Five Cheltenham Festival stats that will need to be broken…

Image result for footpad horse

Has Footpad been over timber too many times?

A week to go…

We’ve survived the cold snap (just about!) and are now staring down the seven days to go Cheltenham barrel!! Seven days until the madness kicks in, that’s all there is, SEVEN god damn days!

As usual it’s starting to consume my every thought at the minute. Awake or asleep. Last night I had a dream that Edwulf won the Gold Cup. Wasn’t run at Cheltenham mind you but it was definitely the Gold Cup. John McCririck doing the commentating told me this!!! Hell, that must have been a nightmare in all fairness, not a dream!!

This follows on from last years dream at the ‘week to go’ point that My Tent Or Yours won the Champion Hurdle on the bridle!

Both JP McManus horses…hmmmm…is he using mind-control on me?!? Like some weird Bond villain?!?

I’ve resisted the temptation to unload my entire betting fund on Edwulf for the Gold Cup, I prefer to let the stats and figures guide me these days rather than some crazy fruit-looped dream!

To be fair though Joseph O’Brien’s Irish Gold Cup winner could well sneak onto my shortlist for the day…

I’ve very much been ramping things up on the festival front over the past week or so and hopefully you’ve all managed to download my FREE Cheltenham Festival Guides by now.

If not you can get them here.

They are packed full of trends and stats to help you ‘narrow the field’ over the four days and at the very least they should get your brain tuned up and fully focused for next weeks action.

Keeping on the stats front, today I want to take a look at a quintet of negative stats that will need to be busted next week if some of the well-fancied runners are to justify their cramped odds.

Lets get stuck in…

*some of these I may have mentioned in my ‘what we learned from the weekend’ posts previously so they may not all be new to you but you will at lest be able to get them all on one post instead of having to search back through the blog…

Five festival stats that will need to be broken…

1 – Footpad and the ’14+ Hurdle starts’ stat…

If Footpad is to justify Arkle favouritism he will need to be the first horse in 15 renewals to do it after running more than 13 times over Hurdles…

The Mullins’ 6yo has been red-hot for the Arkle for some time now and despite a strange little walk in the market last week he’s hardened up again and sits as 5/4 fav at time of writing.

He’s done little wrong in his three starts over fences, he deserves to head the market and I totally get why the weight of money has been for him. Finding negatives against him is difficult…

Or is it?

The last 15 Arkle winners had no more than 13 previous starts over Hurdles.

14 of the last 15 Arkle winners had no more than 11 previous starts over Hurdles.

12 of the last 15 Arkle winners had no more than 9 previous starts over Hurdles.

The stats are suggesting that less is better when it comes to hurdling starts if you want to be landing the Arkle at Cheltenham, Footpad has flicked over timber 15 times before going Chasing this season, more than any of the last 15 Arkle winners.

In general I think that if you are going to be a top class chaser then you need to spend as minimum amount of time over hurdles as possible. Once a horse gets into the groove of the low flicking action needed to be a serious operator over hurdles, and that’s exactly what Footpad was over the smaller obstacles, it’s not always as easy to get out of it when going chasing.

Now as I’ve already said, Footpad has done precious little wrong in his three starts over fences, but then again he’s probably not really been fully tested, with his chase starts coming in fields of 6, 5 & 5.

If he does have any chasing foibles, caused by spending too long in the hurdling world, then he may well have been easily able to disguise them in races where he’s not realistically been put under any pressure.

He should, hopefully, face off against a decent field at Cheltenham, providing no more main players drop away, and then we’ll properly see if he can scoff at the hurdling starts stats.

I’m under no illusion that he could destroy his field come the second race on Tuesday, he’s a very, very good horse, but if you also consider that he’s 0/5 in the spring (March-April) and 0/2 at Cheltenham and then also factor in the Hurdle starts stat, then suddenly the short price maybe isn’t quite as attractive…

The defence…

13 of the last 15 Arkle winners finished in the top two on ALL of their Chase starts

12 of the last 15 Arkle winners had a 100% win & place Chase S/R coming into the race

6 of the last 8 Arkle winners came in with a 100% WIN S/R over fences

Bar the Hurdle stat he does come in with a damn strong profile for the race (he meets the three trends above).


