Johnny Henderson Grand Annual: 2m, Friday, March 18, 5:30pm
Key stat: Five of the last nine winners had run in the Grand Annual before
The Grand Annual brings the curtain down on the Festival and has been won by novices 13 times in the last 34 years of the Festival.
In a nutshell, look to a novice chaser making his first appearance or a horse who contested the race the previous year but the problem is that about one third of the field is usually made up of this profile.
Irish trainers have a great record in the race with six wins and four seconds in the last 16 years.
While J P McManus’ runners, be it Irish or British-trained, has had two winners and two seconds in the last four years to add to his victory in 2005.
Since this handicap was named in honour of Nicky Henderson’s father in 2004, the Seven Barrows team have saddled two winners, four runners-up (two of which were novices) and two other placed horses from 34 runners.
It used to be a race for market leaders but seven double-digit priced winners recently have knocked that on the head.
A more positive stat for punters is that an eye-catching five of the last nine winners had run in the Grand Annual before and seven of the last nine British-trained winners had won at Cheltenham before.
Last year’s winner, Next Sensation, has been trained for a repeat bid after running too free when finishing fourth in 2014.