How relevant is the Starting Price of previous Cheltenham Festival race winners ?

The build up to the Cheltenham Festival is always a fantastic, high octane combination of seemingly relentless new bulletins about price cuts, bookmaker offers, entries, late injury scares, different snippets of information coming from the hundreds of Cheltenham preview nights held across the country.

Personally speaking I love it all, having been into jump racing for quite a long time now and having witnessed if from both sides of the counter ie working in betting shops and on racecourses.

Cheltenham is completely different to anything else and it basically gives the sport of jump racing one massive, adrenalin pump that keeps it going until the next Festival.

One particular area I like to look at for interest purposes is the Starting Price ie SP of previous winners of races at the Cheltenham Festival.

So in this blog I'm going to go through a selection of races at Cheltenham Festival looking at the historical SP's of winners from the last 13 years.

Historical SP of the Supreme Novice Hurdle (2005 to 2017)

    20/1, 6/1, 40/1, 17/2, 2/1, 2/1, 10/1, 10/1, 5/1, 7/2jf, 2/1f, 4/1, 25/1.

Last years shock 25/1 winner Labaik disappointed many punters, apart from those shrewd punters on Labaik of course.

Prior to that the previous 4 horses who won were all priced 5/1 or shorter, although 7 of the last 13 have been priced 10/1 or bigger, the standout 40/1 winner was incredibly trained by Willie Mullins in 2007.

Thoughts for 2018

With regards to this years renewal of the Sky Bet Supreme Novice Hurdle then it's all set up to be a fascinating renewal, although there was a 25/1 winner last year there has to be every chance this year that the market leaders will provide the first horse past the post.

I have to admit to having great personal interest & hope that current 9/4 favourite GETABIRD delivers, as I'm on him with a small ante-post bet at double figure odds.

Without being biased he has to be the horse to beat on form. The supremely talented SAMCRO is also in the field, and clearly would be a huge threat if he takes his chance. Of the rest at the front of the market then IF THE CAP FITS has to be at least considered around 11/2.

Historical SP of the Arkle Chase (2005 to 2017)

    7/1, 15/2, 7/2, 6/1, 8/1, 6/1, 6/1, 8/11f, 8/15f, 33/1, 4/6f, 1/4f, 2/7f.

  • 12 of the last 13 Arkle to past the post in 1st have been priced 8/1 or under. 8 of them 6/1 or under. 5 have been odds on.
  • Those odds on winners have come in the last 6 years. The Arkle has been pretty favourable for those backing the market leaders with only the 2014 shock 33/1 spoiling the party for punters, and giving the bookmakers a rare break in this race.

    Thoughts for 2018

    Again I have to admit to having a personal ante-post interest in this race already with a very early bet on PETIT MOUCHOIR, after being massively impressed by his chasing debut.

    At around 5/1 he's still clearly a major threat based on his reappearance run, but without doubt it has to be stated that the Willie Mullins trained FOOTPAD looks seriously good and will surely be very hard to beat, if he translates his slick jumping to Cheltenham.

    I can see the current even money quotes looking good, as he could go off 4/5 to 4/6 if Mullins hit the Supreme Novice with Getabird.

    Historical SP of the OLBG Mares Hurdle (2008 to 2017)

    Apart from that 20/1 winner that record of course looks sensational for punters and desperate for bookies.

    Indeed it has been a punters benefit race due of course to the sheer brilliance of Quevega, winning it 6 times on the bounce. For 6 years the safest bet at Cheltenham was Quevega for the Mares Hurdle.
    • 20/1

    • 2/1f

    • 6/4f

    • 5/6f

    • 4/7f

    • 8/11f

    • 8/11f

    • 6/1

    • 4/6f

    • 4/1

    It has been a punters benefit race due of course to the sheer brilliance of Quevega, winning it 6 times on the bounce. For 6 years the safest bet at Cheltenham was Quevega for the Mares Hurdle.

    The OLBG Mares Hurdle was the race that got most attention & press coverage in 2015, seemingly even more than the Gold Cup, as red hot favourite Annie Power looked certain to make it a day to remember for Willie Mullins.

    The mare was on course to the famous 4-timer to cost the bookmakers millions but Willie Mullins's star mare spoilt the script and thousands of punters Cheltenham by amazingly falling at the last, probably the most dramatic moment seen at Cheltenham in a very long time.

    I believe that the OLBG Mares Hurdle is a race that is finally gaining the respect it deserves given OLBG's support of the sport via their Mares Hurdle series, and of course having such a brilliant race like last year when the supreme talented mare APPLE'S JADE prevailed at 4/1.

    Thoughts for 2018

    Going into this years Festival then many will be hoping that last years winner APPLE'S JADE will line up and defend her title.

