• Which Bookmaker?

    I will always be a small punter. Tenners, twenties, an occasional fifty and a one'r five times a year. I am not averse to Lucky 15s and to scouring Oddschecker looking for best prices. If all that is beneath you or you bet in big numbers then this bit is not for you.

     

    Racing papers, podcasts, BETFAIR journalists and TV people can ill afford to criticise the big bookmakers, their sponsors. Its understandable.

     

    On this page you have the 2020 Offers as they materialize and Gstats 2019 Bookie Review and Awards.

     

    And remember, this week of all weeks, make them bookmakers work for your cash. It is their harvest, after all.

    2020 Bookmaker Festival Offers, Concessions and Views

    23rd - Skybet big glossy TV ad with ED the ITV guy. Only giving a tenner back on only the Tuesday, first bet Supreme. A lot of money on an ad for what is a disappointing concession. I like Skybet. I use them a lot. I am told this is because they have to a further levy on refunds. They usually lead the way. No word on rest of week. No word of BOG. Real cutback.

     

    21st - Hills, Betfair Sportsbook, Betfred, betway now the only main ones NOT going NRNB. BET365 only one going NRNB and BOG. Not Skybet.

     

    19th - 156 Entries in the Martin Pipe. Outsider of field priced at 33/1. That is at least a 500% overround. Unless NRNB and BOG, WAIT. On the day there will be more places on offer. And 8 times out of ten you'll get better win prices on the machine. All handicaps on the day in 2019 paid at least 5 places, some 6, the Coral Cup seven. Skybet tend to be the Masters.

     

    Not trying to teach you to suck eggs but check each race and each bookmaker on https://www.oddschecker.com/Cheltenham-Festival. It is only then you will see the extra places and who is NRNB and BOG. Check the lines above each bookmaker named.

     

    BEST ODDS GUARANTEED - Big thing recently has been knowing when your bookmaker goes BOG. Probably means more on a normal Saturday. As I have discovered to my cost they are tightening this. It can make a big difference should you be lucky with ew doubles and above.

     

    This is as recent a list as I can find for the main bookmakers. Check T&Cs. Some don't make it that easy to find out (until you think you have won a few quid). If your account has been restricted, this may not apply.

     

    The Night before (day of race book) - Bet365, Boylesports, Sportingbet

    Before 9 a.m. - Corals, Ladbrokes (in shops you have to register for The Grid thing?),

    Betfred 7 a.m., Betfair 8 a.m., Powers 8 a.m., Unibet 8 a.m.

    9 a.m. Betway, Skybet, BetVictor

    10 a.m. W Hills

     

    Check On Line Betting Guide - May be different in Festival week.

    From https://www.olbg.com/bookmakers/articles/best-odds-guarantee-bog.

    Thank you Alun @gamblinglamb.

     

    Happens to me every year. I think there is antepost value and then the BETFAIR Exchange day of race market will go up with the 48 hr decs. Whoosh. Usually amazed at what real value is.

     

    Bookies early (i.e. in the morning) - Overrounds on the Festival Pricewise tables in the morning close to 100% (thank you Matt Tombs). SP overround for 14 G1s last years was 121%, for the 10 handicaps it was 135%. It stands to reason that the best bookmaker prices will be before lunch. William Hills and BET365 well known for standing prices for longer than most over these four days. Best to try and get most of your stuff done before lunchtime with a backup tank each afternoon?

     

    This mantra works. Especially if you can still get BOG. Ch'Tibello tipped up by both Paul Kealy and Tom Segal County Hurdle. In the morning a solid 8/1, SP 12s.

     

    Betfair Exchange Late - Just before the off and I mean as they are circling the start. If you fancy a fat one and no one else likes it/thinks you have lost the plot completely (recently named 'doing a Croco'), wait until just before the off before taking a price on Betfair. And I am talking in the final minute as they circle at the start. It is only then that bookies are really pushing out the outsiders and desperate to balance books. Betfair ad says it all. Since 2008 94% of winners returned bigger on Exchange SP than bookies, and that's with the 5% commission taken off. If you haven't the time, take Exchange SP.

     

    Remember bookies love NRNB because we will never take the money out of our account but punt it on something else.

     

    9th Feb - After Altior's win at Newbury, top three in the betting in Queen Mother now cover circa 95% of book. If you fancy something else win or ew, wait until the day. Similar situation to 2019 Ch Hurdle when 4th fav Espoir D'Allen became available at 25s.

     

    BETFRED, TOTESPORT only online bookies to give triple odds one winner in Lucky 15s. But BOG does not apply. Do not do this bet with PADDYPOWER online. NO bonus given for only one winner. Only given in shops. Quite mean and hard to believe that they even offer punters a Lucky 15 bet. The bonus is what it's all about?

