A LOW DRAW LOOKS VI­TAL

Andy New­ton picks out the defin­ing trends to help you pick the win­ner of the Ch­ester Cup

Racing Ahead - - CHESTER CUP TRENDS -

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.

Good Luck!

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

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