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Reliable analysis of Cheltenham race trends and runners is the key to producing accurate Cheltenham tips.
|A indicates that the tipped selection won the race. A indicates the tipped selection placed.|
|Completed tips: 27||Winning selections: 6||Placed selections: 3|
|Total staked: 52 units||Total returned: 50.13 units||Total profit: -1.87 units|
|Cheltenham Tips Day 1|
|Supreme Novices’ Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Seedling E/W|
|Arkle Challenge Trophy||Quick Tip:||Un De Sceaux|
|Festival Handicap Chase||Quick Tip:||Ned Stark E/W|
|Champion Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Faugheen E/W|
|Dave Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Annie Power|
|National Hunt Chase||Quick Tip:||Very Wood E/W|
|Rewards4Racing Novices’ Chase||Quick Tip:||Stellar Notion E/W|
|Cheltenham Tips Day 2|
|NIM Novices’ Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Parlour Games E/W|
|RSA Chase||Quick Tip:||Kings Palace E/W|
|Coral Cup (a Handicap Hurdle)||Quick Tip:||Daneking E/W|
|Queen Mother Champion Chase||Quick Tip:||Dodging Bullets E/W|
|Glenfarclas Handicap Chase||Quick Tip:||Master Rajeem E/W|
|Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Arabian Revolution E/W|
|Champion Bumper||Quick Tip:||Moon Racer E/W|
|Cheltenham Tips Day 3|
|JLT Novices’ Chase||Quick Tip:||Irish Saint E/W|
|Pertemps Final||Quick Tip:||Call The Cops E/W|
|Ryanair Chase||Quick Tip:||Don Cossack E/W|
|World Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Whisper E/W|
|Byrne Group Plate||Quick Tip:||Un Ace E/W|
|Kim Muir Challenge Cup||Quick Tip:||Sixty Something E/W|
|Cheltenham Tips Day 4|
|JCB Triumph Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Top Notch E/W|
|VOB County Handicap Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Roman Flight E/W|
|Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Definitely Red E/W|
|Cheltenham Gold Cup||Quick Tip:||Many Clouds E/W|
|Foxhunter Chase||Quick Tip:||On The Fringe E/W|
|Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle||Quick Tip:||Forthefunofit E/W|
|Grand Annual Chase||Quick Tip:||Mount Colah E/W|
|Click on the button for a detailed race preview.|
Form is the single most critical thing to consider when backing a horse at the Cheltenham Festival. In most of the graded races a win prior to the Cheltenham Festival is a virtual pre-requisite for success. It is very unusual to find horses that failed to place in their last race achieving victory in a Graded race at the Cheltenham Festival.
To complicate things, you’ll find that several runners in any given field will be entering the Cheltenham Festival having won their last race. You therefore need to bear in mind that not all wins are equal.
• The higher the grade of the race where the win was achieved, the better an indication of form it is. Ideally your selection should have won against a similar quality field in the current season
• A win is not a form indicator if it was not achieved in the current season. The horse may have been injured in the interim or will be coming out of a long break
• Wins against smaller fields are often – but not always – less impressive than wins against larger fields. Keep this in mind if your horse’s form shows a number of places – sometimes these ‘places’ will have been achieved in fields of 3-4 horses
Recent races aren’t the only place you can assess form. The horse’s performances during training will also give an indication of form – especially of potential problems that might pop up during a race. Taking the time to watch replays of your potential selections in action can also give you an idea of what kind of shape they are in – although it takes time to develop the knack of assessing horse form from live racing.
If you’re new to betting on races, or don’t know too much about a specific Cheltenham race, it can be tempting to go along with the odds markets for that race. After all, odds are directly related to the statistical probability of horses winning races.
However, there are a few things to keep in mind here. For a start, the odds set by bookies do not always reflect a horse’s probability of winning a race. Especially in larger races that attract large numbers of bets, bookies may drop odds to get money behind a certain selection, or may drop the odds on a strong favourite artificially low to reduce their liability if the favourite wins.
Odds should therefore only be used as a guideline when making a selection. And how useful a guideline they are will depend on the quality of the race being run.
