National Hunt Chase Trends

Cheltenham National Hunt Chase Stats And Trends

James Mackie | @JMackieRacing

National Hunt Chase

A pure attritional test of a horse, stamina and will are put under the microscope over a revised three miles and six furlongs.

Stamina is the name of the game, but over the years this race has now turned into a event that has thrown out some very smart horses, which might see a changing of the guard.

Horses now have to placed top four in a race over three miles to qualify, have a minimum rating of 120, they must have run in two chase contests prior and at least one of those must have been during the current season.

In terms of welfare it’s good to know the race is safer for those involved and the event has really become a stepping stone towards the Gold Cup more than ever before, with the last two winners then going on to run in the race.

Stat One

First off, 13 of the 15 previous winners were aged 6-8 years old.

It seems to be for those who are really unexposed over the marathon trip and still have youth on their side.

This is relatively straight forward as the race is for novices, but it might pay to be wary of those who are taking to chasing a little later in the career.

Rathvinden was the most recent winner out of the age bracket in 2018 but he was lightly raced for the age of 10 as he had only had 16 starts under rules before lining up in the National Hunt Chase.

Stat Two

As usual recent form is important and 9 of the past 14 winners had placed in the first two on their prep run for the festival.

Now this had not held up in the three years prior to two years ago with Le Breuil, Rathvinden and Tiger Roll all not hitting the top 2 on their prep run, but Galvin and Stattler both won their final event before winning the NH Chase.

Willie Mullins ante-post favourite for the race, Gaillard Du Mesnil was third when seen at the DRF last time out and other fancy in the race Chemical Energy was a poor fourth.

It is worth noting this stat with both of these.

Stat Three

Even though the race conditions have made the minimum rating for a runner 120, all of the last 11 winners were rated 139 or more. This would be the obvious class barrier going into the race.

The last four winners have been rated 145 or more, as the race is a Grade Two affair, class is clearly winning out.

Stattler was one of the top rated horses to win this race at 153, showing that this event is still a stamina test but is also being filled by class acts.

Stat Four

Further adding to the class angle, 13 of the last 15 winners had ran in a Graded or Listed chase.

12 of those 13 had contested a graded race.

There’s this clear picture of class telling in this race.

This helps the market leader who is a Grade One winner that has only ran in Grade One races on all three of his runs this season.

Start putting lines through those who come March haven’t contested a Graded or Listed race, they just simply might not have the class to be competitive here.

Stat Five

13/14 previous winners had at least three previous chase runs, so experience as a chaser is something you definitely want to latch onto, but Stattler did break this trend in a big way last season.

As always with Cheltenham festival races they do go hard, so jumping will be put under some real scrutiny.

With 23 fences to clear here, having more experience will obviously be a benefit, to add to this, 10 of those 14 had at least four runs over fences and 11 of 14 winners had at least one previous chase win.

Chasing form and experience is hugely important, the more experience the better, be very wary of those with fewer than three runs over fences.

Again, favourite Gaillard Du Mesnil is a second season novice that has been seen over fences eight times, most of those runs at the top level and one of them in an Irish Grand National.

Stat Six

All important course form makes an appearance here too with 12 of the 15 previous winners having previously run at Cheltenham.

It is a unique test, with it’s undulations and stiff fences, and it does catch some horses out.

Keep those onside who’ve run at the course before and showed themselves well.

Horses Churchstonewarrior and City Chief have never ran at Cheltenham and are left vulnerable under this stat.

Stat Seven

Finally, three of the last 14 winners were favourites/joint favourites.

The market can be a little misleading here, don’t get too caught up in a favourite.

Stattler last year was an easy eight lengths winner and although being the ante-post favourite, he did not go off the SP favourite but still won easily.

Plus, only seven of the previous 14 winners had come out of the top three in the betting.

50% of the winners have been prominent in the market so going searching for some value deeper in the betting is the likely best plan of action.

Jockey Spotting

Note that in the last 10 renewals (where amateurs were riding), Jamie Codd has won this race twice, Derek O’Connor has won this race twice and Patrick Mullins has won this race three times.

With this being for amateur jockeys, looks for those who stand out above the rest.

The mounts of those three jockeys could play a massively important role on the day.

Value Angle - Gaillard Du Mesnil

The value selection in this race is the Willie Mullins trained Gaillard Du Mesnil who has been the ante-post favourite for this race since last years Cheltenham festival.

A classy Grade One performer over three miles, he showed last year the further he goes the better he is when a good third in the Irish Grand National.

Second season novices have a great record of going close in this race and somehow not winning last term, it sets him up perfectly for this race that does lack depth.

He does still have an entry in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase so it might be worth playing him NRMB.