The place as the last race at 2011 Festival is taken by the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup which is the oldest race at the Festival. It now commemorates the life of Johnny Henderson who was part of the consortium that bought Cheltenham under the Racecourse Holding Ltd banner and turned the course into what it is today.
Johnny, is the father of trainer Nicky and it was appropriate that he trained the winner of the 2006 race (Greenhope) when the race was run under its current title for the first time – that was a tip in itself and the Henderson runners should always be closely examined in this race. Nicky went close again last year when his French Opera cam second to Pigeon Island.
That is a rather simplistic look at finding the winner of this event but there are some other profitable angles to help in the “getting-out” stakes. Horses that have been previously successful over 2M 2F are preferable to pure two mile horses, that is due to this race always being run at a flat out gallop and that extra bit of stamina that winning over those extra 2F provides is usually required and anyone planning to bet on Cheltenham 2011 should bear this in mind.
Once again last year’s winner highlighted how important previous form over the course is with six of the last nine winners having won at Cheltenham before. Even more striking in this race in particular is the statistic that favour the younger horses, the four who filled the 1-2-3-4 last year were aged seven, seven, seven and eight, making it 42 of the last 48 win and placed runners aged under 10. This is something to think about when considering the Cheltenham racing betting.
And one final line on the Irish they are more than capable of landing this handicap having been successful in 2008, 2005, 2002 and 1999 – you can ignore them in some handicaps but not in this one.
The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup brings about a fitting end to four fantastic days of Cheltenham Festival racing.