I will always be a small punter. 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 2023 Offers as they materialize. Also the Gstats 2022 Small Punter Festival Bookie Review. For obvious reasons you are unlikely to find views on specific bookmakers on any sponsored Podcast, TV Racing Channel or Racing publication.
Remember, this week of all weeks, try to make them bookies work for your cash.
Don't be backing ew antepost in any of the handicaps. 2022 Minimum 6 places available on all Festival handicaps day-of-race book. Eight in the County from Skybet.
Non-runner no-bet - Paul Kealy
This concession has its place and a few weeks in advance it can be quite useful, but the chances are if you placed a bet in the two weeks leading up to the festival you struck a bad-value one.
There will of course be the occasional steamer on the day, but the closer you get to the festival the less appealing the concession is because the bookies are still betting to around 200 per cent or more so they have readily allowed for a stack of non-runners. On the day you'd have been able to get better odds and better place terms than just a few days earlier – and you'll know what the ground is. Let's try not to fall for it next year.
Friday 10th - Hills Promotion Constitution Hill evens. Tenner max. Thats nice
8th March - 'Tote Stayers Club is more than just free bets, so if you qualify for Stayers Club this week, we’ll give you Placepot Insurance on every day of the Cheltenham Festival.' A Tesco, every little helps. Also that free competition thing, Beat Benson. Not a bad promotion. £1 million placepot pools every day.
8th March - Paddypower give free bet out Tues/Wed/Thurs. I'm restricted so I don't know how much. Details certainly scant. £1 to £25 depending on customer.
7th March - Virginbet Up to £10 freebet if your horse loses in the Supreme. Seems ok. There are ts and cs. I have no experience of betting with this firm.
6th March - WHills TPG (Top Price Guarantee) on the 4 Championship races from now. OK but you know this one. If nobody moves, then nobody moves. Also nrnb Grand National.
1st March - Chris Cook RP - Antepost on the shorties?
'On Jan 3rd I wrote ab.out the ten shortest-priced festival favourites on January 3. Almost two months later, none of the top six have shortened in price.
You can still get 4-11 about Constitution Hill and 7-4 (just) about Galopin Des Champs, while Energumene, Facile Vega, Jonbon and Lossiemouth are all a bit bigger than they were. Of the remaining four, Allaho has become a non-runner, leaving three who have shortened up a bit.
Gaillard Du Mesnil has gone from 2-1 down to 11-8 for the National Hunt Chase and most firms are now 11-10. Delta Work is evens from 2s for the Cross Country, while Allegorie De Vassy is 13-8 from 5-2 for the Mares Chase.'
23rd Feb - Skybet's Supreme offer. £2 cashback should your first selection lose. Oh dear, what a pity. The glory days are obviously over. You would wonder why they bothered.
19th Feb - All now should be nrnb or thereabouts. Check.
15th Feb - Spend £10 in multiples on Betfair Sportsbook, get £10 free bet. On for three weeks. Yes, nice.
14th Feb - Spend £100 a week on tote bets at tote.co.uk and get a free £10 bet for the Festival. Don't think so. For me too much outlay for the reward.
1st Feb - William Hill, BET 365 Skybet nrnb all races. Betfred nrnb the Big 4.
8th Jan - BetVictor 4 places Supreme, Ballymore, A Bartlett.
During Festival week check place terms at https://www.oddschecker.com/ But you know that. 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 Sportsbook and others don't cover multiples. And that's fair enough.
Hills, Betfred (sometimes) continue to give BOG on extra place races. And other firms who have restricted me e.g. Powers, Corals. (It is not that I made fortunes off any of them) 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 in 2021, tried to get a one'r ew SP Frodon 5 places GC Skybet five 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. Click here for On Line Betting Guide. Things may be different in Festival week.
The Night before (day of race book) - Bet365, Boylesports, Sportingbet
Before 9 a.m. - Corals, Ladbrokes
Betfred 8 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 (can be 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.' Oh, really. 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 sometimes give free bet to a tenner should it go down in the first leg. Win prices also will match SP. Free placepots being given out on their site every week. Minimum pool guarantees. Also tote + where if you're lucky enough to win, they increase your return by 10%. They have that Beat Benson Competition thing with is free, fair and fun. Trifecta/Jackpot rollovers at Uttoxeter on the Saturday. And no chance of being restricted! A firm certainly getting involved in the marketplace. Not that keen on their 2023 offer. See above.
