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William Hill's trading team share their insights on Cheltenham Festival
With the 2020 Cheltenham Festival starting on Tuesday, punters will be frantically searching around for tips to give them an advantage when it comes to placing their best bets.
We’ve sat down with the William Hill trading team, who are on hand to share their thoughts and unique insights ahead of the event.
How big a betting event is Cheltenham Festival?
Cheltenham is by some way the most important horse racing meeting of the year, not only from a financial perspective but because the interest it generates with the racing public is incredible.
In terms of 2020, it will be one of the biggest sporting occasions along with the Grand National from a racing perspective, but in terms of other sports, obviously Euro 2020, Wimbledon and The Open will be up there.
Across the Group races we would be looking to take somewhere in the region of £50 million, with the Gold Cup likely to be the biggest turnover race.
In terms of the worst day at the Festival, the Thursday last year seems the best place to start as we ended up losing circa 25% with three of the first four favourites collecting, while they were also joined by well-supported winners such as Frodon, Siruh Du Lac and Any Second Now.
Which has been the best-backed horse ante-post this year?
The most money placed on a single horse in a single race has been Paisley Park in the Stayers’ Hurdle. One or two others that have come for significant support in ante-post markets are Shishkin in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Altior in the Champion Chase and Lostintranslation and Al Boum Photo in the Gold Cup – they’re the four hottest bets in town at the moment.
Which horse are the bookies hoping will lose most?
In terms of which horse will cost the bookies the most and who is the Cheltenham banker, it’s Paisley Park in the Stayers Hurdle. No horse has been lumped on more than him ahead of the Festival and it’s not hard to see why. He’s a rock-solid stayer with a big following and punters aren’t being put off with the short odds.
Which are the best-backed horses in the handicaps?
Since the weights came out last week we have seen money in particular for Discorama in the Ultima Handicap Chase, Birchdale in the Coral Cup, Aramax in the Boodles Juvenile Hurdle, Relegate in the Pertemps Final, Mohaayed in the County Hurdle and Front View in the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle.
They’d be the six best-backed handicap horses at the moment, but that can all change once the final fields and jockey bookings are revealed.
In terms of the balance of Prestbury Cup money and the favourites in each race, who should come out on top between the UK and Ireland?
It’s very tightly matched on bets struck. Ireland are favourites but the UK are marginally worse as a result at the moment. Looking at the short price favourites through the week, the Irish have a clear edge and if they all go in they will be hard to beat
Based on the odds of runners in each race, which trainer should come out on top?
Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott look to have a couple of bankers each but if Nicky Henderson takes the opening race it will be all to play for.
It has been a long time since there was a surprise at the top of the trainers’ list. The cream always seems to rise to the top. I suppose not many people remember that Howard Johnson was the leading trainer in 2005 but he had powerful supporters at the time.
Based on likely rides, which jockey should come out on top?
Paul Townend has the pick of Willie Mullins’ runners, but with so many to choose from he is bound to get a few wrong. Recent money has been for Barry Geraghty, who’s the Festival’s current winning-most rider and has plenty of hot chances with the likes of Champ (RSA), Defi Du Seuil (Champion Chase) and Epatante (Champion Hurdle).
Are there any previous tales of a big-price winner?
Again, there are few surprises here. In 2002 it only took two winners for Richard Johnson to claim the title, although of course there are more races nowadays. Last season there was a bit of interest in JJ Codd after he claimed two winners on the first two days, though ultimately he fell short. This year Patrick Mullins is the big outside bet (66/1 into 33/1), and you’d expect him to get some nice rides from Willie.
Has there been a popular accumulator, like the Mullins four-fold on the Tuesday a few years ago?
The most popular accumulator heading into the Festival is Benie Des Dieux, Envoi Allen, Tiger Roll and Paisley Park all to win (currently 8/1 on William Hill’s #YourOdds)
Finally, the four Championship races – where’s the money going?
The Champion Hurdle’s best backed and best outsider is Darver Star, while the Champion Chase’s best backed is Altior and best outsider is Dynamite Dollars. As for the Gold Cup’s best backed/worst result, it’s Santini, and at a bigger price, Bristol de Mai.
For the Stayers’ Hurdle, the best backed is Paisley Park and we are seeing money for Ronald Pump at 33s. He looks a likely outsider with little to find on ratings with many that are at shorter odds.
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