle or Champion Chase.
14/16 winners to run in the previous year’s Champion Chase made the frame in the latest renewal.
6/10 winners of the previous season’s Arkle Challenge Trophy have won the Champion Chase the following season.
Last season’s Arkle winner Duc Des Genievres hasn’t progressed this term out of novice company so the Arkle statistic may not bear fruit this term.
Min and A Plus Tard are both likely to head to the Ryanair Chase, while Un De Sceaux has been retired. Everything points to a three-way scrap between market leaders ALTIOR (2/1 Bet365), Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi where Nicky Henderson’s reigning champion can defy the young pretenders and win a third successive Champion Chase.
The High Chaparral gelding lost his unbeaten record over obstacles on his seasonal return where he was stepped up to 2m 5f for the Christy 1965 Chase although he was beaten into second behind Cyrname. He bounced back to win the Game Spirit Chase and although he often hits a flat-spot now, he always finishes off strongly and if still in contention turning in then he’ll be charging up the Cheltenham hill.
Defi Du Seuil, while impressive this term perhaps needs to raise his game again although his Clarence House Chase win – a key trial for this race – puts him firmly in the mix. Neither he or Chacun Pour Soi took in the Arkle Chase last term so have to buck that negative trend if either is to win here.
The last twelve winners of the Champion Chase had at least seven starts over fences which is another negative in the Chacun Pour Soi column.
STAYERS’ HURDLE CHELTENHAM TRENDS
Day three’s main event sees reigning champion Paisley Park bid to win the race for a second successive year. Should Emma Lavelle’s charge successfully defend his Stayers’ Hurdle crown he’ll become the first since Big Buck’s to win the race in successive years.
Favourites have won six of the last 12 renewals and Big Buck’s won three of his four titles at odds-on.
TOP 10 STAYERS’ HURDLE TRENDS
20/20 winners had made between two and six starts in the past year.
20/20 winners had raced less than five times that season.
20/20 winners had won at least a Grade 2 prior to Cheltenham.
20/20 winners were between six and nine years old.
20/20 winners had finished in the top two within their last three starts.
19/20 winners were shorter than 15/1 in the betting.
19/20 winners were in the top six in the betting.
19/20 winners had previously won on the going.
19/20 winners has won over 2 miles 4 furlongs or further.
Experience counts in the Stayers’ Hurdle with 11 of the last 12 winners having raced at least eight times over hurdles; while all twelve boast previous Cheltenham form. Nine of those 12 winners have winning form here and the Cleeve Hurdle is a particulary strong pointer with six of the last 12 winners running in that race; five of whom won the race enroute to tackling this prize.
All things considered PAISLEY PARK (8/11, Bet365) is impossible to oppose on the key trends and the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle winner should prove a tough nut to crack in defence of his crown.
The Oscar gelding is unbeaten in seven hurdles starts since finishing down the field in the 2018 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and he beat a strong field in the key Cleeve Hurdle enroute to his latest title defence. The runner-up that day, Summerville Boy also ticks plenty of the positive trends boxes and should ensure a good contest.
However, it should pay to stick with the defending champion whose chances look rock-solid as he bids for a second successive crown.
CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP TRENDS
The biggest race of the four days, the Cheltenham Gold Cup goes to post on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival and another exciting renewal awaits as reigning champion Al Boum Photo returns to defend his crown.
Irish trained horses have won four of the last six renewals of the Gold Cup, while Lord Windermere has been the longest-price winner (20/1) since the turn of the millenium. In the same period there have been eight winning favourites although the last was Don Cossack in 2016.
20/20 winners had all previously won a Grade 1 over fences.
20/20 winners went off no bigger than 20/1 in the betting.
20/20 winners featured within the first 8 in the betting.
20/20 winners were aged nine or younger.
20/20 winners hadn’t ran in the month prior to the Cheltenham Festival.
20/20 winners had no more than two falls over fences in their career.
19/20 winners had between one and five previous starts at Cheltenham.
19/20 winners had previously failed to finish no more than three times.
18/20 winners had won a G1 or G2 race immediately prior to Cheltenham.
6/12 winners had at least one previous Cheltenham win.
History is against Al Boum Photo mounting a successful title defence; there has been no back-to-back winner of the Gold Cup since Best Mate reeled off his winning hat-trick back in 2002-2004. His last win also came in a Grade Three contest.
The previous season’s RSA Chase is usually a decent guide to future Gold Cups and both last year’s runner-up and third – Santini and Delta Work – make plenty of appeal on the key trends.
Both boast a recent Graded win, but DELTA WORK (6/1, William Hill) could prove the pick of the RSA Chase form and Gordon Elliott’s charge has progressed this term to collect wins in both the Savills Chase and the Irish Gold Cup enroute to Cheltenham.
Santini has yet to win a Grade One over fences although he did chalk one up over hurdles,and he comes into the race on the back of a win in the Grade Two Cotswold Chase, beating Bristol De Mai.
However, Delta Work’s form this term looks stronger than that of Nicky Henderson’s charge and backed by the trends the Irish horse gets the verdict in what should be a cracking renewal of the Blue Riband where Kemboy, Lostintranslation and Clan Des Obeaux also all weigh heavily positive on the trends.