Welcome to the first instalment of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival Trendspotting series, dealing with arguably the most influential factors throughout the meeting, namely trainers.
More often than not, it proves worthwhile latching on to a particular trainer or jockey throughout a major meeting, as witnessed at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival when both Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins sent out eight winners between them. Considering the popularity of both yards, punters who followed them blind across the four days would have returned a profit, with Henderson 4-35 (+£27) and Mullins 4-59 (+£18).
2019 Cheltenham Festival Leaderboard
|Henry De Bromhead||2-19||+38|
Top Trainer betting: 7-4 Gordon Elliott, 7-4 Willie Mullins, 3-1 Nicky Henderson, 14-1 Henry De Bromhead.
Willie Mullins also remains the leading trainer at this meeting during the last 10 years, making the winner’s enclosure on 50 occasions since 2010. And, it is with Mullins we start our close-up of the festival’s big guns.
2019: 4-59 +£18
2018: 7-62 +£11
2017: 6-45 +£13
The major factor surrounding Mullins’s runners at the festival in recent years was how profitable they proved - a fact captured when Mullins took his first Cheltenham Gold Cup last season with Al Boum Photo (12-1). A fourth consecutive victory in the Dawn Run Mares Novices’ Hurdle with Eglantine Du Seuil at 50-1 was another cracker for Mullins’s followers, in the process proving his ability with runners over distances of 2m½-2m4½f at this meeting.
Top races: Champion Bumper (9 wins); Mares’ Hurdle (9 wins); Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (6 wins); Arkle Chase (4 wins in 5 years); Dawn Run Mares Novices’ Hurdle (won all 4 renewals)
Positives: 2m½-2m4½f (35-224 +£79); 5yos (13-106 +£64); Grade 2/Grade 3/Listed race last time (21-168 +£27); Leopardstown last time (22-164 +£6)
Negatives: 4yo’s (0-33); Mr D Mullins (0-29)
2019: 4-35 +£27
2018: 2-34 -£30
2017: 3-37 -£25
Having recorded at least a double in nine of his 10 festivals, Nicky Henderson is always a trainer punters can look to for winners here. While unable to repeat his amazing seven-winner haul in 2012, Henderson recorded a memorable four-timer in 2019 for a handsome profit to boot. Three of those winners returned at 28-1, 20-1 and 10-1, including a seventh win in the Triumph Hurdle, where Nico de Boinville was on hand once more to rack up the profits for the yard.
Top races: Champion Hurdle (7 wins); Triumph Hurdle (7 wins); Arkle Chase (6 wins); Champion Chase (6 wins)
Positives: Day Two (12-85 +£44); Nico de Boinville (9-56 +£29); Class 2 event last time (8-84 +£27); Favourites (14-33 +£4)
Negatives: Non-Graded/Listed event (0-39)
2019: 3-45 -£35
2018: 8-32 +£52
2017: 6-29 +£44
Despite recording a treble at the 2019 festival, it was a case of back down to earth for Gordon Elliott having previously sent out 14 winners at the two previous festivals. His drop in winners here last season for a big level stakes loss also came despite sending out a record number of 45 runners across the four days. Clearly, the bookies have caught up with Elliott’s success, though his record in both the National Hunt Challenge Cup and Cross Country Chase remains strong.
Top races: National Hunt Challenge Cup (3 wins); Cross Country Chase (3 wins); Coral Cup (2 wins); Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle (2 wins); Triumph Hurdle (2 wins); Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final (2 wins); Champion Bumper (2 wins)
Positives: Won during last three runs (16-108 +£69); Non-handicap last time (12-127 +£106); Completed race last time but beaten more than 10l (9-52 +£83)
Negatives: 10yo+ (0-18 -£18); 10-3 or shorter (4-16 -£6)
2019: 2-24 -£13
2018: 2-23 +£11
2017: 1-25 -£8
Paul Nicholls may not knock in the number of winners he used to at the festival, but he can usually be relied upon to send out a double, just as he did during the last two seasons.
Top races: Champion Chase (4 wins); Stayers’ Hurdle (4 wins); County Hurdle (4 wins); Cheltenham Gold Cup (4 wins); Foxhunter Chase (4 wins); Grand Annual Chase (4 wins)
Positives: Down in trip by 1f or further from last time (7-52 +£54); 3-4 runners in the same race (6-71 (+£24); Won last time (12-107 +£5)
Negatives: Beaten 1l or more last time and completed (4-156 -£101); Upped in trip by 1½f or further from last time (1-80 -£63); Novice events (3-64 -£43); 33-1 or bigger (0-41); Listed event (0-24)
Others To Note…
Having sent out seven festival winners from 2010-2014, things were more quiet for Philip Hobbs in the last five years courtesy of just two winners (2-67 -£59). One of those came in 2019, however, with Defi Du Seuil - who won last time out - making it a total of 7-48 (+£5) for Hobbs with such runners here since 2010.
One trainer who enjoyed more festival success in recent years than Hobbs was Dan Skelton, who is really getting the hang of things here and sent out three winners during the last two festivals (3-26 +£33). Another handler with a double at the 2019 festival was Henry De Bromhead, whose 10-year tally now stands at 7-87 (+£16). Five of those came in Grade 1s (5-50 +£40), though backing them each-way in Grade 1s actually returned a further 11 placed runners for a return of +£49. Another way of tracking De Bromhead’s is when the money is down at odds of 12-1 or shorter (6-27 +£25).
Be Wary Of…
Charlie Longsdon: 0-62
Evan Williams: 0-47
Tim Vaughan: 0-37
Dr Richard Newland: 0-33