Emerald City

Emerald City

I love specials bets for the Festival and they’ve been kind to the portfolio over the last 3 years. I’ve put up two such bets for the Festival each year - one has come in each season, yielding an overall 7 point, (116%,) profit. (If the ground had been called accurately at the start of last season’s Festival, it’d have been an 18 point or 300% profit!)

About a decade or so ago, you could pay for Festival week by backing there to be more Irish winners than the market perceived, (in the old 20 race, 3 day meeting, the spread was often for only about 4 or 5 Irish winners.) That lasted for about four years before layers got wise.

The power of the Irish team is on a completely different scale now and they get a far bigger share of the winners these days - last year Irish trained horses won 12 of the 27 races, and in 2013 they won the majority (14) for the first time. Despite that, I think the chances of the Irish team are being underestimated again.

Irish trained horses have therefore won half the races over the last 2 years. All other things being equal you might start by expecting 13-14 Irish winners again. Yet William Hill have priced it up as 3/1 for 8 winners or less, Evens for 9-12 and 7/4 for 13 or more winners. That suggests about 11 is the most likely number – ie that the Irish challenge is weaker this year than the last two years.

Looking at the form and the markets, I’d say the opposite is true. Willie Mullins seems to have an incredible team of novice hurdlers and the Irish novice chasing division is stronger than I can ever recall. I can see the Irish mopping up in the novice level weights races and, given the strength in depth, I can see them having some really well handicapped novices, (handicaps, especially handicap chases, being an area where the Irish have traditionally done much less well.)

When analysing this to see if my gut feel is justified, the first important point is to distinguish between races where the market has a reasonably mature shape and so can be analysed, and those where it can’t. Broadly, that division is between the level weights races and the handicaps.

There are currently 14 races where I think the market is mature enough to be worth analysing. That’s every level weights race except the Triumph, (where the winner usually hasn’t even run yet,) and the Foxhunters, (which looks very open this season.)

To stop it getting too complicated I’ve only looked at horses at shorter than 20/1 in these 14 markets. Plenty of horses are quoted for different races and, given the vast majority will only run once, I’ve guessed which race they will run in and only included them in that race. For example, I’ve assumed Douvan will run in the Supreme, (far from certain as Willie Mullins has been mooting the Neptune), and only included him in that race.

There are also a few horses quoted by the odd bookmaker for a race where they’re highly unlikely to run. For example, Abbyssial hasn’t even made the track yet this season and has never run over fences, so quotes for the Ryanair seem worth ignoring.

For simplicity, I’ve assumed the winner will come from those remaining horses quoted at shorter than 20/1. Having done that the markets are follows, (the Irish horses in bold):

Supreme – 5/1 Douvan; 12/1 Alvisio Ville, L’Ami Serge; 16/1 Shaneshill

Arkle – 5/2 Un De Sceaux; 12/1 Clarcam, Josses Hill

Champion Hurdle – 11/8 Faugheen, 3/1 The New One; 6/1 Jezki; 14/1 Hurricane Fly

Mares – 13/8 Annie Power; 6/1 Aurore D’Estruval; 13/2 Glens Melody; 8/1 Morning Run; 10/1 Carole’s Spirit, Carrigmoorna Rock; 12/1 Polly Peachum; 14/1 Little King Robin; 16/1 Clara Mc Cloud

4 Miler – 5/1 Don Poli; 14/1 Mala Beach; 16/1 Sausalito Sunrise

Neptune – 8/1 Tell Us More; 14/1 Parlour Games; 16/1 Free Expression; Value At Risk; Windsor Park

RSA – 6/1 Kings Palace; 12/1 Valseur Lido; 14/1 Coneygree, Whisper; 16/1 Saphir Du Rheu; The Young Master

Champion Chase – 3 Sprinter Sacre; 5/1 Sire De Grugy; 9/1 Al Ferof; 12/1 Champagne Fever; 14/1 Dodging Bullets; 16/1 Uxizandre

Bumper – 12/1 Vigil, Bordini; 14/1 Moon Racer, Up For Review, Pylonthepressure, Supasundae; 16/1 Lyrical Theatre

JLT – 5/1 Vautour; 8/1 Gilgamboa; 10/1 Ptit Zig; 14/1 Close Touch; 16/1 Gods Own, Irish Saint

