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2014 Cheltenham Festival: Glenfarclas Handicap Chase – Dosage & Trends Analysis

How to solve a problem like the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase…

The NTF Way!

Can Balthazar be King of the Cross Country again?

Possibly the least vaunted of all Cheltenham Festival races…

Derided by some, nay many?!, as a ‘joke’ race…

Never covered by myself here at NTF using my exclusive Dosage and Trends analysis…

…so what exactly am I up to here dedicating an entire Blog post/afternoon of analysis to this unique and demanding contest?!?

Well, in truth I’m a bit of a fan of the race and have nothing against it’s inclusion over the 4 days. Indeed on a personal level I’ve had a bit of success on the punting front in the race, I’ve found it relatively ‘Ben friendly’ since its inception 9 years ago. But I’ve never dug into it in my usual manner, although admittedly that was a conscious decision. I wanted enough renewals to give me something to get stuck into and for a handicap I usually look to 10 renewals as my lower limit.

This year is the 10th renewal of the race so I wanted to at least start building preliminary ‘NTF notes’ for the race with a view to adding it to the full service next season. With the preliminary notes in front of me though I noted strong enough patterns in play to warrant giving it a bit more of a serious look and deeper analysis this time around. And as a gift to the NTF readers (that’s you guys) I’m going to share that analysis with you here on the Blog.

So jump on board, strap yourself in and join me on a step into the unknown as I apply the unique NTF Dosage & Trends approach to the Glenfarclas X-Country Handicap Chase

Race description…

The race is run over 3m7f and takes in 32 varying obstacles, from Hedges to cheese-wedges to Aintree style fences and banks and even buses!! (OK the last one is a lie!).

There are similarities between this race and the Aintree Grand National and it isn’t uncommon to see beaten horses in this contest go on and compete over the big fences the following month. You need to jump and travel smoothly in both races with the ability to be nimble when needed (even ‘nibble’ at the cheese-wedges!!)  at some of the more trickier obstacles. You also need a fair lashing of stamina to be able to see out the final lung bursting grind to the line at the end of each marathon contest. Indeed Aintree hero SILVER BIRCH finished 2nd in the 2007 version of this race before going one better at Aintree the following month. In my opinion more trainers should look at targeting both races, to quote AC/DC ‘to me it makes good good sense’.

There is plenty of form lines between this race and the 2 Cross-Country races at the track in November & December and that is certainly something that should remain in our thoughts. Plenty of runners run well in all 3 races and show a distinct liking for the Cross-Country track; Cross-Country specialists if you will.

Dosage & Trends Analysis…

There are still 37 entered in this contest so I’ll be concentrating on the top of the market plus cherry-picking a handful of interesting outsiders at this stage of proceedings…

NTF Extended Trends Analysis

1              9/9 aged between 8 & 12

2              9/9 were yet to win a Chase at Graded level

3              8/9 had an OR of 143 or less

4              8/9 were trained in Ireland

5              8/9 were rested for at least 29 days

6              8/9 had at least 18 career starts under rules

7              8/9 had previously won at 3m+

8              8/9 had 11+ Chase starts

9              8/9 had between 1 & 5 chase victories

10           8/9 had their last Chase start in a X-Country event

11           8/9 had previously finished in the top 3 in a X-Country event

12           7/9 top 4 finish LTO

13           7/9 were (IRE) bred

14           7/9 carried 10-13 or less (Not knowing final field and jockey bookings we have to leave this one out for now)

