• Which Bookmaker?

    I will always be a small punter. Tenners, twenties, an occasional fifty and a one'r five times a year, but never on the Flat. I am not averse to Lucky 15s and to scouring Oddschecker looking for best offers and prices. If all that is beneath you or you bet in big numbers, then this bit may not be for you.


    I hope here to have the 2022 Offers as they materialize. Also the Gstats 2021 Festival Bookie Review. For obvious reasons you are unlikely to find specific bookmaker criticism on any sponsored Podcast, TV Racing Channel or Racing publication.

    Remember, this week of all weeks, make them bookmakers work for your cash.

    Skybet - Turners £20 cashback if your selection finishes 2nd. Like that one.

    Ladbrokes - Free £5 bet Tuesday. A very small Tesco. Irish accounts only. Not Northern Irish. Just free £1 for the UK

    Sportsbook - tenner cashback on the Arkle if you back a loser. Giving it away.

    Hills bet a tenner any sports market up to midnight Sunday, get a free tenner bet Day 1. Fine.

    Boylesports money back as free bet to a tenner your horse doesn't win Supreme. IT'S NOT MONEY BACK, IT'S JUST ANOTHER GO!

    WHills guarantee top price on all runners the 4 championship races. You know that one, if nobody moves, then nobody moves.

    Skybet £20 back as cash in Supreme if you back a loser. Wed £20 if 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th in Ballymore. Can't turn that down. Say they're going to have an offer for each of the 28 races. I look forward to that.

    Paddypower free fiver bet on each of first three days. A Tesco. But not on the big day.

    tote giving free £1 Placepots each day. hmm.



    March 7th - Mansionbet closing 31st March 2022. Be careful

    March 6th - nrmb (money back) is the same as nrnb (no bet)

    21st - Tote launch Bankroll - 'bet £30 a week for three weeks, build up £30 in free bets for Festival Week.' Similar to Betfair Roarcast. Hard to turn down.

    15th - Most bookies now NRNB some still just non handicaps. Time to check your bookmaker if you want to bet antepost.

    Feb 12th - https://promos.betfair.com/cheltenham-2022-offer#terms-and-conditions The Betfair Roar. Build Up your pot by getting £10 credit for three weeks. Bet £20 a week. Quite enjoy that one. Make sure you're not on 'basic.'



    During Festival week I normally put the bookmakers' place terms here. Going to also suggest that you go straight to https://www.oddschecker.com/ People know that already. It will be more up to date and quicker than I can be. Check your BOG terms. Can make a big difference to ew doubles etc. We are all now probably aware that Skybet with their extra places do not give BOG on their extra place races. Betfair now don't cover multiples. And that's fair enough.


    Hills, Betfred, Sportsbook continue to give BOG on extra place races. And other firms who have restricted me e.g. Powers, Corals. More and more each year, those firms are competing with Skybet on place terms. So you have to weigh up what you want. If I think it's going to drift, I'll risk the SP with Skybet for the extra place. If not, I'll take a price. A lesson I learned last year, tried to get a one'r ew SP Frodon 5 places GC Skybet 5 minutes before the off. Planned to do this as I was happy he'd drift all day. Knocked back to £25 ew. You would wonder why with the amount of money being wagered at that time. But I believe if I'd tried two hours earlier, I'd have been obliged.


    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). Again, if your account has been restricted, this may not apply. (Thank you Alun @gamblinglamb). Click here for On Line Betting Guide. They're good people. Things may be different in Festival week.



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

    Before 9 a.m. - Corals, Ladbrokes

    Betfred 7 a.m., Betfair 8 a.m, Powers 8 a.m (shops only), Unibet 8 a.m.

    9 a.m. Betway, Skybet, BetVictor

    10 a.m. W Hills (earlier for the Festival)


    11th February 2022 - Betfair Sportsbook no longer giving BOG on multiples. ' Done in order to better your loyalty with other racing offers.' On Racing Only Bettor Podcast it was defended by betting expert 'BOG is a privilege not a right.' Fair enough but very easy for pundits to be high and mighty when there is no chance of their 'tame' accounts being restricted.


    Be advised, some bookies will change place terms during each day in order to compete with others.


    If doing placepots check out www.tote.co.uk. Try and do it at least one before midnight for next day's racing. Check their promotions but Tote tend to give cashback to a tenner should it go down in the first leg. A Tesco. Every little helps. They also will match SP.


