Tanya Stevenson
Tanya Stevenson's Racing UK Blog
Sunday 9th March 2014
The ten betting commandments of the Festival

As the Cheltenham Festival approaches it is so easy to get carried away, giddy with excitement.

I have been fortunate enough to attend 30 consecutive Cheltenham Festivals, however, so I have no problems focusing my concentration on the job in hand.

It all started it what is now the Best Mate enclosure clerking with a pen in a field book, then in the main Tattersalls for SIS, sending all the betting shows to the shops and more recently reporting and interpreting market fluctuations on the exchanges and the hefty wagers among the strongest on-course market in the country.

What an on-course bookmaker will be asked to pay daily just to pitch up is four times more than they were charged 30 years ago.

On top that of that, like you, they will have to incur travel and accommodation expenses, entrance fees and other sundries.  All before laying a bet.

There is some element of skill for the layers, as not all are beholden to the exchanges as their liabilities will be, in some instances, very lopsided through choice or otherwise.

Below are the most sage ten pieces of betting advice I can muster ahead of most exciting four days of the racing calendar. 

1)      This is a four-day meeting, so pace yourself.

2)      Do not think you can back all 27 winners – good luck with that project!  What’s wrong with one bet and one winner, or at least showing a bit of control?

3)      Placepot pools will be inflated with the option of finding a placed horse in all of the first six races - a less demanding proposition.

4)      Don’t just focus on the head of the betting. Market fluctuations nearing post time on outsiders have proved significant. Big-priced winners over the years such as Son Of Flicka, Countrywide Flame and Chief Dan George all had continued support.

5)      There are many amazing concessions from all bookmakers and it is worth keeping an eye on , Racinguk.com, and the odds comparison sites – but it is imperative you read the terms and conditions and become aware of any restrictions.

6)      Don’t limit yourself to the orthodox bookmakers - it’s always worth glancing at what the spread firms have to offer. The variety of markets include distances, match bets and jockey/trainer/favourite performance indicies.

7)      If you are betting on-course, in a shop, online, on the phone, or with the Tote check and double check your ticket as the onus is on you. Everyone is incredibly busy and technology is pushed to the limit, so mistakes can be made but can’t be rectified once the race is off.

8)      Watch each race with certainly Aintree, if not Punchestown, in mind.  Many future winners are amongst those also rans. 

9)      If you are coming to the course, fantastic, but please be vigilant if you want an each-way bet on handicaps with 16 to 21 runners.  Remember bookmakers are permitted to go 1/5 odds each-way sadly. I applaud those bookmakers who go a 1/4 and those should be supported.

10)  Know your means and limits and abide by them!  Good luck and have fun.   

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