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Taking A Look At Three Value Plays For Cheltenham Festival Thursday

Opening Thoughts

If we’re talking race quality, the penultimate day at Cheltenham can fly under the radar. Once the initial hysteria of the opening day is well underway, plenty of money is won and lost in the bookies over the next 48 hours. Thursday is best known for St Patrick's Day celebrations, with thousands of Irish flocking to Cheltenham to combine their celebrations with a flutter or two.

Suppose you’re a casual bystander looking to find some betting value at the Cheltenham Festival Thursday. In that case, ex-pros, analysts, and self-proclaimed betting experts all over social media are happy to throw their two cents in—ourselves included. Today, we will look at three value plays for Cheltenham on Thursday and see if there’s any value across the seven scheduled races.


First Pick - Mares Novices Hurdle

Our first pick is at 16:50. Many tipsters have already earmarked this race as the one that could see the most action. For those who still have live accumulators and haven’t fallen by the wayside after the first two days, brighterdaysahead looks like the obvious pick.

While the odds are always subject to change, especially in a race with such huge gambling activity as Cheltenham has, the 13/8 favourite will have to concede some weight. Still, it is often the horses that hit their stride as they come into the festival that historically have the best performances.

Given how she won at Navan - it might not be a diamond in the rough outsider. Still, we’d say this is a good pick for the 16:50 Mares Hurdle. If you’re aiming for an outsider, don’t be surprised to see Dysart Enos place or even upset the apple cart at 9/2.

Second Pick - Pertemps Final

Irish stables have dominated the Pertemps since 2016, but this year’s race is wide open. Although Cleatus Poolaw and Icare Allen are the joint favourites at 8/1, it wouldn’t be out of the equation that any of the horses currently sitting at 14/1 could finish top of the podium.

Considering the form and quality of the horses, the Pertemps could be the Thursday race, which has the biggest surprise in store. Our pick for the value play would be White Rhino at 14/1, but we wouldn’t be shocked if Chantry House at 9/1 storms away with it, given his familiarity with the course at Cheltenham and the collective experience the stable and trainer both have.

Some experts have stated that the horse might be a little over the hill for this year’s festival, but if it’d avoided the injury a couple of years ago in the Gold Cup, many experts and punters had it at an outside chance of winning. However, it seemed like the stars aligned for Rachael Blackmore that year, as she made history as the first female jockey to win the Gold Cup - write Chantry House off this year at your peril, especially if the horse is operating on his best form.

Final Pick

The third and final pick for Cheltenham on Thursday is Letsbeclearaboutit at the Handicap Chase. It’s undeniably one of the most competitive handicap races on the calendar, and given how much additional attention it gets from punters at Cheltenham, it means that it’s a no-brainer for those looking to deliver their picks.

Letsbeclearaboutit has a great blend of strong, consistent speed and smooth poetry when scaling up and down the jumps and can hold its own against any of the other horses in this race, but crucially, it depends on his form. Crebilly looks like the pick here, but at 4/1, there might be an influx of big money, which drives that price further down. The same could happen with Letsbeclearaboutit, but the current odds of around 12s are worth a punt.


Final Thoughts

While the Thursday acts as a side dish for the Gold Cup on the Friday, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t value or excitement to be found on the penultimate race day. Value picks weigh up a whole host of criteria, including the form of the stable, the horse itself, and the trainer. If a trainer has experience at big races and meets with other horses or jockeys, this often equips them better for Cheltenham.

However, let's assume this isn’t your first rodeo. In that case, you’ll probably be painfully aware that all of the preparation in the world can still leave you unprepared for some of the incredible twists and turns we’ve seen at Cheltenham over the years. Gambling within your means and learning to expect the unexpected is part of what attracts so many horse racing bettors in the first place.

The term “value” usually means a higher element of risk. Although there will undeniably be horses at Cheltenham this year who storm to victory at over 20s and above odds, we don’t have a crystal ball. There’ll be favourites who stink the place out and underdogs who will grab all the back pages—and the mystery and unpredictability are part of what makes the sport one of the most beloved and most passionate sports gambling markets anywhere on the planet.