As a rule of thumb, the higher the quality of a race and the more mature the field, the more accurate the betting markets will be. The markets will be less accurate for graded novice races, even less accurate for handicaps, and least accurate for handicaps featuring inexperienced horses.
This doesn’t mean you can rely on the markets to make your selection for high quality races at the Cheltenham Festival. No Cheltenham Festival races have seen the antepost favourites win more than 50% of the time over the race’s history, and some of the Grade 1 novice races routinely make a mockery of the antepost betting markets.
What markets can do for you is help to narrow down 2-3 horses most likely to win a high-quality race. If you look back over race trends you’ll find that race winners tend to be priced beneath a specific odds threshold that differs from race to race. When you focus exclusively on these horses for your betting, you have a far higher chance of picking the race winner.
There are times when it will pay to follow the market. This will usually be in the highest quality races when a very strong favourite emerges. As soon as a contender’s odds drop under 1/1, you can be certain that bookmakers and punters are both taking its prospects seriously, and if the price drops under ½ you have yourself a ‘banker’ that has a high probability of winning the race. In these cases you have to decide whether an all-or-nothing back bet is worth the small fraction of your stake you’ll win if the horse comes through.
When it comes to lower quality races like listed handicaps, the odds markets won’t do you much good. The handicappers whole effort is to ensure that the best horses in the field have no advantage over the other runners. This will be reflected in the odds, which will generally be much higher than graded races.
In fact, handicaps do such a bad job of predicting the winner, that you’ll win most of your bets if you lay the antepost favourite in every handicap race. While handicap odds are often so high that lay bets become very risky, the huge amount of betting that takes place during the Cheltenham Festival can often produce underpriced race favourites – which means you can lay a horse that is unlikely to win a race without having to pay out too much in the unlikely event that horse wins.
Racehorses tend to have specific preferences for specific race distances. In many cases this is genetically hard-wired into them, as their dams or sires will have been bred to compete over specific distances themselves. While all national hunt racehorses are ‘stayers’ by flat racing standards, there are big differences between horses that compete in the 2 mile – 2 mile 5 furlong range, and those that compete in races of 2 miles 5 furlongs and above.
Races closer to 2 miles require more speed than endurance, although they can be uniquely demanding due to the high pace and pressure at the jump. Horses entered into shorter distance races will virtually always have prior experience over this distance, but a win over the distance they will be running at Cheltenham is still an important marker.
While prior wins over stayers distances is always helpful for longer races, don’t be lured into ignoring horses that haven’t previously travelled over the distance they’ll race at Cheltenham. In practise it is not unusual for horses to be asked to run further in a Cheltenham Festival race than they have previously in their careers.
For example it is not unusual for horses to be run over distance of 2 miles 5 furlongs before being bumped up to 3 mile races at the Cheltenham Festival.
You therefore need to keep an eye out for horses who achieved wins by large margins over shorter distances in previous races, as this is a strong indication of a stayer. Horses who win races over soft, yielding or heavy turf by a large margin deserve extra attention, as this is a strong indication of genuine staying power.
Along with distance preferences horses often prefer specific ground conditions, and will perform better under some conditions than others. The easiest way to check your selection’s ground conditions is to bring up their profile and check what kind of conditions they’ve achieved their best results in.
The Cheltenham Festival consistently offers horses good and good-soft ground conditions, although parts of the courses can become soft during rainy years. Horses with a clear preference for good ground can therefore be expected to flourish at Cheltenham.
Where it gets tricky is the large number of Irish and French horses who travel to England for the Cheltenham Festival. Many of these horses will have run the majority of their races on soft, heavy or yielding conditions in France or Ireland, and some will never have run on faster ground.
Even though horses running over faster ground for the first time can surprise, it is worth treating horses who have raced exclusively overseas with some cautions. What you want to look out for is horses that have run a couple of races over faster ground, while running the majority of their races over heavier ground.
Some of these horses will have shown significant improvement when moved onto faster ground, and will often be overpriced in the betting markets if other recent results haven’t gone their way.
Finally prior experience at Cheltenham Racecourse is always a plus, especially if that experience was at the Cheltenham Festival with its large crowds.
