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How to pick winners at the Cheltenham Festival?

How to pick winners at the Cheltenham Festival?
© Racing Post / Ed Whitaker
Joe Eccles
Monday 11th February 2019

Picking winners is hard enough – never mind at the Cheltenham Festival – where the equine elite do battle. We have selections for the entire meeting on our Cheltenham betting tips page, but before that, this guide will hopefully provide some further pointers to enhance your chances of coming out of the Festival in profit!

The ground plays a big part

As always, knowledge of the potential ground conditions is imperative prior to placing your bets. Last year’s Festival was directly affected by the infamous “Beast from the East” – which saw the meeting kick off on official going described as heavy from the first time since 1982. It was perhaps of no surprise, therefore, that the Gold Cup was won by Native River – a horse that thrives under arduous conditions.

Trainers will target their horses at particular races

Another large part of picking winners at Cheltenham is knowledge of the trainers. The Supreme Novices Hurdle, for example, was won by Willie Mullins’ yard in 2013, 2014 and 2015 – but in the three subsequent renewals – he has trained the beaten favourite, which suggests that his horses are now well found in the market in that particular contest.

Jockey bookings are a good pointer

Jockey and trainer combinations are crucial to understand in regard to the Cheltenham Festival. The best yards will often have at least one runner in most races, so knowing who the stable jockey is, and who the retained rider is for some of the leading owners – should provide a good indication on which horse is the stable’s first string.

Previous course form is important

Course form is prevalent in finding winners at Cheltenham. The unique nature of the course often finds horses out (especially novices), so those that have already run well at Prestbury Park are worth paying special attention to.

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