Ryanair – 5/1 Dynaste; 8/1 Don Cossack; 14/1 Balder Succes, Johns Spirit

World Hurdle – 4/1 More Of That; 7/1 Beat That; 12/1 Zarkandar; 14/1 Lieutenant Colonel; 16/1 Briar Hill

Albert Bartlett – 7/1 No More Heroes; 10/1 Black Hercules, Blaklion; 16/1 Milsean

Gold Cup – 3/1 Silviniaco Conti; 10/1 Road To Riches; 14/1 Holywell, 16/1 Lord Windermere, Many Clouds

I’ve then just compared the theoretical chances of all the Irish runners with the theoretical chances of all the British runners – and split the 14 races between them accordingly. On this basis you’d expect the Irish trained horses to win 7.64 and British trained horses to win 6.36 of these 14 races.

The second part of the analysis is the remaining races, mainly handicaps. In the absence of meaningful markets, one simple way to consider them is to look at the results of the last 2 years. Last season the British won 8 and the Irish 5, in 2013 it was 7 for Britain and 6 for Ireland. So you could estimate 5.5 Irish winners from those 13 races.

It’s obviously only a rough analysis but that suggests the likely number of Irish winners at this stage is 13-14.

The 7/4 for 13 or more Irish winners looks good value on this basis, but I’m looking for something with a bigger payoff and William Hill are also offering 9/1 for there to be 15 or more Irish trained winners, (the record is the 14 in 2013.)

My gut feeling is that by the time of the declarations, the odds on the Irish horses will have shortened more than the British horses, and that the theoretical number of Irish trained winners will be close to 14. I also think that the markets are failing to price in the transfer of power across the Irish Sea and so the likely number of Irish trained winners will be higher than the market suggests at that stage.

I have it about a 3/1 chance that the Irish will break the record and train 15 or more winners this time and so 9/1 is a must bet.

1pt 15+ Irish trained winners at the Festival @ 9/1

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Cheltenham Countdown

The best Cheltenham Festival blog on the planet returns for 2015!

Over the past three years our National Hunt expert Matt Tombs has held our hands on the road to the Cheltenham Festival, with analysis and bets through the season, but the main focus being on the four days in March that brings the racing world together.

Matt has turned a profit every year, and in 2014 ante-post bets on Jezki (12/1) and Balthazar King (33/1) ensured it was another successful Festival. View the archive of years past at 2014, 2013 and 2012.

You can also follow and contact Matt on Twitter.

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Cheltenham Portfolio:

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Bentelimar - Supreme Novices - 0.5pts e/w 50/1 - U/P

Un De Sceaux - Arkle - 1pt 6/1 - WON

Smashing - Arkle w/o Un De Sceaux - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - Champion Hurdle - 1pt e/w 33/1 NRNB - 2nd

Polly Peachum - Mares Hurdle - 1pt e/w 10/1 NRNB - 2nd

Cause Of Causes - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 8/1 NRNB - WON

Wounded Warrior - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 10/1 - N/R

Vroum Vroum Mag - National Hunt Chase - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Cocktails At Dawn - Novices Handicap Chase - 1pt 16/1 NRNB - U/P

Jarry D'Honneur - Novices Handicap Chase - 1pt 16/1 NRNB - N/R

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Nichols Canyon - Neptune Novices - 1pt 6/1 NRNB - 3rd

Arbre De Vie - Neptune Novices - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - N/R

Champagne West - RSA Chase - 1pt 16/1 - N/R

Valseur Lido - RSA Chase - 1pt 10/1 NRNB - N/R

Simply Ned - Champion Chase - 1pt e/w 33/1 - U/P

Sire Collonges - Cross Country - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Moon Racer - Champion Bumper - 1pt 12/1 - WON

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Apache Stronghold - JLT - 1pt 16/1 - 2nd

Caid Du Berlais - Ryanair Chase - 1pt 25/1 - N/R

Un Temps Pour Tout - World Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Whisper - World Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P

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Rich Coast - County Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 NRNB - U/P

Shantou Bob - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 25/1 - U/P

Martello Tower - Albert Bartlett - 1pt 12/1 - WON

Dynaste - Gold Cup - 1pt 25/1 - N/R

Smad Place - Gold Cup - 1pt e/w 25/1 NRNB - U/P

Current Event - Foxhunter Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

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15 or more - Total Irish Winners - 1pt 9/1 - Lost