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. In 2022, 365 started to throw free fiver bets out on each Festival day. To 'eligible customers.' They will make a big thing of matching prices of Corals Ladbrokes etc. Yes, they're all in it together. But if nobody moves, then nobody moves. 2021 Rachel Blackmore bounced off Quilixios after winning the Triumph, Henry and her 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.
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 regularly drift in the afternoon, especially on the exchanges. For example, Newbury 11th February. Tom tipped Zanza at 22s, cut to 10s by 7pm Friday, SP Saturday returned 16s, 20s available win exchange on the off. Rory Delargy will cause prices to shorten. He's near the top of the RP naps table. Not many others atm. Not trying to be impolite, but Blake, Kealy and Calvin have been shocking recently (I'm writing 15th Feb). Tony Calvin has even apologised on his Betfair blog. That takes balls. It will turn.
I am of the opinion that Cheltenham is by and large, bookies 'harvest' time. Therefore, if I bet with you every week and then once a year, I turnover four or five times my usual amount, I expect a freebie or two or a concession. I don't think that's unfair, all businesses run on the same principles.
LAST YEAR - Just my view, now. I'm sure I've missed some but these caught my eye. And I'm the sort of nerd who is looking for them!
SKYBET - £20 back in cash if your first bet on the Supreme went down. Simple, clear and still very fair. £20 cash Wed if you finished 2nd 3rd or 4th in a nine runner Ballymore. My favourite freebie all week was £10 back if you finished 2nd in that Turners 'match.' Wonder how many Busselton tenners they had to give out? Friday, five places in a 12 runner GC. A saviour for Royal Paguille fans. I think those are very good and more importantly, fun. Top bookie on places all week as usual. Four places in an eight runner Mares Chase. Also to their credit, if you punt £30 a week with SKYBET all year round, they continue you get a free £5 bet each week with no expiry date. Most of the time, I forget to use free bets. It sounds very small but 50 weeks punting gives you £250 worth of them. I tend to keep £100 or so to augment my Festival tank or use them for ante post.
EXTRA PLACES - Neil Channing 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.
BETVICTOR - Doesn't appear in the Pricewise grids. For the second year running concentrated on New Customer promotion. A fiver free bet if you signed up. Really? How many people without a betting account are likely to be buying the RP at Cheltenham Week? For me, odd. I have absolutely no idea if they planned to compete on prices or places. Never told me. And I never went near them.
CORALS - Not one ad in the RP. Obviously the budget must go on Ross Brierley and 'In The Know'. I like Ross, has been very generous and helpful to Gstats in the past. Corals sometimes go three places in seven runner races a la Sky, Betfred. Otherwise just tend to be behind the herd leaders. Even in their own race. Six places when lots of others went seven. Have that free bet to a tenner should your selection not finish. Bit of a negative promotion for me. They don't fight on prices and rarely on places. Did ask James Knight once why my account was restricted but he never replied. Does get cross a lot on Twitter, though. Tom Segal, his chum, refers to him as The Dark Knight. You can see why.
LADBROKES - A weird 2022, for me. Must have nearly bought every third page in the RP over the four days to tell me that I could have a free £1 bet on the Cheltenham Festival. (5 euro in Ire) Not even I could be bothered. Not on Oddschecker but now on the Pricewise Pages. Rarely use them myself.
HILLS - Don't think 'free tenner back as cash if your selection finishes second in any race' last year was offered. Took the Pricewsie pages to push a shop offer. Put £10 on in a shop after 4pm and get a £5 free bet. There's obviously no one in the shops after 4pm each day. Went four places in an 11 runner Arkle. Eye-catching but not on their own there. (War Lord 50s). Nowadays they fight Skybet more on places. Guaranteed top price on all runners the four championship races. You know that one, it's not bad but if nobody moves, then nobody moves.
Sporting Index - Free bet to a £5 in 2nd to SP fav. Hmm. Star Sports free bet to £100 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 lovely man. Love his blogs. Met him this season at Laytown and Leopardstown Savills day when he was getting a wage with AK Bets.
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. Had another one this year, free 10 euro bet for Supreme losers. Not bad. Trying to catch you early. And remember a free bet is not money back. It's just another go!
Mansion Bet - Couldn't compete. Now defunct.
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 bollox. 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, ok we've seen that already, from others. Big change to their 15 TO GO offer from 2021 It was '£20 bet within 15s of the off, they match your stake up to £20'. Basically adding a pt. Couldn't complain. Now it was 'give you a free bet up to £20'. Seen worse but hmm..
