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
- A quick reflection on the last two festivals for me (both previewed on the Blog)
- 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
- 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.
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.
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)
- Go back through the stats/trends for each race, confirming ‘the winning profile’ and which stats to use as a starting point.
- Using this profile and other stats if required, create a shortlist of live contenders – 5-6 max.
- Go through the shortlist/contenders in my usual way, using Geegeez Gold Racecards and HorseRaceBase racecards/‘profiler’ tool
- Use ‘instant expert’ tab to get a ‘feel’ for the race. Get an early feel on Pace as well, using the pace maps.
- 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)
- 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?
- IS THE HORSE DOING SOMETHING DIFFERENT??
- 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?
- 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)
- Need to make an assessment of jumping and how they travel, using video/in running comments.
- Use HRB Cards to look at Trainer/jockey form – last 730 days – all/track/jockey/handicaps/handicap chases|hurdles
- Geegeez Gold Racecards…go through all tools available.
- Trainer form (14 days/30 days/course 1 year/course 5 years – AE/IV figs)
- Jockey form – as above.
- Head to Head Form
- Horses recent form – close attention to ‘then what’ feature – how have recent races worked out.
- Look at ‘in meeting collateral form’ if anything stands out. Pay attention to previous days races at Festival.
- 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)
- 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.
- PACE/SHAPE OF RACE
- Use Geegeez pace-maps to work out shape of race.
- OLD COURSE: Up front is not the place to be. Hold up better.
- NEW COURSE: Up front IS the place to be
- 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.
- Use Geegeez pace-maps to work out shape of race.
- IGNORE STATS AND TRENDS
- Ignore stats and trends and repeat ALL of the above for every runner in the race.
- 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’.
- Look at the HRB ratings and the Geegeez Speed ratings.
- 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)
- HRB ratings..for handicap chases in that time – 33% won by Top 4 rated (10 chases)
- Rated 19 or lower…0/94, 10 places
- 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)
- Use as a guide.
- Go and have a lie down…??
- Wake up, make a coffee and get your thoughts together 🙂
- Refresh on trainer form in this race.
- At this point have a look at the market.
- 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.
LINKS OF INTEREST?…
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.
HorseRaceBase..you can take a trial for that HERE>>>… brilliant piece of kit. Esp good for those who like their system building/stats research.
CHELTENHAM GUIDE…you 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… 🙂