Cheltenham: Throw rulebook out window
Published 15/03/2010 | 05:00
One of the first things to accept when trying to formulate a betting strategy for the festival is that normal rules don't really apply.
Now, that could be a dangerous premise to set off on, but the terms of engagement over the next few days are different. That's how it is.
The variety of options, through viable races, novelty markets and concessions, make for a vast range of opportunities. This all adds to the sense of festivity and a temptation to go a bit mad, but some discipline can prevent this.
As ever, don't chase losses and don't be reckless if on a winning streak. If you've forged clear by the time of the cross-country race tomorrow, you're probably best advised watching the mares hurdle.
Shop around for the best prices; pay attention to the fundamentals such as form, ground and track performance; ignore hype or patriotism, while utilising the exchanges effectively could be the difference between having a losing week and not. If opportunity presents itself, lock in your profit.
Plenty of us will be carrying liabilities into the week already -- the absent Pandorama is my own biggest loser -- so if the chance arises to guarantee a healthy return then it's hard to argue against it. The key, of course, is deciding when to buy and when to sell.
Go Native is the standout candidate for laying back. I've him backed at three points longer than he can currently be laid at, but I'm taking a chance on him shortening further before I hedge, thus minimising the damage to my margin should he collect. For me, he should be a 2/1 shot or less, and his price will contract to around 15/8 before the off tomorrow. If I'm right, then the cost of securing my money will be minimal. If I'm wrong, and he drifts and gets beaten, then it's my tough luck.
Of the concessions, Paddy Power's offer to refund all other win bets if Dunguib obliges is enticing, as it includes the win part of each-way wagers. So, if you back Blackstairmountain each-way at 12/1 and he is placed behind Dunguib, not only do you collect on the place, but you also get your win stake refunded. Happy days!
Likewise, keep an eye on the novelty options, including match bets. The prices on head-to-heads are not generous, but if you cannot envisage Forpadydeplasterer doing better than Big Zeb, and the latter is 11/10 to Forpady's 10/11, then it gives you another option in a race that might not otherwise appeal.
It all comes down to what you perceive to be value. I won't back Dunguib at odds-on tomorrow, but I would if he touched evens.
I think Kauto Star is the week's biggest certainty and I may yet back him if he drifts back to 4/5, but I don't see him as a value pick at 4/6. That honour falls to Voler La Vedette which, although shorter than she was a few days ago, is still overpriced at 7/4 in the mares' race.