Mullins treble - Novice Hurdles - 1pt 20/1 - Lost

Fred Winter - Longest Winning SP Race - 1pt 20/1 - Lost

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Other bets:

Shanahan's Turn - Novice Handicap Chase - 1pt 12/1 - U/P

Pearlysteps - Champion Hunters Chase - 1pt 9/1 - 3rd

Rivage D'Or - La Touche Cup - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Lots Of Memories - World Series Hurdle - 1pt e/w 40/1 - U/P

Ballynagour - Punchestown Gold Cup - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

No More Heroes - Daily Mirror Novice Hurdle - 1pt 10/3 - U/P

Ange D'Or Javilex - Martinstown Handicap Hurdle - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Modus - Champion INH Flat Race - 1pt 5/1 - 3rd

Valseur Lido - Growise Novice Chase - 1pt 9/1 - WON

Mallowney - Boylesports Champion Chase - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Saint Are - Grand National - 1pt 33/1 - 2nd

Corrin Wood - Grand National - 1pt 100/1 - U/P

Cole Harden - Liverpool Hurdle - 1pt 11/4 - 2nd

Nichols Canyon - Mersey Novices Hurdle - 1pt 7/2 - WON

Sizing Granite - Maghull Novices Chase - 1pt 6/1 - WON

Simply Ned - Melling Chase - 1pt 22/1 - U/P

Carraig Mor - Mildmay Novices Chase - 1pt 14/1 - 2nd

Roi Des Francs - Sefton Novices Hurdle - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Blue Heron - Aintree Hurdle - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Silviniaco Conti - Aintree Bowl - 1pt 3/1 - WON

Dresden - Red Rum Chase - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Neverownup - Fox Hunter Chase - 1pt 40/1 - U/P

Wicklow Brave - Betfair Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - U/P

Houblon Des Obeaux - Denman Chase - 1pt 10/3 - 2nd

On His Own - Irish Hennessy - 1pt 7/2 - U/P

Apache Stronghold - Flogas Novice Chase - 1pt 5/1 - WON

Un Temps Pour Tout - Cleeve Hurdle - 1pt 11/4 - 3rd

Robinsfirth - Classic Novice Hurdle - 1pt 8/1 - U/P

Arctic Fire - Irish Champion Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - 2nd

Twinlight - Clarence House Chase - 1pt 6/1 - U/P

Katie T - Boylesports Hurdle - 1pt 12/1 - WON

Lord Windermere - Lexus Chase - 1pt 13/2 - U/P

Dedigout - Leopardstown Xmas Hurdle - 1pt 33/1 - U/P

Le Vent d'Antan - Beginners' Chase - 1pt 3/1 - WON

Al Ferof - King George - 1pt 6/1 - 3rd

Purple Bay - Christmas Hurdle - 1pt 20/1 - 2nd

Simply Ned - Dial-a-Bet Chase - 1pt 10/1 - 3rd

Corrin Wood - Rowland Meyrick - 1pt 8/1 - 3rd

Ma Filleule - King George - 2pts 33/1 - N/R

Hello George - Ladbroke - 1pt 14/1 - U/P

Caid Du Berlais - December Gold Cup - 1pt 7/2 - U/P

Zamdy Man - International Hurdle - 1pt e/w 12/1 - U/P

Dodging Bullets - Tingle Creek - 1pt 10/1 - WON

Irish Saint - Henry VIII - 1pt 13/8 - U/P

Ma Filleule - Betfred Chase - 1pt 9/4 - U/P

Benny's Mist - Grand Sefton - 1pt 12/1 - 3rd

Rocky Creek - Hennessy Gold Cup - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Aurore D'Estruval - Fighting Fifth - 1pt 4/1 - 2nd

Real Steel - Drinmore - 1pt 12/1 - 3rd

Tandem - Royal Bond - 1pt 10/1 - U/P

Menorah - Betfair Chase - 1pt 9/1 - 2nd

Zamdy Man - Price Rush Hurdle - 1pt 25/1 - 2nd

Caid Du Berlais - Paddy Power Gold Cup - 1pt 16/1 - WON

Sausalito Sunrise - Club Novices Chase - 1pt 3/1 - 2nd

Simply Ned - Shloer Chase - 1pt 9/4 - 2nd

Regal Encore - Greatwood Hurdle - 1pt 16/1 - U/P

Jezki - Morgiana Hurdle - 1pt 4/5 - 2nd