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A weekend view of The Cheltenham Festival

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup was the former Racing Correspondent of various BBC regional radio stations and was the gossip columnist on the now-defunct Odds On magazine. He now runs Nick Boyd's large, privately owned reputation, which is widely regarded as a sporting, not-for-profit endeavour.
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The girl in the picture is Elvira, whom I have mentioned ante scriptor. She turned up rather suddenly, refused coffee, and then said nothing, but threw furious glances at my unlit fag. I tried to tell her that I thought her top, though lovely, was possibly too chilly for racing. She simply scowled. That is my only excuse for today’s dismal Saturday tipping.

Anyway, some thoughts before I sit down to start doing the first couple of days. If you know all about betting, you’ll know most of this bit of the post, so you could scroll down to Part II.

PART 1

SOME BASICS.

  • I tend to use initials quite a lot for phrases we use a lot. These will be the most common. DSLR = Days since Last Run – LTO = Last Time Out – pu = Pulled Up – 16s, 20s, 4s any number in fact ending in an s that is referring to the odds aka price = 16/1, 20/1, 4/1 etc.
  • I like the exotic bets – a general term that covers permutation bets either across the card, where I’m picking a horse in races 1, 2, 3 and say 6 and combining them in doubles, trebles and the like OR within the same race, where I am trying to select either the first two home or the first three home. If you do that with a bookmaker that is often typed as SFC (Straight Forecast) – RFC (Reverse Forecast) – CFC (Combination Forecast). Let us say you fancy four horses in a 16 runner race A, B, C and D. They are also in order of preference where you fancy A a lot and D a bit because it is grey! You could bet A to beat B for a SFC for 1 x your stake or you could have A to beat B, C and D for 3 SFC for 3 x your stake. You could have A and B in a RFC which would be two bets – A to beat B and B to beat A and the rest follows. You could also combine A,B and C for example in a CFC where two of the three horses would have to occupy the first two places. That’s it. Simples. Apart from the Tote.
  • If you use the on-course Tote or have a Tote account, then Forecasts are known as Exactas. So you can have a straight Exacta (A to beat B); a Reverse Exacta – A/B or B/A) or a Combination Exacta (A/B/C/D)
  • If you fancy two horses both priced more than 14/1 and there are more than 15 runners, you will often get a better e/w return on The Tote. This is simply because it is a pool betting system and the bigger the odds of the horse, is a reflection of the fewer people who have backed it, which means fewer winning tickets, which means the bigger the likely dividend. (Yes, the Betting Exchanges are an alternative, but let’s keep it simple). You can open a Tote account, but many bookmakers also offer Tote bets, and sometimes they’re visible, and sometimes they’re not. Sometimes they are not set up for mobiles or tablets but can be found on the full PC site. In the main, it is probably easier to have a Tote account as well as a bookmaker account.
  • MOST IMPORTANT FOR CHELTENHAM: Bookmakers will have many special offers for new account holders. There is no law preventing you from opening several accounts and taking advantage of their offers BUT be aware that most of them are designed to keep you playing more before the bonus kicks in. You can find most of them on the racing post website on the right-hand column or at Oddschecker.
  • If you’re going to have a bet, check the terms. The rules have changed so bookies can offer 1/4 odds for x number of places and some offer 1/5 for y number of places. Again Oddschecker is a good place to spot these differentials. In the main, however, simply look out for these two key Initials: BOG = Best Odds Guaranteed and NRNB = Non-Runner No Bet. BOG means that whatever price you take, you will be paid whichever is the bigger of your bet price or the SP. NRNB means that you get your money back if the horse does not run.
  • ODDSCHECKERRACING POST

SOME BETTING THOUGHTS

This is entirely a personal set of rules and is by no means mandatory or arguably correct – it simply works for me.

I rarely back a horse e/w when the price is lower than 10/1. At that price, if I think it is going to be placed, that assumes that I have already decided there is at least one other horse that might win. So, I reason, why not back the two horses to win, varying my stake to get a similar return regardless of which one wins. So if my normal bet was £10, and I fancied Nellie at 10/1 but thought Dobbin might be a danger at 2/1, I would back both horses to win, placing £2 on Nellie at 10/1 and £8 on Dobbin at 2/1, which would guarantee me a profit of £12 whichever horse won. If the two horses were priced at say 11/2 and 6/4, I would bet £2.78 at 11/2 and £7.22 at 6/4 to guarantee a profit of £8.06 to my £10 stake. That is in round figures winning 8 to 10, or odds of 4/5. This system is known as Dutching.

I also want you to have a perspective on value – which I rarely have! An ROI of 80% for the 10 or so minutes the bookie had your money, is bloody fantastic. If you don’t mind losing 20% of the time it’s fab. The reality is you will lose 60% of the time, because you backed too many horses, because you like pink colours, because you know about horses and that one looks very burly, because you have hunted all your life and that has a huge engine at the rear, and so on and so forth.

