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Let’s start by looking at the winner’s stats:

  • Nicky Henderson has won 5 of the last 10 renewals
  • The last 6-year-old to win was in 2009, every winner since has been 7yrs+
  • Each of the last 10 winners had previous experience at Cheltenham
  • On average, the last 5 winners had made 13 starts over fences
  • The handicapper has allotted an average rating of 169 to the last 5 winners
  • In 2 of the last 5 running’s a favourite shorter than £1.50 has failed to place

Finding the Winner:

Experience tends to outweigh potential in this race. All ages between 7-10 years-old have been successful in the past 10 years, but experience over fences and more importantly, experience at Cheltenham has been key. All the last 10 winners had previously run at the track and the fact that the winners had made an average of 13 starts over fences before winning this would suggest that you need a well-practiced horse to handle the full speed jumping test on the old course.

The handicapper has allotted an average rating of 169 to the winner and so if we rule out the now 11-year-old Politologue, that leaves us with three horses who have run to that mark. It will come as no surprise that leaves us with Chacun Pour Soi (176), Shishkin (177) and Energumene (175), but the doubt over Chacun Pour Soi at Cheltenham and Energumene having never run at Prestbury Park probably tips things in the favour of Shishkin, though the market is hardly going to miss that.

For those seeking a bit more value in this race, the Win market is probably one to avoid as it will be quite a shock if one of the principles doesn’t deliver the goods.

Place Betting:

This looks to be the best market to find a return in 2022. If you have doubts over Shishkin and Energumene taking each other on, or if you think Chacun Pour Soi won’t go up the hill, then taking a flyer on one of the outsiders to run into the frame could be the better return.

There is some precedence for this, when Douvan failed to run his race in 2017, the placed returns were £3.10, £2.20, and £6.20. Similarly, when Defi Du Seuil could only manage a 4th placed finish in 2020, the 2 places yielded £2.50 and £2.40 despite the smallest field in over 30 years.

This year’s race looks like to be run at a strong gallop and so the place value may come in looking at a horse like Nube Negra or even Sceau Royal (if this is the route that they decide to take) as they are likely to be ridden more conservatively with a view to picking up some prize money when the others cry enough after the last.

It is hard to make a case for that type of horse winning the race, so rather than wasting the win part of the each-way bet, the straight place return could offer a tempting alternative

Exotics

This is a difficult question. If we could be sure that each of the “big 3” would run their race, then a combination trifecta of Shishkin, Energumene and Chacun Pour Soi would look to be solid and could yield a decent profit.

It’s not hard to imagine that happening, but we don’t have to go too far to find some shock results in this race, with odds on favourites Douvan (2017) and Defi Du Seuil (2020) both finishing out of the frame and leaving Exacta returns of £201.60 and £33.00 respectively.

It is probably a long shot and if we ignore the head of the market, it is hard to make a certain case for the so called “best of the rest”, but fortune favors the bold as they say and there is a temptation to try and find that horse to steal a place and boost the return

Placepot/Quadpot

It’s a tough call. The Coral Cup and the Grand Annual require a few perms given their competitive nature, so the temptation is to banker one of the principles in this race.

If it comes off, it makes sense. Altior, Sprinter Sacre, Sire De Grugy and even Chacun Pour Soi last year hit the frame as favourite. Obvious yes, but the flip side of that coin are the results in 2017 and 2020, when the failure of the short-priced favourite led to Quadpot returns of £556.90 and £135.70, both over £100 higher than the next highest in the last 5 years.

It seems unlikely if all 3 line up in March, but recent history would suggest that it is not as impossible as it may seem.


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