All you need to know about the Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 14.
When and where can I watch the Pertemps: 2.10pm Cheltenham, March 14. Live on Racing TV in stunning HD.
What Grade? Grade Three. Which course is the Pertemps run on? New Course
Which Distance? 3m (12 hurdles). How much prize-money? £100,000
Ages: For 5yo+. Weights & Allowances: Handicap
Sponsor: Pertemps Network Group
Key Statistics and Trends:
Favourites' poor record:
Only Fingal Bay (2014) and Inching Closer (2003) have justified favouritsm since the turn of the century. Eight of the last 11 winners were sent off at double-figure odds.
Horses that had previously run over fences have a good record in this race, with Fingal Bay, Freetown, Creon, Kadoun, Buena Vista and Cape Tribulation all having tried chasing before coming back over hurdles to win.
Nineteen of last 26 winners had previously won over a minimum of three miles, although none of the last three winners had done so.
Only three of the last 11 winners have carried more than 11st to victory.
Trainer to note:
David Pipe has won the race twice since 2010 as well as having five horses placed. Jonjo O’Neill is a three-time winner this century.
Shown their hand?
Only two winners in the last 20 years actually won a qualifier.
Only five Irish-trained runners have won the race since the turn of the century, although they enjoyed a one-two last year.
Four of the five Irish winners this century ran in the Leopardstown qualifier in December but Mall Dini (2016 winner) was the only one of the four to finish in the frame in that qualifying race.
The race was introduced to The Festival in 1974, replacing the George Duller Handicap Hurdle and Pertemps have sponsored it since 2002.
Run over three miles, the Pertemps Network Final is the final of a series. Horses must finish in the first six in any of the scheduled qualifiers to be eligible for the Pertemps Network Final.
Qualifiers are held in Britain, Ireland and France. Forgive ‘N’ Forget is the only Cheltenham Gold Cup winner to have won what is now the Pertemps Network Final, beating 22 rivals in 1983 and going on to take the Gold Cup two years later.
The 2014 Grand National winner Pineau De Re warmed up for Aintree by finishing a close third in the Pertemps Network Final the previous month.
Recent runnings and replays:
2018 - Delta Work
Delta Work just held Glenloe after a nail-biting duel on the climb to the line to give Ireland a are one-two in the race.
The 6-1 shot, giving trainer Gordon Elliott and owners Gigginstown House Stud a quickfire double after the victory of Shattered Love in the opening JLT Novices' Chase, was all out to hold his stablemate, who was sent off the 9-2 favourite.
Davy Russell showed he was none the worse after being stood down for the last two races on the second day, after a fall from Bless The Wings, when just getting the better of Barry Geraghty by a nose.
Gigginstown boss Michael O'Leary admitted: "I thought we'd lost it on the bob of heads. It was a great finish. Two master jockeys, Barry and Davy, going hammer and tongs.
"Davy is worth a couple of pounds around here, particularly in these handicaps."
2017 - Presenting Percy:
Presenting Percy completed his sharp ascent through the handicap ranks with a dominant display in the 2017 Pertemps Final off a 31lb higher mark than he had been allotted earlier in the season.
His three-and-three-quarter length success came as no surprise to trainer Pat Kelly, who held the horse in the highest of regards as he explained: “Presenting Percy is a very nice horse and one going places. I'm not worried about the handicapper - if the handicapper was right, I wouldn't have won, so I'm delighted to tell them that they're wrong again”.
2016 - Mall Dini:
Mall Dini was Pat Kelly’s first ever runner in the Pertemps Final and he proved an instant hit for the trainer, although he needed to survive a stewards’ inquiry having edged quite significantly to his left immediately after the final flight, taking runner-up Arpege D’Alene with him.
Winning jockey Davy Russell insisted all the credit should go to Kelly, describing him as a “genius” afterwards.
Mall Dini was quite lightly-raced over hurdles at the time but connections were keen to switch him to chasing, which they did immediately.
2015 - Call The Cops:
Nicky Henderson’s sole Pertemps Final success came in 2015 when Call The Cops continued his progress through the handicap ranks with an authoritative one-and-three-quarter-length success under Andrew Tinkler.
He looked to have got in lightly carrying just a 5lb penalty for his effortless romp in a Doncaster handicap hurdle less than two weeks earlier, and he once again travelled strongly, despite the much tougher company, before finding loads for pressure to assert up the hill.
He failed by just a head to go in again at Aintree the following month, where he was racing off a 7lb higher mark.
2014 - Fingal Bay:
The 2014 renewal produced a crackerjack of a finish, with just a nose and two necks separating the first four home but it was top-weight Fingal Bay who prevailed. In doing so he became just the second horse to justify favouritism in the Pertemps this century.
As a Grade One-winning novice, the handicapper had given Fingal Bay a real chance off a mark of 148 and he went on to run creditably back over fences in seasons to come.
2013 - Holywell:
Holywell had finished second in three competitive handicaps that winter but Jonjo O’Neill’s decision to add blinkers for his first Cheltenham Festival appearance proved an inspired move as the seven-year-old bounded to a career-best performance under Richie McLernon at 25-1.
Holywell had looked the stable’s second string on paper with Shutthefrontdoor, ridden by Tony McCoy, a much-fancied 6-1 second favourite but, as he went on to prove throughout his career, Holywell was a horse who came alive in the spring and a second Festival success came his way just 12 months later.
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