    Indeed many rank her as the banker of the festival, and even though she's 8/13f she'll carry tremendous support and probably will go off shorter, she's very hard to oppose.

    if I had to call an each way bet at this stage then I'd put up La Bague Au Roi at 12/1, after she had been a very impressive winner of 3 of the OLBG Mares Hurdle races this season.

    Historical SP of of the Ballymore Novice Hurdle (2005 to 2017)

      17/2, 17/2, 20/1, 5/2f, 7/1, 7/1, 2/1f, 7/2, 6/4f, 9/2, 3/1 & 14/1.

    In the context of how tough Cheltenham is for punters, then this race has been pretty kind. Only 2 prices bigger than 17/2 in last 12 years, prior to last years 14/1 winner Willougby Court, the previous 8 were all 7/1 or under.

    Thoughts for 2018

    Despite last years 14/1 winner the Ballymore Novice Hurdle has certainly been kind to punters. It looks highly likely that punter friendly trend will continue. The hot favourite is SAMCRO but will he take his chance in this race?

    if he does it's very tough to oppose him based on what he's done so far, he's been brilliant and promises to be even better, ON THE BLIND SIDE & NEXT DESTINATION both around 6/1 look the only serious competition, if Samcro lines up.

    Historical SP of the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle (2005 to 2017)

      20/1, 40/1, 9/2jf, 14/1, 11/1, 4/1f, 9/1, 40/1, 25/1, 33/1, 25/1, 13/2 & 33/1

    The big multi-runner handicaps are often labelled as Bookmaker Benefit races as you've got thousands of punters backing all of the 20+ runners. So unless a major gamble is landed they simply can't fail to win, when you look at the SP's of the winners it's clear why bookmakers love the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle.

    Two 40/1, others at 25/1 twice, 20/1 and twice at 33/1.

    Only 4 priced under 9/1 and only 2 favourites, one of them a joint favourite.

    Personally speaking I did back the 40/1 winner UNE ARTISTE in 2012, but i still don't know how a Nicky Henderson runner with a good profile was 40/1 for a Cheltenham Handicap, probably never will.

    Thoughts for 2018

    I have not looked at the Fred Winter yet this year, won't do so until the day but I will definitely have these stats about the SP's in my mind and I'll deliberately leave those under 10/1 alone. Admittedly it could count against me this year, but in this case I believe it could pay off to go for something at big odds and see what happens.

    Historical SP of the Champion Bumper (2005 to 2017)

      7/2f, 33/1, 11/2, 12/1, 9/2, 40/1, 14/1, 16/1, 25/1, 16/1, 9/2f, 5/1 & 7/1

    A glance at those historical winner SP's shows that up until the last 3 years it had not been a great race for the favourites or market leaders.

    Prior to the last 3 fairly well fancied the only other well backed winner in the period covered was in 2005. Only 1 other priced under 10/1 and that was 2009 The last 3 to pass the post in 1st were 9/2, 5/1 & 7/1 but the previous 5 Champion Bumper winners have come in at 40/1, 14/1, 16/1, 25/1 and 16/1.

    Personally speaking it is a race that I've done ok in, mainly via horses placed at big prices, the highlight was backing Champagne Fever to win at 16/1 a few years ago.

    Thoughts for 2018

    I will make up my mind on this race much closer to the day, but at this stage it's quite clear that the right horses appear to be at the head of the market with BLACKBOW, DIDTHEYLEAVEUOUTTO & HOLLOWGRAPHIC heading the market around 6/1. Those 3 have been very impressive so far, at bigger odds ACEY MILAN at 11/1 & BULLIONAIRE at 16/1 are horses that have impressed me and certainly command respect.

    Historical SP of the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle (2005 to 2017)

      10/1, 50/1, 14/1, 18/1, 16/1, 16/1, 20/1, 14/1, 25/1, 9/2f , 9/1, 14/1 & 10/1

    2014's heavily gambled 9/2f winner Fingal Bay stands out in this race, as you can see the previous 9 years were not good for the favourites or general fancied horses. In the previous 9 all 10/1 or bigger, 8 of them 14/1 or bigger, with a 50/1 winner thrown in for good measure.11 of the last 13 winners have been 10/1 or bigger.

    Thoughts for 2018

    Again given the nature of the race the record probably isn't that surprising, again anything is possible and 2014 shows that gambled can be landed and a favourite can win

    When i look at this race I will keep these winner SP stats in mind and I'll have a few very small stakes each way plays at bigger odds. I wouldn't want to be involved in a short priced runner in this race, the statistics suggest at least a double figure price is likely again.

