horse racing

Cheltenham December meeting pointers……..

Cheltenham’s December meeting regularly produces a weekend of high octane racing with most of the large National Hunt yards aiming any number of bullets at the valuable prizes on offer.

As is to be expected for a meeting of this stature it is the 4 pronged assault of Henderson, Nicholls, Hobbs and King that provide the most winners over the 2 days.

They don’t hold the monopoly over the meeting, however, as there have been 30 different winning trainers at the meeting since 2005 but for the purposes of this post it will be the 4 previously mentioned yards that I will take a closer look at.

*Stats from 2006 – 2010 – Figures sourced from the PROFORM database

Nicky Henderson

The Seven Barrows trainer has supplied the most winners in recent seasons and usually goes to war with plenty of ‘live’ chances –

10/46 | 22% S/R | +£1.44 BFLSP – Win & Place 15/46 | 33% S/R

His overall figures show up well although as is to be expected you won’t get rich blindly backing all of his runners.

  • All 10 of his winners started in the top 3 in the market (14 of the 15 win & place runners also started in the top 3 of the market)
  • 8 of his 10 winners came over hurdles

Paul Nicholls

The champion trainer fires plenty of bullets at this meeting  –

9/69 | 13% S/R | -£9.66 BFLSP – Win & Place 29/69 | 42% S/R

Although the win strike-rate is average it should be noted that he does manage to get plenty of his string home in the money (42%).

  • 8 of his 9 winners started in the top 3 in the betting (a number of his runners that started out with the top 3 have managed to run into a place so they should not be ignored for each-way purposes)
  • 7 of his 9 winners came over fences
  • 7 of his 9 winners finished in the top 3 last time out
  • 3 of his 9 winners were ridden by claimers

The running styles of the Nicholls horses provides an interesting insight – 8 of his 9 winners ran ‘close to the pace’ | 1 of his 9 winners ran ‘held-up’ | 0 of his 9 winners were ‘front-runners’.

Looking at the wider figures tell us –

Front-runners – 0/1

Close to pace runners – 8/31 | 26% S/R

Held-up runners – 1/37 | 3% S/R

There have actually been more of his runners that have attempted to win form out the back back ultimately this is the group that struggles most to win. Certainly something to ponder over…..

Philip Hobbs

Hobbs is another that likes to have plenty of runners over the 2 days –

8/53 | 15% S/R | -£9.84 BFLSP – Win & Place 23/53 | 43% S/R

Similar to Paul Nicholls he produces an average win strike rate but manages to produce plenty of placed runners at a decent level (43%).

  • 5 of his 8 winners were (IRE) bred
  • All of his 8 winners started in the top 4 of the betting (16 of his 23 Win & Place horses also started in the top 4 of the betting)
  • All 8 of his winners ran in a HANDICAP race on their last start
  • All 14 of his runners in Novice company were beaten (8 did manage to place)
  • All 9 of his runners returning to the track after a break of 90 days or more were beaten

Alan King

King is slightly less sporadic with his bullets –

6/32 | 18% S/R | +£11.19 BFLSP – Win & Place 12/32 | 38% S/R

Decent figures from the King string at the December meeting.

  • Robert Thornton has ridden 5 of his 6 winners
  • 5 of his 6 winners came over hurdles
  • 5 of his 6 winners came in NON-handicaps
  • 5 of his 6 winners finished in the top 2 last time out

Nicky Richards

Richards is an interesting trainers for the December meeting –

0/10 | 0% S/R | -£10 BFLSP – Win & Place 6/10 | 60% S/R

Despite none of his 10 runners managing to get their heads in-front the fact 6 of them have run into a place makes him a trainer of interest.

Richards has saddled placed runners at 12/1 – 33/1 – 11/1 – 15/2 – 13/2 – 9/2.

Nigel Twiston-Davies

December is generally an average month for ‘Team Twister’ and the Cheltenham meeting is no different –

3/61 | 5% S/R | -£27.27 BFLSP – Win & Place 14/61 | 23% S/R

3 winners are never to be sniffed at but the 5% strike-rate is certainly a cause for concern. 14 win and placed runners makes things look a little rosier but Twister would probably be looking for more winners at his local track.

  • Their recent chase record at the meeting reads – 1/36 | 3% S/R
  • Their recent record in novice events reads – 0/17 | 0% S/R

Although I would never suggest taking these type of stats as gospel they are a good pointer as to which yards are likely to be targeting the meeting and which yards maybe don’t have the correct ammo for Cheltenham in December.

General trends……

Age – Only 2 horses aged 10 or older have won at the December meeting

Runners aged 10+ – 2/87 | 2% S/R – Win & Place – 12/87 | 14% S/R

Interestingly both 10yo+ winners came over the cross-country course – GARDE CHAMPETERE & SPOT THE DIFFERENCE


Point to Point pointers….

Cheltenham 10th December

There are eye-catching entries for both ROCKY CREEK and ROLLING ACES in the Grade Two Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday. If Rocky Creek were to win the race he would be emulating his ill-fated full brother Tell Massini who took the contest in 2009.

Rocky Creek won his only Point to Point in Ireland at Carrigtwohill in February by four lengths from Rolling Aces. Many a good judge felt it was the best performance they had seen by a newcomer for some time. He was bought for 250,000GBP before he had even left the track. He was beaten by a neck on his UK debut at Exeter by Allthekingshorses; who is another highly regarded newcomer from the pointing field.

Rolling Aces went on to win a three mile maiden Point to Point at Lismore then won on his UK debut at Wincanton. Third behind them at Carrigtwohill was Bar De Ligne, who subsequently ran fourth behind Simonsig in the Point to Point Bumper at Fairyhouse at the end of April. He then scored on his UK debut at Uttoxeter for trainer Steve Gollings. Fourth home Sraid Padraig has since won a three mile maiden Point to Point at Dromahane on November 13th by fifteen lengths.

Both horses are now in the care of Paul Nicholls. Rolling Aces does hold an alternative entry for Taunton on Thursday, whereas Rocky Creek holds just the one for Saturday. Is that a clue in itself?

This Point to Point pointer was brought to you by Cathryn Fry who also writes for

Ben (NTF)

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