Going for gold at the Cheltenham Festival

THE Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting event of the year, and sports spread betting firms like Sporting Index, Extrabet and Spreadex always go to town at this meeting. With four days of top quality racing, there are plenty of spread markets to get your teeth into, some lasting the entire festival and others focusing on individual races or performances.

Hopefully, some of you will be lucky enough to sample the unique atmosphere of Prestbury Park this week but, if you’re stuck at your desk, fear not, there are plenty of opportunities to make money.

Firstly, meeting SPs – the combined starting price of every winner – is always a popular market as it provides an interest in every race during the four days. Sporting Index’s spread is 330-340 which means they are expecting total winning odds of around 84/1 every day. Now, the racecourse has already started watering the track as they expect it to remain pretty dry next week and that means the majority of the races are likely to be run on good or good-to-soft ground.

We all know how bad the weather has been this winter and the majority of key races have been run on soft or heavy ground. A number of big meetings have also been abandoned, so the change in conditions, and lack of match practice for some, means that the form in some races will need to be treated with extreme caution. There are always a number of hot favourites, but they often get turned over and it would be no surprise to see some upsets during the four days. A buy at 340 therefore looks attractive.

Winning distances (the distance between the first and second horse) is another key market. Here, Extrabet quotes total winning distances at 102-110. It has probably got that about right, although I wouldn’t be surprised to see a number of close finishes this year and I would be a seller rather than a buyer.

The spread firms will go down with their individual markets on each day and they will include the race win index, match bets and both jockey and trainer performance. Match bets are excellent if you have a strong opinion that one horse will do better than another. The firms will predict that one horse will finish x number of lengths in front of another and you have the option to buy or sell that figure.

The key thing to remember is that Cheltenham is a marathon not a sprint and your positions can change rapidly. There are plenty of opportunities for spread betters, but make sure you do your research and stick to your guns. Just because one result goes against you doesn’t mean you should change your whole strategy.