Apply all these things, but try:

  • Not to back more than three horses in any race. Only The Grand National, The Royal Hunt Cup and The Wokingham are the socially acceptable alternatives to that suggested rule.
  • Not to back any horse e/w that is 10/1 or less. Instead, consider backing two and dividing your stake.
  • To back long-shots each way – but check to see how many places your bookmaker is offering.
  • If you can back your selection easily on the Tote, consider backing anything priced 16/1 or bigger on the Tote.

PART 2

These are some of the Cheltenham snippets gathered over the past few weeks and some of the actions I have taken:

  • Jessica Harrington was very kind and gave a number of us an hour of her time the other evening together with Nicky Henderson.  She has two fancies and they are both backable. SIZING POTTSIE in the Johny Henderson (4:15 Wednesday) currently around 16s – but 25/1 with William Hill who is still refusing to go NRNB. They patently don’t think she will run him in the race. She will. Her second hope is MAGIC OF LIGHT who runs in the Mares Chase (4:15 Friday) and is priced at 12s in most places and is 16s with William Hill. Her long-term aim for this one is The Grand National, a race I think both she and Nicky Henderson have yet to win. Remember the NRNB rule does mean you keep your stake if anything untoward should occur.
  • When we discussed the Champion Hurdle, Nicky was of the belief that this was a very competitive year and that the fillies 7lb claim would make all the difference. Of the rest of the British entries, he felt SILVER STREAK was very good, along with GOSHEN.  I thought SILVER STREAK’s price at around 14s looked competitive, and I don’t see him keeping that on the day as he gets nibbled by e/w money.
  • As regards the Supreme, BOB OLINGER is deffo going to the Ballymore and Nicky thought METIER decent.
  • Talking of The Ballymore, both Jessica and Nicky suggested that BEAR GHYLLS  was one they liked.
  • MISTER FISHER for the Ryanair
  • BEAR GYLLS
  • CONCERTISTA is probably the Day 1 banker in the Mares Hurdle and MONKFISH is the banker for the meeting in the Brown Advisory Nov Ch. These two might form the cornerstones for a few multiple bets.
  • My Antepost list is:
    • BALLYADAM e/w Supreme Novice Hurdle @ 16/1
    • ABRACADABRAS e/w Champion Hurdle 12/1
    • PUT THE KETTLE ON e/w QMCC 14/1
    • LISNAGAR OSCAR e/w Stayers Hurdle 20/1
    • SANTINI e/w Gold Cup 14/1
    • LOSTINTRANSLATION e/w Gold Cup 33/1
    • ADMIRALS SECRET e/w Ultima Handicap Chase 25/1
    • MAGIC OF LIGHT e/w Mares Chase 16/1
    • SIZING POTTSIE e/w Grand Annual 25/1
  • There have been several tipsters talking about doing all the Cheveley Park Horses together in a multiple bet. There is some merit in this as it would give you a 5,500/1 six-fold. The 15 x doubles alone would return 317/1+
    • BALLYADAM in the Supreme (Tues) 6/1
    • SIR GERHARD in the Bumper (Weds) 2/1
    • ENVOI ALLEN in the Marsh Nov Ch (Thurs) 4/6
    • ALLAHO in the Ryanair (Thurs) 5/1
    • QUILIXIOS in the Triumph (Fri) 4/1
    • A PLUS TARD in the Gold Cup (Fri) 5/1
  • If you’re minded to take a chance on the handicap entries, I am aware of some positive noises about these:
    • Willie Mullins MY SISTER SARAH who is thought to be heading for The Coral Cup rather than The Mares Hurdle on Tuesday or the last on Friday. She has Cheltenham form and is only 4lb over her best Cheltenham mark.
    • Oliver Greenall has been making encouraging noises about HOMME PUBLIC who will run in the Boodles on Tuesday. He finished a neck behind the current market leader HOUX GRIS at Auteuil in October where they both picked up RPRs of 120. HOMME PUBLIC finished 1l behind HOUX GRIS, who is now 3lb better off. He is a best-priced 20/1 and must have a strong chance if running.
    • Emmett Mullins THE SHUNTER will go for his £100k Morebattle bonus in The Grand Annual where he is shortening all the time. He is currently around 7s and while he holds a number of entries elsewhere, just ensure that you bet NRNB.  I think he is certainly forecast material wherever he goes.

I shall rest tomorrow. There is the risk, that without thinking of something else over the next 24 hours, I shall end up like Horace Rumpole, a hero who claimed he: “… sent out words like soldiers to battle and they never returned”.

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