Jumps Season - At The Races

Coral Cup

    Cheltenham, Wednesday 15th March 2017.
  • Stats Guides

Last Year's Winner: Diamond King

Whisper
Jockey:
D N Russell
Trainer:
G Elliott
Age:
8
Weight:
11st 3lb
Starting Price:
12/1
Season Form Figures:
421
Previous Best:
1st - Hurdle race, Punchestown (Jan 2016)

The Coral Cup has never been overburdened with ultra-strong patterns but anyone combining second-season hurdlers that won last time out would have collected on six occasions in the last 14 years. Just one outright winning favourite (Xenophon in 2003) and one joint-favourite (Olympian in the inaugural running) have justified their market support.

A very eye-catching 13 of the 23 winners arrived here off the back of a last-time-out success including nine of the last 14 from approximately 20% representation. Only five of the 23 winners had not won at some point earlier in the campaign and the relevance of that statistic is that, on average, between half and two-thirds of the field will enter the Coral Cup without a victory to their name earlier in the season.

Twenty-three runnings down, most of which have gone the way of the bookmakers, and to make matters even harder for followers of patterns, two of the last four winners were also the classiest two winners in the race’s history breaking previous official ratings stats.

Prior to Whisper’s victory in 2014, as many as 20 horses rated 150+ had lined up in the previous 20 years with four placing. Diamond King was almost another 150+ rated winner last season being successful off 149 so class has been shining through of late.

13 of the 23 winners arrived here off the back of a last-time-out success including nine of the last 14 from approximately 20% representation.

To be frank, it is not a handicap that trends-based punters have been able to seriously get their teeth into and Aux Ptits Soins didn’t improve matters in 2015 winning on his British debut with Paul Nicholls electing to protect his handicap mark since he last ran in France six months earlier, though he did fit the pattern of being a five-year-old having won its last start.

Second-season hurdlers have won nine of the last 12 runnings. A couple of other points also worth nothing along the sticking-with-youth theme are that only two of the last 16 winners had won any more than one handicap and horses aged 10+ are 2-29 to place since 1999.

The Irish are averaging one winner in better than every three years having won the Coral Cup on eight occasions which is an excellent return given that they would fall some way short of 33% representation.

Gordon Elliott was winning his second Coral Cup last season and the Irish also supplied the second and fourth in 2015 after filling two more of the place positions in 2014. Five of Ireland’s last six winners had not run since early January, with two of those not seen for over three months and another for over four months. Willie Mullins has yet to train the winner from his 17 runners but he has hit the frame with Fiveforthree, Smashing and Blazer in three of the last four years.

The last eight winners had run no more than four times earlier in the season (and six winners in total had run no more than just twice) so we don’t really want to be looking to a horse that has been particularly busy. With four of the last 11 winners not having run during the same calendar year, this is an angle I could not put punters off trying to exploit.

The Betfair Hurdle has featured three winners and two runners-up from the last 12 occasions when it has beaten the weather and the Welsh Champion Hurdle has featured two of the last four winners, though that race has now been moved to much earlier in the season. The leading Irish guide has been the Corial.ie Hurdle over two miles at Leopardstown in January highlighting three winners stretching back to Time For A Run in 1994, though none since Xenophon 14 years ago.

After having a terrible Coral Cup record up until Spirit River won in 2010, following Nicky Henderson won two of the last seven runnings joining Philip Hobbs who has also won it twice in addition to posting five other top-six finishers from 24 runners.

At a glance summary

Positives
Second-season hurdlers
A last-time-out winner
Won no more than one handicap
Trained in Ireland (notably Gordon Elliott)
Contested the Betfair or Welsh Champion Hurdle
Negatives
Aged 10+
Failed to win earlier in the season

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