5 Things to Give You A Cheltenham Festival Punting Edge
1) Bookmakers’ Offers
You should keep a spreadsheet of all the bookmakers’ offers as they are announced. You need every advantage you can get your hands on to help you get ahead of the bookies so this is something every punter should keep an eye on. There are loads of money back specials if certain horses get beat and these are already live with most bookmakers. With these types of offers there are a few ways you can use themas an edge, including identifying a good ew bet. Paddy Power are offering money back if Douvan wins the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle to a max of £50 and it applies to the win part of your bet. I like L’Ami Serge in the race and cannot see it being out of the first three. This offer would allow you to back L’Ami Serge ew and if Douvan wins and L’Ami Serge is placed you get the win part refunded and pick up a little profit on the place part. This strategy helps minimise the risk on a good ew bet.
Come the day of the race you should pay very close attention to bookmakers offering extra places in certain races. With the competitive nature and big fields at the Festival it allows you the opportunity of backing big prices ew with the added bonus of extra places. There’s plenty of value to be had in identifying horses that will be running on strongly for a place at the Festival without winning.
2) Weather Watch
Nailing the going conditions is one of the keys to a successful Cheltenham Festival. And that means being able to adapt across the four days. There’s been plenty of times when the going across the four days has changed considerably.
The ground is currently good-to-soft (soft in places) and although there’s no real significant rain forecast it is hard to know how much the ground will dry out between now and then. If it does dry up your ability to interpret soft ground form on faster going will be key to making a profit. I for one certainly think Nicky Henderson’s horses are generally a stone better on quicker ground so if it does dry up to nearer good you should be wanting to keep his horses very much on your side.
Keep up to date with the weather by installing a widget on your desktop or app on your phone. The BBC Weather does one and Google can also put one on your homepage too. The mantra is be prepared to adapt!
3) Exotics Pay
Bookmakers love Lucky 15s as one failure takes out 8/15th’s of the bet. BUT, there’s no better time for you to indulge in a multibet. Everything is running for you at the Festival plus the competitive nature means the prices are generous too. Throw in the added places, plus treble and sometimes quadruple the odds for one winner and you have the best conditions to nail a juicy multibet. The ew option is the way forward and you can easily collect a good return for three juicy places.
Placepots at the Festival are famous for paying incredible dividends. Get stuck into the pool even with small staked permutations and you could be collecting a good return. A big tip is to ignore dominating your placepot with fancied runners. Even if they do make the frame the Placepot won’t pay much. Instead concentrate on bigger priced runners especially in the handicaps. The best strategy to follow is to highlight bankers in at least two of the day’s Championship races and then select three, four or even five runners in the handicaps. Fridays tend to produce the biggest dividend so if you’re well up by then consider investing in a chunky ‘perm.’
4) The Two (or Three) Faces of Cheltenham
A big factor to remember, especially for those fairly new to racing and the Cheltenham Festival, is the fact that the meeting is run on two courses (three including the Cross Country course).
Tuesday and Wednesday’s races are run on the Old Course whichhas less of an emphasis on stamina than the New Course. On the Old Course the downhill run leads to a shorter run to the line with two obstacles to contend with. What this means is that it is hard to come from too far behind on this course as the downhill run gets a bit of oxygen into the lungs which means horses can really kick off the home turn. It is more likely you’ll see a front-runner winning on this course compared to on the New Course.
Thursday and Friday’s races are run on the New Course which places a big emphasis on stamina. It’s run-in also has two obstacles but is nearly two furlongs longer than the Old Course which, when you consider it is all on the rise, is a much sterner test. It means you need a definite stayer on this course. Races like the Ryanair have been won in main by horses stepping down from 3m, the Triumph has been won by horses who went on to become real stayers. There’s a whole theme of stamina running through the past winners of races on these two days. The Gold Cup itself given the pace it is run and the stiff nature of the course probably rides more like 3m4f than the 3m2.5f and there’s been plenty of horses that stayed 3m well enough who have died a death on the climb to the line.
Know your courses!
5) Notes for the Future
Buy a notebook or use your phone to make voice recorded notes as one way to profit in the future. Record all the races and take a good look when watching them back.
The competitive nature means there’s going to be some hard luck stories or horses who just simply don’t get the run of the race. And with the field sizes being as they are not everyone will see every instance which means it is more likely for you to gain an edge. More significant is to keep an eye on those runners staying-on strongly through tiring horses under tender handling especially in those races run on the Old Course with its shorter run-in. By the same token keep an eye on those that are prominent and who fade close home through a lack of stamina. There’s always Aintree around the corner and this method should help you profit there.