Cheltenham 2016: What You Can Expect….


What will next week look like on this blog…

The Festival is nearly here and even I am starting to get excited!! 🙂 (for those unaware, I find months of Cheltenham talk boring and tiresome – and it can all go out the window if there is a deluge of rain! I punt from week to week, looking forward to all of the big Saturday races and enjoying them for what they are) Only in recent days have my eyes started to turn to this magnificent week in March and I am now starting to think about the horses!

This article comes in three parts

  1. A quick reflection on the last two festivals for me (both previewed on the Blog)
  2. A run through race by race – what I will be betting in, and what I won’t. There is a mix in here, including me thinking aloud on a few races/early pointers
  3. A run through the checklist I will be using for every big race/race I analyse. This is for my own benefit as much as anything else – but you may enjoy the read!

The Last Two Festivals…

I started blogging on here before November 2014, well in December 2013 (you can see the Monthly Archives right at the bottom of this page – and unlike the leader of her Majesty’s Opposition I haven’t deleted my back catalogue of articles – I don’t think there is anything incriminating in there!:) ) But, before November 2014 I think I was the only person reading it. A few friends maybe, one man and his dog, but that was about it.

My ability and application has developed somewhat since those early footsteps but we would all like a repeat of my first attempt at Cheltenham. (more on that in a second) From November 2014 to End of September 2015 (11 months) the blog’s tips made around +70 points to advised stakes. Since start of Oct 2015 to today, (just over 5 months) the blog is on about +148 odd points I think. So, I have been improving, which is good news and is how it should be. In part that is down to staking, and ensuring I have 1 point on the win side on most/all bets – in that first recorded year I probably ‘threw away’ 60 odd points by doing 1/2s ew, as opposed to ensuring at least 1 point on win side.

Cheltenham 2014…

The total profit to advised stakes/odds for the 4 days was around +42 points. Indeed both 2014 and 2015 have taken the same path… a blank day 1, profit on Day 2, a blank Day 3 and profit on Day 4! Very strange.

In 2014 I had OFaolain’s Boy at 16s in the RSA, Lac Fontana at 12s in the County, and…Very Wood at 50/1 in the Albert Bartlett. He was a ½ EW bet – put off 1 point EW due to his odds – ‘cant win at 50s can he, I would be happy with the place!’- that is one part of my thinking which has developed. There were plenty of losers as well and without Very Wood it would have just been ok, rather than decent- but that was a fun 4 days.

Onto 2015 and the same pattern emerged. Nothing to cheer on Day 1. By this point my ‘obsession’ with micro angles was developing at a greater rate. The one I devised for Nicholls threw up Aux Ptits Soins and Qualando. Now, I didn’t tip the first (backed him as a micro) but tipped Qualando following further race analysis – another bottle job – ½ point EW. I also gave strong mentions to Dodging Bullets (not tipped but said he was the one – not sure why he didn’t get an ‘official’ 1 point!) and also the Pipe bumper horse who won well (fun money, no tip, again).

Come the Friday, following another blank Day 3, I found the winner of the Albert Bartlett again at 10/1. He was the only official winner on the day. I really fancied Many Clouds and Coneygree in the big one – backed both, didn’t tip them despite confident write ups. Bottled it a bit again there and don’t really know why. You live and learn.

‘Official’ tips lost -5 points on the week – but there were plenty of winners mentioned in despatches and many had a good time. The micro systems did well also.

My aim this year is to not bottle it so much and to try and get the staking right…


THE BUDGET for 2016…

Having said all that, there could be some ½ point bets flying around. What follows is a day by day, race by race, pointer to what I will be betting in and what I will be leaving. It is good to have a plan I think and not something I have done properly before.

I have set myself and the blog a budget of 25 points for The Festival.

This is an amount that I am happy to lose, to put it bluntly.

It can be a bloody tough week and I for one don’t want to be getting to the end having lost upwards of 40 points or so. (which is easily done of you get carried away) This week is about enjoyment, and for me personally, I am happy with that figure – in the context of the level of pressure it will put on me and in at context of how the blog has done this season to date. I have the points to play with. I know for some Cheltenham is make or break, betting wise. It isn’t for me.

This week is one big puzzle, the toughest puzzles we face all year in the jumping game, and I want to solve some of them. But, at the same time I don’t want to have a cavalier attitude.

And there is always another race…I am looking forward to the Midlands National at Uttoxeter next Saturday. Last year I tipped the winner of that at 9/1 and suddenly it became a profitable week!

