DATE POSTED: 12th March 2019
We post a 'Big Race' preview for our shareholders most Saturdays in our Racehorse Manager. It's a full analysis of the biggest and most competitive handicap of the day - and usually the biggest betting heat. It's a free extra service we provide to our shareholders, written by our own racing professionals. For the Cheltenham Festival we're making these 'Big Race' postings public - with a posting for every day of the meeting.
DAY ONEThe 2019 Festival starts! There's plenty to look forward to over the next few days, but everything gets going today with the big races right from the get-go. The Supreme Novices Hurdle gets things started and then we've the Mares Hurdle, the Arkle and of course the Champion Hurdle. Our Big Race preview is for the Ultima Handicap Chase.
Our Festival Big Race Preview starts today and goes right through the week. The big race of the day is posted the evening before racing.
The weather forecast promises wind and overnight rain and any significant change in the going could cause a few withdrawals & affect the outcomes but, as this is out of our hands, we will plough on regardless (No pun intended).
There are usually more pundits and tipsters at Cheltenham than there are runners, and it's a safe bet that most of them will claim to have inside knowledge. It's also true that most of them will do no better that the man in the street. Our aim in this posting is to settle on just one race, and mainly rely on the statistics from previous runnings to help weed out the less-likely winners and point out the horses with the closest fit.
We like to focus on the meaty handicaps, as they usually have big fields and few odds-on superstars. The 3m 1f Ultima Chase is a good place to start. The maximum number of 24 runners will go to the post (at the time of writing) and the average SP in the last dozen years has been around 13-1, so there are plenty of potential winners in the field. However, since 2000, there have been only 4 winners priced above 11-1.
The first statistic to note is that runners carrying more than 11st have won only 8 of the last 25 runnings, (just 2 of these carried 11st 8lb or above). This could make it difficult for the top 8 runners in this field, although in the last 10 years, 5 winners did carry 11st or more so the trend may be becoming more favourable these days, but we prefer to wait and see.
Paul Nicholls has had 21 unsuccessful attempts to win this and must hope his sole runner, Give Me A Copper, breaks the curse. However the 9yo is currently favourite in the betting and the jolly has only won once since 2000. Also Ultima winners have usually already raced at a previous Festival, and Give Me A Copper hasn't raced here in his 8 races to date. He didn't run at all last year and may be a handicap snip but there's a lot of competition here tomorrow.
Also since 2000, the Irish have only won twice, and the name of Willie Mullins is absent from the winning trainers list. He's represented by 10yo, Up For Review, who is vying for favouritism with Give Me A Copper. 10 and 11yos rarely win with only 2 winners the last 18 years. There are 4 10yoâ€™s this time and maybe Up For Review has the best chance from that quartet. Another Irish trainer, Gordon Elliott saddles 2 of the other 10yo's but they both look vulnerable here.
7yos don't do too badly, as they've won a third of the last 15 races. 7yo Coo Star Sivola won this as a 6yo last year and must be respected off only 3lb higher, especially as he's a bit of a course specialist (10 runs at Cheltenham, out of the top 4 places only twice).
We've saddled COO STAR SIVOLA with our selection, to make a good stab at making it two in a row. UP FOR REVIEW should finish well for Willie Mullins, and 9yo SHANTOU VILLAGE seems over-priced at around 100-1, could well make his Cheltenham experience count, off 10st 13lb, and provide a bit of each-way excitement.
Finally, remember the bookies will be falling over themselves to provide inducements to punters (especially extra places) so, if you do feel like a wager, check their special offers.
Enjoy your racing this week at Cheltenham!
View this race at Racing Post for latest updates and prices
Enjoyed this Big Race preview? We post a 'Big Race' analysis at the weekend for all our shareholders, posted to our Racehorse Manager. It's one of the most-viewed pages of information we offer. Considering getting involved in racehorse ownership this summer? We have summer jumpers and plenty of flat horses still available, some of which will be racing pretty soon.