    I wrote on the 10th March 2021 - BET365 yet to produce anything, any freebie or concession. I'd suggest that BET365's computer tells them that we are creatures of habit. 'They will bet with us anyway, so why bother? They tend to stay the same as any Saturday.' But, bless her, Denise does pay a lot of tax. 365 will make a big thing of matching prices of Corals Ladbrokes etc. Yes, they're all in it together. If nobody moves, then nobody moves. Last year Rachel Blackmore bounced off Quilixios after winning the Triumph, Henry flying, she's interviewed by Lydia, 'oh yes Champagne Gold in the County, we think it's got a great chance.' Even before that, the horse was a rock solid 5/1 fav with all firms only moving to 6s two minutes before the off. On the exchanges the win book was never below 8s going off at 12s. You have to watch for this.


    Rory Delargy - 'nothing to be gained from backing early on the handicaps. Prices by and large better on the day.' Very true. Neil Channing @senseichanning has even recently changed his tune. 'now think it can now do no harm to wait to noon plus before committing cash to bookmakers.'


    I'm not a big punter but even I rarely bet on exchanges until no sooner than 15 mins before the off. That's when things will be different than the internet bookies. Early exchanges always follow bookies, then 15 mins before the off, that reverses.

    Click on oddschecker.com at 6pm the instant after the Pricewise selections are released online most days and you can watch the prices shrink. All bookies shrink prices if they think they are about to be knocked over, not always because they have taken a lot of cash. Segal selections tend to be well punted Day 1. The longer he goes without a winner, the less frantic it becomes. Also, they will be cut in the evening/morning but both Kealy and Segal selections sometimes drift in the afternoon, especially on the exchanges. Blake, Calvin and Delargy also will cause prices to shorten. (though some say Kevin and Tony have hardly tipped a winner since God was a wee boy. Steady now, Bryan, Calvin will get cross.)



    SKYBET - £10 back in cash if your first bet on the Supreme went down. Still very fair. To their credit, if you punt £25 a week with SKYBET all year round, they continue you get a free £5 bet each week with no expiry date. A good thing because most of the time, I forget to use them. It sounds very small but 50 weeks punting gives you £250 worth of free bets. I tend to keep £100 or so to augment my Festival tank or use them for ante post.


    EXTRA PLACES - Professional punter and betting advisor, Nick Luck Regular, Neil Channing @senseichanning interviewed in the Racing Post Tuesday 12th March 2020 'For me, it's the one week in the year when I can get on, I can get the turnover I want and I can do the things I don't normally do ..like bet lots of each-way and get extra places, price boosts and stuff like that. I'll wake up at 3 a.m. and try and do 5 or 6 hours.' Hard to believe the great Neil, like me, scrambling around for those things but there you have it.


    Let's take each bookie as it came. Only my view, now. I'm restricted to pennies on a few of these and just have to find another way. I'm sure there were a lot of other offers to tease us in but these were the only ones that caught my eye. And I'm the type who's looking for these things.


    BETVICTOR - Doesn't appear in the Pricewise grids. On the Tuesday took three full pages of the RP with their New Customer £20 free offer. Three pages on CH day with a New Customer ad? Are they that short of customers? How many people without a betting account are likely to be buying the RP on Cheltenham Tuesday? For me, odd. I have absolutely no idea if they planned to compete on prices or places. Never told me. And I'm keen to know.


    CORALS - Little or no RP info. Now back on Oddschecker I see and sometimes go 3 places in seven runner races a la Betfred. Tended to be just behind the herd leaders otherwise. Even in their own race. Have that free bet to a tenner should your selection not finish. Bit of a negative promotion for me. The 'In The Know' podcast with Ross Brierley definitely works for them. But they don't fight on prices and rarely on places..


    LADBROKES - Not on Oddschecker now or the Pricewise Pages so I rarely use them myself. Gave a £5 free bet in your account for any race Tuesday. Fair enough. If I don't use the Tesco exactly when I see this ad, I'll forget. Cut it to a £1 a day after that. I wouldn't have bothered, myself. Their place terms didn't register with me. Kept telling us on ads that they were BOG. Did they want a medal?


    HILLS - They do this most days now for the premier meeting but kicks the rest of them out of the way offering Free Tenner back as cash if your selection finishes second in any race. All 28 races. Huge two page ad each day last year. That's pretty good. Three pages in the comic including that big half page double on the Pricewise Pages. Wonder if that's more expensive on the Tuesday. Went five places in a 10 runner Champion Hurdle. Eye catching. Meant you got paid on Aspire Tower 33s and Not So Sleepy 125/1. And you would get BOG with that. The only race all week that they fought on places.


