A beginners guide to Cheltenham

With Cheltenham Festival coming up we have a few tips for the new and casual punter. All major boomakers are offering incredible bonuses during the festival week work £1,000s we have them listed in our Cheltenham Festival Bonus Diary A Day At The Races: Growing up in Baltimore, home of the famous Pimlico and its Preakness Stakes, I spent a childhood filled with trips to the races. The 1970s were not exactly the glory days of racing, but there was still considerable fanfare about the Sport of Kings. Everyone in my extended family had some “secret” to picking a winning horse. My grandfather insistently studied the pedigrees of the horses in each race; my mother opted for a more down-to-earth approach: she went to look at the horses in the paddock right before each race, and placed her bet on whichever horse relieved itself in the paddock. I, still in the single-digit ages, had a “lucky” pair of purple socks.

“Picking a winner” can be an exacting science, and the amount of effort you decide to put into it should probably reflect your own goal when you’re at the track. If you’re really just out at the track for a day of fun, you’re probably safe with the “lucky sock” approach. Let’s say you really want to make some money, though–or maybe you just really like to analyze things. You’ll want to put a bit more thought into your picks. Look at the information in the Daily Racing Form (it’s for sale at the track). It gives you what you need to make an informed decision, especially the horse’s past performance, and how the horse has done with this particular jockey. Once you get used to using this kind of information, you’ll do better at making a good bet.

Things you’ll want to consider when you look at the racing form: Does the horse seem to prefer a specific track condition? If the horse has performed consistently well on a dirt track, but not well on an artificial surface or turf, you’ll want to think about the kind of surface your track has before you bet. How about the jockey? The racing form will give you this, too. If a horse has always done well with this particular jockey, your bet stands a good chance. And what about the odds on your horse? If the odds are high, then you can win a lot more–but the horse’s chances of winning aren’t as high. For a pretty safe bet, pick the horse with the lowest odds–the favorite–to show. (This means your horse can come in first, second OR third.)

Racing has come to be seen as a little old-fashioned in the past twenty years, but it’s being rediscovered as a fun way to spend an afternoon. Remember the old saying that it takes money to make money–if you want to win big, you’ll probably have to put down a bigger bet–but you don’t have to break your budget, either. For your first time out, restrict yourself to the two dollar bets on the favorites. You’ll be excited if you do win, and you won’t be too disappointed if you don’t. After a couple of weekend outings to the track, you might have your own pair of lucky socks.