The Racing Horse had a mixed 2020 Cheltenham Festival, but (as always) we made a profit. It is hoped our pertinence, preparation and a certain acceptance of order was transmitted and received by our members long before racing started. Our aim was to find the ears of those members with the appropriate mental processes so able to resist the ensuing media and punditry hype!
First, the rules are very different here to any other racecourse in this country. We shouted this message until hoarse, betting in a normal sense at this Festival is unlikely to enable a profit. For example, most bettors carry seasonal/lifetime bias into the Festival and cannot strip these sentiments from their personal thought processes. Typically, they will seek a form horse from a favourite stable, all the better if hype attached for vindication and at that stage believe the job is done - but that is a misconception of what is required!
Of course, form has both credence and weight but in a relative sense in normal times, these are not normal times, and besides decent form is not applicable against horses trained by the four Premiership Racehorse trainers. It is hard to quantify the difference from these trainers and the rest, but make no mistake the gap is significant and unlikely to be bridged within the next few years!
QUESTION: Is the current mathematics/climate going to continue or end?
2020: Mullins 7 Elliott 7 Henderson 4 Nicholls 1 Total: 19 (68%)
2019: Henderson 4 Mullins 4 Elliott 3 Nicholls 2 Total: 13 (46%)
2018: Elliott 8 Mullins 7 Henderson 2 Nicholls 2 Total: 19 (68%)
It is going to continue, worth noting the flu injection farce negatively impacted on the 2019 figures and this could easily have kept numbers lower than they would otherwise be, despite this fact the past 3 years show the top four have won 51 of the 84 races for 61%. It would be reasonable to assume 2021 will provide 17 winners to the top four.
Context is everything - at this year's Festival 6 regular races/wins were shared by 104 other trainers outside our top 5 seeds which equates to 1 winner being shared by 17 trainers for 0.058 winners each as opposed to the top four who scored at 4.75 each.
These trainers have the luxury of laying out their horses solely with Cheltenham in mind. They can afford to work back from the Festival date, or even prepare a horse at home to win such is their skill and understanding, the vast majority of trainers have owners to placate. For example, in the past year we have personally witnessed/experienced Nicky Henderson talking about races and rest throughout the year but always working back from the first week in March. His main concern is to have them ready on the day with absolutely no pressure from owners.
On page one, line one we said: "There will be a fairy story or two this year but of the 28 races the vast majority will be won by the best trainers, taking them on is unwise." We could not have been more accurate!
We continued: "It is not a secret who the best trainers are and right here and now we can confidently predict that Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson, Gordon Elliott and Paul Nicholls will train at LEAST HALF of the WINNERS. The reality suggests they will win between 12 and 16 of the 28 races and these numbers are irrelevant of the ground conditions. The number 12 is probably a conservative estimate but even with Henry De Bromhead threatening to gate-crash the private party our best guess is that figure will be beaten!"
Of Henry De Bromhead we said early: "At this stage he has 40 horses entered for the Festival and his horses are in form with 3 of his last 12 winning including a 25/1 winner and another at 5/1. Surely he will have at least ONE WINNER this year and maybe TWO?" He had two winners!
Alternatively we spoke of Nigel Twiston-Davies and said: "Our table shows some interesting strike rates and I think it is fair to say the 'big sulk' that is Nigel Twiston-Davies is out of form with his horses and looking at his intended runners cannot see an obvious chance." He entered 18 runners they finished 9-14-9-P-9-8-F-10-16-17-5-P-11-10-8-P-P-5. Even the two fifth places were in smaller fields, this must be regarded as a bitter disappointment as was the Colin Tizzards runners.
We continued that theme/sentiment throughout all of our blogs and set up a Cheltenham SCOREBOARD LIVE to monitor throughout racing each day. So how close were we with those forecasts? The answer is not close, they were EXACT!
There was 27 regular races at this year's Cheltenham Festival of which the top four won 19 of them for 70.37%. We advised Henry De Bromhead be included in this year's mop-up and this took the total to 21 from 27 for 77.78% meaning the other 6 races were shared by 104 trainers. Now, many readers would say these figures were obvious, but were they? Did those reading this actually factor/calibrate their betting to our numbers? I don't think so, apologies to the one or two who did!
The list of decent UK trainers with not getting a horse in the first 10 let alone win always amazes us. Let's look at the figures of some of our top trainers this year:
Dan Skelton 0-18
Colin Tizzard 0-17 (7 of those pulled up).
Nigel Twiston-Davies 0-17
Philip Hobbs 0-14
Alan King 0-12
Most of the numbers above were nearer last than third. There was a time when the Pipe stable were competitive but those days are now gone. The number of losing betting slips connected with those trainers named above is hard to estimate, but it has always been our opinion most were lost before the tape went up and not during the race! Suffice it to say, had we been a bookmaker we would won massively just by keeping the top four on side.
The Racing Horse did not bet on every race at the Festival but we nominated to show the strength of our preparation and despite getting involved in all those races returned small profits with our first selections (+1.25) and our second selections (+4.30) for a total profit of +5.55. The word luck never appears on any of our blogs but we are allowed to rue the run of Benie Des Dieux, who by everyone's opinion should have won. Column Of Fire at 13/2 fell at the last with the race at its mercy and Santini 11/2 had to stop and go around Lostintranslation losing over a length yet beaten a neck. It could have been that much better.
The big disappointment for us personally was the run of Pentland Hills and the ground conditions did not help, this was confirmed by Nicky Henderson who told me: "Pentland Hills is absolutely fine after his Champion Hurdle run. It was a bit disappointing to see him finish ninth, but Nico said after the race that he didn't like the ground, which isn't really a surprise - it's just a shame it has been so wet, as most years we'd have had ground to suit." Our apologies to members who followed us and hope they had a full stake saver on Epatante as advised. Alternately, the ground conditions helped us with the price of Shishkin and we were able to batter the 6/1 price after having an early stake saver on Asterion Forlonge at 6/1 also (ante-post).
We tend to mark ourselves in everything we do and because the preparation was that good can only give ourselves a 7/10 for results. We had promised friends at least a 20pt profit. Congratulations to Mark P who deleted all runners from the racecards in all races not trained by the big four and made 37.38pts profit. Seems a good idea and one for next year given nothing is to going to change. By the way he backed Dynamite Dollars to beat Politologue (saver) so his profit could have been higher.
Here's hoping our Cheltenham Festival blog/numbers have/had interest/value.
Thanks to our members who stuck with us through a testing January and February, be assured we are ready to go with the Pacafi and the 3Favinon from now on...
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