Cheltenham Festival favourites worth backing or opposing?
Tuesday 13 March 2012
The favourites at the Cheltenham Festival are the horses who
have the most money riding on them but has the value gone for
favourites by the time the day of the race comes or can money still
be made from backing these well fancied horses? Visit the
Cheltenham Betting site for the answers to what
favourites should be backed and which should be opposed.
In recent years, the bookies have largely gone home pretty happy with themselves as favourite backers in general have been losing money during Cheltenham Festival week. Punters who have gone to the Festival and backed every favourite will have lost money in four out of the last five years and made a loss in seven of the past eleven years. Even last year, when favourite backers will have made a profit, it would have only been a £30.68 return from £28 if £1 was staked on every favourite in each race and that’s barely worth the risk involved.
When looking in more detail at the recent record of favourites, anyone backing at short odds might start to have second thoughts. Since 2002, there have been 4,446 runners at the Festival, 254 of them have started the race as the outright favourite, joint favourite or co-favourite. Those 254 runners have provided only 58 victories, a strike rate of just 25%. Any punters who backed all of those 254 favourites with a £1 stake will have got back just £224.28. Backing every favourite isn’t the best tactic but some favourites are more reliable than others.
It seems that the better favourites are actually the ones with the shorter odds, more often than not. Most years at the Festival there are a couple of so called ‘bankers’ that everyone seems to be backing and these can be the best bets. Since 2001 there has been 35 horses that have started their race between evens and 15/8, 48.5% of those have been successful, rewarding those who backed the bankers with a profit of £7.55. If backing each with a £1 stake, that is a 21.5% profit. At the time of writing, the only horse to fit the bill this week is Sizing Europe in the Champion Chase as he is available at evens but look out for Sprinter Sacre and Hurricane Fly on Tuesday. If either drift a little, they will qualify whilst money for Grand Crus on Wednesday or Boston Bob and Long Run on Friday would also make these horses qualify for the ‘banker’ odds band.
The best jockey to follow for favourite backers looks to be Ruby Walsh who has a great recent record at the Festival. Walsh has ridden 46 favourites in the past eleven Cheltenham Festivals, 18 of which have won their race which has rewarded backers of all the runners in that period with a level stakes profit of £13.86. Ruby Walsh has a good book of rides as usual this year, the stand out Ruby Walsh ridden favourites include Quevega in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, Hurricane Fly in the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday and Big Bucks in the World Hurdle on Thursday. All three horses won these races comfortably last year.
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