The Hurdle stat is a worry but whether it’s any more than that I’m not sure. It’s possibly the only negative to be leveled against him but nevertheless it will be interesting to see if any of the field comes in with NO negatives to their name when I pull together my final figures for the race (there may be one, possibly…)


2 – Faugheen and the Champion Hurdle age stat…

If Faugheen is to regain the Champion Hurdle crown he will need to be the first horse in 15 renewals to be aged older than 9…

Despite his last two efforts being someway below the machine-like prowess he has shown us throughout his career, Willie Mullins’ 10yo still currently sits as 5-1 second favourite behind the red-hot in the market Buveur D’Air.

If he is to reclaim his crown, however, he needs to kick this stat into touch…

In the last 20 years 21 horses aged 10yo+ have tried to win the Champion Hurdle, all 21 have been beaten and only 3 have managed to place. 

Now admittedly that’s not a huge amount but if you also consider that the last horse to win a Champion Hurdle aged in double figures was the mighty SEA PIGEON in 1981, the task Faugheen faces suddenly becomes even clearer.

Given that he’s also coming in off the back of two lackluster efforts then it’s hard to see him joining the (very) select list of double-aged winners of the Champion Hurdle (only Hatton’s Grace & Sea Pigeon have won the race aged 10yo+).

The defence…

He’s unbeaten at Cheltenham, indeed he’s unbeaten at the festival, having won the Champion Hurdle and the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle.

He’s also one of the highest rated runners in the race (second top rated in fact) albeit it is dubious as to whether or not he can still run to that rating.


I think we’d all love to see a fully fit and firing machine gunning it up the hill and making a real race of it against his younger and in-form rivals, but it’s going to be tough for him I suspect, potentially very tough…


3 – Presenting Percy and the ‘last time out distance’ RSA stat…

In the last 20 renewals of the RSA Chase 49 horses have had their warm-up over a distance shorter than 2m5f and all 49 have been beaten…

Presenting Percy warmed up for his shot at RSA Chase glory over 2m4f, when coming second to Our Duke at Gowran Park in the Red Mills Chase.

It’s a bit of a strange stat to be fair but 0/49 is really starting to stack up and it’s a stat that has caught out the following…

More Of That – Long Run – Punchestowns – Colonel Braxton – Alexander Banquet – Lady Crickey – Eudipe

All of who started at 5/1 or less for their RSA having warmed up over an inadequate 2m4f trip.

He’s currently trading as 5/2 favourite for the 3m G1 Novice event although I can’t help but feel he’s a horse with a bit of a fan club and that may just be pushing his price to a shorter zone that it maybe should be.

Not only does he have the 0/49 ‘less than 2m5f warm-up’ stat to overcome but he also has to defy the 0/58 stat that currently exists around horses running in Festival Grade 1’s after having had a warm-up at Gowran Park.

The defence…

He’s an unbeaten 1 from 1 at the track/festival having landed the Pertemps Final last season.

He won with plenty up his sleeve that day as well, albeit it was a handicap and he had, with hindsight, been underestimated by the handicapper.


I don’t personally get the Presenting Percy love in and win, lose or draw I reckon I’ll be more than happy to field against him on the day.


4 – Yanworth and the ‘didn’t run in a Hurdle race last time out’ stat…

The last 88 winners of G1 Hurdle races at the Cheltenham Festival ALL ran in a Hurdle race last time out…

Yanworth, who is now seemingly a definite for the World Hurdle, had his warm-up for the G1 staying Hurdle contest in a Novice Chase. The stats say that’s bad news.

The last 88 Grade 1 Hurdle races at the Cheltenham Festival (yes, Eighty-Eight!) were all won by a horse that contested a Hurdle race last time out.

47 have come into one the G1 Hurdles off the back of NOT running in a Hurdle race, ALL 47 have been beaten and only a measly TWO have even managed to place!

Those that ran in a Chase last time out and then switched attentions to a Hurdle contest are 0/17, 1p.

It probably doesn’t help matters that Yanworth is 0/3 at the Festival and he’s been a beaten fav at the last two festivals.

Given that he’s won two of his four Chase starts to date and finished 2nd in a G2 on the other one AND is still only rated 149 I really don’t see why they have decided to make this switch back to timber…

The defence…

The one time he raced over a staying trip in his career (G1 stayers Hurdle at Aintree last season) he was very impressive.

