The Cheltenham Festival results repeatedly confirm that one of the most important trends to follow is when your runner had its last run.
It seems important that a horse should have had a run in the two months leading up to the Cheltenham Festival to put them at their peak fitness but at the same time too a very recent a run in the lead up to Cheltenham could leave its mark on the horse and it may fail to run its race on the biggest stage of all.
Recent stats have suggested that horses that have had their last run between 60 and 21 days before the start of the Cheltenham Festival are three times more likely to win than those who haven’t! 5 of the 7 winners on Day One of the 2011 festival had last run between these time periods.
When looking at the extremes of recent form you can see a very recent run can certainly be considered a negative, only one horse since 2009 has won at the Cheltenham Festival having run within ten days of the Festival, meanwhile horses coming back from a long break have often struggled, those who have not run in 100 days or more have a poor record with just 6 winners from the last 200 qualifiers for this stat.
One horse that didn’t run in that peak last race range of 21 to 60 days on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival was the hot favourite in the first race, Cue Card. He went off at just 7/4 and seemingly ran his race but he could only finish fourth. No run for 94 days possibly cost him the victory in that race.
Some well fancied horses for the rest of the week who have not run for some time include Time For Rupert, the hot favourite for the RSA Chase today, Poquelin who is likely to go off favourite in the RyanAir Chase on Thursday and Big Bucks who is the short priced favourite for World Hurdle on the same day.
Of course, that’s not to say these horses can’t win, a bit more caution should be taken when looking at their form though, good form off a break is a must. There is the odd exception where a recent run would actually jeopardise a horse’s chances of winning at the Cheltenham Festival.
In the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Imperial Commander will need to overcome an absence of 118 days to retain his Gold Cup crown. He does go very well fresh though, having won the race after a break of 83 days last year. He won his reappearance this season having been off the track for over 7 months which is another plus. When turned out quickly in the past he has run some bad races, three weeks after his Gold Cup win last year he ran at Aintree and wasn’t going well when unseating his rider so his break this year should certainly be viewed as a positive. Check out Imperial Commander’s Cheltenham Gold Cup Odds here.