    Sporting Index - Free bet to a £5 in 2nd to SP fav. Hmm. Star Sports free bet to £25 if second beaten less than a length. The strength of these two is that they don't want me. They want punters who bet in five figures. You will be accommodated, according to all my sources. Fair play. Simon Nott is a nice guy.


    Boylesports - I once made a reasonable complaint about their misleading advertising. Shut me down within 48 hrs. Nice people. Their loss, I'd say. They continue with that free bet to £20 if 2nd or 3rd to SP fav. Tbf it's improved on what it used to be. Lots of T&Cs. You'll not miss the two page ad. And remember a free bet is not money back. It's just another go!


    Mansion Bet - Paid as a winner to a tenner in your selection finished 2nd in any race Day 1. A novel idea, especially with three shorties obliging. Liked that. Unfortunately closing down 31st March 2022. Be careful.


    BET365 - Big thing made of matching all best prices of Hills, Powers etc. As explained above with Champagne Gold, it does tend to mean if nobody moves, then nobody moves. All balls. Also made a big thing about 'enhanced place terms markets.' No idea what that means. Don't tend to fight on places before noon each day. Pushed that 'back a winner at 4s on TV, get free bet next race.' When they did let me on, I always forgot about that. As explained above, BET365 know they don't have to push too hard.


    UNIBET - Top price CH. Ok, we've seen that already, from others. WED £20 free bet on all races at Cheltenham. should you place your bet on the winner within 15 mins of off, they match your stake up to £20. Basically adding a pt. Can't complain about that one. Score on Bob Olinger at 6/4 would have paid 3/1.


    SKYBET - Free cash back to a tenner if your selection loses, just loses, first race each day. Can't turn that down. Simple, clear, eyecatching. (The number of people I've met who backed Labaik at 40s in 2017 with their no risk Skybet money, possibly the most annoying thing is that I considered it, 'that can't win'...). Best place terms for Ultima (7) Boodles (7) In the NH Chase went 4, along with most. Remember, no BOG with their extra place races. Continued Wednesday Coral Cup (7 plcs), matched everyone else in final three (4), (5), (4). Thursday Ryanair (best on 5) in a 13 horse race, Equal best Plate (6), Best on Mares Novices,(5) and Kim Muir (6). Friday Top County (8), Headline grabbing for the Frodon fans giving five places for a 12 runner GC. Equal top on the Hunters (4) and Martin Pipe (6). Stopped the money back for all losers in the Triumph, only for 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Makes backing ew antepost a bit silly.


    POWERS - Free £5 bet on Supreme, Ballymore, you get the drift. Followed the herd on place terms Tuesday. Wed went 7 places Coral Cup and 6 in Grand Annual, matching the best. They must think that a constant picture of Ruby will entice punters to bet with them.Thurs best places Stayers (5). GC 4 places. Don't really try on GC day (See BET365 lazy punter theory). Long gone are the days when Paddy used to adorn his tin hat and we all made books around the fav in the Supreme.


    BETFRED - Top price CH, yeh, yeh. Just behind the bridle on places, but do pay the triple odds one winner and big bonuses Lucky 15s. Strong places on Wed, 4 in X Country and Bumper. Six places M Pipe.


    BETFAIR SPORTSBOOK - The odds boost thing which most have and really means very little. 4 places CH fair but no Hills cigar. Wed nothing of note, Best at 5 places in the Albert Bartlett. They also helped you build your 'Cheltenham tank' collecting free bets from the weeks before. No bad thing. Nothing particular in the week itself that I remember.


    And the rest. You mean there are others?


    Didn't register with me last year but Bet365 and others usually improve their place terms as the day wears on.


    So what does all this it prove for the small punter? Well, first of all, it seems that if you are taking anything less than five places in Festival handicaps, you need to be seen to. That can't help on-course bookies. For me, each-ways don't make a big difference until in doubles and trebles. If I back a horse each way, I will also back it to win on the exchanges so that the place part becomes more of just a saver. £5 each way on a 20/1 third 1/5 the odds will pay you £25. 6/4 to your tenner. If you had had another losing £5 at 25s on the exchanges you are still a tenner ahead. If your fine selection had won you would be collecting £260 as opposed to £130. Each to their own.