     

     


     

    2019 Bookmakers Festival Review and Gaultstats Awards

     

    The 'Best Offers' Trophy - Not as close as 2018 but for the third year running the Gstats award is taken by Skybet for their money back as cash if your first bet lost in the first race on each of the four days. Hard to beat that headline. Announced on 15th Feb. Down from £25 in 2016 to £20 in the last three years. We made full use of it because it sticks in your head. Remember its your first bet each day so if you have £2 on something in the Ballymore after the offer comes into force, thats the concession used up. Also there is no time limit on their nice little £5 free bets. Have been storing these up since last years Festival. Every little helps. All other bookmakers make you use all their free bets by the end of the week. Usually too busy to remember to do that and they run out of time.

     

    What also wins it for Skybet were the places. Apart from the Supreme and Ballymore itself, in 16 of the 19 races where extra places were offered, Skybet were the best or equal best. Out on their own with four places in the Arkle, 6 in Close Bros, County and Martin Pipe. Only 6 in the Coral, outpointed by owers and Corals going seven places in their own race. Strongest concessions of them all on Gold Cup day when the rest don't try that hard.

     

    Commended - In 2018 William Hill stole the glory from Ladbrokes by offering to double your winnings in cash on win and place bets up to a value of £100 in the Supreme. Didn't happen last year. All they offered was seven placed in the Supreme. They all chased the punters in the 16 runner Novice with extra places. Hills did the same for the the Ballymore with 5 places. Hills only announce their big Day 1 offer maximum of 48 hrs before the Supreme and on the Pricewise pages. They don't normally compete on places, but do compete on price.

     

    Corals came back to the game in 2019 by offering to double your winnings in cash up to £25 first bet, first race, each day. Not bad at all. However they only do BOG in shops. Appalling.

     

    Both Ladbrokes and WHill try to sell that booster thing where your bet increases by 1/8 point if you hit a coloured button. Exhilarating. Long gone are the glory days when Paddy would adorn his funny tin hat and we would all construct books for real money back if the fav won the Supreme.

     

    The 'Its All Too Confusing' Salver - Winner - Replacing the High 5 nonsense of 2018 Hills had this daft idea if you had a £10 bet on any race, you got an entry in the Golden Race, that days impossible handicap. Predict the first six home and you could win 'up' to a million. A pool share obviously if the first 6 should the market came home in order. I had a go in the Close Bros, didn't get one horse in the first six home (A Plus Tard, I know..) and gave up. Paddy Powers - £10 max bet if finish 2nd, 3rd or 4th in any race Day 1. Not bad. Free bets only valid for 7 days. Less and less given back every year. Free bet up to a tenner if SP Fav wins any of races Day 1 was half the £20 that was returned in 2017. But that didn't continue throughout the Festival. Day 2 free bet all losers for a £10 in QM. Getting a bit sneaky, now, Paddy. Hardly bothered day 3 and 4.

     

    The 'Also Rans' included

     

    Betway - Max free bet of £10 if your horse loses in the first or last race. Why those?

    Boylesports - Free bet if 2nd or 3rd to the SP Fav or faller at first or last fence. Again too difficult. You won't remember it. Its slightly better than their usual 2nd to SP fav but its just a take on the usual con. No horse has ever been trained to finish second or third to the SP Fav unless in a four runner race when the jollie is 1/3. Oh, that's the race where the offer doesn't apply. An offer to tease you away from backing the jollie. Personal experience with BSports, check t&cs.

    Ladbrokes made a big deal of guaranteeing multiple bets BOG between 1000 and 1330 hrs each day. But T&Cs in the small print below will tell you that's only to £1k max. Skybet were going BOG all Festival races from mid January. 24 hrs a day. No mention of restrictions on any multiples that I could find. My notes made on Cheltenham Mon - 'As far as I can see, the mighty Ladbrokes are offering you a max score free bet back if SP fav wins Supreme. And that is the sum total of Day 1 for them. Don't bother.' 2018 had given double winnings on free best in Supreme up to a notional £50. last year they had a daily RP full page advert telling us they were giving us a free £1 bet every day. One again, exhilarating.

    Betfred, Stan James, Betfair Sportsbook, Betvictor - No real change from a normal Saturday. Very shrewd. BetVictor maybe working a bit harder in 2019 but Bet365 do little or nothing to entice us. They match the exchange prices with the front few and that's about it. They know that the vast majority of us will not shop about but stick to our usual habits, so why the need to give any extra freebees away?

    Betfair Exchange have a little sweetner by £10 max refund minimum odds 3/1 f if your horse goes odds on and loses. Seemed an awful waste of a full page ad. Sounded interesting but wasn't.

     

    Really hate those full page 'Altior 40/1 ads for £1' only for new customers paid in free bets.

     

    On this week of all weeks, make them bookmakers work for your cash. It is their harvest, after all.

     

     

     

    THE 2019 'BOOKIE OF THE WEEK' GOLD CUP - SKYBET, the only major firm that works hard on the week and look as though they are competing for our money. And, to me, they make it fun.

