Cheltenham 2009, edited by Nick Pulford

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The Independent Culture

"The definitive guide to winning at the Festival," claims the subtitle. Ah, if only it were that easy, but National Hunt's annual showpiece, which begins on Tuesday, regularly makes mugs of even the most informed punters.

Nothing daunted, 'Racing Post' experts have analysed every conceivable angle – course, trainers, jockeys, breeding, form and much more besides – and also advise on how to get the best price on your fancies. They don't pretend it's easy: "The hardest meeting of the season to find winners, and basically there are no rules," says Tom Segal, before promptly making a rule: "Handicap chases are impossible... stick to the championship races."

OK, then: what about Friday's Gold Cup? James Pyman's statistics-based system points to Neptune Collonges, but wait – bookie David Stevens says: "The stats boys will be against him... but Kauto Star should take all the beating." You pays your money and you takes your choice. You may lose, but study this guide and at least you'll have a good idea what went wrong.

Published in paperback by Racing Post, £9.99

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