Dave Orton's essential betting tips for the Cheltenham Festival
More dos and don'ts you need to know for a profitable meeting
Do remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Although the opening day usually features at least two or three short-priced favourites, it’s imperative not to get carried away and see your bank depleted by the time they set off in the Close Brothers Handicap, should there be a few turn-ups.
Don’t necessarily assume that winter form won’t hold up due to spring ground. Clerk of the course Simon Claisse is the best in the business and the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle has been run on going officially described as good to soft in seven of the past ten years (soft in 2013). It’s a fair surface and, thankfully, the cream always rises.
Do take full advantage of the fierce competition among bookmakers. This is the one week of the year when traders stick their chests out and take it back to the old school. While best odds guaranteed ensures that punters have never had it so good, most of the big guns are being pushed out first thing each morning to attract business. So set the alarm clock to get ahead.
Don’t be afraid of backing more than one runner in a race. If you’re intent on whacking Samcro in the Ballymore, for example, then it should be straightforward to work out your stakes and save on any dangers in an inflated market to gain some insurance. Making a profit is the prize, but not losing is the end game.
Do take particular interest in the preliminaries. Whether you’re propping up the Guinness Bar, peering down from a box on high or glued to the television, some horses just can’t handle the big occasion and spoil their chances before jumping off. On-course markets are shaped in the ten minutes leading up to each event.
Don’t ignore trends. Largely due to advanced training methods around the turn of the millennium many trends got turned on their head. However, time has passed again and ten-year-trends are making a comeback. After all, trainers are creatures of habit. The Coral Cup is just one example in which strict criteria must be met. For instance, a quick glimpse shows the more lightly raced hurdlers with no more than four runs that season have dominated in recent times. It’s big help in whittling down large fields. If you're unable to burn the midnight oil, then don’t miss Kevin Morley’s column each day pinpointing the stand-out trends.
Do remember to respect your elders. When the emphasis is on stamina, age is certainly not a barrier to success. The Albert Bartlett has been won four times by seven-year-olds in the past decade, while the National Hunt Chase over four miles has been won four times by horses older than seven – Alan King’s Midnight Prayer was a nine-year-old when he scored four years ago.
Don’t be swayed from backing up your own opinion. The entire jumps season has revolved around the festival and the form is all out there. There’s absolutely nothing worse than jumping off one due to overcomplicating things or being afraid of a price. It doesn’t come more competitive than this and they’re all running for their lives.
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