     

    In 2016 the Paddypower/Betfair Combo grossed £330 million in the first three months of the year from all gambling. Goodness knows how much it is now. They stated in their stock market report that £250 million of that was taken in four days in the middle of March. 7th March 2018, just the day this Festival when Racing pages and sites are somewhat busy with the Tuesday Six Day Declarations, they release 2017 results. Operating profit of £372 million. I'm just surprised they don't release the figures on Gold Cup day itself.

     

    What Happened in 2019

    Sunday - WHills join the game - Seven places in the Supreme.

    5th March - Betway back with the free bet up to £10 if loser first and last race each day. Never understand why these races?

    5th March - Boylesports back with free bet if 2nd or 3rd to SP fav all races. Meant to wean you off from backing the jolly. With Boylesports especially, check T&Cs.

    3rd March - Big boys joining in. Ppowers, up to a tenner, free bet back if your first bet finishes 2nd, 3rd or 4th in any race Day 1. Corals will double your winnings in cash up to £25 first bet, first race each day.

    25th Feb - Ladbrokes, Corals, bwin join the NRNB team.

    22nd Feb - Skybet return with their max £20 cashback (real cash this time, not just a free bet) if your first bet loses on the first race each day. A very decent concession.

    15th Feb 19 - Skybet announce no more Money Back 'as a Free Bet, which isn't money back, its just another go. Excellent.

     

     

     

    My personal betting strategy for Cheltenham 2020 - In the last 9 Festivals and since doing Gaultstats.com I have made £6300 profit. Thats £700 a festival, and yes, no fortune. But its fun. Last year was well in front until Gold Cup day when I then went mad on the ill fated Sir Erec and took a daft and expensive position on the Betbright Cup (or whatever it is now). Didn't cover the draw. Serves me right. I do consider myself fortunate. But I am due a 'mare. Would win more if I cut back on the antepost. But hey ho.

     

    Tactics - In the week before the Festival, I go to Grahams Preview Night in the Europa Belfast. Tends to be an excellent and well run evening. David Casey and Gordon Elliott are always informative and interesting. Kevin Blake is coming this year as a late replacement for Richard (I can't see a bet here) Hoiles. Looking forward to that. Next bits really sad. I take the whole pre Cheltenham week off work making stats grids for each race from the 6 day decs. Takes forever but once in a while something odd will materialise. No antepost betting on handicaps (well, not much). The price has probably already gone and there is every likelihood you will get bigger and/or more places on the day. Listen to Rory Delargy on The Final Furlong. Well worth the time spent. Kevin Blake seems to have the respect of the Irish trainers, Willie, Gordon, Henry. They talk to him and he works for Joseph. Different bits of info. Rory's knowledge is encyclopedic and he's a lovely lad.

     

     

    Each Festival Day - (Nerdy stuff but we all have our own way.) Trust my stats grids. But be flexible enough to react to what is happening/momentum. Don't treat each race as a separate event. (Yeh, that's simple). Try to listen to very little during the week itself. Ignore beaten favourites last time out. Also course winners when punting in the handicap hurdles. (Coral Cup 2019, ouch). Actually consider the selections of Tom Segal and Paul Kealy in the RP. Kealy is less of a scattergun but Segal's record has improved over the last two to three Festivals. Also look at Tony Calvin, Betfair. He does like to tip contrary ones, which I like. Bit like himself, really. Write at the top of each RP racepage which bookie gives most places and those other daft offers. Its the only way I will remember. Bet ew with the firm that gives most places, usually Skybet. I can't see how 1/4 four places is ever better than 1/5 five places. It worked for me in 2019, especially for ew doubles and trebles. Remember that Free bets other than Skybet usually only last a limited time in Cheltenham week. No more than three beers before the first race (but feel free to keep topped up throughout the afternoon. And evening).


    More importantly, to have the good grace not to ruin everyone else's time if/when it goes txts up. Be a good loser. After all we are on holiday. This year Eugene, Steve and I spending the week in North Down, my turn. Sheelah's counting the days. Laptops, TVs and a decent constitutional walk every morning to The Imperial and back. We will try, but not too hard, to avoid the dreaded seasonal GO SEA*

     

     

    Remember, if you are at Cheltenham, and even if you're not, have fun.

     

    And please don't forget to give

     

     

     

     

     

    *Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouraged by Alcohol

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Wealth Warning.  Any decisions made (or not) or the basis of any information in this site are the sole responsibility of the reader.  There is no obligation on me to follow my own advice.  I take no responsibility for (but am keen to hear of) any factual errors.  (Bgault01@gmail.com, @gaultstats). Previous years ‘stats on stats’ would suggest we may identify a decent priced winner from manageable groups every three or four races.  It is believed that Savello (2014 Grand Annual) took from Golden Chieftain (2013 3m hcap chase) the record for breaking the most stats in a race.  Stands now at 8.  Cole Harden equalised with 8 in the 2015 World Hurdle.  Remember, after you have cursed/laughed at me and given up totally on trends, they will come back to bite.  Always happens.  Usually on Gold Cup Day. 

Beware GO SEA - Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouraged by Alcohol.  A Cotswold condition very common at this time of year.