Cheltenham Festival

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25 Jan 18 21:36
Date Joined: 26 Dec 00
| Topic/replies: 2,599 | Blogger: foxy's blog
like the ryanair is to chasing,its already gone to far at cheltenham has it not ?
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Pause Switch to Standard View o,leary feels we need a 2m4f...
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Report ACStafford January 25, 2018 11:00 PM GMT
It's an awful idea. It would ruin the Champion Hurdle.
Report easygold January 26, 2018 12:27 AM GMT
I agree poor idea...... it will also take horses from the stayers too
Report buddeliea January 26, 2018 7:39 AM GMT
I would like to know his reasoning.....any idea Foxy?
Report buddeliea January 26, 2018 7:49 AM GMT
Not sure it would ruin the Champion Hurdle,surely the top 2 milers will still run in it.
May have less runners,but quality should still be there.
The Queen Mum never has many runners,is that cos of the Ryanair? or is there just a lack of top quality 2 mile chasers??
It would take horses away from the Stayers,certainly ones with stamina doubts would be looking at a lesser distance I would think,but should still have enough proper stayers,although quality would suffer....Annie Power springs to mind.
Gold Cup seems to be doing ok.

I dunno, think their is more to it then simply dismissing the idea.
Report cyclops January 26, 2018 9:53 AM GMT
It would be a dreadful idea as long as the mares hurdle is retained. Four hurdling championships?
If you discarded that, it will still diminish the Champion Hurdle. Look at how uncompetitive Grade 1 hurdle races usually are and you see the problem. In recent years, Faugheen would have lined up against a small handful as others saw a great opportunity to dodge him and win a Championship race.
Another factor is that the Gold Cup is over 3m2f, whereas the Stayers hurdle is a flat 3 miles, thus you'd have three hurdle races with half a mile difference between them.
Mr O'Leary has some interesting views on racing but this isn't one of them.
Report ACStafford January 26, 2018 10:31 AM GMT
It'll damage the Stayers too, but that's not a race I have much affinity for: I'll always see it as a consolation prize for horse that either don't take to fences or aren't quick enough to win proper races over hurdles.

You would lose a wealth of competition from the Champion. How do you define when a horse is a top class 2 miler? Plenty of top class Champion Hurdle runners may have gone for the middle distance option were it there. Hardy Eustace or even last year's winner to name a couple. And what would happen with Neptune winners that stay over hurdles? Surely the 2m4f option would be the obvious target.
Report impossible123 January 26, 2018 11:47 AM GMT
May I suggest Mr Michael O'leary stick to running a commercial airline,...that's his forte.
Report buddeliea January 26, 2018 12:30 PM GMT
Its down to the trainer to define if a horse is good enough.
I would like to think that trainers of Horses like Hardy Eustace would know their horse is good enough to win a Champion Hurdle to be honest.

Ryanair is a good race and attracts plenty of runners,unlike the Queen Mum.
Grew up with small fields in the QM,nothing much changed in that regard since the Ryanair came along.

Having said that I do think the CHurdle would have less runners, but I would like to think the quality 2 milers would still be in the race. That's what we want in a Championship race aint it??
Report buddeliea January 26, 2018 12:36 PM GMT
Faugheen would have lined up against a small handful as others saw a great opportunity to dodge him and win a Championship race

Cyclops,is that such a bad thing?
So we have less runners that cannot win the race running in another race,almost certainly a more competitive race,as has happened with the QM and Ryanair.

The Ryanair has become a far more interesting race than the QM for me, whose to say the same cannot happen?
Report cyclops January 26, 2018 1:07 PM GMT
I think you want your showpiece hurdle to be as competitive as possible. They often say you need a horse who stays 2.5 miles to win a Champion and it would be too tempting to go for that.
Agree with the post that says Hardy Eustace would have gone for the intermediate race and also Brave Inca and, quite possibly in recent years, The New One and Annie Power.
This year's Champion looks dismal enough as a spectacle without a real incentive to defect.
I've always thought you very seldom get more than two or at most three class horses in the Queen Mother - no-one sets out to breed a 2 mile chaser - and it would be sad if the Champion hurdle becomes a perennial coronation rather than the tremendous race is usually is.
Report Desmond Orchard January 26, 2018 1:09 PM GMT
It's the stayers hurdle that would suffer. If you thought you could win a champion hurdle, you would still run in it.
As mentioned, the stayers is already a race for horses that didn't take to fences, or were just plain slow - it would be filled with even more dross. Big Bucks was a great 3 mile hurdler, for instance, but great horse? I'm not so sure. If Kauto Star or Denman had been aimed at the race he wouldn't be sighted. And if he had been trained by anyone else, he would probably have not reverted, but would be slogging round hoping to place in a Gold cup.
The Ryanair is often used as a stepping stone to racings greatest prize, the Gold Cup. This hurdle race wouldn't lead to anything.
I agree with what he says about trimming the fat off the festival.
Report sageform January 26, 2018 1:10 PM GMT
Obvious why O'Leary wants another non handicap race. He has 3 or 4 candidates for every race so would be able to gather more prize money. Interesting that he has an employee counting how many mentions "the Ryanair" chase gets in the media as he thinks it is a good value sponsorship. Does anyone switch airlines because they sponsor a race?
Report buddeliea January 26, 2018 1:25 PM GMT
If you thought you could win a champion hurdle, you would still run in it.

