The Cheltenham Festival is made up of 28 races, with four days of extraordinary world class racing and is the very pinnacle of the National Hunt calendar. Despite the obvious changes to this year’s proceedings due to the global pandemic, it looks set to be a cracking week’s racing in the heart of the British countryside. The two left-handed courses (old and new) are notoriously challenging, each with their subtle differences that can make or break the results. The historic old course has a shorter run-in promoting speed and the longer new course is built for speed making it all to play for in the final finish up the Cheltenham hill. There are many factors a smart punter will need to consider:
This week we are going to take a look at 10 Cheltenham Festival Punting Pointers. Beth’ subscribers find some profitable strategies during the festival week.
1) Bet early and shop around on the morning of each race day.
The Cheltenham betting market has some of the strongest oddsmakers in the country. All the big firms are coming out to lay big bets of almost any size demanded, unlike the rest of the season when it can be difficult to get on. A smart punter is better off looking for the value in the morning markets by scrutinizing the range of prices on offer and using Beth. Bet to find the best prices to identify the hottest horses.
2) You don’t have to play in every race…discipline is key
So, you are armed with top-notch intel using Beth. Bet, but it is important to remember that there are four days and 28 races during the festival week – you don’t need to play in every race. Don’t get overconfident by falling into a trap when you have backed a winner… and don’t start chasing your losses when things go wrong. Treat every race on its merits and make smart betting decisions. Remember this is the most competitive meeting of the year so pick your punches and play when you see tangible, considered value. Ensure you always take full advantage of the best prices on offer.
3) Follow the hot stables with a solid record.
You will probably be familiar generally with the yards and trainers that have the highest strike rates in National Hunt racing, and there is a lot of merit in following the form of these winning connections. Don’t ignore the data, statistically the top Irish stables come back year after year and dominate during festival week. Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott have won the high percentage of races at the Festival in recent history and last year alone achieved a remarkable seven winners apiece at Cheltenham.
4) Fast run races tend to suit those ridden with patience.
Look for horses that are ridden patiently particularly in the festival handicaps.
The races at the Cheltenham Festival tend to be extremely strongly run from the tape, so it is better to side with those horses who are usually ridden from off the pace. Runners who have been dominating small fields tend to find life a lot harder at the festival, so it can be advantageous to look for those who are traditionally dropped out before coming through up the demanding final hill at Prestbury Park.
5) Check out the course form at Cheltenham.
Time and again the same horses come back to Cheltenham every year and show their best form during the festival. The unique demands of these highly charged and competitive races over the four days means certain horses are suited to the unique undulations, the strong pace and the soft ground far more than their rivals. Concentrate on horses with winning course and distance form and you should unlock a winning formula. Watch back the 2020 Festival carefully…particularly those who may have been unlucky but ran better than the bare result suggests.
6) Freshness counts for plenty, especially in the handicaps.
Look for fresh, laid out runners who have not had loads of racing in the run up to the festival. Ideally your selection will have had a nice break before the big day, and the top trainers are expert at laying out horses to peak for these highly valuable graded and handicapped races.
7) Avoid the hype, follow the form.
Don’t be blinkered by the noise surrounding the festival and try and avoid information overload. Concentrate on the form. There is a myriad of expert advice and opinion out there, but our tip is to keep it simple and focus on solid form ignoring the whispers or trackside gossip. Don’t fall foul of the hype, plan your strategy and hold firm.
8) Check for track bias.
Watch the early races for any track bias. Often at Cheltenham it can be far better to race wide on the less poached-up testing ground typically in the big field handicaps. If the ground rides soft or heavy it can be a big advantage to come up against the stands rail and those up the inside do tend to struggle in recent times. Some jockeys like Paddy Brennan are particularly expert at knowing where to position their horses (having always walked the course first).
9) Bookmaker Offers.
Take full advantage of all the bookmaker offers throughout the week – they will be falling over each other to take your bets on such competitive racing. There will be plenty on offer for new punters but also some great incentives for the experienced backer too. Offers could include free bets, extra places on the big field handicaps, extended each way terms/paying out for 5th & 6th places, ‘cashback’ offers such as money back if you are on a faller, or even ‘double results’ if you back the winner who is subsequently disqualified. In short, there will be a number of opportunities to get better value for your punting pound.
10) The Best Bet over the four days.
My personal NAP of the meeting is A Plus Tard in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, currently available at a top priced 12/1. He really impressed by winning the Savills Chase at Leopardstown in style over Christmas and is trained by Henry de Bromhead who has an excellent record at the festival. After three months off, A Plus Tard will arrive fresh having been laid out for the race and certainly looks like the one to beat.
So as the countdown begins, study the form, start your research early and get ready to enjoy a week of thrilling racing safe in the knowledge that you have a sound strategy in place. Using the Beth. Bet tool is a great way of getting a complete overview of the complex festival betting market, helping you target the best odds and gaining the latest insights by providing multiple odds comparisons from a wide range of bookmakers. This can make a huge difference on returns and guide smarter, considered betting decisions race by race.