Ratings can be a helpful guide for narrowing down the genuine contenders. Several different ratings will be available for the race. These include the horse’s official rating, a top speed rating and the Racing Post’s rating – the most popular 3rd party rating.
The official rating (OR) gives an overall indication of the horse’s quality according to racing officials, while the Racing Post Rating (RPR) provides the Racing Post’s take on contenders. There are unlikely to be significant differences between these ratings for specific horses, but in practise it helps to stick to one or the other when looking at trends in a particular race.
For example, you’ll find that there is a definite rating threshold for winners in the Graded races at the Cheltenham Festival. Horses above a certain rating will tend to dominate with both wins and places, providing a useful filter which you can use to narrow down the range of contenders. Generally the better quality the race, the higher the rating required to achieve a win in it, and the less likely it will be for lower rated entries to cause an upset.
The topspeed (TS) rating is different to the official and Racing Post ratings in that it rates a horse for a particular race, taking into account that horse’s distance preferences, potential and overall ability. This rating packages together many of the factors already discussed to provide a quick summary of how each horse in the field is likely to perform, and how it measures up to other contenders. When using the TS rating it’s advisable to research the last five years of the race in question, and check how frequently the TS rating correlated with the horse’s finishing position.
Age matters in racing. While some novice races will be restricted to a specific age group, the vast majority of Cheltenham Races are open to horse aged 4-5 and up. In most of these races you’ll find entries come from a wide variety of age groups, and that race winners tend to emerge from a specific age range.
Take the time to look back over the race history and find the age range which winners tend to come from. This probably won’t help you pick a winner, but it can be a useful tool to narrow down the genuine contenders in the field, and will occasionally identify an over-aged favourite, which will in turn assist you in finding better value in the race betting market.
Betting on handicap races requires a fairly advanced knowledge of horseracing betting, and we’d advise beginner and intermediate punters to stick to betting on higher rated races at the Cheltenham Festival. This might seem like unusual advice, given that the most popular race in the UK, the Grand National, is a national hunt handicap chase.
The reality is that handicap races are a direct attempt by handicappers to create level fields and transform a race into a lottery. Along with having to take form, ground preferences, distance preferences and ratings into account, you’ll also be up against the handicapper, who hopes to level out any advantages specific horses have to make the race as unpredictable and competitive as possible. This is usually reflected in the odds, which will be much higher across the board than for the better rated races.
It’s easy to be tempted by the high odds on offer, but in reality placing a blind bet on a horse based on its odds is no different to spinning a roulette wheel. To profit off handicaps, you’ll need to have an in-depth understanding of how trainers game the handicap system to set their horses up for wins in profitable handicap races, and the individual effect that weights have on he performances of a wide range of contenders in a specific race.
When making a selection for a Cheltenham Festival you need to put it all the factors discussed together. You can think of it as applying several filters to the field, and see which horses remain once this is done. If you are left with a couple of horses who are priced high enough for an each-way or profitable place bet (ie over 4/1), you’ve succeeded in finding a strong selection for the race.
In some cases using all these filters will leave you with no potential selections at all, and you’ll need to remove filters one by one until you have a selection of viable contenders to pick from. Always look at the specific of the race when using the filters – depending on ground conditions on the day, the experience of the horses in the field, and the overall trends in the race, different factors will be important.
It can get even trickier when you’re left with several horses after applying all the filters. In these cases it can pay to do more reading on the remaining entries – finding out what their connections have to say about their performances in training, or if there are news snippets from racing insiders that can give you insight into which horses have the edge. If you can’t find these details, save your money and move onto a race where you can place a more calculated bet.
Finally, never place your bet before checking what betting specials are available for the top bookies. A betting special can give you a real statistical edge and dramatically include your chances of winning your bet:
• Place specials will increase your chances of having your each-way bets pay out by paying out 1-2 extra places in races with large fields
• Money back specials are usually offered on the highest quality races, and will refund your losing singles if a specific horse wins, or will refund your bet if your horse loses
• Accumulator refunds will refund your stake if you miss winning your accumulator bet by one result
• No-runner no-bet offers are critical to protecting yourself from loss if your horse is withdrawn from the field before the race