Micro-Angles – Weekend Big Race Previews

I will start by identifying some trainer track stats to note for the weekend’s action, before looking at some of the key trends for two of the big handicaps at Cheltenham on Saturday.


1:55 – Caspian Caviar Gold Cup – 2m 5f

Let’s begin by having a look at some of the key trends and stats for Saturday’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Last years race was won by the Paul Nicholls trained Frodon who was sent off at odds of 14/1. The 2008 renewal was cancelled so for the purpose of this exercise I have looked at the last eight runnings of the race. The stats consist of 8 winners from 118 runners 28 placed.

Key Trends:

Odds SP: 16/1 & Under – 8 winners from 77 runners 25 placed
Age: 4 to 8-year-olds – 8 winners from 94 runners 26 placed
Days Since Last Run: 21 to 45 days – 8 winners from 75 runners 24 placed
Distance Move: Up ½ f to 2f – 8 winners from 62 runners 21 placed
Last Time Out Placing: 1st, 2nd or 3rd – 6 winners from 62 runners 18 placed
Wins in Season: 1+ – 6 winners from 49 runners 15 placed

Notable Trainer Records:

Looking at those trainers with runners sent off at odds 16/1 & under:

Paul Nicholls – 3 winners from 14 runners 5 placed
Venetia Williams – 1 winner from 3 runners 3 placed
Philip Hobbs – 1 winner from 4 runners 4 placed

All the Paul Nicholls winners of the race had run at Cheltenham on their last start – 4 wins from 9 runners 44% +36 5 placed 56%.

Verdict: Clearly the going will have a big say on the outcome of the race. The going is good to soft at the time of writing but a combination of melting snow and some more rain means the going description is likely to be soft by Saturday.

It’s not a race that has seen any really big-priced winners in recent seasons. A recent run between 21 to 45 days is a positive to a horse’s chance, as is a horse aged 8 and younger.

The Paul Nicholls record in the race means his recent Haydock winner, the improving Clan Des Obeaux has to be on the shortlist. Looking at those Nicholls stats; BetVictor Gold Cup runner-up Le Prezien also has to be respected.

Previous C&D winner Kings Odyssey trained by Evan Williams was still travelling strongly on the heels of the leaders when falling at the 12th in last years Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. He is at his best on testing ground and if he gets underfoot conditions he must have strong each-way claims.

Kylemore Lough was all the rage ante-post for the BetVictor Gold Cup but made a mistake at the water and was never travelling from that point and was pulled up. That was his first run for trainer Harry Fry and he looks on a competitive mark but he is now 0 wins from 4 runs at Cheltenham and his 5th in last years race suggested others finished the race off stronger.

1:20 – Junior Jumpers Handicap Chase – 2m ½ f

The race that precedes Saturday’s main feature is this Class 2 handicap chase. Last years renewal was won by the Jonjo O’Neill trained Eastlake who was sent off at odds of 33/1. The 10-year-old has previously won the race back in 2013 and was a bit of a trends buster as far as the betting was concerned. Prior to last years, no winner of the race had gone off at odds higher than 15/2 since 2003. The stats consist of 8 winners from 83 runners 22 placed.

Key Trends:

Places At Cheltenham: 1+ – 8 winners from 52 runners 17 placed
Odds SP: 15/2 @ Under – 7 winners from 29 runners 13 placed
Last Time Out Position: 1st, 2nd or 3rd – 7 winners from 36 runners 14 placed
Runs Last 90 Days: 2 to 3 – 7 winners from 45 runners 14 placed
Track Last Race: Cheltenham – 6 winners from 28 runners 12 placed
Days Since Last Run: 26 to 30 – 6 winners 27 runners 12 placed

Notable Trainer Records:

Paul Nicholls & Jonjo O’Neill (both Eastlake), have won this race twice in the period under research. The Nicholls record is 2 winners from 8 runners 25% +0.75 3 placed both his winners were last time out winners.

Verdict: Despite Eastlake’s shock win last year it has paid to follow the money in this race in recent years with 7 out of the last 8 winners coming from the first 5 in the betting. A top three finish last time and at least one placed or winning effort at the track can be both considered as positives.

This year’s renewal doesn’t look the strongest on paper looking at the 5-day declarations. Neither Paul Nicholls nor Jonjo O’Neill has runners entered in this year’s race which is a bit of a disappointment.

Foxtail Hill who is 2 wins from 6 runs at Cheltenham has to be respected as does former Champion Chase win Sir De Grugy despite having a lacklustre performance at Ascot to overcome. Un Beau Roman has won here in the past and even the 10-year-old Pearls Legend, a winner of this race in 2015, who was 2nd on his last start at Ludlow shouldn’t be underestimated. Despite not having had a placed effort at Cheltenham recent Exeter winner Un Prophete has to have a good chance if he runs as the 6-year-old is open to further progress over fences and his trainer Venetia Williams is 3 winners from 6 runners 50% +37 A/E 4.35 5 placed 83% with runners in handicap chases, at this meeting, that had finished in the first two on their last start.

Until next week, be lucky.


John Burke

I have a MA in International Politics and having spent a number of years working in political campaigning but I eventually I realised that politics was not the world where I wanted to work I had been interested in horse racing since the late 1980s but in the early years I was merely just betting and watching racing like most people as a bit of fun and a hobby, then the hobby becomes a passion and that’s what happened to me with horse racing. I soon realised that to make money from my hobby I had to learn as much as I could about the sport and betting in general. The whole process took time but after a number of successful years of betting, I decided in 2011 to take the plunge, gave up my full time day job and decided to bet on horse racing as a part time business and I haven’t looked back since. I like to specialise in the better class of races and I love to solve the puzzles posed by big field handicaps the latter races often provide punters with great value betting opportunities. Whilst most of my time is spent reviewing previous races I like to keep things as simple as possible as even the biggest field handicaps can usually be pruned down to half a dozen strong contenders with the right sort of approach.
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