…and this is how that applies to the current field…

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

Tot

LONG STRAND

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

*11/13

QUISCOVER FONTAINE

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

*11/13

ANY CURRENCY

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

N

Y

*10/13

BALTHAZAR KING

Y

Y

N

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

*10/13

BIG SHU

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

N

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

*10/13

LOVE RORY

N

Y

N

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

*10/13

PASQUINI ROUGE

N

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

*10/13

SACREE TIEPY

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

*10/13

SHALIMAR FROMENTRO

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

N

*10/13

SIZING AUSTRALIA

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

N

Y

*10/13

BISHOPSFURZE

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

N

Y

Y

N

N

Y

*9/13

DUKE OF LUCCA

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

N

N

Y

*9/13

IMPERIAL CIRCUS

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

N

Y

N

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

*9/13

DIAMOND HARRY

Y

N

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

N

N

*8/13

QUEL ESPRIT

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

N

N

N

*8/13

SIRE COLLONGES

Y

Y

N

N

Y

N

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

*8/13

UNCLE JUNIOR

N

Y

N

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

N

Y

N

Y

*8/13

WRONG TURN

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

N

N

Y

N

N

Y

Y

*8/13

QUANTITATIVEEASING

Y

N

N

Y

Y

Y

N

Y

Y

N

N

N

Y

*7/13

STAR NEUVILLE

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

N

N

N

N

Y

Y

Y

N

*7/13

Quite tight at the top but it will certainly change a bit when we pull in the final trend once we know the confirmed field.

Now onto the Dosage side of things…

NTF Dosage Trends Analysis

DP          9/9 had 10 points or more in DP

                7/9 had 12 points or more in DP

               

DI            8/9 had a DI of 1.40 or below

                7/9 had a DI of 1.10 or below

               

CD          8/9 had a CD of 0.42 or below

                6/9 had a CD of 0.00 or below

                0/9 had a CD below -0.58

               

DPA       (4/9) – DQ – 2 / 20+ – 2 / PATB – 0

…and here is how that stacks up against this year’s runners…

Snug Fit

LONG STRAND

2-0-10-4-0

/

16

0.78

0.00

QUEL ESPRIT

1-1-7-3-0

/

12

0.85

0.00

BALTHAZAR KING

4-0-11-5-2

20+

22

0.76

-0.05

SHALIMAR FROMENTRO

1-0-8-3-0

/

12

0.71

-0.08

DUKE OF LUCCA

2-0-9-4-1

/

16

0.68

-0.13

BIG SHU

2-0-7-4-1

/

14

0.65

-0.14

QUISCOVER FONTAINE

2-0-7-4-1

/

14

0.65

-0.14

 

Cant be discounted

IMPERIAL CIRCUS

0-1-6-1-0

/

8

1.00

0.00

SIZING AUSTRALIA

6-1-9-6-0

20+

22

1.10

0.32

ANY CURRENCY

3-1-8-4-0

/

16

1.00

0.19

STAR NEUVILLE

4-0-14-4-0

20+

22

1.00

0.18

WRONG TURN

3-0-8-5-0

/

16

0.78

0.06

UNCLE JUNIOR

2-0-8-8-0

/

18

0.50

-0.22

LOVE RORY

1-0-10-7-2

20+

20

0.43

-0.45

Not ideal

BISHOPSFURZE

3-0-5-2-0

/

10

1.22

0.40

Wide of the mark

PASQUINI ROUGE

1-1-2-0-0

/

4

3.00

0.75

SIRE COLLONGES

0-0-0-4-0

/

4

0.00

-1.00

DIAMOND HARRY

7-3-7-0-1

/

18

3.00

0.83

QUANTITATIVEEASING

3-2-1-2-0

/

8

2.20

0.75

SACREE TIEPY

2-0-6-0-0

/

8

1.67

0.50

 

NTF Combined Figures

Pulling the 2 angles together gives me combined figures of…

*12/14  LONG STRAND

*12/14  QUISCOVER FONTAINE

*11/14  BALTHAZAR KING

*11/14  SHALIMAR FROMENTRO

*11/14  BIG SHU

*10/14  DUKE OF LUCCA

*10/14  SIZING AUSTRALIA

*10/14  ANY CURRENCY

*10/14  LOVE RORY

*9/14    QUEL ESPRIT

*9/14    IMPERIAL CIRCUS

*9/14    BISHOPSFURZE

*9/14    PASQUINI ROUGE

*9/14    QUANTITATIVEEASING

*9/14    SACREE TIEPY

*8/14    STAR NEUVILLE

*8/14    WRONG TURN

*8/14    UNCLE JUNIOR

*7/14    SIRE COLLONGES

*7/14    DIAMOND HARRY

As already mentioned those figures will change slightly once the final field is confirmed but as always I will work with the top of my figures and zone in on the following…

*12/14  LONG STRAND

*12/14  QUISCOVER FONTAINE

*11/14  BALTHAZAR KING

*11/14  SHALIMAR FROMENTRO

*11/14  BIG SHU

DUKE OF LUCCA – SIZING AUSTRALIA – ANY CURRENCY may come into the reckoning once final figures are drawn up but for now I will concentrate on the very top my figures.

