DATE POSTED: 10th March 2020
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SP favourites have had a tough time of it, with just 2 wins altogether, the last one way back in 2003. Dame De Compagnie is the current favourite so we will leave her out of our choices purely on the strength of this statistic.
18 of the 26 winners, (including 11 of the last 12) did come from the top 7 in the betting. Also, the winner tends to come from the top portion of the handicap, 15 of them (including 7 of the last 10) were among the top seven in the weights in that year. However, being rated above 150 is a big negative, as only 2 winners have ever been rated that high (in 2013 and last year). Kilfenora and Cracking Smart are closely matched but their ratings of 154 & 153 are off-putting.
The vast majority of winners (24 of the 26) had ran in 4 or less races in that season. If this statistic holds up tomorrow, then it virtually rules out 8 runners this year. For some reason, horses wearing headgear have a very poor record. This would count against a further 6 runners.
Only three winners since the year 2000 had run in more than 9 hurdles, 11 runners fail this test.
So far as age is concerned, 5yo’s do pretty well considering they are usually under-represented. There are five of them this year. Franco De Port and Alfa Mix seem best of that age group. 9 & 10yo’s don’t do very well, this should rule out Bachasson, Traffic Fluide, Chesterfield and Fagan.
Willie Mullins waited a long time to win this race and finally cracked it in 2018, following up with a short head 2nd place last year. He’s mob-handed with 7 runners this year, so clearly means business.
Taking into account the above pointers, we’ve come up with half a dozen choices, namely a trio of Willie Mullin’s runners, Eglantine De Seuil, Franco De Port & Mr Blue Sky, as well as Nicky Henderson’s 6yo, Birchdale, along with another Irish raider, Alfa Mix and Fergal O’Brien’s 7yo, CHAMPAGNE WELL. The latter is no star but has ran well here on four occasions and with the stable in form, is our each-way choice.
Another Mullins runner is the 7yo, Stratum, who has been kept very busy on the Flat and over hurdles this season, but he’s had just the one run since November (also won the Cesarewitch in October) and comes here fresh. In recent years, all of the winners had not run for at least a month and preferably had a short break. Stratum could well put in a sound run.
We will row in with the lightly-raced FRANCO DE PORT in the hope that the 5yo has continued to improve.
Enjoy your racing this week at Cheltenham!
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