Thursday, 11 March 2010

Cheltenham 2010: Pertemps Final

I’ve only got one day off over Cheltenham and it’s the Thursday. I will be getting up early, getting my ridiculously unkempt hair tidied up before trotting off to the shop for a Racing Post and a few cans. I shall then proceed to enjoy the day’s racing on the box, before heading out for more food and drink as it’s my old lady’s birthday. Should be fun times.

With my televisual entertainment in mind, any more races I look at in depth between now and the commencement of the Cheltenham Festival will be from Thursday’s card. Let’s get stuck into the day’s second race, the Pertemps Final. Last year's winner, Kayf Aramis, is in the picture in the corner.

The race is a handicap, open to horses aged five or older and run over a distance of three miles. Horses have to qualify for the race through a series of heats over the course of the National Hunt season and this can allow trainers to sneak well handicapped horses in.

Knowing this, it seems worth focusing on horses at the lower end of the weights. Horses rated 119 to 132 have won five of the last seven Pertemps Final renewals. In fact, this bracket has the best all round record in recent renewals too - over the last decade, six winners and eighteen placed horses fell into that group, with four winners and twelve places coming from the much wider 133 to 160 band. This means that I'll be excluding the 9/2 favourite Alfie Sherrin and the gambled on Ainama (left).

A revealing statistic relating to the Pertemps Final (thanks to At The Races for this) is that just 19% of runners in the race, stretching back to 1995, were last time out winners, but despite that, horses that tasted victory in their last race have won 64% of Pertemps Finals over the same time period. Considering that fact, I’ll be discarding anything without a 1 at the end of the form.

Proven stamina is important in the Pertemps Final – of the last ten winners, seven had winning form at the distance and of the three that didn’t, two had come second at the 3m and the other hand never attempted it before, but had winning form at 2m 6f.

Horses aged between six and nine have won all ten of the last ten renewals, with 33 out of 40 placed horses coming from the same age bracket.

With all of the above information in mind, my Pertemps Final shortlist can be cut from 85 runners to just four: Cross Kennon, Ringaroses, Quentin Collonges & Dorset Square.

Of the four, I’d have to side with Dorset Square.

Despite Jonjo O’Neill’s good record in the race, I don’t see Ringaroses (best price 25/1, widely available) as a Pertemps Final winner. In six attempts at distances of further than 2m 5f, the horse only has one victory, in a weak looking novices’ handicap last time out. In last year’s renewal, the horse was a well beaten eleventh off a mark of 131; this year he goes off 130. Line through this one.

I have a big question mark over Cross Kennon (best price 20/1, widely available) in that it hasn’t yet been seen on a course in 2010 and has only run twice this season. As I can’t find any information about it, I don’t know how fit it is. In any case, nine of the last ten winners had their last run in February, suggesting that a fit, but still relatively fresh horse is required – that’s enough for me to rule this one out.

Quentin Collonges (best price 25/1, Victor Chandler) ran just this weekend at Doncaster which doesn’t seem ideal and on his two previous trips to Cheltenham, he’s disappointed. He also lacks experience in the bigger fields, something that will definitely be a feature of the Pertemps Final, having only ever run in three races with more than eleven rivals, winning none of them.

So that leaves me with Dorset Square (right) though I can’t say I’m overly keen. With three wins from twenty starts over hurdles, he doesn’t do a lot of winning, but his official rating has slowly crept up over the last four races, suggesting a horse on the up and he will carry a featherweight 9 st 3 oz. Willie Mullins is yet to train the winner of the Pertemps Final, but no trainer has a particularly outstanding record in the race and Irish trainers do okay, with five of the last seventeen winners.

In short then, I’m not overly confident about this one. With Dorset Square holding entries in three different races at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, I would only use a bookmaker that’s offering No Runner Money Back and even then, it’d not be for large stakes. ToteSport is probably your best bet – they are a best price 20/1 about the horse and they also go NRMB. You can get £60 worth of free bets with them too, if you back before the start of the Festival.

Should the selection not run, I’d side with Quentin Collonges.

Pertemps Final
Thursday 18th March, 14.05
Dorset Square – 0.5 pts e/w

17th March update: Dorset Square doesn't go. In fact, only one of the four I whittled it down to does, so it looks like I'll have to invest a small amount in Cross Kennon!

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