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How to Find the Best Value at the Cheltenham Festival


Looking out for the signs of an unfit horse could save you money

It's only a very short time until the Cheltenham Festival leaps into action. If you're serious about racing, you need to be ready to leap into action with it.

The best punters will have been studying form and making notes for plenty of time already, but there's no reason that you can't keep up with them if you're not afraid of a little hard graft.

We've got some tips on how to take your betting game to the next level for the festival this year. Whether that's cushioning your bottom line with the help of offers, taking on the role of the bookmaker or becoming a master at spotting a fit horse, these little lessons could help you enjoy betting at the festival more than ever before.

Be The Bookmaker

Looking for good value odds is, more or less, the only key to ensuring you have a successful time betting at Cheltenham. The key to achieving this is to put in the legwork. Instead of picking out one horse and desperately scrambling for sites that are pricing it well, look at each horse in the race one by one and assign them your own price.

Take into account everything that you usually would when picking out a horse. Prior performances are obviously key, as well as success over specific distances and ground. Don't forget about the competition too. See if your pick has ever run against any of the other competitors in the race and compare their weights, taking into account previous results.

Look for notable jockey bookings, perhaps a horse that's been in poor form has suddenly got a great jockey on board. Trainers that have success in a particular race might have more than one horse running in it - work out which stands the better chance.

Once you've done all of that, imagine you are laying each horse and give every one of them a price.

The next step is to see what the bookmakers have given them. If you find a horse where your price is considerably shorter than the bookies', that's the horse to bet on. If the horse looks like an outside chance, in that it's at a very long price, be sensible about it. It might be that you back it to place, or you may decide to opt for the horse with the next largest discrepancy instead.

Search Out Betting Offers

Of course, another way to ensure that you're getting good value bets is to look for Cheltenham betting offers. There are plenty around at the moment, which could either match your deposit or give you more places.

Betting offers are incredibly easy to come by and it makes absolute sense to take advantage of them if you're planning to bet anyway. Those who don't already have multiple betting accounts will be able to make the most out of these offers - especially those that are only available to new customers.

However, deals such as payouts on 5, 6, or 7th places are generally available to everyone. So too are the free bets that are available if you're signed up to a mailing list. Additionally, several leading bookies run free-bet offers, in which you can place a bet and earn a new one for free. Signing up to mailing lists and always taking advantage of sign-up offers is the key here.


Test Out Your Paddock Judging

Once you've signed up for the best offers and worked out prices, the final thing left to do is to work on your paddock judging. Although races aren't always won by the fittest horse, they're rarely won by an unfit one, so it makes sense to look for the signs of a fit horse.

A definite heave line that runs along the bottom of the torso is a sign of a fit horse, so too is a defined crease in the rump with a good covering over the top.

Horses that are carrying too little condition could underperform as well, so look for visible hip bones, too little covering on the ribs and a weak neck. Head tossing, sweating and teeth chattering are signs of stress, so if the horse is clearly struggling, they might be worth reconsidering as a bet.