Cheltenham Festival Handicap Pointers

Updated: 7898 Horse Racing

To help narrow down the large Cheltenham Festival handicap fields, we have put together a blog focusing on the handicaps and ways you can eliminate runners to reduce the fields.

Cheltenham Festival Handicap Pointers
In this article: Handicap Pointers
Andy Powell Content Editor

Horse Racing stats man, Andy has contributed to OLBG for 18 years - An Ipswich fan and F1 fanatic, he also contributes EFL football and Motor Sport opinion.

Cheltenham Festival Handicap Pointers

We thought it would be a great idea to have a look at the handicaps at the Cheltenham festival.

Look at the handicaps as one to see if any factors stand out to help us narrow down the fields.

We shall be looking at the races combined over the past ten years.

As of 2016, there is a total of nine handicap races at the festival since the Cross Country was altered to a non-handicap.

The nine races which fall under this section are:

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The Age Factor

The younger runners seem to have the upper hand and when we say younger, we mean those in single digits!

Runners aged 10yo or older in the handicap races do have seven winners between them since 2014 but that is from two-hundred and fifteen runners spanning over sixty-four races.

  • 2020: 0-22
  • 2021: 1-29
  • 2022: 3-22
  • 2023: 1-23
  • 2024: 1-20

Croco Bay won the 2019 renewal of the Grand Annual Chase for Ben Case & Kielan Woods and Vintage Clouds won the Ultima in 2021 for Sue Smith and Ryan Mania.

2022 was a year that went against the trend with three winners Global Citizen (Grand Annual), Coole Cody (Festival Plate) and Chambard (Kim Muir).

It was back down to just one winner in 2023 when the 20/1 shot Seddon won the Festival Plate and the same in 2024 with Shakem Uparry (8/1) winning the Festival Plate.

An alternative way of looking at it is age compared to the youngest in the race and all bar three of the winners were within four years of the youngest runner.

Those who were five years or older have four wins from a total of one-hundred and thirty-two runners covering fifty-eight races over the last 10 festivals.

Concentrate on those no older than 9yo and within 4 years of the youngest.

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The Weight Factor

There are several ways of looking at weights, you can just simply look at weights but you can also compare them to the average weights.

If we split the weights, those carrying under eleven stones have won 35% of the races (32-91) with those carrying more having won 67% of races (65-97) so those carrying a lighter weight do not exactly have the better record!

If you add up all of the weights and divide them by the number of runners, we get the average weight of the race.

There have been a total of 70 races which have included runners carrying 8lbs+ more than the average, from those 71 only 6 have been won by one of those runners (9%).

21 runners competed over 7 races in 2021 and only 5 of those managed to place with no winners. since 2015, a total of 70 races (163 runners) with only 6 winners.

The same can be said at the other end of the spectrum, those carrying 8lbs+ less than the average have produced 5 winners from 67 races (7%) from 157 runners.

After blanks between 2014 & 2020 which produced a record of 0-101, there was a change in 2021 as there were 3 winners from 7 races (24 runners), 1 winner from 6 races (11 runners) in 2022 and then 1 winner in 2023 also from 8 races (25 runners), however, it was back to blanks in 2024 from 17 runners.

Concentrate on those within 7 lbs of the race average weight.

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The Official Rating Factor

It's not worth looking at official ratings as a whole as the races differ and this will tell us nothing but there are some other areas.

For example, looking at the runner's official rating compared to their last winning mark. This can tell us if the runner is much higher or has dropped.

There have been 167 runners over 70 races where they were running off an official mark which was lower than their last win.

From those, only 9 have gone on to success, so generally, these are best overlooked although the 2016 & 2017 Kim Muir were both won by these so keep that in mind for that race.

Avoid anything off a mark lower than its last win.

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The Odds Factor

Whilst we do get some tasty winners there appears to be a clear cutoff number when it comes to SPs.

There has been a total of 373 runners sent off 50/1 or bigger spanning over 94 races, the only winners were Croco Bay (2019) at 66/1, Jeff Kidder (2021) at 80/1 & Commander of Fleet (2022) at 50/1.

Outright Favourites have won just 13 of the 83 races and if you focus on the top three in the market, they have won 40 races (41%).

So there does not seem a great deal in the odds apart from avoiding the bigger-priced runners.

Avoid anything which is sent off 50/1 or bigger.

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The Last Time Out (LTO) Factor

There are a couple of certain race types which have poor records. Those who ran in an NHF last time out are 0-14 and only 3 places.

Certainly avoiding those who ran on the flat last time out seems the way to go, 0-25 is their record with only 3 of those placing.

It's worth looking at field sizes, did the runner have a tough race last time out?

Well, those who ran in a field of more than 20 runners have produced 6 winners, however, that is from 180 runners over 61 races and since 2020 has only produced 2 winners from 110 runners over 35 races.

This is a general rule to follow for a lot of people, avoiding those who ran in a Grade 1 last time out. 8 winners from 127 runners over 61 races is not a good return.

Finally, those who failed to finish their race last time out have produced 10 winners from 75 races, spanning over 199 runners.

Avoid anything which ran on the flat, ran in a field of 20+ runners, ran in a G1, or failed to finish last time out.

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The Summary

Remember we have a wealth of knowledgeable racing tipsters so be sure to check out the best bets for Cheltenham and in the buildup to Cheltenham or throughout the year get Horse Racing Tips from other courses.

Here are the overall pointers in handicaps over the past ten years:

  • Aged under 10yo
  • Within 4yrs of the youngest runner
  • Runners who are within 7lbs of the average weight
  • Overlook those off an OR lower than the last win
  • Ignore anything 50/1 or bigger
  • Avoid those who ran on the flat LTO
  • A runner who ran in a field of not more than 20 LTO
  • One which did not run in a G1 LTO
  • Finally, one who finished their race LTO

Article Contributor Information

We are blessed with an excellent team of specialists and experts at OLBG. Contributing to creating and maintaining this Cheltenham Festival Handicap Pointers are at hand, Andy and James. They both work on the Horse racing tips team team looking after the tipsters and managing the tips settlement, whilst also creating and managing all of the horse racing event previews for National Hunt Racing.

James Banting

James Banting

Tipster competition assistant

James Banting, a passionate horse racing enthusiast and aficionado, brings a wealth of experience to OLBG, having attended numerous race meetings over the years. His background working with the Jockey Club provides him with a unique insider's perspective on the industry.
Andy Powell

Andy Powell

Content editor

Andy, a seasoned horse racing expert with over 15 years of experience, possesses a comprehensive understanding of the sport, from delving into complex statistical data for jump racing in the UK and Ireland to crafting insightful national hunt racing blogs for OLBG.

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