#startracking Tuesday March 8th 7pm


What is up with SkyBet they really are getting competitive in a punter friendly way. Last night at The Dunraven Arms preview JP was asked for his best bet (traditionally a winner!), On the Fringe was the answer. Skybet have gone 10/3, about 5/2 general! Get on!!

Madnees this afternoon with William Hill pushing Min out to 5/2! Then Paddy Power halving Yorkhill for the Neptune to 3/1 whilst he is 10/1 on the exchanges. Meanwhile Yorkhill has been shortened right across the boards for the Supreme to 5/1 general.


“Philip Hobbs won the last Imperial Cup before the bonus for following up at the Cheltenham Festival was introduced, when landing the 1990 edition with subsequent County Hurdle winner Moody Man, and he will attempt to bookend the offer with either Allee Bleue or For Good Measure on Saturday. The Imperial Cup is an intended stepping stone to Cheltenham for the pair, and Hobbs, who has three of the 28 entries, said: “Vieux Lille is also in the EBF Final but Allee Bleue and For Good Measure are intended runners. It’s a great shame there’s no bonus, but we might try and do it anyway. We did the double in 1990 with Moody Man and they brought in the bonus the following year, but if we could do that again I wouldn’t mind. I certainly wouldn’t look upon it as a failure. They both may need to win to get into the festival anyway.” Racing Post Tues. March 8th


“Looking like Annacotty being switched from the Ultima to the Ryanair and L’Ami Serge from the Arkle to the JLT.”

Paul Jones ‏@CheltFestNews · 9.30am Tues. Mar. 8th


Killer Stats @Cheltenham Festival

Trends and statistics are nut everybody’s cup of tea, indeed it was Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli who famously said “there are lies, damned lies and statistics”, however there are a few statistics involving the Cheltenham Festival that really do bear consideration.

(Many thanks to Ben Aitken at Narrowing-the-Field and Gavin Priestly at NagNagNag.)


If Thistlecrack is to justify red-hot World Hurdle favouritism Tom Scudamore will need to ride his FIRST EVER festival hurdles winner… Yep Tom Scudamore has NEVER ridden a winner at the Cheltenham Festival over hurdles.

His record over hurdles at the festival is a rather worrying… 0/94


The Alan King G1 Hurdle stat…If Yanworth is to land the odds in the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle then Alan King needs to turn his G1 Hurdle figures around… It doesn’t seem that long ago since Alan King was firing in Grade 1 Festival winners left, right and centre. Recently, however, that has not been the case, especially over hurdles.

These are the stats for his G1 Cheltenham Festival hurdlers since 2009… 0/37

In fact we can expand upon those figures further because it’s not just his G1 hurdlers that have been mis-firing, it’s his hurdlers in general. Check his record in ALL festival hurdle races since 2009… 1/73


The Ryanair Irish trained stat… If the Irish are to justify their strong standing in the Ryanair betting then they need to bust their 11 year hoodoo in the race…

The overall figures for Irish trained horses in the G1 Ryanair Chase is… 0/32


How about these?

Only ONE of the last 103 runners to come in off the back of a fall (since 2006) were victorious… 1/103


Of the 91 runners that had their Cheltenham ‘warm-up’ at Huntingdon NONE have won… 0/91

Of the 56 runners that had their Cheltenham ‘warm-up’ at Gowran Park only ONE has won… 1/56

Of the 59 runners that had their Cheltenham ‘warm-up’ at Wincanton only ONE has won… 1/59

Of the 138 runners that had their Cheltenham ‘warm-up’ at Sandown only THREE have won… 3/138


Handicap hurdlers off more than 15 weeks (105 days) Since 2003 – 0 from 104

These 104 losers include:

  • 11 Nicky Henderson and 10 Phillip Hobbs runners.
  • 16 last time out winners (just 1 placed) and 48 horses with a top 4 finish last time out


Here are another two handicaps profiled, selections nearer the time.

Weds. 5.15 Fred Winter 2m1f 4yo Handicap Hurdle (0-145)

“Going 11 yrs. Usually impossible. Winner likely to have won first time over hurdles and may have been (well) beaten last time probably in a graded hurdle. Useful to have a past winning hurdle time for 2 miles in soft ground of under 4mins 14 secs or has a flat rating of over 80.   Any price. Ratings 127 to 133.   Ran in the previous 32 days. Either has run only a maximum of 3 times over hurdles in Uk/Ire or has run up a sequence of at least three wins this season. May have beat older horses last time out. Winner’s sire won a Group 1 on the flat. Respect Pipe trained coming from all age handicap hurdles. Fillies really outperform their numbers. Conditional jockeys do win this as do blinkered runners.   Last run not in a handicap unless going for Sandown Imperial Cup Bonus. Paul Nicholls beginning to target this. If any trainer has already had two winners today, back all their runners. Willie Mullins, Venetia Williams, Philip Hobbs yet to shine here. In 2015 Maximum number of runners dropped to 22 from 24.” GAULT STATS

Really difficult to know where to start.