Exactly Des, any trainer worth his salt would know.

The Churdle would still have the pulling power, and any horse deemed good enough, would be in it.

The inbetween race would attract those that are felt not good enough by connections to win a CH but still good horses, and they will form a competitive alternate race.
As has happened with the Ryanair.
Report Autocue January 26, 2018 3:14 PM GMT
When we don't have a competitive champion hurdle as it is, it's a stretch to say the new intermediate race would be competitive. Even if it was competitive it would probably be considered second division and there are already too many of those races at Cheltenham.
Report buddeliea January 26, 2018 5:04 PM GMT
Yes,it probably would be considered second what?
I think it fair to say the Ryanair was not a popular idea,plenty i expect still dont agree with it,think that is second division, but imo its become one of the better races at the festival.

Anyway,i for one think its worth considering,and should not be dismissed as a complete non starter.
Not saying i am in favour,but at the same time not saying i aint either.

They could send the idea out there,see the response from owners and trainers,and try and gauge whether it would be popular enough add to the festival. No harm in that imo.
Report foxy January 26, 2018 6:12 PM GMT
Ac Stafford

No affinity for the stayers hurdle,what a shame it’s a wonderful race .
Report Pleasegivemeanailedontip January 26, 2018 9:57 PM GMT
-Didnt agree with o'leary saying don cossacks gold cup wasnt devalued by vautour sidestepping.
-Dont believe in 2.5 mile specialists (hoovering up lesser races isnt specialising imo)
-Believe that winning the QM and GC is barely just about doable by very special horses and that tells you the blue riband races were already ideal.

Downgrade the ryanair imo, thanks for bringing this argment back up o'leary.
Report the bloob January 26, 2018 10:29 PM GMT
I've often pondered over this, there is a middle distance race for everything else:

novice hurdles: Supreme Novice, Ballymore, Albert Bartlett
novice chase: Arkle, JLT, RSA
chase: Queen Mother, Ryanair, Gold Cup

I would like to see a 2m 4f hurdle race off level weights, but keep the prize money down and get rid of the Mares race to make way for it.
Report wellchief January 26, 2018 10:54 PM GMT
Don't see the issue with it myself personally, maybe calling it a 'Championship' race is a mistake, but I think there is a place for it; even if it was a Grade 2 with Grade 1 winners ran under a penalty - it leaves it open to previous Coral Cup winners whose handicap marks are blown once they've won that race.

I personally have no time for a lot of poor handicaps, where horses are plotted throughout the year as to not hurt their mark - to me a lot of these races are cons and never bet on them, and potentially damaging to the 'in year' races where they're not fully wound up and trail home mid division with the Festival in mind.

I agree re the Mares Hurdle.  There are some good Mares at 2m4f (Apples Jade, VVM, Limini) and if you add a few 2m4f horses like The New One, Finians Oscar, Wholestone....that's a good race on paper to me.  Past horses like Oscar Whisky, Thousand Stars, Zarkandar would have excelled at this.

I personally love the Ryanair, one of my favourite races of the festival seeing a mix of speed and stamina.  The problem with the Queen Mum (and the Arkle) recently is that there has been a superstar at the head of the market at very short odds, which almost makes the race a write off from the get go, not because of the Ryanair or the JLT 'watering it down'.
Report the bloob January 26, 2018 11:02 PM GMT
it really is tailor-made to effectively make the Mares race an open-to-all 2m 4f grade 2, keep the prize money down to make the obvious 2m and 3m horses stick to the races they are suited to, and this be a race for the true 2m 4f horses

wellchief, you are absolutely correct in mentioning horses like The New One and Wholestone, this race would suit them both perfectly rather than being also-rans over 2m and 3m respectively
Report buddeliea January 27, 2018 7:08 AM GMT
And now we have a reasoned discussion.