    Secondly, ante-post betting on handicaps? Unless you are Paul Kealy, the King of The Lost and Lamented Northern Trust/Close Bros H'cap, you need to be pretty sure that you are getting value. With the overrounds for handicaps at the six-day stage usually over 250%, is it worth it? A lot offered five places antepost, but still.


    For extra places, you have to check Skybet first. That five or six bookies on the left hand of Oddschecker will give you a steer as to what you should do. The only races in the 2021 Festival where Skybet were 'outgunned' were Champion Hurdle (Hills) Stayers (Powers), and Albert Bartlett, (Betfair Sportsbook). A lot of the G1s were small fields last year. When you check Skybet, you have to make the decisions, 'do I want extra place, do I want to take a price or do I want BOG elsewhere?'


    In the G1s the story here was WHills, identifying the right times to grab the headlines. Five places in a 10 runner Champion Hurdle. The chances to grab the most punters. First Champion race of the Festival. This has been a Hills tactic throughout the last three Festivals, questioning the benefit of ante post. If any Festival race has more than 10 runners, you half expect someone to stick their hand up and go four places. Skybet retaliated with five places in the 12 runner Gold Cup.




    2021 Gaultstats Awards


    The 2021 'BOOKIE OF THE WEEK' GOLD CUP - It was a close run thing but for the second year in a row the trophy goes to WHills for their demolition of the opposition with the place terms in the Ch Hurdle and the continued 'Tenner Back As Cash If Your Selection Finishes Second' throughout the Festival. Just took it on the nod from multiple previous winner Skybet. The latter had their different offers first race each day and excellent place terms throughout the Festival including the GC. Both firms are to be complimented for working hard on the week and actually looking as though they are competing for my custom. I tend to spend my time and my cash with them. Between the two Hills tend to lead on prices.


    Those eligible bets for cash back. Remember it's your first bet each day so if you have £2 on something in the Ballymore after the offer comes into force, that's the concession used up. Also as I say unlike most firms, there is no time limit on Skybet's nice little £5 free bets. .


    Commended -

    Unibets FREE £20 bet IN THE 15 MINUTE THING. Something to investigate. Check T&Cs. But the offers all round the marketplace are getting less and less.


    The 'I Really Can't Be Bothered' Salver - Winner - Ladbrokes by popular vote. For cutting the free £5 Tuesday bet to £1 on each of the other days. Even the Tuesday fiver might be a 'meh.' And boasting about the £1 'gift' a full page RP ad each day. Would you be bothered or have the time to even get a new password?


    The 'Also Rans' included, well you pick them. Up to four or five years ago we could nearly work through Tuesday's racing with free bets etc without spending much of our own money but these things have really changed. Hills and Skybet try, the rest don't bother really, counting on us to be creatures of habit.




    Things I Like To Remember


    Seems silly, but keep checking throughout each race day. Things change, not only prices.


    There will usually still be 150 6 day Entries in the Martin Pipe. Outsider of field priced at 33/1. That is at least a 500% overround. Unless NRNB and BOG and you 'get on' early, I would wait. On the day itself, in 2020 there were 6 places on offer from Skybet. In the morning the winner Indefatigable was 50/1, Outsider of field Mill Green 80/1 all afternoon, finished 6th. Nine times out of ten you'll get better win prices on Betfair Exchange. But you know that.


    This happens to me every year. I think there is antepost value and then the BETFAIR Exchange day of race win market will go up with the 48 hr decs. Whoosh. I am always amazed at what real value is. That's what happens with miniscule exchange overrounds.


    Bookies early (i.e. in the morning) - Betfair late. Overrounds on the Festival Pricewise tables in the morning close to 100% (thank you Matt Tombs). I know that there will already have been a lot of changes in those boxes but it stands to reason that the best bookmaker prices will probably be before lunch. WHills 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 for the machine? Especially if you can still get BOG. Bookmaker Prices rarely drift that much in the afternoon.


    Pricewise Tables in Racing Post - Last year only 8 of the 28 winners returned an SP bigger than the Pricewise Tables. They were Vintage Clouds, Jeff Kidder, Galvin, Heaven Help Us, Sky Pirate, Flooring Porter and Gallopin Des Chaamps. Only one on Gold Cup Day. The final three winners on the Thursday, The Shunter, Telmesomethinggirl and Mount Ida all halved in price from what you read at breakfast time. At the 2020 Festival only 5 winners returned an SP bigger than early prices shown in those Racing Post boxes. They were Shishkin, Ravenhill, Aramax, Sire du Berlais and It Came To Pass. Betfair SPs of those five were also a lot bigger than returned industry SPs. Betfred very much the best prices in the RP in you like to back early favourites.


