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Andy Newton’s Saturday Column

Can you name the last horse to win both the Cotswold Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season?

Ok, I’ll give you a clue……  it was over 15 years ago!

In fact, it was back in 2000.

Got it yet?

Okay, I’ll put you out of your misery, it was a Noel Chace trained horse called Looks Like Trouble.

Prior to that, it was the popular Master Oats who did the Cotswold Chase/Gold Cup double in 1995, and did you also know that a certain Norman Williamson rode both Looks Like Trouble, and Master Oats, to success in this Saturday’s race…

The Cotswold Chase, run at Cheltenham (14:25) this afternoon, has been a route for past Gold Cup heroes however, with the last of those coming 19 years ago, this ‘trial’ tag is in need of a bit of a boost.

It will be a bit of a shock if one of this year’s runners can go onto glory at the Festival in just over six weeks’ time, but you never know.

Let’s take a look at the race in a bit more detail

It’s a prize that trainer Paul Nicholls has won four times in the past but ,surprisingly, it’s a race the champion handler Nicky Henderson is yet to land.

Nicholls will be hoping to add to his tally with the top-rated Frodon, who we last saw winning the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup, at the track. While Henderson will be looking to break his duck with Valtor and Terrefort.

What about the main trends?

Market Leaders – The first thing to note is that it’s been a shocking race for favourites in recent years, with not a single market leader winning in the last fifteen runnings. 

At this stage, Frodon and Elegant Escape look the most likely pair to fight it out for the market top spot. 

You could argue the horse isn’t aware that he’s favourite, but what this trend does tell us is, that punters and their money have been a bit misled in recent years, so don’t be afraid to go against the grain.

Age – Since the race was first run in 1980, we’ve only seen one 6-year-old win this race, so not great news for Terrefort supporters. 

Even though we’ve had a few 7 year-olds land the prize since 1990, that’s not the best return, Frodon and Elegant Escape are both aged 7. In fact, 9 and 10-year-olds have by far the best recent records winning 11 of the last 15 (73%) runnings between them. 

That’s much better news for supporters of Valtor, Allysson Monterg and Minella Rocco.

Recent Run – Having been involved in a race in the last 8 weeks is another key trend, with 14 of the last 15 fitting the bill here. The bad news for Minella Rocco and Terrefort supporters, is that both horses come here off a break.

Staying Power – Another key trend to look for is 14 of the last 15 winners won over at least 3 miles (fences) in the past. Most of these staying chasers will fit the bill here, but one of the leading fancies doesn’t – Frodon. 

This Paul Nicholls-trained runner has done all his winning this season over 2m4f, while the three times he’s tried for 3m he’s been beaten each time (F-2-2). 

Many will argue he’s a stronger horse now, and that he certainly wasn’t stopping when landing the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup here last month, but another half a mile here at Cheltenham demands a lot more than most tracks.

Summary

The main two in the betting, Frodon and Elegant Escape, look sure to run big races. However, the horse with the proven stamina who gets the nod, is the Colin Tizzard trained ELEGANT ESCAPE

He’s yet to finish out of the top three from 10 runs over fences (4 wins). After landing the Welsh National over 4 furlongs longer, connections are sure to make full use of his stamina against Frodon, who has questions to answer in that department.

There is a slight niggle about the track with regards to Elegant Escape. He’s run at Cheltenham three times now (2 hurdles and 1 fences), and is yet to trouble the judge.

Of the rest, the Nicky Henderson camp are yet to win this race, but in Terrefort and Valtor they’ve two leading chances. 

With the pair both owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede their number one jockey, Daryl Jacob, would have had the pick, so the fact he’s chosen Terrefort is sure to make this one popular with punters.

However, at just 6 years-old his age looks a big trend against him, as we’ve only seen one winner that young take the race (Cyfor Malta) since it was first run in 1980. 

Terrefort also flopped on his return to the track last month, and with 14 of the last 15 winners having raced in the last 8 weeks, his 76 day break might also be deemed a negative. 

With Jacob picking this one there is every chance VALTOR will creep under the radar, but with James Bowen booked to ride they certainly have an able pilot.

This 10-year-old is an experienced French import who has had 50 runs in France. He hit the ground running on his UK debut, when winning well at Ascot last month. 

He’s made the switch to these shores late in life, but his experience will be a big plus and, despite having never raced at Cheltenham, he still ticks a lot of the other main trends. 

Bowen also rode him last time, so there is a chance that connections are keen to stick with him, and anyway the jockey bookings might not be as important a factor as some think.


Cotswold Chase Past Winners

2018 – Definitly Red (7/1) 
2017 – Many Clouds (8/1) 
2016 – Smad Place (9/2) 
2015 – Many Clouds (4/1) 
2014 – The Giant Bolster (6/1) 
2013 – Cape Tribulation (7/1) 
2012 – Midnight Chase (11/2) 
2011 – Neptune Collonges (11/2) 
2010 – Taranis (16/1) 
2009 – Joe Lively (11/1) 
2008 – Knowhere (16/1) 
2007 – Exotic Dancer (6/1) 
2006 – See You Sometime (18/1) 
2005 – Grey Abbey (10/3) 
2004 – Jair Du Cochet (11/4)


Cotswold Chase Betting Trends

15/15 – Officially rated 151 or higher 
14/15 – Raced in the last 8 weeks 
14/15 – Ran at Cheltenham over fences before (8 had won) 
14/15 – Won over at least 3m before (fences) 
13/15 – Won between 2-6 times over fences 
11/15 – Went onto race in that season’s Gold Cup (no winners, all placed 8th or better) 
11/15 – Aged 9 or 10 years-old 
10/15 – Ran at either Wetherby (3), Cheltenham (3) or Kempton (4) last time 
10/15 – Priced 7/1 or less 
9/15 – Winning distance – 6 lengths or more 
9/15 – Placed favourites 
7/15 – Unplaced last time out 
7/15 – Won by an Irish-bred horse 
6/15 – Winners from outside the top 3 in the market 
6/15 – Won last time out 
5/15 – Won by a French-bred horse 
2/15 – Won by the Paul Nicholls yard (4 wins in total) 
2/15 – Won by the Oliver Sherwood yard 
1/15 – Went onto win the Grand National (Many Clouds, 2015) 
0/15 – Favourites

10 of the last 11 winners were aged 9 or 10 years-old. 
The average winning SP in the last 15 runnings is 15/2. 
Looks Like Trouble (2000) was the last winner to go onto win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Enjoy the racing and Good Luck!!

All the best,
Andy Newton
for The Race Advisor

Andy Newton

Andy is a member of the Horse Writers’ Association and an established horse racing expert and tipster. He's been featured in Gambling Online magazine, and as an expert in the Official Wetherbys Cheltenham Festival betting guide since 2011 as well as other leading publications . Andy also has regular columns on easyodds.com, livesport.co.uk and geegeez.co.uk and specializes in big race trends and stats.

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