Hopefully the powers that be will do the same at some point in the future.
Report wellchief January 27, 2018 9:43 AM GMT
I suppose my main reason why I'd want this race is I think the 2.5m horses do not have a clear 'path' to the Cheltenham Festival and are forced to compromise in March, where other divisons/distances don't; eg

> 2.5m novice chasers have races like The Dipper/Rising Stars Novices Chase/The Pendil before the JLT

> 2.5m chasers have races like the Old Roan/The Peterborough/The Ascot Chase before the Ryanair

> 2.5m novice hurdlers have The Winter Novices Hurdle/The Hyde Novices Hurdle/The Leamington Novices Hurdle before the Ballymore

> 2.5m hurdlers have the Ascot Hurdle/The Relkeel Hurlde/The Game Spirit and then have to decide whether to drop to 2m or up to 3m at Cheltenham?

When you look at the Festival in isolation, you may think 'why add another race, it dilutes others', but when looking at it in the grand scheme of the season, it just doesn't seem right to me that at the same distance, 2.5m novice and full chasers, and novice hurdlers have clear trials races and a path to the Festival - 2.5m full hurdlers have the trials but no race at the end.

You could argue that there's the Aintree race, but the Festival is so big now, I think these are missing out.  Some may look down their noses at 2.5m horses, but I don't.  Some great races and horses at this distance.

My two cents worth anyway.
Report sageform January 27, 2018 10:44 AM GMT
I would be happy to see such a race. For me 2.5 miles is the best test of a national hunt horse requiring a combination of speed and stamina. Two mile chasers have little chance after just one jumping error while many high class chasers don't stay the Gold Cup distance of 3.25 miles. The World Hurdle is not quite such a marathon on the new course as it used to be but there are still not many hurdlers who get that trip.
Report Pleasegivemeanailedontip January 27, 2018 11:05 AM GMT
Looking at the top end of the betting for the rynair, they're all in each-way squeak territory for the QM and GC. Its the same every year.
2.5m races have been around for ages and trainers farm them but i dont believe there are 2.5m horses who couldnt run roughly the same rating at either 2 or 3 miles. Or if there are i think there are very very few.
I would venture for every horse that can put up an obviously better rating over 2.5m, you could find another horse who could achieve similar ratings for both 2 and 3 miles. For instance Yorkhill might fall into the 2nd category but because he isnt good enought to win the big ones he'll end up a ryanair type.
Report buddeliea January 27, 2018 11:28 AM GMT
The problem with the Queen Mum (and the Arkle) recently is that there has been a superstar at the head of the market at very short odds, which almost makes the race a write off from the get go, not because of the Ryanair or the JLT 'watering it

Be interesting what would happen should Altior and Douvan not make the festival.
Report Fabulous January 27, 2018 11:39 AM GMT
Budd, agree with every word you say about Ryanair/Champion Chase.
Report wellchief January 27, 2018 11:51 AM GMT
Yeah it will be Budd.

I know we all want lots of top quality horses all at a similar level competing in the Grade 1's, but from my perspective, sometimes having slightly lower class, but similar horses is better than having one that's miles clear of all others.

Sure, we can look back at previous JLT's/Ryanairs and now they look like poor quality renewals, but I think that's missing the point.  As long as they are interesting races to bet on at the time, with depth in the race where 3, 4 or 5 have a realistic chance of winning, then that's fine with me.  I remember having strong debates with good old Judorick on here years ago re Rubi Light vs Poquelin in the Ryanair - now they are far from superstars but some great debate back and forth on here over that - very little said about this year's Champion Hurdle because it's boring saying Beveur D'air will win.

If we had a 2m4f hurdle, one thing that we would be assured of is that it'b be competitive - something that certain Grade 1 races haven't had for a while.  Apples Jade would no doubt be a strong favourite if there was such a race this year, but if there was no Mares Allowance if they've won a Grade 1, it'd be a really interesting betting heat.
Report Autocue January 27, 2018 12:04 PM GMT
"For me 2.5 miles is the best test of a national hunt horse requiring a combination of speed and stamina"
So is the Gold Cup a race for slow horses?
Report Autocue January 27, 2018 12:10 PM GMT
As soon as you start providing different options for championships you get a hierarchy and the quality of the perceived lesser events is rubbish. The same happened with heavyweight boxing and darts.
Report wellchief January 27, 2018 12:19 PM GMT
I get that Autocue, but I think Horse Racing is unique because it's largely based around betting.  In darts, you want to see people getting 180's all the time, not low scores so I get what you mean re the lower leagues, but even if a horse race is a bit lower quality, because they are all similar ability then it doesn't matter as much as long as it's competitive.

You could watch the best of the best over 2m hurdles and then follow that with the County Hurdle straight after.  99% of people wouldn't notice that the County Hurdle horses are much worse just watching them go round the track - the time may be a couple of seconds slower but they'd look almost identical to the eye.

