Cheltenham Festival Review: My Stats/Trends

How did my Festival stats/trends perform…


What follows is a top level look at how my ‘four pronged’ stats approach performed at this year’s Festival. A reminder of the four strands…

  1. General Trainer Micros (handicaps)
  2. General Micros (handicaps)
  3. Big Race Trainer Records (those to have prev won race/qualifiers)
  4. Big Race Stats/Trends (shortlists/longlists)





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Do join in the conversation below, we're a friendly bunch.. all questions welcome, and do share your selections or thoughts

6 responses

  1. Hi Josh

    I have been looking back at the past two Cheltenham Festivals and noticed a striking change in the results of the handicap races. I also favour handicaps. So I started with the 2019 Festival.

    Using the Racing Post newspaper and their forecast prices I found that 7 of the 10 handicaps run at the festival were won by horses that were either first or second in their forecast prices.

    Now looking at the 2020 festival 8 of the 10 were won by horses in the first three of their betting forecast and it may well have been nine winners if Column Of Fire had not fallen at the last flight.

    As you intimated in the report “sometimes they are obvious for a reason “.

    I do not know whether this enforced suspension will change the face of racing for the future but if not then it may pay to be aware of this trend. As you said your stats found 12 of the 13 winners of the target races. It may pay in future not to look beyond the obvious.

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for this, very interesting – yep, it could well be a trend in these races and something for me to consider (I think possibly a wider trend in last year of more favs/top of market winning big handicaps but could just be one of those things), but – I knew it was the case last year, but when I get to the likes of the County and Fred Winter, for example, both races that historically have regularly thrown up monster price winners, I find it challenging to focus on the 6s/7s< - but clearly there's a big argument to be made for having something from the top of market onside - I'm not sure if the big boys are refining their app in these handicaps even further (or for example whether JP is, as he'd a dire record in handicaps generally, esp hurdles, in recent years before 2019) - but at times my approach was over-complicated again, especially the 'who is likely to be thrown in' question. Many were 'obvious' on paper also I suppose - in sense many coming here on the back of wins/decent runs, thoroughly unexposed etc. Josh

  2. The following micros were profitable in 2019 and 2020.

    1. Handicap chase – oppose Henderson, Nicholls, Twister, Hobbs, Longsdon runners.
    2. Oppose Venetia Williams runners.
    3. JP McManus – standard handicaps, 15/2 or less.
    4. JP McManus and Barry Geraghty runners.
    5. Mullins – non handicap hurdle 123 LTO.
    6. Mullins – won 1 of last 3.
    7. Ran at Cheltenham at either their last meeting or last time out (this one threw up Lisnager Oscar at 110 BFSP).
    8. Oppose horses aged 11+.
    9. In the Ryanair OR 161+.

    Re Josh’s piece, and the top four trainers dominating. Why wont they keep it up for the foreseeable future? They seem to have the others under their thumb from my seat. They are experts at peaking for the big one, albeit they mostly have the best horses. OK it will change one day but until then.

    A number of good things got turned over in 2020. That seems an angle to me re laying at the festival. I do not think that 2020 was the only year that this happened. I can think of a few obvious instances, such as Benie and Annie Power falling at the last. I remember that my brother had Annie Power in the last leg of a big treble and her falling when clear at the last and me having to drag him off the lawn at Cheltenham.

  3. Hi Josh, your table looks very interesting with those winners being shown. BUT, how many qualifiers were in each race in order to have the winner? I think the table would have a lot more relevance if it showed the number of qualifers inorder to find the winner. Still enjoyed reading the report. Keep up the good work and keep safe. Gordon

    1. Hi Gordon,

      Oh, many. too many – I think the only ‘systematic’ approach that is valid is with the trainer angles personally, esp given the numbers – the purpose of the analysis into the race trends / race trainer records is more so as to whether that remains a valid ‘ starting point’ / exercise, in helping to home in on the winners etc- some of the race trends it cut the field in half, others it was 4-8 qualifiers etc. I’ve never been keen to advise backing ‘all’ trends qualifiers etc even on a shorter list, as I don’t think that would be very profitable at all, but then again I don’t keep records such as that.
      If that four pronged approach say only highlighted 4/13 race winners, for example, the conclusion would be my micros/stats/trends approach is somewhat questionable. There’s always room for improvement of course but there’s comfort from those numbers moving forward, for me anyway.
      I suspect on average those four sets of stats removed half to 2/3rds the field in those handicaps. It can be the nature of my approach with the trends that they rarely leave a very ‘short’ list of quals to focus on- that’s because I view them as a guide and try to avoid using ‘weak’ trends to remove horses etc.

  4. Thanks for the reply. It was what I expected with too many but it gets rid of a lot of runners which gives a starting point from which to try and find the winner in each race using other trends. Gordon

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