    Historical SP of the Ryanair Chase (2005 to 2017)

      20/1, 10/3f, 9/2, 4/1, 6/1, 14/1, 6/1, 7/2f, 7/2, 3/1f, 16/1, Evens F & 15/8f

    Those statistics show that the Ryanair Chase has most definitely been the punters race in the last 11 years.

    Even the 20/1 winner in 2005 was a Ruby Walsh ridden/Paul Nicholls trained combo, which would have had big support despite the odds, and 2015 16/1 winner Uxiandre was ridden by Tony McCoy, so bookmakers didn't even escape then.

    Only 3 winners in last 13 years above 6/1 , 4 of the last 5 were very strongly backed, both ante-post and on the day, 5 of the last 6 were 7/2, 7/2, 3/1, Evens & 15/8

    Thoughts for 2018

    Generally speaking the bookmakers expect the punters to have the better of them again with UN DE SCEAUX 5/2 favourite now & likely to be quite a bit shorter on the day.

    He has to be regarded as the most likely, if his jumping holds up again.The potential question mark that has reared it's head in recent days is the potential of Douvan being in the Ryanair, that would change the picture but that would personally surprise me if Douvan turned up.Of the rest in the Ryanair field then for me FOX NORTON loves Cheltenham & has high class Festival form so would look fairly solid e/w at 6/1.

    Historical SP of the Festival Plate (2005 to 2017)

      25/1, 14/1, 12/1, 66/1, 33/1, 18/1, 25/1, 9/2f, 50/1, 12/1, 33/1, 16/1 & 16/1.

    Only 1 under 12/1 in last 12 years, only 1 favourite, 6 at 25/1 or bigger, including 33/1 twice, 50/1 and 66/1.

    Bookmakers surely have made a huge part of their retirement funds via this race given a record like that, again surely it's only a race where a handful of punters have been lucky enough to hit the winner, definitely a race where those backing the market leaders have suffered badly.

    I struck lucky in this race a few years ago with EMPIRE OF DIRT at 16/1, and again last year with ROAD TO RESPECT at 16/1, so I've probably used up all my luck for this race with those wins.

    Thoughts for 2018

    Again I've not personally looked at this race and will only do so on the day. I'll have these stats firmly in mind and general staking policy being very small each way singles on big priced runners, if that aligns in with them being trained by David Pipe or Venetia Williams then all the better, as they've trained 6 of the last 11 with 3 winners each.

    Historical SP of the County Handicap Hurdle (2005 to 2017)

      16/1, 4/1f, 12/1, 50/1, 20/1, 20/1, 10/1, 20/1, 10/1, 11/1, 8/1 & 20/1.

    It will not surprise to see that this ultra tough handicap has a similar historical SP record to those of the Festival Plate, The Champion Bumper and The Pertemps Handicap Hurdle.

    Only 2 under 10/1 and 1 favourite in last 12 years which was 2006.

    There have been three 20/1 and a 50/1, so another race for the bookmakers to re-load their satchels with, although Ruby Walsh won on a 20/1 shot for Paul Nicholls and a 10/1 shot for Willie Mullins.

    At this stage I have absolutely no clue what I will back. Irish trainers have had an excellent record in this race so my selection may well come from the Emerald Isle. Then again probably only cuts the field down by half to about 15 potential runners, but I do expect there to be another big price to go in, and so again just very small each way punts at big odds for me.

    Other Races:

    The Conditional Hurdle has only been run for the last 9 years but 9 of the 9 winners have been 12/1 or bigger, 3 of those 16/1 or bigger

    The Gold Cup has been pretty kind to those backing the market leaders, 12 of the last 13 Gold Cup winners were priced 8/1 or under. 6 favourites have won at 4/1 or shorter

    The Gold Cup looks massively exciting & fascinating this year, most believe that favourite Might Bite is the likely winner but I'm not a fan of his at the prices, i would prefer to chance the likes of SIZING JOHN, OUR DUKE & DEFINITELY RED at the prices of 6/1, 12/1 & 16/1 respectively.

    All odds quoted for this years races are taken from Ladbrokes & correct at time of writing.

    That's my view and interpretation of the historical SP's for certain races at Cheltenham over the last 13 years, of course nothing is guaranteed but hopefully you find the above interesting and useful in someway.

    I'm certainly very excited to see how it all works out at Cheltenham this year, as stated some of my bets will be based on some of the statistics I've noticed, if it pays off great, if it doesn't work out then I still know I've enjoyed doing it and if people do benefit then I'll be more than happy with that.

    Would be great to know what people think about this? do you personally consider factors such as price of previous winners, have you done that before? would you now consider it? or do you think it's totally irrelevant? whatever your opinions on this it would be great to hear them.

    Feel free to leave your comments on hear or catch me on twitter @tbuckleythinks

    All the best and good luck at the Cheltenham Festival this year.