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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Pietro Innocenzi's essential betting tips for the Cheltenham Festival

All of the do's and don'ts you need to know for a profitable meeting

Gordon Elliott: has the firepower to match Nicky Henderson and Willie Mullins
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Do check out the best offers from bookmakers

For instance, at time of writing only bet365, Sky Bet and Paddy Power are non-runner no bet on all festival races.

Do give Gordon Elliott’s runners plenty of respect

Elliott gatecrashed the trainers’ table at the festival last season, pipping Willie Mullins to land his first title with six winners.

It doesn’t seem right to call Elliott the new kid on the block – he sent out his first Cheltenham Festival winner in 2011 – but he now obviously has firepower on a par with Nicky Henderson and Mullins.

The one race Elliott has dominated in recent seasons is the National Hunt Chase, winning it three times from just five runners since 2011. Jury Duty has had a similar prep to those winners.

Don’t ignore Willie Mullins’ runners in handicap hurdles

Although Mullins has obviously suffered since losing the patronage of Gigginstown, last season he maintained his excellent record in hurdles with four winners – more than any other trainer. 

The yard obviously targets plenty of Grade 1s, but the Martin Pipe and County Hurdle have been extremely profitable for Mullins in the last eight seasons with seven winners.

Do take a closer look when Davy Russell rides for Irish trainers in handicaps

Remarkably, Russell has ridden at least one winner at every Cheltenham Festival since 2006. He partners winners in all types of race, but the value tends to come in handicaps for his fellow countrymen.

Celebration time: Davy Russell can’t contain his delight as Presenting Percy lands last year's Pertemps Final
Last season he was on board Pat Kelly’s 11-1 Pertemps Final scorer Presenting Percy – Russell’s fifth winner in festival handicaps for Irish trainers in the last four seasons (£62 profit to a £1 level stake).

Don’t look past the obvious when it comes to the RSA Chase

Before Might Bite’s success in the race last year, the previous 13 winners had already won or been placed in Grade 1 or Grade 2 company over fences – and Might Bite would have made it 14 if he hadn’t come down at the last when well clear at Kempton two starts previously.

Don’t treat the handicaps as though they are pin jobs

It’s easy to be daunted by the prospect of a 20-plus runner handicap in which all the runners can be given a chance.

However, the market can be an excellent guide – take the first day, for instance. Twelve of the last 17 winners of the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap came from the first four in the betting, while 11 of the last 13 winners of the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase were sent off at 12-1 or shorter.

Tully East (noseband) won the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Chase at 8-1

It’s not the lottery you might think.

Do give horses who have run well at Cheltenham before plenty of respect

It’s one of the oldest adages that horses who have gone close at Cheltenham – and not just at the festival – often do so again.

For instance, nine of the last ten Ryanair winners had won at the course before, while 12 of the last 17 Gold Cup scorers had finished first or second at the festival before.

Don’t dive in for short-priced favourites just yet

It’s tempting to follow the crowd when it comes to Cheltenham and get on the supposed good things early, but last year Might Bite ended up a friendless 7-2 before winning the RSA Chase, having been around 2-1 for weeks, while Defi Du Seuil, who was some bookies’ biggest loser in the run-up, landed the Triumph after drifting to 5-2.

If you are interested in this, you might also like:

Beware the Irish banker: five good things who failed to fire at the festival

Rating the bankers – the festival favourites the figures suggest we should back

It’s one of the oldest adages that horses who have gone close at Cheltenham – and not just at the festival – often do so again
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