So, that will be the state of play. One of the chaps I went to the preview night with said I should start being a bit more positive.(for my psychology as much as anything else) I keep harking on about losing runs, how likely they are etc. Well, he was right. I really should start being more positive. You all know about losing runs. My record is there for you to analyse. If you aren’t prepared for them given my approach, you shouldn’t be following my tips. Quite simple.

SO, this is the last negative/losses based comment for some time…if you are going to follow all of my tips be prepared to lose all 25 of those points next week.

Most of you know this – but I bet all of my tips to £20 per point – so I am prepared to lose £500.

Right, with that said, let’s move on.


I can’t wait for next week and am beginning to get rather bullish. Confidence is high.

Let’s go…

Day 1

1.30 Supreme: No Bet (skybet free bet offer if you can get on!) No idea, take Min on with something.

2.10 Arkle: No Bet. TO NOTE…’in meeting, collateral form’…Example…Vaniteux- a good run for him may be a good sign for Arzal…likewise if Garde Le Victoire runs a good race that could boost the chances of Dr Harper later in the week…

2.50 3m1f Handicap Chase: BET – 3 points (likely two horses, 1.5 points on each, win only)

3.30 Champion Hurdle: No Bet

4.10 Mares: No Bet

4.50 National Hunt Chase: BET – 1 point (maybe one horse, win only, or 2x 0.5 wins)

5.30 Novice Handicap Chase: BET – 1 point (as above)



1.30 Neptune: No Bet (SkyBet Offer Again)

2.10 RSA: BET – 1 point (likely one horse, win only)

2.50 Coral Cup: BET – 2 points (likely 2x 1 point win only for me personally)

3.30 Queen Mother: No Bet

4.10 Cross Country: No Bet

4.50 Fred Winter: BET – 1 point (likely 2x 0.5 points)

5.30 Champion Bumper – No Bet – I have had some fun money on BattleFord at 20/1 (Ladbrokes) following Ben Pauling’s Tip at preview evening- which had plenty of logic – I won’t have any strong views on this and he will do for a fiver.



1.30 JLT Novices: No Bet (SkyBet Offer again) (Arzal… would be more interesting depending on what Vaniteux does as above –have not looked at race at all)

2.10 Pertemps: BET – 2 points (likely 2 x 1point win bets)

2.50 Ryanair: No Bet (possibly fun money on Josses Hill depending on pace set up, yet to look at race)

3.30 World Hurdle: No Bet

4.10 Stable Plate: BET – 2 points (likely 2x 1 point win bets)

4.50 Mares or something. No Bet

5.30 Kim Muir: BET – 1 point (likely 2 x 0.5 points)



1.30 JCB Triumph: No Bet. (SkyBet – probably start with Alan King/Nicholls)

2.10 County Hurdle: BET – 2 points (likely 2x 1 point win bets)

2.50 Albert Bartlett: BET – 1 point (1 horse, win only)

3.30 Gold Cup: BET- 3 points (I can’t see my money going anywhere else than on Don Poli, Cue Card, and Smad Place at the moment – how much, on which ones etc I have yet to decide. And I may change that opinion after I have given it ‘the treatment’. But, I have a vision of Willie having a mediocre week by his standards, to be rescued by his first Gold Cup winner as Poli gallops and out-stays them all. That could be boll**ks of course, and Willie will come into this race with 8 winners under his belt already!)

4.10 FoxHunters. No Bet. I will be cheering on Pendo, loudly. But I wont be betting.

4.50 Martin Pipe: BET – 1 point (likely 2x 0.5 point bets)

3.30 Grand Annual: BET – 2 points (likely 2x 1 point bets) the ‘go out with a bang’ race.


keen observers will note that the outlay above totals +23 points. That gives me two points to play with depending on confidence levels (reserved for the odd horse I may have only 0.5 points on that I may want to top up, or go bigger, or 1pt EW etc)

There is some method/logic behind the weighting for certain races given my approach and races I like betting in, and the type I have previewed so far this season. I am also going for the hat-trick in the Albert Bartlett so have to play in that, despite usually giving novice hurdles a swerve. I think the Gold Cup is the only Championship race I will be tipping in. I am sure I will throw £2.5s, £5s from my fun money budget at some of them.  (which will be around £50 or so, 2.5 points for me)

In general, in those races with hot pots etc I can’t be bothered to work out a proper way in – without the fav, forecasts etc etc. The time taken doing that would distract from the 14 races that I really want to get stuck into.



