Tuesday 27 September 2016

Five ways to make a profit at this year's Cheltenham Festival

Published 12/03/2016 | 02:30

Balthazar King (left)
Balthazar King (left)
Barry Geraghty
Gibralfaro
The Package
Willie Mullins

Essential advice for Cheltenham punters by James Pyman

Cross country ace Balthazar can take real advantage of rule change

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Age no longer a barrier to success in handicaps

With veterans seemingly dropping more quickly in the weights, for the first time I will actively seek to side with them. Between 2000 and 2014, outside of the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase,

176 runners aged 11 or older produced only one success, but last season The Package (left) bolted up in the Kim Muir to become the first 12-year-old to win a Festival handicap this century. He was running off 10lb lower than his career-high rating and 2lb below his last winning mark, while at the previous Festival he had finished third off 4lb higher. Maybe it could be the start of a period of success for the older brigade.

Cross country ace Balthazar can take real advantage of rule change

For the first time the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase will be run off level weights, having previously been a handicap. The change increases the prospects of Balthazar King (left) winning the race for a third time in what will be the popular 12-year-old's first race since he punctured a lung in last year's Crabbie's Grand National. Balthazar King is reported on course to defend the crown he won for the second time last season when carrying more weight than each of his 15 rivals. He is one of the most talented horses ever to have run in cross country chases, with form figures of 12111 since 2012 in such races at Cheltenham. He will take all the beating this time off level weights.

King could rule again in Triumph

Aidan O'Brien's Ivanovich Gorbatov is likely to be a warm order in the JCB Triumph Hurdle but Alan King could prove a thorn in his side. The Triumph is a race King loves to target - he's won it twice with Penzance (2005) and Katchit (2007) - and he has an enviably deep squad this season, comprising Sceau Royal, Who Dares Wins and Gibralfaro (left). Since 2000, King's Triumph runners at 14-1 or shorter have finished 1311220F3 (+€9.66), while those at bigger prices finished 55056000.

Take selective approach to reap Mullins rewards

Willie Mullins celebrated a record-breaking eight winners last year and has an arguably stronger squad this time. However, despite his phenomenal Festival success, his 54 runners returned €1.28 level-stake loss of €1.81. Interestingly, since 2000 his runners in Festival chases sent off at 3-1 or shorter proved extremely successful with six of seven hitting the target for gains of €13.26. This promotes confidence in Douvan in the Racing Post Arkle and Un De Sceaux in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. By contrast, his last 39 runners in staying hurdles (3m-plus) were all beaten.

Follow Geraghty when market vibes are good

If you want a jockey to follow at The Festival look no further than Barry Geraghty. His rides since 2000 show a €1.28 level-stake profit of €28.20 (33 winners from 235 rides, 14 per cent), and this will be his first Festival as retained rider for JP McManus, who has averaged three winners per meeting since 2012. Overall Geraghty's handicap mounts have returned a €12.88 loss (seven wins from 83 rides), but ruling out those at 14-1 or bigger cuts the sample to 49 rides and converts the loss to a £29.63 profit. Should any of Geraghty's mounts for McManus in handicaps attract strong market support it could pay to follow the money.

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