    Betfair Exchange Win Book Late - Just before the off and I mean as they are circling the start. This doesn't change. If you fancy a fat one and no one else likes it/amongst friends it's 'Gault's lost the plot completely' (or in 2019 named 'doing a Croco Bay'), wait until just before the off before taking a price on Betfair. And I am talking in the final minute as they circle. It is only then that the layers are really pushing out the outsiders and keen 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 the Exchange SP on your Hail Mary. It Came To Pass 2020 Foxhunters Betfair SP 225, Industry SP 66s.


    A great stat curtesy of Andrew Mount @trendhorses Betting every horse in every race at the #CheltenhamFestival has shown a profit at @BetfairExchange SP in the last three years (+£194.50 in 2019, +£106.41 in 2020 and +£60.23 last year). Big priced winners helped that return! lol. @Tomwilsonhorses was sharper. Just bet all Irish horses. Well done sir.


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


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


    And finally, and once again, try and make them bookmakers work for your cash. In the 2019 Ladbrokes/Corals list of biggest betting races in the UK, 11 of the top 20 places were filled by Festival Races. All seven of the races on Gold Cup day made it into the top 20, the lowest rated being the Martin Pipe in 19th. Only one Royal Ascot race, their Gold Cup, made it into the top twenty. And Ascot got all these extra handicap races in 2021 to help the levy? Such bollox, I ask you..



    My personal betting strategy for Cheltenham 2022 - In 2021 I made a small profit. Not as much as my friends who, good luck to them, made decent money. Not as much as I possibly should have had but hey ho, we all make mistakes. Too timid at times. It's still fun. Eugene says I get possibly too wound up trying to tip winners on the site. He could be right. We'll move on...


    Tactics - Take the whole pre-Cheltenham week off work making stats grids on A4 paper for each race from the 6-day decs. Every race, every horse, every stat. My own pencil system of ticks, squiggles and crosses. Yes, that's sad. Takes forever but once in a while something interesting will hopefully materialise. No antepost betting on handicaps (well, not that much). As Rory says, there is every likelihood you will get bigger and/or more places on the day. Listen to Blake, Segal, Delargy and Keenan on Podcasts. Well worth the time spent, even though you may not agree with them. Rory's knowledge is encyclopedic and Tony is definitely no mug. I've been lucky to meet them all and they are all lovely people. Recommend Andrew Mount and Matt Tombs as well, such stats, such fun.


    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 easy). Seems obvious but look at the form of each winner to possibly assist with future selections later in the week. Try to listen to very little during the week itself, e.g in 2017 and 2020, 'Willie's having a bad week.' Write on race page which bookie gives most places and those other daft offers. It's the only way I'll remember. Commit to memory each day the RP page number for trainer form. Mind that free bets from firms other than Skybet usually only last a limited time in Cheltenham week. Some have to be used each day. If it's the wrong price, even if it didn't enter initial calculations, trust instincts and throw a few quid at it. It's not the Flat, you have been watching these horses intently for six months or more, you will know a wrong price when you see one. Heaven Help Us last year in the Coral 50s machine in the morning, my aftertiming example from 2021. Indefatigable from 2020. I backed losers in the same races, obviously. Now that I've said it, that luck won't happen this year.


    And you'll not like this bit. Every morning write on the front of your comic your running totals for each of your betting sites. And the cash you have. Compare them and your bank account at the end of each Festival day. That's a bastard. 'I'm about even' is usually a lie. We've all done it. You just haven't counted it all, yet. If you're on course, remember you won't just spend money, you will haemorrhage it.


    No more than three beers before the first race. But feel free to keep topped up throughout the afternoon. And evening.

    Most importantly, have the good grace not to ruin everyone else's time if/when it goes txts up. Be a good loser. We are lucky enough to be on holiday. Try to avoid the dreaded GO SEA*.


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



    *Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouraged by Alcohol. To paraphrase @icyestretro on twitter, 'you wouldn't drink that much on a Tuesday night and then drive the kids to school on the Wednesday morning. What makes you think you'll be any better at working out the Coral Cup?' Love it.

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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 Encouaged by Alcohol.  A Cotswold condition very common at this time of year.