Cheltenham Festival 2014

The mystery of the 2014 Gold Cup result

gc finishI see the Gold Cup is being written off in some quarters as a very poor one because of the result. I’m not having that. You don’t go into a championship race with two horses around 180 – trained to the minute – and come out of it with a field full of 160ish horses – it just doesn’t happen imo.

The rails were moved yesterday morning “between 7 and 11 yards on the inside of the ‘chase course” (Simon Claisse), offering a strip of ground that had not been raced on for a year. Given that the year also saw an unprecedented amount of water falling on it, and that most of the field raced on that strip for most of the race – except the finish where the first three came up on older ground – could that have something to do with the result?

The going announced was for the whole track – I wonder if Mr Claisse used his stick on that fresh strip? I’d be very interested to see a stick reading from it.

An unusual pace can, of course, throw up a strange result. But Geraghty reported that he thought they were going a stride to fast for BW throughout; the winner could not go the pace at all until turning in for the last time. And yet the time was nothing special. The Gold Cup was run less than seven seconds faster than The Foxhunters, run 40 minutes or so after the big race.

Yesterday was Lord Windermere’s first win on ground without soft in the official description (Timeform gave it as Good, Good to Soft in places). Bobs Worth’s connections have always insisted he is a better horse on decent ground – there’s insufficient evidence in the formbook to form a solid objective assessment of that claim.

Anyway, it’s nothing more than a theory on what was a very strange day at Cheltenham, all in all. Bobs Worth’s poor run at Haydock and the general form of the Henderson yard could also be seen as casting some doubt on his running. But I’m not having it that Silv Conti didn’t get the trip after bottomless stamina won him the King George. That race, of course, might have left a mark on him, so the front two could conceivably have run well below form. Whatever happened, seven minutes didn’t turn two horses with a ratings advantage of between 16/19lbs and 25/28lbs into a pair of donkeys.

6 replies »

  1. You have certainly hit upon a strange race, with the two horses (going well enough) on the far side jumping the last appearing ‘drunk’ on the run in Joe.

    The Stewards had a difficult job on their hands regarding the ‘enquiry’, given the ‘line’ that was drawn (by Racing UK) on the turf by the winner from the the final fence to the line was wayward in the extreme.

    The winner would have been a 1/5 chance to be disqualified the other side of the English Channel but this is (watered) England…and all that goes with it!

  2. It was one of the best Gold Cups for many a year in my opinion. The line up reminded me of one of those very open 1980’s races and the finish not dissimilar to the 1987 The Thinker win.

    If a race isn’t won by one of the over-hyped top two in the betting with extra fuel being poured on that view by Channel4 racing then “blinkered” people crab the result.

    I was personally convinced the Betfair Chase & the King George would leave their mark on their respective participants and we would have a wide open race and thus it proved to be so.

    I hope we get many more Gold Cup renewals just like it for years to come.

  3. i did wonder myself about the watering,3 horses widest of all somehow managed to overhaul the big 2 who really should of put the race to bed between them turning for home.

    as with rating the race,i dont think the handicapper will have much of a headache,2nd 3rd and 6th appear to of ran to there marks,obviously lord windermere goes up and bobs worth/silvi not ran there race,but just over 160 for the first 3 home.

    using time analysis, over the years i think around 10 secs is about right for a gold cup winner to be faster than the foxhunter,6.62 or 26 lengths looks slow in comparison to the likes of best mates time all 3 wins better than 10 secs as well as bobs worth,war of attrition ,denman and imperal commander

    tammys hills rating of 134 works works out to 26 lengths inferior to the gold cup winning time,so another method to indicate 160!!

    anyway , i think DYNSATE (25-1 corals) for the 2015 gold cup looks good value.a win and a 2nd at previous 2 festival,looked like the ryanair trip was a bit too short ,but stayed on powerfully.he will be a 9yo,a gold cup virgin,probably no more than 12 runs,13 max chase runs by this time next year ,he as some good stats on his side if he lines up for next years gold cup!

  4. I’ve posted my own thoughts on the Gold Cup on my blog Joe.
    There are plenty of lines of form that indicate Lord Windermere ran to 160-161.

    Personally, I reckon Bobs Worth wasn’t fit enough, and hasn’t been at the level of fitness (well-being) he was at last year all this season. Even his Lexus win was about 12lb below his Gold Cup winning form.

    Silviniaco Conti was my wager on the day, but I knew when placing it that he’s very one-paced at the business end of races. His best points are his high cruising speed (able to keep up with the likes of Cue Card) and immense stamina. Had Cue Card run in the GC, then Conti would’ve won by 10+ lengths as the race would’ve been completely different. There were plenty of comments were I was stood in the stands about how slow the pace was as they went out on the 2nd circuit. I knew his goose was cooked when he still hadn’t gone on at the top of the hill. The reason he wandered on the run-in wasn’t due to lack of stamina – he could have run at that pace for another mile at least – but because when asked to quicken, he couldn’t.

    It just goes to show that you cannot win Gold Cups on reputation alone, and Messrs Henderson and Nicholls possibly need to get there horses out a bit more.

    • Thanks to Ian, and all, for the comments. watching the race again, I’ve no reason to alter my theory that the unraced on ground on the inside played some part in the result. As Ian mentioned and as the time shows – it neither looked a fast pace, nor clocked a fast time. Yet, the winner was outpaced for 3 miles and ‘they were always going a stride too fast for BW’ (Barry G), and the favs have finished as though drunk. Something sapped energy in that race – if it wasn’t the pace then only the ground is left.

      Watching it again, On His Own takes a bump two out and is switched to the outside onto the ‘old’ strip of ground – which must, at the very least have been compacted by three days’ racing. He, and the winner and 3rd race together up that old strip and OHO finds more after looking done with while still racing on the inside approaching two out. Okay, the hill might have brought more stamina into play, but in that case he’s a hell of a horse, having led throughout and being beaten a short head, carried across the course.

      Interesting thoughts from others, but I’ll stick with my take…the ground on the inside was not proper good ground – it must have been tacky and tiring – even the winner adds evidence to that. My key point remains: Bobs Worth and Silv Conti are not 160 horses just because of one race. They should have been trained to the minute; there’s a reasonable chance one had an off day, but both? In the same race? Hopefully, time will tell us more.
      Joe

      • Personally I think it’s more likely to do with the selective watering on Wednesday night. The New Course only had the chases run on it the day before, the rails were moved Thursday night to give fresh ground on the inside. We don’t know how much of the Thursday or Friday tracks were watered and where.

        We always cross the course and watch the Gold Cup from inside the track right next to the final fence. What you realise is how wide and open the run in is from the final fence, effectively crossing the hurdles run in from earlier in the day and Thursday. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t have watered evenly right across the run in, so for me it’s the “selective” watering that’s the variable.

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