POWERS - Free £5 bet on Tues, Wed, Thurs but not Friday, the day that you want them on the hook? Followed the herd on place terms They must think that a constant picture of Ruby and Peter Crouch will entice punters to bet with them. Great jockey but I'm sure about his tipping prowess. Don't really try on GC day (See BET365 lazy punter theory). Like Hills, trying to get people to the shops with the odd freebie. Long gone are the days when Paddy used to adorn his tin hat and we all made books around the fav in the Supreme. Happy, happy times.
BETFRED - Just behind the pace on places, and seem to have ceased triple odds one winner and big bonuses online Lucky 15s. They were the only ones, I think. A pity, liked that.
BETFAIR SPORTSBOOK - The odds boost thing which most have and really means very little. Four places Triumph along with PP. Obviously their place terms will tend to match (same firm). They also helped you build your 'Cheltenham tank' collecting free bets from the weeks before. No bad thing. Free bet to a tenner back if you back a loser in the Arkle, fair enough. Big names in their podcasts.
And the rest - You mean there are others?
Didn't register with me last year but Bet365 and others sometimes 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 side of Oddschecker will give you a steer as to what you should do. The only race in the 2022 Festival that Skybet was outgunned was when Powers/Sportsbook went four places in the Triumph. In 2021 it was only Champion Hurdle (Hills) Stayers (Powers), and Albert Bartlett, (Betfair Sportsbook). A lot of the G1s were small fields that 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?' They went eight places Ultima, Pertemps, County, four in that eight runners Mares Chase, three in a six runner NH Chase.
In the Grade1s the story here was WHills, did not take them on as in the previous three years. No headlining grabbing giveaway on the Tuesday. This has been a Hills tactic throughout the last three Festivals, questioning the benefit of any ante post.
I know, I'm going to try and get out more.
2022 Gaultstats Awards
The 2021 'INTERNET BOOKIE OF THE WEEK GOLD CUP (Small Punter Category) - I'm going back to Skybet this year to recover their trophy having ceded it to Hills in 2021 and 2020. 27 out of 28 races unbeaten on place value. The opening race cash back offers, especially the Turners. Hills battle them on places but had no headline grabber this year imho. 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 will lead on prices. And generally.
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 - I really haven't got another.
The 'I Really Can't Be Bothered' Salver - Winner - Ladbrokes by popular vote for the second year running. The free £1 each day. And all those ads in the comic. Would you be bothered or even have time to get a new password?
The 'Also Rans' included, well you pick them. Up to five or six years ago we could nearly work through Tuesday's racing with free bets etc without spending much of our own money but that ship has definitely sailed. Skybet and Hills 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 6 of the 28 winners were returned at a bigger SP than what could have been taken in the morning. Even with deductions for NRs which always favours the punter. You might not have got rich on three of them. Honeysuckle 8/11 from 8/13, Brazil 10s from 9s (though 19s on Betfair), Bob Olinger a more than fortunate 6/5 from 11/10. The other three were Maries Rock 18s from 12s, Commander Of Fleet 50s from 40s and The Nice Guy, 10s in the morning returned 18s. The biggest SP winning plunge of the week was Delta Work in the X Country 7s to 5/2 fav when the rains came. In 2021 only 8 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.
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 known as 'Gault's lost the plot completely.' (or in 2019 I named it '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 courtesy of Andrew Mount @trendhorses Betting every horse in every race at the #CheltenhamFestival has shown a profit at @BetfairExchange SP three of the last four years (+£194.50 in 2019, +£106.41 in 2020 and +£60.23 2021). 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.
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 2023 - Last year went well, topped by a Venetia Momentum place treble on Skybet extra places GC day. 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 which may or may not be a bad thing. It's still fun. Eugene says I possibly get 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 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. Can't train.' 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, we all should know a wrong price when you see one. Pink Legend ew 33s Mares Ch last year, Heaven Help Us 2021 in the Coral 50s machine in the morning, my aftertiming examples. Indefatigable from 2020. I backed a few 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 and I'm there this year for Tues/Wed, remember you won't just spend money Bryan, you will haemorrhage it.
No more than three beers before the first race. But feel free to keep topped up throughout the afternoon, if there's time. 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. Applaud those amongst you who back the winner. 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. Never changes. 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.
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. 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. Usually on Gold Cup Day. Beware GO SEA - Groundless Optimism Syndrome Encouaged by Alcohol. A Cotswold condition very common at this time of year.