Monday, 12 March 2012

Cheltenham Festival Betting Market Analysis

What follows is an article we wrote for a Secret Betting Club "Cheltenham 2012 Tips Profit Pack" - which is available via a free download here -

It is an extension of some work we did last year, looking at betting moves in the ring ahead of the races at the Cheltenham Festival, we hope you find it interesting:


Much is made of betting market moves in the last few minutes before each race during the Festival. The Cheltenham “jungle” can be an intense battle ground where backers and layers clash in a desperate attempt to win out, where fortunes can be won and lost. Of course these days it’s all backed up on the exchanges, where tens of millions of pounds will be matched over the four glorious days.

But what about these pre-race plunges, the type which Big Mac and Tanya will revel in during Festival week on Chanel 4, are they actually worth taking notice of? What would happen if you backed at SP every horse which shortens from opening show ?

We at The Market Examiner specialise in looking at the early market moves on any given day’s racing, and have turned nearly 300pts of profit since January 1st 2010 (ROI +17%). Part of the reason for our success is our ability to, on average, beat SP with our morning selections. This crucial edge, the value in our punting, is all important in our quest for profits.

So with this in mind, to mark the success of market moves in purely results by SP is slightly unfair. Let’s first see how they perform compared to relative numbers.

Of the 232 Cheltenham Festival races, from 2002-2011, 889 horses shortened in price in the last few minutes before a race. This is 20.15% of the total horses that raced. Importantly, 30.6% of races were won by horses whose odds had shortened (71 in total). That shows that horses whose odds have shortened have won more than 10% more than the races than they should have been entitled.

But what does all this mean in terms of profits, and can we make the most of this interesting statistic?

The bottom line is, that if were to back blindly every horse whose odds shortened at the Festival at SP, we would be staring at a heavy loss. To be precise, -261.55pts, or -29.42% Return on Investment. There would be plenty of other systems which would return worse than -29.42% ROI during the Festival four days, but still, this, naturally isn’t ideal.

What about looking in more detail at race types?

If you were to just follow the moves in handicaps – you would be looking at -75.5pts (-18.33%ROI), whereas, if you were backing them in non-handicaps, the results are more painful: -186.05pts (-39% ROI).

So handicaps look more worthy of attention.. We’ve drilled down into the data and found two areas which may continue to be profitable going forward.

Interestingly, horses starting at 14/1 or shorter in all handicap chases – who have shortened up on course, have a much better record than those starting at 14/1 or shorter in all handicap hurdles:

Shortening horses starting at 14/1 or lower in Handicap Chases:

Selections: 135

Wins: 19

Strike Rate: 14.07%

Total Profit: +17.5pts (+12.96%ROI)

Shortening horses starting at 14/1 or lower in Handicap Hurdles:

Selections: 113

Wins: 8

Strike Rate: 7.08%

Total Profit: -37pts (-32.74%ROI)

That’s quite something, supported horses at the front of the market in handicap chases outperform their hurdle counterparts by nearly double. Clearly the cavalry charges of races like the County Hurdle are more prone to big priced upsets. So can we take advantage of this?

Shortening horses starting at 16/1 or higher in Handicap Chases:

Selections: 81

Wins: 0

Strike Rate: 0%

Total Profit: -81pts (-100%ROI)

Shortening horses starting at 16/1 or higher in Handicap Hurdles:

Selections: 83

Wins: 4

Strike Rate: 4.82%

Total Profit: +25pts (+30.12%)

A pretty brutal return for “fancied” big priced handicap chase selections, although there were five second placed finishes up at up to 50/1. It’s not a high strike rate among the hurdle selections, but at an average price of more than 28/1, it doesn’t need to be.

So in conclusion, we can say it could be worth looking twice at fancied runners continuing to be backed in the handicap chases events. And what about that unexposed type in the Coral Cup that’s been nibbled from 66/1 to 50/1 – maybe today’s the day..

Looking elsewhere, we thought it would also be interesting to look at the results of those horses which have gone off shorter than even money – and have contracted in price in the minutes before the off.

How have these “Festival Bankers” done over the last ten years?

Surprisingly poorly the answer.

Selections: 8

Wins: 2

Strike Rate: 25%

Total Profit: -4.26pts (-53.25%ROI).

So if Hurricane Fly hardens up from 10/11 on course into 4/5 in this year’s Champion Hurdle – that isn’t a signal that free money’s up for grabs. High profile defeats include Dunguib in the 2010 Supreme Novice Hurdle (4/5SP), Kauto Star in the 2008 Gold Cup (10/11) and Voy Por Ustedes in the 2009 Ryanair Chase (4/5).

Widening it out to include those horses trading at even money up to just shy of 2/1, here are the stats:

Selections: 32

Wins: 12:

Strike Rate: 37.5%

Total Profit: -3.55pts (-11.09%ROI)

An improved strike rate, but still not the gravy train of success we may hope for.

Of course – if we have already backed those 32 likely contenders at 2/1 or bigger, then we’re looking at a different story. Suddenly we’d have a profitable line and market confidence can only be good news.

In summary, market support is a key indicator to success during the four days of Cheltenham, and it could well pay to follow money right down to SP in the Handicap Chases, as long as the horse goes off at 14/1 or lower. Maybe it’d be wise to wait until the last few minutes of such puzzles as the Grand Annual before making a selection or two..


Finally, here's a (non-affiliate) link to a website run by one of our subscribers, which usefully lists all the offers the bookies are running for Cheltenham, which may of interest too -

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