Also, if we are talking about 'rubbish' then I'm sure the 2m4f horse mentioned above are miles better class than most of the handicappers we get at the Festival, but because the handicaps are fiercely competitive then that's accepted.  Imo it's all about the quality vs competitiveness balance.
Report gutfeeling January 27, 2018 2:17 PM GMT
If horses aren't good enough for the championship races they shouldn't be at Cheltenham.
Report sageform January 27, 2018 3:09 PM GMT
How do you define good enough. Only one is good enough to win.
Report firstimevisor January 29, 2018 7:49 PM GMT
Lets face it, if Cheltenham was about identifying the best horses then it could be run off in one day, not four. Champion hurdle, Stayers Hurdle, QM, Gold Cup, one novice hurdle and one novice chase both over 2m 4f and a hunters chase.Every type of horse is catered for. We would get bigger fields and lots of questions answered.

A one-day Olympics would be fine by me but I know that's never going to happen and the next notable change is inevitable. Its just a question of when, not if, the fifth day comes.
That will mean a Ryanair Hurdle,a mares chase, a veterans chase and a few more handicaps to fill the card.The Ryanair Chase will form the centrepiece and it will be known forever more as Ryanair Day among the public, even after they have ceased sponsorship. There will be a lot more medals given out and it's guaranteed to be a commercial success.

I would like to see an end to the mares allowance in the championship races, once the mares have their own races under both codes.And I believe the pattern committee need to have a rethink of the graded race structure.Fewer and more elite Grade 1s but they carry far more prize money. No Grade 1s confined to novices and the introduction of Grade 4s if necessary.
Report foxy January 30, 2018 7:28 AM GMT
one novice chase one novice hurdle over 2m4f  no thank you  firstimevisor the arkle and suprem novice are always  fantastic races to watch.
Report firstimevisor January 30, 2018 10:42 AM GMT
I know that foxy and I like watching those races as I do every race at Cheltenham. But my point is just that we don't need 3 novice hurdles and 3 novice chases to establish who the best novices are - in fact it actually confuses the issue - but all these extra races are created to provide commercially viable extra race days.

Not long ago there were 18 races at the festival. Now there are 28 and sometime soon there will be 35.Once a fifth day is fully established, then give it another 20 years and people will wonder why there's no 3 mile grade 1 chase, and why not 3 distances for the mares etc and the 6 day, 42 race festival will be born.
Report foxy January 30, 2018 1:42 PM GMT
i am not convinced there will be a 5th day wednesday/saturday maybe although crowd wise they dont need to do that,whilst i accept the jlt is a good race i would be happy to lose it what i would replace it with i am not sure probably a veterans.
Report sageform January 30, 2018 1:49 PM GMT
Much prefer the JLT. Leave the veteran races where they are.
Report foxy January 30, 2018 2:17 PM GMT
i prefer to watch the jlt also i was more referring to the amount of choices the novice chasers have ,
Report sageform January 30, 2018 5:40 PM GMT
I suppose four novice chases plus a novice handicap is a bit excessive. The NH chase used to be much more interesting when it was restricted to horses that had not won on the flat or over hurdles. If you knew your hunter and PTP form you could find some nice priced winners. Four mile novice hurdle anyone?
Report BigField January 30, 2018 6:29 PM GMT
Make it 4m3f sage and call it "the gods country national"

I'm excited already!!
Report foxy January 30, 2018 6:50 PM GMT
4 m novice hurdle good grief most years they struggle to get home in the albert bartlett
Report sageform January 30, 2018 7:55 PM GMT
I have always maintained that 3 miles over hurdles is the biggest test of stamina in racing. That is why so few class horses stay that far and why there have been so many multiple winners of the Stayers Hurdle. Many Gold Cup winners never won won beyond 2.5 miles over hurdles. Don Cossack, Lord Windermere, Best Mate among many others. Only Bobs Worth of recent winners of the GC managed to win a Grade 1 hurdle over 3 miles. I can't find any horse that has won the Stayers and the GC.
Report foxy January 31, 2018 10:16 AM GMT
dorans pride would have come closest to that ,unlikely now but thistlecrack still could do the double.
Report sageform January 31, 2018 1:36 PM GMT
Agreed Foxy, 13 months ago many of us thought that he would.
Report cyclops February 1, 2018 9:07 AM GMT
sageform, I think the Stayers is a bit of a consolation race. No-one ever says with a young horse "we think one day he'll be a Stayers hurdle horse". It tends to be for failed chasers or those who don't have the physical scope for fences. I don't believe the three you mentioned RAN over 3 miles let alone won. For a horse with aspirations to becoming a Gold Cup contender, three mile hurdles are seldom on the agenda.
Not sure I agree its more of a stamina test than the GC. Certainly Thistlecrack was suspect on the stamina front in many people's view after being beaten by Many Clouds.
Ruby Walsh has said that the Gold Cup is run at a two mile pace for three and a quarter miles. I think that's where the real test of stamina lies and why it's such a fantastic race.
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