Paul Nicholls has a strong hand of 4yo’s so let’s start there!

DIEGO DU CHARMIL His trainer told ATR “I noticed he was favourite with one firm for the Fred Winter and I wouldn’t know if his mark of 132 is good or not. I would have like to have got a run into him but that hasn’t been possible and he will go straight there. He goes quite nicely but he’s a maiden who hasn’t won in three runs.” Hardly have you running to the counter! OR133

ROMAIN DE SENAM His trainer told sportinglife.comI think his mark of 136 is workable and he ran okay at Sandown on ground that was too wet for him. He’d be another I like the look of the Fred Winter and it’s a race in which we’ve got a good record. ” He was all the rage for the Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham on PP Gold Cup day but didn’t go on the ground. OR136

Another yard with a strong hand of juveniles is Alan King:

GIBRALFARO I thought this was a 0-145 handicap, so how the hell he gets in on OR146 I have no idea. Won his first two nicely but blown away in the Adonis. Susceptible to these unexposed types. Owners want to run in the Triumph?

MESIRE DES OBEAUX Nice mark on OR132 and a promising debut at Haydock when bustling up leading Triumph fancies Frodon and Fixe le Kap. Prior to that run Alan King said “Messire des Obeaux has only been with us a couple of months, but we are anxious to pitch him into a decent race to find out just what we have got. He showed promise in a couple of runs at Auteuil and looks a decent prospect for next season.”

ARDAMIR Won well last time has gone up 10lb to OR130 and this race would be considered on Good ground only.

OCEANE Mark Howard has been keen on him for this race since he didn’t handle the ground in the Triumph Hurdle trial at Cheltenham on PP Gold Cup day but won well twice before. Disappointed in the Dovecote against the older horses but ground dependent and could wait for Aintree. OR132

Then strong in the market are:

CAMPEADOR Trainer Gordon Elliott told sportinglife.com He ran too keen in Leopardstown and won very well in France. He’s been working very well at home and it will be interesting to see what mark he gets. We like him. He’s a nice horse. I haven’t got a clue whose been backing him. He’s a good horse, he’s in good form, he’s well. He’ll have to improve an awful lot from Leopardstown to be winning the Fred Winter, but hopefully he will. I’ll have to discuss it with the owner, but he’ll probably wear a hood.” Come on Gordon he’s owned by JP!! OR141

JALEO Seven length fourth to Ivanovich Gorbatov in a Flat Naas maide, beat Romain de Senam on debut at Catterick, stuffed by Clan des Obeaux and then beat Our Thomas back at Catterick. OR134

EL TERROMOTO Fourth in his only run over hurdles in a French Listed event at Auteuil! OR127 Acquired by Isaacs and Souede and in training with Nigel Twiston-Davies. His trai ner told sportinglife.com He is an interesting one. If you look up the French form, you’ll know as much about him as I do. He’s been rated 127 in France and we think he’ll get into the Fred Winter this year although 127 wouldn’t have got into the race most years. He works beautifully and schools superbly; he’s an exciting sort of horse for us. We’ll just have to see but he’s a nice long price and he could be an interesting one; obviously he’ll have to improve but let’s hope it’s at Cheltenham.” Put in at 25/1, that has all gone and is currently 16/1 general including the exchanges.

OUR THOMAS Have to include him as his connections, Trevor Hemmings and Tim Easterby, won this race previously with Hawk High. Bound to be popular with the “trends” boys as he ticks nearly every box!


