Belfast Telegraph

The Punter: A little bit of planning pays dividends at Cheltenham

Two things are needed for a successful Cheltenham Festival, which this year celebrates its centenary.

The Festival opens tomorrow amid the hope and expectation that can only be realised by 27 of the 500 runners chasing £3.5m in prize money over four days that will stretch to the limit the stamina, wallets and livers of those basking in the glorious setting of Cleeve Hill and millions more glued to television screens.

Alcohol and gambling are a bad combination so keep the two separate to ensure a clear-headed approach, thus avoiding the temptation to speculate in every race. There is plenty of time to celebrate successes in the calm of the evening.

The second piece of advice is to take a close look at the stats and trends which can provide significant pointers.

From that point of view, neither Denman or Kauto Star will win the Gold Cup again as no horse older than 10 has won since 1969 (What A Myth).

Horses beaten last time out before Cheltenham are to be avoided at all costs but favourites winning prior to the meeting have a decent record.

The ground will be a prime factor and the better the going, the more it should suit the market leaders as the majority of the classier types go better on a decent surface.

The going is expected to be good to soft.

With the weather forecast favourable, tomorrow we could see a repeat of 2003 when favourites were placed in all six races, including three winners.

Big hopes tomorrow include Cue Card, Medermit and Quevega.

Jockeys to follow on favourites are Tony McCoy, Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh. The trio have won 26 out of 74 races since 2003 when on board favourites.

Punters have had good years out of the last eight with trainers Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O'Neill who, of course, use the jockeys mentioned.

Belfast Telegraph

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