Let's start with some basic figures to help us find a winner:
- 18 of the last 20 renewals have been won by 5 & 6-year-olds
- On average the last 5 winners have made 4 starts over hurdles before winning this
- Only 2 of the previous 5 winners had run at Cheltenham before
- Willie Mullins has won 5 of the last 10 renewals
- The Handicapper has given an average rating of 158 to the last 5 winners of this race
- 3 of the last 10 favourites have won
Finding the Winner
The opening race of the festival has become a straight fight between Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson. They have won the last 3 between them, with Klassical Dream (2019), Shishkin (2020) and Appreciate It (2021) and have taken home 7 of the last 10 running’s. They look to have a very strong hand this year, with the main contenders coming from the 2 powerful yards, but where is the best place to back them?
If you had backed the last 5 winners of this race on the Tote, you would have made a profit of £53.70 to a £1 stake, this compares to £46.73 to the same £1 stake at the Industry SP. That figure is slightly inflated by the shock win of Labaik in 2017 which returned £36.20 compared to an SP of 25/1 and the Industry SP has returned more than the Tote in 3 of those 5 years. However, those years each contained a relatively short priced favourite which controlled a large section of the market and in 2022, we look to have one of the most competitive renewals this century and so the likelihood of having a more open betting heat increases.
This is especially true if you’re the type of punter who likes to take on the market. The 2022 renewal looks likely to revolve around 3 main contenders, Jonbon, Constitution Hill and Dysart Dynamo, but if you fancy an outsider to cause the big upset, then the Tote could be the place for you. As the example of Labaik showed in 2017, those at the head of the market can take a very large percentage from the Win pool and leave a very good dividend open to the braver punter.
You’ve analyzed the race and decided that one of the market principles is a “good thing”, but at a short price you’re not overly keen to get involved. That leaves the place only bet as an option for punters looking to try and find some more value in the market. The key is to work out which horses will represent the most value in this year’s field as the market will not always work in your favour.
As an example, last year’s winner Appreciate It was sent off a red-hot favourite for the race and returned £1.50 on the Tote. He won by 24-lengths and had the race won by the time they jumped the 2nd last. That left the each-way punters of Ballyadam (2nd) and For Pleasure (3rd) chasing little more than the place part of their bet. It would not have been that hard to imagine that Appreciate It would have dominated that race and so the Place only bet, which returned £1.90 and £7.70 respectively, may have made much more appeal.
At this stage, if you have analyzed the race and decided that an outsider like My Mate Mozzie or Colonel Mustard probably isn’t good enough to win the race, but they might be ridden to run on into the frame in the closing stages, then this market could represent some decent value as the “Win” part of the bet won’t be going to waste.
2019 was a memorable festival for so many reasons. Ruby Walsh’s last Cheltenham, Paisley Park and Frodon winning in that golden hour on the Thursday and Altior delivering a 2nd Champion Chase. Memorable times, but even more so for the players of some of the Exotic markets. The placepot on the opening day of the 2019 festival paid an incredible £91,283.40 to a £1 stake, a result significantly boosted by the so called “big 3” missing the frame in the Champion hurdle.
The good returns started with that year’s Supreme, when both the Joint Favourites missed the frame, but the Exacta and Trifecta markets showed that some serious profits can be made. Klassical Dream won the race for Willie Mullins, chased home by Olly Murphy’s Thomas Darby and Itchy Feet to produce a Trifecta of £8,037.40 (more than double the CSF of £3,918.88).
It is a big “if”, but if you had backed each of the last 5 trifectas for the Supreme, you would have made a profit of £10,313.90 compared to £5,470.47 on the Tricast bet, an increased return of 88%. In 4 of the last 5 years both the Exacta and Trifecta have exceeded the CSF and TC bets, and this looks to be the most solid angle into this year’s race.
It is not unusual to have a Supreme that is dominated by a few horses at the head of the markets. Labaik is the only winner since 2012 to have returned a double figure price and so the combination markets could offer more appeal, especially given the make-up of this year’s field. When we examine some of the recent running’s of the race, where the winning result has been relatively predictable, there are some surprising returns in the exacta and trifecta markets.
In 2021, Appreciate It won, beating 2nd Favourite Ballyadam, but the exacta still returned £5.60. In 2015, Willie Mullins had a 1,2 with Douvan and Shaneshill with future Gold Cup winner Sizing John back in 3rd, but the exacta returned £18.10 and the Trifecta £485.90. In 2016, the most famous of the recent renewals, Altior beat Min and Buveur D’Air, with a winning exacta of £9.30 and a Trifecta of £58.10, despite the first 3 in the market filling the places.
So, if you are looking at the makeup of this year’s race and thinking that those at the head of the market have got this race sewn up between them, then the Exotic combinations between the 3 looks the best way to approach the race for a decent return.