Thurs. 2.10 Pertemps 3m Handicap Hurdle (Max24 – OR135+)

Unlikely to have won a Pertemps Qualifier unless called Cup Final and Unowhatimeanharry. Won’t be 5 or more than 9 years old. Should carry more than 10st 5lbs after jockey’s allowances. If full range handicap won’t carry over 11st 2lbs.   Front runners not discounted.   Has won at least at Class 3 level or placed in Graded this season. Should have won over a minimum of 3 miles or been placed in Graded class this season. If a compressed handicap to be rated between 138 and 148.   Irish runner to be placed. Look for those unplaced in the Leopardstown Qualifier.   Between 6 and 15 hurdle runs or placed in this before. Not a previous course winner unless previously placed in this or previous G1 Hurdle winner. Any price. Novices respected and those who won last time. Not blinkered placed in this before. Conditional jockeys do win this. JP likes to win this. GAULT STATS

I am going to start with the three I currently fancy!

IF IN DOUBT    OR146h Talented but quirky this chap! Here’s what I wrote when he went into #startracking, What is JP up to? We all know that If In Doubt has a fabulous engine but a total disregard for fences but that didn’t stop him winning the SkyBet Chase off OR139 and finshing 5th in the RSA to Don Poli! Pulled up in the Irish National and the Henessey what’s he doing hacking up in a Pertemps Hurdle qualifier at Wincanton on Boxing Day over 2m6f off OR140 when he looked stuffed three out and is currently quoted at just 12/1 for the final! In 2014 he was a painful 9th at 13/2 in the Pertemps Final behind stablemate Fingal Bay when carrying the Moore millions! In many ways If In Doubt reminds me of another Hobbs favourite, What’s Up Boys. Not the best jumper but at his best 2nd in the National and 5th in the Gold Cup but he did win a Coral Cup. Now there’s a thought! Second in the Lanzarote 2m 5f to Saphir du Rheu, won over a sharp three miles at Doncaster maybe a crazy 2m 5f over hurdles could be the answer? Spring Festivals RED HOT HOBBS”. Well it looks like this race IS the target and the trainer has been more bullish than usual and If In Doubt has been supported in the market. Hobbs told ATR He won the Pertemps Qualifier at Wincanton on Boxing Day and would be on course for the Pertemps Network Final. He is in good form and that would be the race we would run him in.” adding to the RP Weekender “..he ran on very well to win a Pertemps qualifier at Wincanton on Boxing Day. He went up 6lb for that, which is fair enough,…”

With Geraghty most likely to ride Cup Final and johnson on Sadlers Encore the jockey booking could be interesting? Currently still 12/1 with WH and Ladbrokes but 10/1 general.

MALL DINI OR139 Came on my radar on two occasions. Firstly the excellent judge of Irish Pointers Richard Pugh wrote last June The only dual winner of the bunch. He was impressive in taking a maiden at Belharbour on his debut in a decent time. Only three weeks later he made his second outing when contesting a Killaloe winners race and came home a distance clear of Ormolu Print. He is not long out of his four-year-old year so this is a very impressive CV to have even before March. He goes back to a Glacial Storm and then a Buckskin mare. Likely winter performer at a high level in time.” And secondly as I was aware of the Leopardstown qualifier unplaced angle I thought he was the eye-catcher from this year’s renewal. The exchanges suggest he will run here instead of the Martin Pipe and the big question from his hurdles form would be the trip? However he is a dual Irish PtP winner over 3m and he could well have the services of the excellent Davy Russell in the saddle.

OUR KAEMPFER OR140h Qualified for Pertemps final and his third to Thistlecrack in the G1 Doom Bar Sefton Novice Hurdle over 3m at the Aintree festival last April looks a really strong piece of form. 4th in the Tote Trophy at Chepstow a race that has thrown up a bucket load of winners, a well-supported second to Broxbourne back over three miles at Aintree and then brought down in the ill-fated Baradari’s Fixed Brush at Haydock, another strong race. Remains on the same mark and probably just needs a nod from Lady Luck. #startracking Spring Festivals

“Winner of three of his 12 starts. Runner-up, beaten five lengths, to Broxbourne in a handicap hurdle at Aintree (3m 1/2f) in November off current mark of 140 over hurdles. “He has been unlucky this season having finished fourth in the Silver Trophy at Chepstow and was then unlucky in a Pertemps Qualifer at Aintree where it turned into a sprint whereas he would have preferred a true run race. He was brought down when going well in a fixed-brush hurdle at Haydock in November and will go straight to Cheltenham for either the Coral Cup or the Pertemps Final. He has a nice looking handicap mark.” Charlie Longsdon. ATR Stable Tour

JP McManus is mob handed!

