Ramp up the Power!
For me, this week's Cheltenham Open Meeting, with Saturday's Paddy Power Gold Cup the feature, is when the NH season really ramps up a gear as we can get stuck into some top notch jumping action at Prestbury Park.
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I was lucky enough to win the race three times during my riding days - once for the Pipes and twice for David 'Duke' Nicholson - but with 9 wins in the race it's the Pond House Pipe stable that have dominated the contest, winning it most recently in 2011 with Great Endeavour.
Surprisingly it's a race that top trainers Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson have struggled in - winning the contest just once each. Okay, so Nicholls landed the decent prize for the first time 12 months ago with Al Ferof and, therefore, now that monkey is off his back he could easily run up a sequence of wins - at this stage of the week they've plenty of entries so we'll have to see which ones make the final line-up later in the week.
Record-breaking AP McCoy (big well done to him, by the way - unbelievable achievement that I'm sure won't ever be beaten - not in our lifetime anyway) is the main man when it comes to this race too - the champ has ridden the winner four times, so whichever horse he's on come Saturday is sure to be popular in the betting.
I've listed all the key trends to look out for ahead of Saturday's big contest - but in short the key things to note are.......
Previous Cheltenham Form - All of the last 11 winners had run at Prestbury Park before - yes, a lot will fall into this bracket, but still too big a stat to ignore.
UK Based Runners - Okay, so not many Irish horses have actually run in the race in recent years, with Tranquil Sea the last Irish winner of the race back in 2009, but, again, it's still something to look for once we know the final line-up.
Age - The simple standout stat here is that 9 of the last 11 winners were aged either 6 or 7 years-old - if this trend is to be repeated then this will certainly knock plenty out. Plus, the last horse to win aged in double-figures was in 1975!
Recent Form - Yes, a lot of horses will be having their first run of the season, but look back at their last run as 8 of the last 11 had finished in the top 4 last time out.
Weight - Being a handicap then weight carried has played its part too - if you want this stat on your side then look for horses carrying 10-13 or less, with 7 of the last 11 falling into that bracket.
Favourites - Considering it's a tough and competitive race the punters generally do well here with 3 of the last 11 favourites winning, while 6 of the last 11 market leaders were placed, plus, 7 of the last 11 winners were priced 8/1 or shorter and hailed from the first three in betting.
I hope these trends help you knock out a few and also help you find the winner - but, for me, JOHNS SPIRIT looks the call should he make the line-up. AP could ride, but it I guess it depends what weight he gets in with as the champ may struggle to do the weight. Even so, he was a nice winner here at Cheltenham last time out in October and despite a hike in the weights will be fitter than most and at just 6 years-old should have a lot more to come. He's also won on soft ground in the past and could even be sent off favourite with the Pipe's undecided if their classy Dynaste will go for this or wait for Haydock (Betfair Chase).
Have a good week!
Paddy Power Gold Cup Betting Trends
11/11 - Raced at Cheltenham previously
10/11 - Had won over at least 2m4f over fences previously
10/11 - Won by a UK-based stable
9/11 - Won by a horse aged 6 or 7 years-old
8/11 - Placed in the top 4 last time out
8/11 - Had won at Cheltenham previously
8/11 - Had won just 2 or 3 times over fences previously
7/11 - Carried 10-13 or less in weight
7/11 - Aged 7 years-old
7/11 - Won by a horse in the first 3 in the betting market
7/11 - Priced 8/1 or shorter in the betting
6/11 - Favourites placed
6/11 - Won this on their seasonal reappearance
4/11 - Won last time out
4/11 - Trained by the Pipe stable
3/11 - Favourites
3/11 - Raced at Carlisle last time out
3/11 - Raced at Cheltenham last time out
3/11 - Ridden by Timmy Murphy
The last winner aged in double-figures was in 1975
Paul Nicholls has saddled 7 placed horses (one winner, Al Ferof) from his last 24 runners
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