Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Five Novice Hurdle statistics to consider

Statistics and trends are now part and parcel of the analysis of the Cheltenham Festival; here are five of the strongest from the novice hurdles that are worth considering. Those thinking about backing a Paul Nicholls horse should make sure they tick most of the boxes here.

The Supreme Novices' Hurdle is by far Ireland's strongest race at the Festival and often gets them off to a string start to the meeting. Of all the races that leave for the Emerald Isle this is the one that is most exported with the Irish taking it home 18 times since 1977. They don't look to have as strong a team as usual this time by the Willie Mullins trained Zaidpour offers them hope of taking home the prize once more.

With favourite Cue Card likely to start at under 3/1, it's interesting to note that, the last four to start at under 3/1 in this race have all been beaten - Sweet Wake (2006) 5/2, Amaretto Rose (2007) 2/1, Cousin Vinny (2009) 9/4 and Dunguib (2010) 4/5 - the last two Cousin Vinny and Dunguib coming from the same route as Cue Card, impressive bumper winners to meeting top-class novices with questionable form in the book. That statistic alone must make backers think about taking under 3/1 on Cue Card in the Cheltenham betting.

In the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle age matters and those aged seven and older have struggled over the history of this race with French Holly the only winner in that age group since 1974. Conversely at the other end of the scale, no four year old has even made the frame, which given that they receive a 9lb allowance from their elders is quite some statistic.

The trends and statistics for the Triumph Hurdle have changed since the implementation of the "Fred Winter" race - since then all six winners have been found in the first four in the betting, and we would also strongly disregard horses that were beaten last time out.

Finally, for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle course form is important in this one and five of the six winners had run at Cheltenham before. Only last year's shock winner Bertie's Dream had not finished first or second last time out.

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