NTF Glenfarclas Handicap Summary

LONG STAND is certainly an interesting one to appear at the top of the figures. He has raced in plenty of Cross-Country Chases, placed in a couple of them but never really looked liked winning any of them. What strikes me about him is the fact he is rated OR106 in Ireland but will be running off OR126 in this! He could well run into a place in this but surely the win is beyond him.

QUISCOVER FONTAINE sits at the top on the same figure and he at least is interesting from a handicap angle; he placed off OR142 in the 2011 Irish National and runs here from OR133. That race was almost 3 years ago but he has shown glimpses of form since then, including a decent 3rd behind Love Rory last time out in the Glenfarclas P.P.Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown (a race that has proven a solid trial for this). He did bomb out when tackling the Cheltenham Cross-Country track in November (9th of 11) but the ground was Good that day and I do think he is much better on Soft or Heavy these days (5 of his 7 wins have come on Soft or Heavy). If there was cut in the ground on the day I’d certainly be willing to have a few sheckles on him at likely decent odds.

It is no surprise to see BALTHAZAR KING sitting next on the figures as his course form reads RO121, one of those 1’s being victory in the 2012 renewal of this race. He won that day off OR139 and is due to race off OR150 in this renewal. If we consider he has never won a handicap of any sort from a mark higher than OR139 from 6 attempts (recording form figures of P5P00P – yep that does read P5 POOP, tee hee!!) then the general 5-1 available maybe doesn’t look all that appealing. We probably also need to factor in that the ground may well be against him, he has never won on anything worse than Good to Soft and there must be a chance they race on softer than that this year. For now I’m not overly keen on him.

The Nick Williams trained SHALIMAR FROMENTRO sits on the same score as Balthazar King and he gets my antenna twitching at tasty odds. His CV is chocked full of Cross Country form, most of it from France, some from the Czech Republic, some from Ireland and 1 start round these very fences from the December meeting; it is that Cheltenham form that gets me interested here. He popped round the fences that day like they were old buddies and was still in there pitching at the final obstacle, only fading on the final climb into a 10L 5th. The ground may have also been a bit quick for him that day (Good) and any ease in the ground would be sure to be in his favour. On the face of it Nick Williams doesn’t have the best recent record at the Festival – 0 from 30 since 2006 – but 10 of those 3o have ran into a place (33% in other words) and that does offer a glimmer of hope for this lad. He comes in here off the back of a solid 2nd at Ludlow where he ran to an RPR figure of 131, which is only 2lbs short of his career best. On the flip side he really should have won that contest so he doesn’t come without risks attached. He would mostly likely need to run a career best to win this but winners of this contest are generally ‘late-bloomers’ – Heads OnThe Ground ran a career best as a 10yo to win the 2007 renewal for example – and at prices in the region of 25-1 he does offer up some each-way value. He is firmly on my radar for this contest.

*Nick Williams figures sourced from Proform Database

Last years winner BIG SHU rounds off the short-list and his chance is clear for all to see. He will have to win this from an 11lb higher mark but that certainly isn’t impossible with only 10 runs under his belt. He remains relatively unexposed and has to enter calculations.

Conclusion

I would like to see the final field and the going before making a concrete decision but at the prices I do like the look of SHALIMAR FROMENTRO. He wouldn’t be the most straight forward of beasts but that is factored into the price. He is certainly deep in my thoughts at the minute.

BIG SHU is a worthy fav and there isn’t a great deal to put anyone off him at the time being.

QUISCOVER FONTAINE may enter my thoughts, depending on what sort of ground the contenders are likely to face on the day.

The figures will get a bit of a jig around once final declarations are in and I’ll update the Blog with the final combined figures the evening before the race. Time allowing I may also pull together a pace map for the race to give you even more ammo to attack the race with.

.

2014 NTF Cheltenham Festival Service…

Doors open soon (Tuesday 4th March) and limited places will become available to join the main service for Festival week. To make sure you don’t miss your slot simply enter your details in the form at the top of the site.

I will be sending out details and links to join via email and if you are not on the NTF Free service chances are you will miss out.

If you want to see exactly what you will be receiving when you join NTF for Cheltenham week then please visit this page >> 2014 NTF Cheltenham Service

It’s almost here….

Ben (NTF)

 

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