Will just focus on those races I intend to bet on. Those amounts are not set in stone, (the 25 point total pretty much is) as I don’t like just betting/tipping in races for the sake of it.(even at the Festival!) But it is a good guide. The write ups will focus on the selections and pace of the race. I wont have the energy or time for the usual analysis of most other runners – you will just have to trust me that I have done it! (and post race I will always analyse/think about the winners that I didn’t back and why)

The other races…well I don’t intend on covering them. If there are any stats snippets I discover I will share them in a brief write up – some pointers. But, there is many a free preview around – I would send you to Geegeez where my good friend Matt has previewed most of the big races already. He avoids the handicaps –  wisely – but they are puzzles that I cannot leave alone!

SO, that will be it for next week. It will be fun and exciting.

How you play my ‘tips’ etc is obviously up to you. But, that is the state of play. What will be will be! And remember, there is always Uttoxeter and always another race! 🙂


My Race Checklist

What follows is my approach to race analysis. I have never put it down in writing quite like this before but I think it covers everything… (one day I will record a video of this)

  1. Go back through the stats/trends for each race, confirming ‘the winning profile’ and which stats to use as a starting point.
  2. Using this profile and other stats if required, create a shortlist of live contenders – 5-6 max.
  3. Go through the shortlist/contenders in my usual way, using Geegeez Gold Racecards and HorseRaceBase racecards/‘profiler’ tool
    1. Use ‘instant expert’ tab to get a ‘feel’ for the race. Get an early feel on Pace as well, using the pace maps.
    2. Back to HRB: Go through each horse with profiler tool. Looking at profile/their record against: track/going/distance/jockey/race quality/odds range/official rating range/trainer/number of runners/days since run/month/course direction/weight/headgear/tongue tie/surface/age/course|distance (use filters…do this for their overall form, then handicaps, then handicap chase or hurdle)
    3. For each horse asking: Are they proven in race conditions? What boxes do they tick, what is a concern? Are they unexposed and open to progress? Are they exposed and likely to run well? Are they exposed and look up against it, given their profile?
    5. Handicaps – is their current mark within range? If unexposed their mark may be irrelevant. If exposed, have they proved they can’t win from this mark/ratings range? Have they come back down to a rating they can compete from?
    6. Any notable festival form?…marked up as a positive, as is track form – but NOT a negative for those yet to run here. (won 31% of all races last 5 festivals)
    7. Need to make an assessment of jumping and how they travel, using video/in running comments.
    8. Use HRB Cards to look at Trainer/jockey form – last 730 days – all/track/jockey/handicaps/handicap chases|hurdles
    9. Geegeez Gold Racecards…go through all tools available.
      1. Trainer form (14 days/30 days/course 1 year/course 5 years – AE/IV figs)
      2. Jockey form – as above.
      3. Head to Head Form
      4. Horses recent form – close attention to ‘then what’ feature – how have recent races worked out.
  1. Look at ‘in meeting collateral form’ if anything stands out. Pay attention to previous days races at Festival.
  2. Think about how the horse has been campaigned, is there a ‘story’?, does its form make sense, targeted at race/plenty in hand etc. Is the race an afterthought? (ran over fences LTO and this is a hurdle, for example)
  3. Does the horse stay over further – no bad thing for some of these races/pace they go – check if any race stats for such types.
    1. Use Geegeez pace-maps to work out shape of race.
      1. OLD COURSE: Up front is not the place to be. Hold up better.
      2. NEW COURSE: Up front IS the place to be
      3. Will shape of race suit front runners or hold up horses – usually go a good pace here, but is chance there are races with few pace setters etc.
    1. Ignore stats and trends and repeat ALL of the above for every runner in the race.
    2. This is to ensure I don’t have a fully blinkered view and don’t miss out on an obvious ‘profile’ horse say, simply because they were not in my stats/trends profile shortlist. This approach allows a full appreciation of all runners and riders and should ensure I miss as little as possible. Stats/trends for big races are a massive part of my overall approach as you know, but it is important not to be ‘blinkered’. 
  2. Look at the HRB ratings and the Geegeez Speed ratings.
    1. HRB rating for handicaps…last 5 festivals…Top 3 winning 26% of races. Opposed to around 50% for ‘normal’ handicaps. Top 6 in ratings winning 42% handicaps at Festival last 5 years. (24/55 winners)
    2. HRB ratings..for handicap chases in that time – 33% won by Top 4 rated (10 chases)
      1. Rated 19 or lower…0/94, 10 places
    3. HRB ratings…handicap hurdles…13/25 winners in last 5 years were in top 6 of ratings. 16/25 in Top 10 – 64% . (rated 26 or lower…0/17, 0 places)
    4. Use as a guide.
  3. Go and have a lie down…??
  4. Wake up, make a coffee and get your thoughts together 🙂
  5. Refresh on trainer form in this race.
  6. At this point have a look at the market.
  7. Ponder plenty/all of the above, stare at your notes, get off the fence and make a selection or two. Easy.