I’m not sure why they didn’t persevere down that route this season, instead of going chasing, and equally I’m now not sure why they haven’t remained chasing after four tries this term. It’s strange campaigning to say the least, he actually been strangely campaigned most of his career it seems. Nevertheless the fact remains he does have that G1 Aintree Stayers win on his CV and that’s a decent defence for him in terms of him lining up in this race.


He’s a very difficult horse to put a marker on but then again I think his connections feel the same about him and there maybe isn’t a correct answer when it comes to when and how to campaign him.

I suspect he’ll appear high enough on my shortlist for the Stayers Hurdle but whether or not I’d feel comfortable backing him is a complete other question. At this stage and with the likely opponents he’ll be facing I suspect I’ll be looking elsewhere.


5 – Apple’s Shakira and the ‘under-performing Triumph females’ stat…

Only 1 of the last 37 females to line up in the Triumph Hurdle have been successful

Which on it’s own maybe doesn’t mean that much but as a group they are performing 44% below expectation and only 3 others have manged to sneak into a place.

Triumph Hurdle runners are still very much in the embryonic stage when it comes to National Hunt horses and when it comes to their cup final – the Triumph Hurdle – it seems that the males hold sway over the females at this stage of their careers. Apple’s Shakira will be one of the shortest priced females to line-up in the race but nevertheless the Triumph has not been the most fertile of grounds for fillies in recent years.

She’s done very little wrong on her three UK starts and one French start to date, winning all four by comfortable margins, but there must be a minor worry in connections minds that she’s yet to run on anything quicker than soft ground.

The defence…

She clearly handles the track as she is three from three over the Prestbury Park undulations and she already has two Grade 2’s safely tucked away on her CV. The fact that she’s show a real liking for the final climb up the hill can only but be a positive for her attempt to land a blow for the female of the species.


I think she’s got a real chance of improving that under-performing Triumph females stat and she should be bang near the top, if not top, of my figures for the race.

The recent record of females is certainly a concern, however…


NTF Cheltenham Festival Service – Doors now open!


I will be covering around 20 of the top races from the 2018 Cheltenham Festival as part of my NTF National Hunt subscription service, using my tried and tested NTF Race Trends assault tactics to filter the contenders from the pretenders, whilst whittling out the no-hopers so we can isolate those at lofty prices who have a real chance of out-running their odds.

I know there are a number of you who want to be on the NTF service for Cheltenham Festival week so this is your chance.

I am opening up a limited number of slots on my service especially for Cheltenham week, which, lets face it, is the most exciting week of the entire year, bar none!!

>>Join NTF for the 2018 Cheltenham Festival

As soon as you sign-up you will also be able to enter the NTF Members Area and take a look at some of the Cheltenham work I’ve already produced for NTF Members. The Handicap Trends Post and G1 race stats are likely to be of significant interest to you.

For those of you that are not familiar with the in-depth approach I utilise on the NTF service there are four guides available for you to view on the sign-up page. These are excellent examples of my service and how I go about ripping into the major races.

I look forward to seeing you in the NTF members area…

Ben (NTF)

Majority of stats sourced from the excellent Proform Database



  • Jonathan da Silva

    Reply Reply March 6, 2018

    Only defence of Footpad is maybe as he started as a 4 yo they delayed but then again could have run last year with a WFA and also had a lot less races if this was a plan. I do like to oppose horses who have more than 1 year hurdling. Real danger in assuming you have next year in Jump Racing.

    Equally whilst Percy ran over shorter it must be almost unique he cut back to that distance.

    TBF I am taking both of those on!

    • Ben Aitken

      Reply Reply March 6, 2018

      Hi Jon

      Generally I’m against those types as well, they can and do win plenty over fences but when at the very top against horses who have been campaigned lightly with chasing in mind the generally do come unstuck.

      Present Percy has just been campaigned strangely full stop!

      Cheers and best of luck

      Ben (NTF)

  • Mike Dennis

    Reply Reply March 6, 2018

    I have enjoyed your NTF this winter along with racingtoprofit and SP2a I am quite happy with my stable of tipsters. I do tend to stay away from your short priced selections but the others are fine.
    I do find the flat a bit more difficult to get into especially when I don’t bet on short priced fav. What are your stats like for the past 3 years on the flat April to Sept as along with racingtoprofit (who incidentally are not great when it comes the flat) I am looking for my flat stables. Would you be able to send me your stats for the last 3 years to the above email address please.


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