Festival Trendspotting: Final Pointers
by David Myers
Trials and Final Pointers
February is often viewed as the key month in which several Cheltenham trials take place, and while that theory rings true, plenty more key races occur earlier on in the season that have pointed up many Festival winners.
Below is a list of races that historically produced the most subsequent winners at the Festival since 1996/97.
|Race||Record of first three at the Festival||This season’s first three|
|King George VI Ch||Winners: 5/13; Seconds & thirds: 2/18||1.Kauto Star 2.Long Run 3.Captain Chris|
|Adonis Juv Nv Hd||Winners: 5/11; Seconds and thirds: 0/13||1.BabyMix 2.Sadlers Risk 3.Dark And Dangerous|
|Festival Hurdle||Winners: 5/13; Seconds and thirds: 0/6||1.Unaccompanied 2.Thousand Stars 3.Oscars Well|
|Irish Champion Hd||Winners: 5/12; Seconds & thirds: 0/24||1.Hurricane Fly 2.Oscars Well 3.Thousand Stars|
|Tingle Creek Chse||Winners: 4/14; Seconds & thirds: 2/17||1.Sizing Europe 2.Kauto Stone 3.Comas|
|Long Walk Hurdle||Winners: 4/12; Seconds & thirds: 1/14||1.Big Buck’s 2.Five Dream 3.Restless Harry|
|Long Distance Hd||Winners: 4/9; Seconds & thirds: 0/9||1.Big Buck’s 2.Five Dream 3.Pettifour|
|Peterborough Chse||Winners:3/12; Seconds & thirds: 2/9||1.Gauvain 2.Somersby 3.Mr Moonshine|
|Moriarty Nov Chse||Winners: 3/11; Seconds & thirds: 2/9||1.Last Instalment 2.Call The Police 3.Lambro|
|Rendlesham Hdle||Winners: 3/12; Seconds & thirds: 2/11||1.Restless Harry 2.Cross Kennon 3.Featherbed Lane|
|Deloitte Nov Hdle||Winners: 3/12; Seconds & thirds: 1/8||1.Benefficient 2.Sous Les Cieux 3.Il Fenomeno|
|Royal Bond Nv Hd||Winners: 3/9; Seconds & thirds: 1/10||1.Sous Les Cieux 2.GalileosChoice 3.Miss Nomer|
|Hatton’sGrace Hd||Winners: 3/9; Seconds & thirds: 0/13||1.VolerLa Vedette 2.Mourad 3.The Real Article|
|Cleeve Hurdle||Winners: 2/12; Seconds & thirds: 3/17||1.Big Bucks 2.Dynaste 3.Mourad|
|Betfair Hurdle||Winners: 2/9; Seconds & thirds: 3/22||1.Zarkandar 2.Get Me Out Of Here 3.Raya Star|
|Future Ch’ Nv Hd||Winners: 2/12; Seconds & thirds: 2/11||1.Cash And Go 2.Dylan Ross 3.Sous Les Cieux|
|V Chandler Chase||Winners: 2/10; Seconds & thirds: 2/15||1.Somersby 2.Finians Rainbow 3.Al Ferof|
|Winter Novices’ Hd||Winners: 2/9; Seconds & thirds: 1/7||1.FingalBay 2.Simonsig 3.Barbatos|
|Game Spirit Chse||Winners: 2/13; Seconds & thirds: 1/11||1.Sprinter Sacre 2.French Opera 3.Im So Lucky|
|Lexus Chase||Winners: 2/11; Seconds & thirds: 1/8||1.Synchronised 2.Rubi Light 3.Quito De La Rogue|
|Altcar Nov Chse||Winners: 2/7; Seconds & thirds: 0/1||1.Our Mick 2.State Benefit 3.Majala|
|Denman Chase||Winners: 2/7; Seconds & thirds: 0/11||1.LongRun 2.Burton Port 3.What A Friend|
|Bristol Novices Hd||Winners: 2/10; Seconds & thirds: 0/10||1.Deireadh Re 2.Rev It Up 3.American Spin|
|Imperial Cup Hd||Winners: 2/10; Seconds & thirds: 0/5||1.Paintball 2.Nampour 3.Sire De Grugy|
|Ascot Hurdle||Winners: 2/10; Seconds & thirds: 0/10||1.Overturn 2.For Non Stop 3.Katchit|
|Finesse Juv Hd||Winners: 2/10; Seconds & thirds: 0/10||1.Grumeti 2.Pearl Swan 3.Hollow Tree|
|Prestbury Jv Nv Hd||Winners: 2/10; Seconds & thirds: 0/19||1.Hinterland 2.Hollow Tree 3.Secret Edge|
|November Nov Ch||Winners: 1/12; Seconds & thirds: 3/10||1.Al Ferof 2.Astracad 3.Maggio|
|Racing Plus Chse||Winners: 1/7; Seconds & thirds: 2/13||1.Nacarat 2.Hectors Choice 3.Consigliere|
|International Hd||Winners: 1/10; Seconds & thirds: 2/15||1.Grandouet 2.Overturn 3.Brampour|
|Fighting Fifth Hd||Winners: 1/13; Seconds & thirds: 2/13||1.Overturn 2.Binocular 3.Celestial Halo|
|Greatwood Hcp Hd||Winners: 1/12; Seconds & thirds: 1/20||1.Brampour 2.Olofi 3.Abergavenny|
|Boyles’ Gold Cup||Winners: 0/10; Seconds & thirds: 3/18||1.Quantitativeeasing 2.Medermit 3.Roudoudou Ville|
The King George VI Chase sits proudly at the top of the above for the leading Cheltenham Festival trial race for good reason as the winner has now gone on to lift the Gold Cup in five of the last eight years. To put that feat into context, only three horses achieved the King George/Gold Cup double from 1960 to 2001, but Kauto Star will this week be bidding to make it six victories in nine years for Kempton victors, who have a superior record to those that could finish only second Boxing Day, giving Paul Nicholls star the statistical edge over Kempton runner-up, Long Run.
Another Kempton event to have found the Cheltenham bullseye with regularity recently is the Adonis Juvenile Novice Hurdle in which the last two winners – Soldatino & Zarkandar – both followed-up in Triumph Hurdle, boding well for Tom George’s Baby Mix, who has already proven himself around Prestbury Park when winning his hurdle debut in December.
Leopardstown's Istabraq Festival Hurdle run over the Festive period also has a good pedigree for Cheltenham, courtesy of Istabraq himself who went on to several victories around Prestbury Park, and Unaccompanied will be hoping to keep this Leopardstown event’s crisp record in tact by landing the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle.
Defending Festival champions, Big Buck’s and Hurricane Fly, have taken familiar paths to this year’s four-day meeting that have proven successful in the past. The former has already won both the Long Distance and Long Walk Hurdles that have pointed the way here before, while Hurricane Fly took the reliable Irish Champion Hurdle back in January – the exact race he used as a prep last year.
The Betfair Hurdle (formerly the Totesport Gold Trophy Hurdle) has always been a reliable signpost for the Festival courtesy of five victors to have made the top three at Newbury – a fact that bodes well for this year’s key protagonists, Zarkandar, Get Me Out Of Here and Raya Star.
While the winner of the Boylesports Gold Cup at Cheltenham in December has yet to head back for the double, it’s worth noting that both the runner-up and third from that event in Medermit and Roudoudou Ville.
On a similar theme to which trials provided the most winners at the Festival, the table below highlights which tracks were the most successful in providing a final springboard for Cheltenham since 2003.