General points/questions/personal reminders

  • Have all other general stats at hand collected over recent weeks, my own and from free reports/blogs from Ben Aitken and Gavin Priestley. Leave no stone unturned. Don’t go backing a German bred handicap hurdler by mistake! (or the relevant german bred stat, I think that is it…)
  • Do not cut corners. Watch videos of recent runs. No excuse.
  • What do your micro angles say? Any pointers. Go through races and check against guide.
  • Old Course Vs New Course. Keep this in mind. How did Day pan out? (1st day Old course) how did Day 3 pan out (1st day New Course)
  • Is horse a strong traveller, big galloping type, are they a good jumper (esp under pressure)
  • Winners Vs Value – case to be made that in this 4 day festival winners are more important. If you really like an 8/1 shot, don’t leave it just because it isn’t 12/1. Normal ‘value’ rules should be relaxed. This is a one off occasion.
  • Never be put off by the price being too big!
  • Is the horse a battler, up for a fight, will stick his neck out – is evidence of this?
  • Any reason why your selection won’t run well? Anything major they have to overcome, any doubts etc. (claiming jockeys vs pros)


Right, I think that covers my general approach/thought process – albeit I have never put it down on paper as thoroughly as that before. I may have missed something but that will be my guide.

Rest assured I will be doing everything in my power to ensure it is an enjoyable and profitable week.

I hope you found some of that useful. As ever questions and comments are more than welcome.




If ‘Geegeez Gold’ means nothing to you, you can watch a fairly old video of me using this kit HERE>>

And you can take a trial, 2 weeks for £5 HERE>>> there really is no better time to give it a go than now. You could just sign up for Cheltenham! Go and see if it may be for you. I would be lost without it. can take a trial for that HERE>>>… brilliant piece of kit. Esp good for those who like their system building/stats research.

CHELTENHAM GUIDEyou can still get my trends/stats guide HERE>>> It will help you out plenty and if stats/trends are your thing, its a must have! (ok, I am biased, but it is rather good)


Why Not Donate Now?

If you have never donated to my ‘blogging cause’,or even if you have, and you enjoy what you read etc, why not chip in just £3 below and help me re-stock my coffee pot :)…a little donation every now and then from all you good folk will keep the blog going just as it is now, and will allow me to improve your experience also… (no sign up or anything, its just a one off donation, its really easy, via paypal)…

Here you go Josh, I would be happy to contribute to keep the blog free at the point of use and to buy you a coffee, you will need it next week… 🙂 

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Post Comments

Do join in the conversation below, we're a friendly bunch.. all questions welcome, and do share your selections or thoughts

20 Responses

  1. Hi Josh
    Good to see you’ve got a plan in place and structure for next week.
    Looking forward to the roller coaster ride that is Cheltenham, but as a successful punter I once knew said
    Always remember the bookies pay out the same for a winner at Carlisle at 8/1 as they do at these fancy meetings.
    Nice to see your not following the bookies hype and yes there is always another race.
    As for being too negative and worried about losing runs ,it’s natural you’ve got great site in its infancy but with a terrific future, you know your stuff and have made people a lot of money.Im sure most of us following your blood are savvy enough to have a decent bank and be prepared for losing runs . That’s racing Josh that’s why we love the game.just keep going what you’re doing, no complaints from me.
    Enjoy reading all your posts and even having been backing horses for 40 years still learning.
    Let’s hope for a profit next week and that all the horses return home safe.

    1. Hi David, thanks for your comment. Yes, you can get all consumed by the Festival – there may even be a few 3m+ handicap chases away from the event that I wish to get stuck into during the week, time allowing!
      Yes hear hear about the horses, that is the main thing. Cheers. Josh

  2. Im retired and the big problem with a meeting like the festival is getting sucked in to bets on far to many races. Your list of races to back in more or less mirrors the ones i will be playing in. In the old days when in gainful employment my strategy always depended how I did on the first day and subsequent either playing up winnings or sulking in a corner. So presssure is on Josh other than a small ante post portfolio including We Leave at Dawn and that animal of Ellisons in the County Im sticking with you mate for my 2.50 and £5 wagers. I need a cheer me up weak being a NUFC supporter and having travelled up from Derbyshire to watch that disgrace against Bournemouth at the w/end and still stuck with the brolly wally 4 days after

    1. I try and enjoy pressure Tony, and will be doing my best to improve on my last two ‘day 1s’ which could have gone better!! Oh dear, yes not much to say on the Newcastle front. Maybe us Reds fans old fav Rafa is about to come and rescue you – he will get you organised, and difficult to beat – albeit he wont have much time- but is one of the best tacticians in football.

