Tuesday 7 March 2023

Festival Form The Key at Cheltenham?

Thanks to Owen Johnson forwarding this post with is excellent insight. 

Follow him on Twitter: Owen Johnson.    

So with a week to go until the Cheltenham festival I thought I'd give my own personal take on a week where many will be looking to find angles.

First of all everyone has different ways of finding winners, whether it be: Simply finding the most likely winner, trends, speed figures, trainer form, jockey or even picking by name, we all have our way. For me it was and still is about finding value, however having applied the same principles of studying the form, then compiling a tissue for most races at Cheltenham why was it that I never seemed to win? Well not wanting to be defeated, I set about exploring new theories and came across an old betting show on youtube. One of the pundits mentioned that his approach to the Cheltenham Festival was simply backing horses that had run well at the festival the previous year. This seemed a good idea, given that Cheltenham is an undulating track with plenty of ups and downs and it would expose horses who in the heat of the battle had never been to the track, let alone the festival. The first year I tried this theory and still came out with a loss after the four days. However, it was nowhere near what I had been losing at the festival in years gone by and to be honest there were a few unlucky moments (it is Cheltenham after all). But I stuck with it and the next year was my best ever Cheltenham and in the two years that went after that my profits continued to rise. However, I would like to put a disclaimer in that last year I had a lot of ante-post bets leading up to the festival and was on some good horses at fancy prices, as I have this year. But last year the theory produced nine winners at the festival most of whom were in the graded races although Coole Cody winning at 25/1 was a nice result in the Plate!

What I am saying is the handicaps are generally tougher when going off this theory. But take a race like the Turners for example; we have a strong favourite in Mighty Potter who last year was pulled up in the Supreme Novices Hurdle, whereas Banbridge won the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle. This is a classic case of where if I was a layer I'd be against Mighty Potter for the simple reason of does he actually handle Cheltenham? Where they will go at a fast pace and where horses get taken out of their comfort zones. Banbridge has already displayed those qualities, and to boot won round Cheltenham at the November meeting over two miles. Now I'm not saying Mighty Potter can't win and he maybe an improved performer of fences as he was over hurdles but the question remains will he handle the track, the noise the occasion? The Festival is so different to anything really in horse racing in that the build up to it is immense and the races are normally run at a stride or two quicker given the jockeys excitement of wanting to ride a festival winner.

So before making a final decision about your Festival fancy it may just pay to have a look at last year's form to see whether your horse truly acts in the cauldron that is the Cheltenham Festival.


Author: Owen Johnson

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