DATE POSTED: 12th March 2018
We post a 'Big Race' preview for our shareholders most Saturdays. 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.
DAY TWOWe are under way, and its on to Day Two of the festival. This sees the RSA Chase and the Queen Mother Chase head the days entertainment, but there's also plenty of hurdling action as well.
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.
For Day 2 of the Festival we've chosen to put the 2m Coral Cup under the microscope, to see if we can whittle down the choices in this big field. The race has been run on 25 occasions, with English trainers posting 15 wins to the Irish tally of 10, although the Irish have won half of the last 10 runnings. This year they have a very strong hand, with 50% of the 26 runners.
Willie Mullins had to wait a long time to win this race and finally cracked it last year with 20-1 shot, Bleu Berry, who runs again this year off 5lbs higher (along with five other Mullins' horses).
The statistics tell us that supporting the SP favourite needs caution, as not one has won since 2003. 11 of the last 12 winners did come from the top 7 in the betting and the open nature of the race means that the S/P can still be in double figures 10 of the last 12 winners were priced 10-1 or higher, but were still in the top 8 in the betting. Willie Mullins' lightly-weighted Uradel has been heavily supported in the market and should go off at a short price.
Age doesn't seem to matter in this race, except that the last 10yo to win was in 1995 and they have been rarely even placed since then. This looks bleak for Wicklow Brave (also carries top weight), Killtulagh Vic, Monbeg Theatre and Oscar Night.
The winner does tend to come from the top portion of the handicap, 7 of the last 10 carried 11st or more. This year 15 of the 26 runners are set to carry these weights.
14 of the last 18 winners had never run at the Festival before, this year there are only 9 in the field. Also in recent years, all of the winners had not run for at least a month and preferably had a short break.
Two thirds of the last 24 winners had already won a race in the same season.
Nicky Henderson's William Henry finished fourth in this race last year, just as his Ultima hurdle winner Beware the Bear did on Day One of the Festival. It would be a nice coincidence if he could make it a double.
Simply using all of the above statistics still leaves us with quite a few choices, Uradel fits the bill apart from the fact that he is favourite, and we have left him out simply because of this.
Paul Nicholls' lightly-raced 8yo, BRIO CONTI carries 11st 5lb, is near the top of the market and we think he could mark his Festival debut with a win.
We still feel that Willie Mullins will have a hand in this and suggest his 6yo Scarpeta (although he did run in last year's Festival), and Gordon Elliott's Cracking SmartM, who tackles a handicap for the first time and has surely been prepped for this. They both could put on a show.
An each-way possible is another handicap debutante, CANARDIER, who won here last October.
This is not an easy race for anyone to call, especially with 26 runners, and we wish you good luck with whatever you choose.