Cheltenham Festival Review

So, it’s over for another year.

It is a sad fact that the entire National Hunt season seems to be based around the four days of Cheltenham, which is to the detriment of plenty of good racing that is on offer through the rest of the year; as well as great racing in the months building up to Cheltenham we still have Aintree, Sandown and Punchestown to come amongst plenty more.  It’s as if these four days have become the be all and end all of National Hunt, with owners and trainers ignoring strong racing and good prize money through the season just to avoid the risk of missing out on Cheltenham.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Cheltenham as much as the next man, it is brilliant but it probably does have an unhealthy amount of attention in the grand scheme of things as it hogs the limelight and focus of the industry.  We end up with owners and trainers complaining about prize money, but then we have graded races only attracting two or three runner fields because connections don’t want to risk leaving their Cheltenham chances behind in January or February.

Anyway, rant over and on to a review of how we did at Cheltenham.  I did intend on posting selections ahead of each day of the festival but technology issues (in that I didn’t pack my laptop, so really a me issue) put paid to that plan and I only managed to post for the opening two days, so the breakdown of this will be updating on the two days we actually managed to post daily tips and a review of how we did ante-post wise.

It was a really racking Festival (as ever) with lots of drama, great racing, some topsy-turvy turns and surprises, as well as the usual upsets and great human stories.

 

Daily Tips Review

We only posted for the opening two days but based on a system of two points for a win bet and one point each way, we would have ended with a total of plus seven points, which whilst not amazing is a positive return, so a start in the right direction.

We had three winners in total with Apple’s Jade and Tully East finishing first on Tuesday and Cause of Causes bagging the Cross Country for us on Wednesday.  There were a couple of near misses over the two days, with Divin Bere and Neon Wolf going close, with the former probably the more unlucky of the two to get beaten; if he’d managed to hold on we would have been in a much rosier finishing position.

 

TIME/RACE SELECTION BET PRICE RESULT RETURN
Tues 1:30 CRACK MOME WIN 11/1 LOST (13TH) -2
Tues 2:10 ROYAL CAVIAR E/W 6/1 LOST (4TH) -2
Tues 2:50 NOBLE ENDEAVOUR WIN 15/2 LOST (3RD) -2
Tues 3:30 YANWORTH WIN 2/1 LOST (7TH) -2
Tues 4:10 APPLE’S JADE WIN 7/2 1ST +9
Tues 4:50 EDWULF WIN 5/1 LOST (PU) -2
Tues 5:30 TULLY EAST E/W 8/1 1ST +12
Weds 1:30 NEON WOLF WIN 2/1 LOST (2ND) -2
Weds 2:10 ALPHA DES OBEAUX WIN 6/1 LOST (4TH) -2
Weds 2:50 PEREGRINE RUN WIN 7/1 LOST (11TH) -2
  MISTER MIYAGI E/W 16/1 LOST (16TH) -2
Weds 3:30 GARDE LA VICTOIRE E/W 14/1 LOST (8TH) -2
Weds 4:10 CAUSE OF CAUSES WIN 4/1 1ST +10
Weds 4:50 DIVIN BERE WIN 9/2 LOST (2ND) -2
Weds 5:30 WESTERN RYDER WIN 7/1 LOST (5TH) -2

TOTAL

+7

 

Ante-Post Tips Review:

The ante-post tips are obviously much harder to predict, with this year seeming notable for the number of horses who were forced to miss the Festival through injury.  Maybe it was just the fact it was much more high profile horses than usual who missed out this year that made it seem there was an increase in absentees compared to previous years, but it certainly seemed like a particularly bad year for big name horses missing out.

Whether there was an increase or not, what it did show was the danger (and perhaps folly) of focusing your entire year on Cheltenham, as you potentially miss out on a number of good opportunities with Cheltenham in mind only to miss the grand target itself – One we can’t put in this bracket is Thistlecrack, his owners must get a lot of respect for taking a chance and not shying away from a challenge, even if it didn’t quite work out in the end.

 

Looking at the ante-post book, we had a few non-runners we selected at NRNB so I’ll take them out of the rundown, as it would literally be a waste of space to include these in the table.  Non-runners backed under NRNB were: Charli Parcs in The Supreme, Identity Thief in the Arkle, Faugheen and Nichols Canyon in the Champion Hurdle, Zabana in the Ryanair, Don Poli in the Gold Cup, Coney Island in the JLT and the same horse in the RSA.  That’s a total of eight selections who failed to turn-up, although Nichols Canyon did run and win in the Stayers’ Hurdle, so I was clearly on to something when flagging the 33/1 as overpriced!

 

Of those selections who did run, we had a very successfully year finishing with a return of +29.5 points based on staking two points for win selections and one point each way on place selections.

 

The biggest success came in the Champion Hurdle where we managed to bag the one-two at much improved ante-post prices, particularly My Tent Or Yours who we selected at 50/1 but with further withdrawals and support went off to finish second at 16/1.  It’s just a shame we didn’t have the forecast.

 

The one glaring error was advising Altior at SP when just about odds on, but once his nearest rival was withdrawn the price collapsed and he went off at 1/4. The biggest lesson there is to take the ante-post price and if it lengthens on the day and we still fancy it, lump on more.

 

I don’t think we had any real hard luck stories in our selections, there were a couple of near misses on each way selections but I couldn’t say any were hard done by, whilst I did also flag Sizing John as a potential future Gold Cup horse but avoided in ante-post selections as I felt he’d need another year due to concerns around staying up the hill – I backed him on the day with the view he was the class horse in the race, but that’s no good here now!

All in all though a pretty good return for a first attempt.

I’ll continue to post advice and selections here through the season with the next big meeting at Aintree likely to be our next focus, though maybe not in the same depth of the Cheltenham Festival. So, bring on Aintree!

 

RACE SELECTION BET PRICE RESULT RETURN
SUPREME NOVICES CILAOS EMERY WIN 10/1 LOST (5TH) -2
ARKLE ALTIOR WIN SP (1/4F) 1ST +2.25
CHAMPION HURDLE BUVEUR D’AIR WIN 7/1 1ST +16
  MY TENT OR YOURS E/W 50/1 2ND +13.5
CHAMPION CHASE GODS OWN E/W 20/1 LOST (5TH) -2
  GARDE LA VICTOIRE E/W 33/1 LOST (8TH) -2
STAYERS’ HURDLE UNKNOWHATIMEANHARRY WIN 11/8 LOST (3RD) -2
  SHANESHILL E/W 11/1 LOST (PU) -2
RYANAIR CHASE SUB LIEUTENANT E/W 14/1 2ND +4.5
GOLD CUP OUTLANDER WIN 10/1 LOST (10TH) -2
  MINELLA ROCCO E/W 25/1 2ND +7.25
JLT CHASE YORKHILL WIN 2/1 1ST +6
RSA CHASE ALPHA DES OBEAUX E/W 10/1 LOST (4TH) -2
  MARINERO E/W 66/1 LOST (FELL) -2
CROSS COUNTRY CANTLOW WIN 9/4 LOST (3ND) -2
  BALLYBOKER BRIDGE E/W 33/1 LOST (6TH) -2

TOTAL

+29.5

 

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