LEAVE AT DAWN OR137 I was on course when he was a cosy winner on PP Gold Cup day at Cheltenham off OR124. That race hasn’t worked out well and he is now 13lb higher! Fifth in the Leopardstown qualifier like Mall Dini he was “looked after”. CUP FINAL OR139 here’s what I wrote nearly two years ago when he was on my Master List for 49SimpleSimonSays… “Cup Final came on my radar 12 months ago as it seemed Henderson thought highly of him. Whilst revisiting him recently I found his full and half-brother. It’s not the amount they cost but WHO bought them. JP McManus paid 58K euro for this 3yo full brother of Chinatown Boy. Now 5yo he is yet to win in four starts, he was unplaced in the Supreme at Cheltenham having finished 2nd and 3rd to Irving in novice hurdles and 4th to The Skyfarmer in his bumper.”

Cup Final was off the course for fourteen months until this February when he won the Musselburgh qualifier cosily from Warriors Tale and the 7lbs he picked up there should comfortably put him in the Final. Trainer Nicky Henderson saidI was delighted with his reappearance win over three miles at Musselburgh and he will go for the Pertemps Final”.

BOX OFFICE OR135 He won’t get in the Coral Cup, will struggle to make it here and the markets suggest if he goes to Cheltenham it will be in the Martin Pipe. JOIN THE CLAN OR140 Eighth in the Final last year off a pound less, he qualified for the Pertemps at Aintree in November then had an error strewn go at novice chasing behind Bristol de Mai and then brought back hurdling he was a keeping on second to Saddlers Encore at Sandown over 2m 5f. He ticks an awful lot of those trends boxes and is 2lbs better off for ¾ of a length. Regular pilot Patrick Cowley could take off a useful 7lbs.

These are at the head of the market:

SADDLERS ENCORE OR135 His trainer Philip Hobbs usually sits on the fence but he told the RP Weekender “He was fifth on his return in a Pertemps Qualifier and came on nicely for that, winning his last start at Sandown. He is now 6lbs higher on OR135 and hopefully that will be enough to get in the Pertemps Final. I’m sure he would go well if he ran as I like him and I’m sure he has more to come.”

MISSED APPROACH OR143 Not seen since winning the Newbury Qualifier at the end of November. Waiting for better ground and protecting that mark as Warren Greatrex his trainer confirmed to Oddschecker Missed Approach worked brilliantly with Cole Harden at Kempton on Saturday and it’s all systems go with him for the Pertemps Final on the Thursday. He’s been bumped up a total of 20lb for his Newbury win but the form of that race has worked out quite well and this fellow is one of my best chances of the week. He is improving all the time and I’ve got a feeling he might turn out to be an even better horse on goodish ground, although he’ll need to be to win the Pertemps. As I’ve said before, he’s not a horse who shows us a great deal at home so it’s hard for us to gauge exactly what we have, but I think he’s got all the attributes to win a race like the Pertemps, not least because he jumps so well, and it’s exciting to think about how far this fella might go. Remember, he’s only had three runs over hurdles so he’s still learning his trade but he’s already rated 143 and the sky could be the limit with him.”

UNOWWHATIMEANHARRY OR152 Unbeaten in four this season, will he/won’t he run? Harry Fry thinks the Coral Cup is an unlikely Cheltenham Festival target for Unowhatimeaharry, with the Grade One Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the Pertemps Network Final remaining the preferred options.” Not many clues from the exchanges as he is about 16/1 in both contests. Still he has a lot of weight!

WARRIORS TALE OR140 Good fighting talk from trainer Paul Nicholls, He had been chasing but we sent him over hurdles at Musselburgh last time and he was just beaten by Cup Final in a Pertemps Qualifier. He will improve for that run and if Cup Final has a decent chance in the Pertemps Network Final then Warriors Tale must have too.” Warriors Tale is 4lbs better off for one and a half lengths and twice the price 20/1 to 10’s!

ARPEGE D’ARLENE OR146 I could have fancied him if he had been a running on 5th in qualifying at Chepstow but he won the event and has a 6lb penalty. Another one to go back hurdling after an abortive novice chase campaign. Not mentioned in the Nicholls Cheltenham stable tours?

TAGLIATELLE OR154 He was just beaten in the Coral Cup last year and he was just beaten at Musselburgh under top weight in the Pertemps qualifier. If he’d jumped the second last Richard Johnson said he would’ve won. Jack Kennedy will ride him and take a couple of pounds off him and I bet you he’ll run well.” The exchanges strongly suggest trainer Gordon Elliott is referring to this race the Pertemps but he will have to defy top weight. He won the Aintree equivalent last April carrying 11st 6lbs so it is within the realms of possibility.




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