Cheltenham Festival trends tips – Three G1 novice hurdle trends horses
Brian Healy looks ahead to the Cheltenham Festival and assesses the three big Grade One novice hurdles using some Cheltenham Festival trends for each of the races.
Throughout the four days of the Cheltenham Festival there are many Grade One contests for novices and older horses over both hurdles and fences. The Festival kicks off on Tuesday with one such race in the shape of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, while day two also gets underway with a Grade One contest as the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle goes to post.
Completing the trio of Grade One novice contests over hurdles is Friday’s Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle which will be the third race on the card on the final day of the Festival.
Brian Healy looks over all three of the Grade One novice’ contests over hurdles and assesses each of the races using some key trends to try and pick out the potential winner of each contest.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TRENDS HORSES – GRADE ONE NOVICE HURDLES
SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE CHELTENHAM TRENDS TIPS
It is worth keeping an eye on the opening contest of the Cheltenham Festival as it has a bit of a habit of throwing up future Festival winners. The likes of Altior, Douvan and Vautour all won the Festival opener before going on to make their mark over fences; while Jezki and Buveur D’air were both beaten in this contest before winning the Champion Hurdle in future years.
Willie Mullins has won four of the last seven renewals, four with horses owned by Rich Ricci; while Nicky Henderson usually makes the frame with nine of his last 19 runners in the race making the places, including 2016 winner Altior.
Leopardstown’s Channelle Pharma Novices’ Hurdle (formerly the Deloitte Novices’ Hurdle) is perhaps the strongest recent trial with three of the last twelve Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winners also winning that Grade One prize in Ireland. All three ( Klassical Dream, Vautour, Champagne Fever) were trained by Willie Mullins.
TOP 10 SUPREME NOVICES’ HURDLE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TRENDS
20/20 had made between two and five starts that season
19/20 winners had contested a Class 1.
18/20 winners had won a Class 2 race prior to the Cheltenham Festival.
17/20 winners were either five or six years old.
17/20 winners had won between two and five times.
17/20 winners had won last time out.
16/20 winners have been shorter than 12/1 in the betting.
15/20 winners had made between five and nine career starts.
15/20 winners had ran in a Grade One.
0/20 winners wore headgear or a tongue-tie in the race
Assuming both Shishkin and ASTERION FORLONGES (7/2, Bet365) stand their ground in the Festival opener then it is the latter who perhaps most closely matches the trends and his relatively easy success in the Channelle Pharma Novices’ Hurdle could work out to be the key to this race.
Trained by Willie Mullins, the Coastal Path gelding belongs in the same ownership as Nicky Henderson’s current favourite for the race Shishkin although there is still a chance that one might reroute to the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
He was impressive last time out, running out a ten lengths’ winner over Easywork on his first try in Graded company and there’s sure to be more to come from him so he looks to hold solid claims of adding to Willie Mullins’ haul on this race given his strength in the Cheltenham Festival trends.
BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE CHELTENHAM TRENDS TIPS
The opening race on the second day, recent runnings of this race have thrown up an Irish-trained winner in five of the past six years since The New One won the race for Nigel Twiston-Davies.
Only Ben Pauling and Willoughby Court has interrupted the Irish challenge since, and Willie Mullins has been responsible for two of the winners in that time, saddling top-class types in Faugheen and Yorkhill.
TOP 10 BALLYMORE NOVICES’ HURDLE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TRENDS
20/20 winners were 20/1 or shorter.
20/20 winners were either five OR six years old.
20/20 winners had won previously under the same rider.
19/20 winners were in the top five in the betting.
19/20 winners either won or finished runner-up. If beaten, the losing distance was less than four lengths.
19/20 winners had won in the three months leading up to the Cheltenham Festival.
19/20 winners raced in a field of no more than 12 runners last time out.
19/20 winners had won at least one of their previous three starts.
18/20 winners had previously placed in a Graded race.
18/20 winners had previously raced over two miles four furlongs or further.
Looking further at the age statistic, four-year olds don’t do well in this contest despite receiving weight-for-age; but six-year olds hold sway in the contest with 14 of the last 22 winners being aged six.
Favourites have a fair record with four of the last twelve winners going off as market-leader; while seven of the last twelve winners featured in the top-three of the betting.
It is perhaps important to note however that past Cheltenham Festival form can prove a negative in this race as none of the last ten Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle winners had a prior Festival appearance under their belt so there is an argument to swerve horses in the race that boast Cheltenham form from the previous year.
However, red-hot favourite ENVOI ALLEN (6/4, Betway) could defy that stat however and he looks something special who could make a mockery of that negative.
Gordon Elliott had saddled Samcro to win this race in 2018 and the Muhtathir gelding is 3-3 since switching to hurdles, posting bloodless defeats in successive Grade Ones in Ireland at Fairyhouse and Naas.
Last season’s Champion Bumper winner has to defy the past Festival form negative in this race; but he meets the other key Cheltenham Festival trends for this race and he has looked all class in his three wins to date. The negative aside, his credentials are hard to crib and he rates the one to beat.
ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE CHELTENHAM TRENDS TIPS
Taking place on Gold Cup day, the third of the Grade One hurdle races for novices is the third race of the afternoon. The race can throw up a top-class type, and Bobs Worth and Penhill both won this race before going to enjoy further Festival success. The former won both the RSA Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup in future years; while the latter went on to win the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The Grade One contest was introduced when the Festival went to four days rather than three days. Irish-trained horses have won six of the past 11 renewals, but the UK lead the way overall with 8 wins.
TOP 10 ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES’ HURDLE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL TRENDS
15/15 winners contested in a field of 12 runners or less last time out.
15/15 winners finished in the top four on their previous start.
14/15 winners ran in a Grade 3 or better last time out.
14/15 winners kept the same jockey partnership as previous run.
14/15 winners had previously contested in a Grade 2 or better.
14/15 winners had won at least two races in the past year.
14/15 winners come from a French or Irish-bred dam.
14/15 winners were aged five, six or seven years old.
13/15 winners were rated 135 or higher.
13/15 winners had previously raced over 20.5 furlongs or further.
Only three of the last 12 winners have featured at the head of the betting and only two winners have been favourite for the race. The last six winners have all returned at double-digit odds with the shortest being 11/1; meanwhile there have been two 33/1 winners and a 50/1 winner in the race.
With the above in mind, FURY ROAD (16/1, Ladbrokes) is worth a second look for Gordon Elliott and the Stowaway gelding ticks plenty of the top Cheltenham Festival trends for the race. The 145-rated hurdler finished fourth last time at Leopardstown in a Grade One contest over 2m 6f but shaped as if he’d appreciate a stiffer test.
He’s won three times this term which includes a Grade Two at Limerick on his penultimate and he’s out of unraced Irish-trained dam Molly Duffy. Available at double-digit odds, the six-year old is likely to be partnered again by Davy Russell who has ridden him to victory twice already and he could go well in a typically competitive and open renewal.