Here, Peter Watton from the matched betting site OddsMonkey gives his top tips for picking a horse that’s likely to get you a good return at The Cheltenham Festival this month.
This year’s Cheltenham Festival will run from Tuesday 10 to Friday 13 March. Whether you’re going to be attending or you just like to have a flutter around a big betting event, you might be looking for tips that will help you to pick a winner.
Of course, betting on horses is never going to be an exact science — anything can happen. But there are some tips and tricks seasoned betters use to give themselves a decent chance of getting a good return on their stake. Here, I’m going to share my best advice, which will hopefully help you to finish the week with just a little bit more money in your pocket.
Study their form
If you want to do some research to pick a horse you believe in, you could try comparing their form. This is the record of a horse’s performance in previous races, which might give you an idea of how they’re likely to do at Cheltenham.
On a race card, you’ll typically find the form numbers to the left of each horse’s name. These numbers denote the horse’s finishing positions in its previous races, and the number at the very right will relate to the last race it took part in.
To the right of the horse’s name, you’ll also see some abbreviations that tell you a bit more about their previous performances. Here’s what they stand for:
- CD = has won over course and distance
- C = course winner
- D = distance winner
- BF = was a beaten favourite last time out
If they failed to finish a race, you’ll also be told why. Here are the letters you might see, and what they mean:
- F = fell
- P = pulled up
- U = unseated rider
- R = refused
- C = carried out
- L = left at start
- O = ran out
- B = brought down
- S = slipped
- V = void race
- D = disqualified
All of these details are well worth keeping in mind when you’re making your decision.
Look at the odds
Perhaps the easiest way to pick your horse is by looking at the odds. If all of the bookies have given a particular horse especially short odds, it’s because they’re expected to win. But the bookies’ favourite only wins approximately a third of the time — plus, because their odds are always the shortest, you won’t stand to make much money if they do come first. So, it’s sometimes worth branching out and choosing one of the other horses that the bookies are expecting to do well.
Factor the trainer and jockey into your decision
While no trainer or jockey will be able to help an inherently slow horse win, the best of the best will typically only agree to work with an animal they believe in. So, you can usually tell which animal is going to have a fighting chance depending on who’s working with them. Some of the top trainers expected to be at this year’s Cheltenham Festival include Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, and Nicky Henderson. There are also some jockeys you should look out for, such as Paul Townend, Davy Russell, and Barry Geraghty.
Consider following a tipster’s advice
Tipsters are people who have been in the horse betting game for a long time, and who are confident they can help you pick a winner. Of course, nothing is ever guaranteed where horse betting is concerned, but they will know what to look out for when predicting a winner. So, if you were thinking about doing your own research but are quite new to betting on horses and aren’t really sure where to start, speaking to a tipster will mean that all of the hard work is done for you.
These are just some of the ways in which you can choose your horses during this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Of course, there are plenty of other strategies you can use, from picking the jockey with the best jersey, to simply choosing your favourite name. But, if you want to give yourself the best chance of seeing a return on your bet, the advice here should help.