A LOW DRAW LOOKS VITAL
Andy Newton picks out the defining trends to help you pick the winner of the Chester Cup
So, that’s another National Hunt season done and dusted. Plenty of highlights to saviour and despite the UK-based trainers landing three of the four feature Cheltenham Festival races it’s clear the powerful Irish yards of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott continue to dominate.
Yes, Nicky Henderson is still very much flying the flag for the British stables but the fire-power coming over from Ireland for Cheltenham is immense, so fingers crossed the Seven Barrows maestro can hang in there next season.
Anyway, as we wave goodbye to the hedge-hoppers for another season we see the Flat turf action moving up a few notches this month. We’ve the first two English Classics – the 1,000 & 2,000 Guineas – at Newmarket, but we’ve also got the three-day Chester May Meeting and their feature race – THE CHESTER CUP.
The Chester Cup, run over 2m2f, is the flagship race of a cracking festival (May 9-11) and it’s a contest that I always look forward to each Spring – mainly because there’s plenty of key trends to apply that have helped pin-point the winners year-after year.
With 20+ horses rattling around Roodee it’s always a decent spectacle, while it’s a race the bookies have been licking their lips over in recent years with just four winning favourites since 1975.
So, what are the other key trends to note? The age of the winners is a good
place to start as every winner since 1975 has been 8 or younger, with the main ages to look for being 5, 6 and 7 yearolds who have been responsible for 12 of the last 16 winners (75%).
Recent Form - If you been through the final card and a horse you like is heading here off the back of a poor recent run – don’t be too concerned. 11 of the last 16 winners landed the Chester Cup having finished unplaced in their most recent race. Weight Carried - Being a handicap the weight carried is another key stat as 11 of the last 16 winners (69%) carried 9-2 or less – in fact, since 1981 we’ve only seen 6 winners carry more than 9-2 to victory. This helps knock several out. While in terms of the official ratings then horses with marks between 93-99 (inc) have won a massive 13 of the last 16 renewals.
Draw Advantage - Next up is the draw, and many believe that with this race being run over 2m2f the starting point shouldn’t really have a big impact – wrong! With Chester being one of the tightest of the Flat tracks, racing space is at a premium. Plus, being that the track is always on the turn, saving valuable space on the inside can be the difference between winning and losing. Therefore, it’s no real surprise that horses drawn low have held sway in recent years – meaning they grab a good early pitch on the rail and in the process save vital energy for this stamina-sapping trip. 11 of the last 16 winners came from stall 7 or lower which means even if you stick to only this trend you’ll be left with just 7 runners to pick from.
The Betting - I’ve already mentioned the market leaders having a dire record in the race. Remember, we’ve had just 4 winning favourites since 1975, with the last one Mamlook in 2010. Plus, since the turn of the century we’ve only had two winning favourites. Having said that, despite the jollies having a poor win record, it is worth noting that a fair few have been placed – 50% of the last 16 to be exact.
With their being 16+ runners, and it also being a handicap, then don’t forget the each-way terms here are the first four places. It might also pay to know that 10 of the last 16 runners still returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting so even though it’s been a kind race to the bookies in terms of not many favourites winning, it’s also a race punters’ are often not too far off the mark in.
Fitness Edge - Having a recent run has been an advantage in recent years too. With 11 of the last 16 winners having raced in the last 2 months then proven fitness, or a recent race to blow away the cobwebs, have been an advantage.
Key Owners - Look for anything owner Dr Marwan Koukash runs – he loves to win races at this meeting and inparticular this one. He’s sure to be mobbed-handed but don’t be afraid to split stakes across all of his runners, especially those that fit some of the better key trends listed – he’s won the prize three times in the last 10 years.
Hot Stables - The stables more famed for their National Hunt runners have done well too recently, with Donald
McCain training two of the last seven winners, while the current champion National Hunt trainer – Nicky Henderson – sent out the 2016 winner – No Heretic. In terms of the flat yards to note then the Andrew Balding camp won the race 12 months ago with Montaly and if liningup again will be looking to become the fourth repeat winner of the race since 1997. Richard Fahey sent out the winners in 2007 and 2013 so anything he runs should also be respected. Finally, despite Charlie Hills yet to win the Chester Cup it’s worth noting his father – Barry – used to love winning this race. He notched-up four victories during his training career so son Charlie will be keen to get in on the Chester Cup Hills Hall-Of Fame.
Recent Chester Cup Winners
2017 – Montaly (16/1) 2016 – No Heretic (11/1) 2015 – Trip To Paris (10/1) 2014 – Suegioo (10/1) 2013 – Address Unknown (12/1) 2012 – Il De Re (10/1) 2011 – Overturn (11/2) 2010 – Mamlook (7/1 fav) 2009 – Daraahem (7/1) 2008 – Bulwark (33/1) 2007 – Greenwich Meantime (14/1) 2006 – Admiral (28/1) 2005 – Anak Pekan (16/1) 2004 – Anak Pekan (2/1 fav) 2003 – Hugs Dancer (9/1) 2002 – Fantasy Hill (8/1)
Chester Cup Betting Trends
15/16 – Aged 7 years-old or younger 15/16 – Winning distance – 2 lengths or less 13/16 – Officially rated between 93-99 12/16 – Aged 5, 6 or 7 years-olds 11/16 – Carried 9-2 or less 11/16 – Had raced within the last 2 months 11/16 – Finished unplaced last time out 11/16 – Won from stall 7 or lower 10/16 – Returned 10/1 or shorter in the betting 10/16 – Had won previously over at least 2m on the flat 8/16 – Favourites were unplaced 8/16 – Placed favourites 7/16 – Irish bred 3/16 – Had won at the track before 3/16 – Ran at Aintree over hurdles last time out 3/16 – Ran at Newmarket last time out 3/16 – Won by owner Dr Marwan Koukash 2/16 – Trained by Donald McCain 2/16 – Won by the favourite 2/16 – Won their previous race
Key Chester Cup Stats
The race has seen repeat winners three times since 1997 Since 1975 we’ve only seen 4 winning favourites The Hills yard took the race in 1980, 1999, 2001 and 2009 Since 1975 all winners have been aged 8 or younger Since 1975 there have only been three winners aged 8 years-old Since 1981 only 7 winners have carried more than 9-2 to victory The average winning SP in the last 15 years is 13/1 4 of the last 8 winners came from NH yards 3 of the last 6 winners returned 10/1 Dr Marwan Koukash has owned 3 of the last 10 winners.
Montaly (centre, blue cap) won the 2017 Chester Cup at 16/1