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What we learned from the weekend: 12th, 13th & 14th February…

What we learned from the weekend? Well not that much as it transpired! The weather made sure of that…

We look to be out of the deep freeze now (🤞🤞🤞) so let’s hope that’s the last of the interruptions and we can sail on smoothly through to Cheltenham and beyond…🙏

…and talking of Cheltenham, and with the blank weekend leaving me short on WWLFTW options, I’ll take this opportunity to fire up some Festival stats for you all…

2021 Cheltenham Festival stats pointers…

Cheltenham Stat #1

34 of the 36 Grade 1 Chase winners passed all the following trends…

36/36 were aged 6yo-10yo

36/36 had placed on at least 1 of their last 3 starts

36/36 ran in a non-handicap chase last time out

36/36 started at an SP of 16/1 or less

34/36 had 5+ previous career victories

If you pulled those stats together you would have returned the following combined figures at the last six festivals…

34/153 | 22% S/R | +£78.88 BFLSP – W&P 67/153 | 44% S/R

19% above exp

So 94% of winners from 42% of runners.

Following the rules strictly would have also returned a profit each year.

Now I know it is a tad ‘general’ when it comes to the stats, and the stats do vary slightly from race to race, BUT if you are looking for a very quick method of finding the most likely winners of the festival Grade 1 chases then that’s as good a starting point as any.

In truth it’s probably better used as a ‘starting point’ or ‘way in’ to those G1 Festival races, rather than a follow blind style method, but everyone has their own methods…

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Cheltenham Stat #2

Only 4 of the 61 Handicaps at the last 6 Cheltenham Festivals were won by a claiming jockey…

…and three of those winners were female jockeys – Lizzie Kelly (X2) & Bridget Andrews (X1) – claiming 3lbs.

The overall stats for claiming jockeys in the Festival Handicaps read…

4/223 | <2% S/R | -£129.64 BFLSP – W&P 28/223 | 12.5% S/R

58% below expectation

Despite the Handicap fields at the festival being ultra-competitive, the hefty claim of a young jockey to reduce the weight burden does not, generally, pay dividends, the stats very much tell us that experienced jockeys are the call and their knowhow when it comes to navigating such minefields trumps that of the weight reduction from a claimer.

The stats are even worse when you consider claimers that are claiming 5lbs or more…

1/125 | <1% S/R | -£113.71 BFLSP – W&P 11/125 | 9% S/R

79% below expectation

When it comes to the jockey on top in the handicap sphere it very much pays to side with experience over up and coming claiming talent…

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Cheltenham Stat #3

Trainers based in the following locations – Wales | Scotland | Yorkshire | North West & North East England (so essentially ‘the North’ and Wales) – have really struggled to hit the mark…

As a group trainers that are based in the above locations have returned the following cumulative figures at the past 6 festivals…

2/211 | <1% | -£79.15 BFLSP – W&P 23/211 | 11% S/R

76% below expectation

It’s often suggested that ‘the North’ struggle to land a blow at the Cheltenham Festival, failing to match the firepower that the ‘the South’ have at their disposal, and to be fair the stats would appear to back that up. As a group, and with the Welsh trainers added into the mix, the stats don’t make for great reading.

If you pull the stats back to the last 8 festivals things don’t improve all that much…5/330 | 1.5% S/R – 65% below expectation

…and in all honesty it’s really only Rebecca Curtis who is managing to fight their corner, with the Welsh trainer securing 4 of those 5 winners!

It’s been VERY slim picking for ‘The North’ and Wales at recent Cheltenham Festivals…



Hopefully I’ll be back on the normal ‘What We learned from the Weekend’ train next Tuesday, the weather certainly looks a bit more appealing going forward, it must be said…

Behind the scenes I’ll be cranking up my festival prep work and diving deep into the Cheltenham trends and stats, and I’ll have my usual free Cheltenham Festival guide(s) with you lot in due course.

To make sure you don’t miss out on that work just make sure you are on the free NTF list…

>>>sign-up to the free NTF mailing list here

Cheers – Ben (NTF)

10 responses to “What we learned from the weekend: 12th, 13th & 14th February…”

  1. Really interesting as always.Where would you place Royale Pagaille who is a contender but won a Limited Handicap Chase, albeit a Grade 2…Peter Marsh…..would the stats include or exclude that type of race?

  2. Hi Ben,

    Very interesting as always. Are they all for the last 6 festivals?

    Where do you draw your line for North/South? I’ve always considered myself to be in ‘the South’ having crossed the Tyne Bridge.

    • HI Ian

      Yes, all for the last 6.

      No real north/south split in my mind to be honest. For the stats above I used the location filters on Horse Race Base.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  3. Massive believer in Chelt Festival stats…… The claiming jockey one is really interesting. Basically top conditionals or pros only! Great blog as usual Ben

    • Cheers Simon

      Yes, plenty of stats at the festival hold up year after year, some excellent ‘field splitters’ once you start digging…

      Ben (NTF)

  4. Hey Ben, hope you are keeping well. The stats don’t lie but the 3lb claimer stat wouldn’t completely put me off a fancied runner. I think the stats are skewed a bit by the number of big priced runners where trainers give the claimers a Cheltenham ride on a horse with little chance of winning. If you take the out the conditional riders and amateurs races the 3lb claimer stats stand up to those jockeys with no claim. I’d take someone like Conor McNamara on a good horse I’m backing over Ralph McLernon every time! Also, if you look at Gordon Elliott runners during the period, 2nd 13/2, Won 9/1, 4th 33/1, 5th 16/1, 4th 14/1 from eight runners with a claimer up, so not too shabby from an each-way perspective.

    • Hi John

      Yes, a 3lb claimer wouldn’t be as much a concern as a 5lb+ claimer, depending on the exact jockey I wouldn’t be dismissing the 3lb claimer without further digging.

      The 5lb+ claimers on the other hand…I’d need plenty of other factors on my side to be backing one of their mounts…

      Ben (NTF)

  5. ”If you pull the stats back to the last 10 festivals things don’t improve all that much…5/330 | 1.5% S/R – 65% below expectation

    …and in all honesty it’s really only Rebecca Curtis who is managing to fight their corner, with the Welsh trainer securing 4 of those 5 winners!”

    Pretty sure this isnt correct, as ‘The North’ won with Cinders and Ashes, Son of Flicka, Cape Tribulation, Countrywide Flame, Brindisi Breeze and Attaglance in 2012 (within the last 10 Festivals). Cheers

    • Hi Eric

      You are quite right, my mistake. The Database only goes back to summer 2012 on that particular filter ‘yard location’ (it’s a relatively new feature) so whilst the 5/330 stat is accurate it is only going back to the 2013 festival, so last 8 years. Still poor, still relevant in that the recent record of these yards at the meeting has been pretty damn patchy but yes, last 10 years is incorrect from me.

      Good spot, I’ll change it 👍

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

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