  3. Brilliant article Josh, so refreshing to see how you have laid out the plan for the most exciting week of the year.. Cheltenham is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs foe anyone who invests in the five days, but as you say we all should know the value of our own 25 points and be prepared if things don’t go according to plan, and as you say there is always Uttoxeter on the Saturday…So looking forward to next week, starting with my beloved Leicester City beating Newcastle on Monday night. to stay top of the League by 5 points (sorry Tony) my £3 bet at 5000/1 if Leicester win the Premier League still looking good.. Good luck with next week Josh, looking forward to your selections

    1. Cheers Phil…blimey, well I think you are going to be having a good few months on the betting front whatever happens next week at Cheltenham! Your boys look good and I suspect you could just pull away. Good luck with the bet, you may be able to plan how to spend that in a few weeks time!

    2. Leic is going to win Championship LFC is going to win EPL ftoday LFC-United 3-0 mabe 2-0
      npw LFC has got second breath thay will do well untill the end of season

  4. Excellent post Josh your plans for which races you will leave alone fits well with me as they are the ones I have already done I love the h/c chases but haven”t enough time to tackle them this year so I will be with you all the way. Looking forward to your daily posts

    1. Cheers Tim – do feel free to comment daily on what you are backing in the races I have left!

  5. Thanks Josh, Still nine games to go though, put the bet on last August before the season started, At those odds thought I would have a few pounds on , especially the way they finished last season to avoid relegation… Resisted the temptation to cash out now for a reduced pay out…. going all the way with this

    1)Ignore stats and trends and repeat ALL of the above for every runner in the race.

    you can still get my trends/stats guide HERE>> ? have i got this wrong one hand saying ignore other hand say get ?

    1. No Stan….that is my race analysis approach…so, I go through my stats/trends shortlist…but then i ignore all of them and go through as if a ‘normal’ race, midweek – you can be blinded by stats/trends – I dont mind saying that -and it is important to get as full a view on the race as possible – there may be a stand out on my own approach, that may fall down on the stats/trends – if I just had a stats view last year, I would have left Coneygree for example. Stats/trends are imperative to my approach for big races – but it is important not to be blinkered!

  7. Wow Josh that really is extremely thorough and very impressive mate. I generally spend 2-3 hours per evening looking at cards so can only imagine how much of your time this will take up next week.

  8. I have a system for Chel that appears to have worked for at least 20 years or so i’ve been keeping an eye on it although i have’nt recorded exact results. I’d be interested in anyone who can find out the exact results of said system. It’s simplicity in itself. Take the top 4 trainers from the previous years trainers leading prize money winners in the UK from the entiure NH season, then back any of their horses that are running in the non handicap hurdle races, have won their last two races of the current season and are a distance winner. On average there are only around 4 or 5 bets, not as many as you might think and yaer after year it seems to throw up the winners, many at good prices.

  9. Great read Josh,I am well impressed with work that you have put in.My strategy for Cheltenham has been to steer clear as it is easier to back winners at other lesser meetings (Cheltenham far to competitive) but after reading your terrific blog I will follow your tips and hopefully you will disprove my theory of it being to hard to pick winners. Lets hope you have a great week and take the old enemy to the cleaners.Best of luck to all you fellow punters out there and of course to you Josh

  10. Cheltenham value is found in the bookies offers and early morning odds. The odds on course are miserly now. I used to take £5,000 in cash to the meeting but it is not worth doing it now as you can get better odds on-line via your iPhone. I bet approx 60% of the races and only have one or two sizeable bets each day. So get up early and the early odds on-line (tricky to do when you have been ‘partying each night!

    Well done for your efforts Josh. I hope you find some good winners and I am sending you extra donations as we go through the four days. I think I have a few lined up but Cheltenham can make you look silly some days and a genius the next. Keep your head and dont panic.

  11. Will be taking advantage of a few matched bets and using some in play strategies through my Betfair software,Bet Angel at the moment and have a few free bets I will either bet or lay off to guarantee a small profit whatever happens. One thing regarding Cheltenham which only found out recently was that they use two different courses over the 4 days. The Old Course on Tuesday and Wednesday and the New Course on Thursday and Friday. This is an interesting angle when comparing the past form at the Festival and could land a profit or two due to it. Worth considering, I imagine.

  12. I am spanish, sorry about my english.
    At the first study I like Theaatre Guide, but I think it is too weight for the trip. I like Ballykan E/W

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