King of Stats: Previous Sandown winner set to land Bet365 Gold Cup

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We don’t know who he will ride yet, but it’s almost a given that whichever horse AP McCoy chooses on his career finale will come in for plenty of support in the Bet365 Gold Cup.

That’s why it is best to secure that early value, and more to the point, find the right horse to side with.

We’ve collated the trends and crunched the numbers to pick out the most likely winner of the 3m5f contest.

Here’s what needs to be taken into account…

Class

It seems silly to say but you need a very good horse to claim this race. Only six horses rated less than 135 have made the places in the last decade, while nine of the winners in that period were rated in excess of the figure.

Furthermore, 11 of the last 13 victors had already won a race worth at least £20k.

Applying these two criteria brings our shortlist down to a much more manageable 13 runners.

We removed most of the outsiders, but also lost Paint The Clouds (10/1), Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Chase runner-up Grand Jesture (16/1) and Roalco Des Farges (16/1) who was second in this race two years ago.

Room for improvement

Whilst proven quality is necessary, there is a danger of the handicapper getting horses well and truly in his grip.

Nowhere is that more demonstrated than in this race with just one of the last 10 winners having run in more than nine handicap chases.

So with this in mind we bid farewell to another sextet of entrants, including Cheltenham and Aintree winners The Package (10/1) and Duke of Lucca (14/1).

Perfect prep run

Looking at the previous races from previous placed horses show there is a handful of ideal tracks to warm up for this contest.

Over the last five years, 50 per cent of the horses that finished in the first four took in either the Aintree or Scottish Grand National or ran at the Cheltenham Festival on their most recent start.

Through the brutal nature of our trends analysis we wipe the trio of Le Reve (10/1), On His Own (14/1) and Vics Canvas (20/1) who are all deemed to have not had an ideal warm-up.

The right handler

Look no further than the big two in the UK training ranks for this one. Paul Nicholls has won this race three times, and eight of his runners in the last 10 years have made the frame.

Nicky Henderson meanwhile is arguably stronger in the contest. As well as winning the race with Hadrian’s Approach 12 months ago, all eight of his runners this decade have finished in the first seven.

We are left with a trio of representatives from the pair after we omit Mouse Morris’ First Lieutenant (25/1).

The French are set for the final word

There doesn’t look to be a lot between Bobs Worth (14/1), who tumbles down the weights, Rocky Creek (16/1) and UNIONISTE (16/1).

However, the one thing that he has in his favour is the fact that he is French-bred.

Horses bred from across the Channel have filled half the places in the last decade, from just 30 per cent of the runners.

The seven-year-old is the only one of our remaining trio that was bred in Gallic country, so is the last horse left standing.

His sire has had a win and a place from three runners in the race as well to add to the confidence.

UNIONISTE may have proved the stats right when they said he couldn’t win the Grand National, and he’s set to back them up again at Sandown on Saturday.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.