Hi there, well, there are now a little over 2 weeks until the tapes go up on the Supreme Novices Hurdle and, the stands erupt signalling that the Cheltenham Festival 2020 is at last underway.
It’s the highlight of the gambling year with four days of the best jumps racing the UK has to offer. England v Ireland, Nicky Henderson v Willie Mullins, Altior v Defi Du Seuil are just some of the mouthwatering duels that lie in wait for us.
We thought we’d highlight some important points in setting up a smart betting strategy with a view to how best to approach the week’s action.
The bookmakers will be falling over each other to get your bets. There will be plenty of enticements for new account openings, but there will also be some generous offers for existing customers too.
Please do not look this ‘Festival gift horse’ in the mouth. You only need to invest a few minutes every day to make sure that you’re playing with as much of the bookie’s money as possible, and I reckon that if you tried hard it could even add up to as much as £1,000 over the week.
The daily ‘banker hotpots’ such as Benie des Dieux, Atior, Tiger Roll and Paisley Park will all be offered at odds between 25/1 - 50/1 for new account openings. OK, so the max bet will be £1 but why not take advantage...it's free money! Similarly, existing customers will be given a free bet (up to £25) if their horse is beaten/finishes placed behind the favourite.
One of my favourites offers is from Skybet who will be returning all stakes up to £25 as a free bet if you don’t back the winner of the first race (every day), this means that if you don’t win on the race you can’t lose either... that's a free £100 right there.
Don’t bet in every race
It is hard not to have an opinion for every race at the Festival but you need to keep focused, it’s your hard-earned money your putting on the line so make sure you don’t give it away cheaply. Pick and choose the races you play in, and please don't bet in every race... you don’t need to have a bet in every race to enjoy it and if you do, given that this is the most competitive meeting of the year, you will almost certainly lose money. Don't fall into the trap of becoming over-confident when you've backed a winner and don't chase your losses. You need to try and treat every race on its merits rather than approaching it based on how you are feeling at the time.
If you must play in every race why not try your hand at a placepot? The Festival pools are some of the biggest of the year so definitely worth winning. All you need to do (!) is pick a horse(s) to place in the first six races, you can have several selections in the trickier races along with a banker or two.
Cheltenham Festival stats
Rather than re-inventing the wheel, we are just going to point you at Paul Jones excellent race-by-race analysis on the Attheraces Cheltenham Megasite, it covers the key stats and trends for the major races throughout the week.
Just looking at the Supreme Novices Hurdle (co-incidentally one of the strongest trends race of the meeting)... to briefly paraphrase as we can't do justice to how in-depth his analysis is.
- Favourites are a negative
- Less than 4 runs is a negative
- If a horse's last two runs are wins, strong positive
- Irish trained (or N. Henderson) positive
Paul Jones is the author of the well-regarded Cheltenham Festival 2020 Betting Guide which costs £15 and is well worth the investment, but you can get his key insights for free here. We would recommend that you read his write-ups for each day, at least a couple of days before you start looking at the form in detail so that the main trends sink into your mind and provide you with a context.
But do remember that trends are there to be broken. Previously one of the strongest trends was that no horse had ever won at the Festival if they had fallen in their previous race, but that was broken at the last 3 Festivals. No horse older than 7 has ever won the Marsh Chase (the old JLT) but the winning-most trainer in the race Willie Mullins saddles ex-Champion Hurdler Faugheen who is a latecomer to novice chasing at the age of 10… something has to give.
Avoid information overload
There is a myriad of “Experts” out there who all have differing opinions and tips for every race at the Cheltenham Festival 2020. If you try and take it all in you can end up getting bogged down and going round and round in circles reading all the 'expert opinions' out there.
Try to find a strategy that works for you be it reading form, looking at Timeform ratings or following a particular tipster who has a good track record at Cheltenham (have a look at how we've done at the Cheltenham Festival for the last 5 years). You can spend hours analysing a race and end up more confused than when you started... if that happens keep your hands in your pockets.
How to get the best odds
We are all guilty of just using our favourite bookmaker. This is because we know how to find the bets we are looking for. Some bookmakers sites are frankly awful to navigate. But it will pay rich dividends to hunt around for the best odds as there will be big differences in the odds being offered.
To get a complete overview of all the odds on offer you can’t beat Oddschecker.com They provide odds comparisons from virtually every bookmaker out there and also what offers any particular bookmaker has on offer for that particular race. You can also compare the cumulative odds for multiples and you will be surprised what a huge difference the returns are with different bookmakers.
So stop being lazy (we all do it) and open more bookmaker accounts and then do your research on Oddschecker and get the best prices you possibly can as we all need an edge against the bookmakers.
If you haven’t already done so head over and watch our quick video on odds comparison on Oddschecker.com