The 2021 edition of the iconic horse racing celebrations kicks off in a couple of weeks, which means punters need to have their nags primed and ready to go if they are to beat the bookies. But this shouldn’t insinuate that handicap racers are off the table. If anything, there is a lot of value for fans who remember a few simple pointers.
The grade races and novice events usually get the most play at the Cheltenham festival. However, that also means the odds are slightly less favourable for bettors who fancy their selection to storm to victory.
Good times are coming! ☀️
— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) February 26, 2021
A Winning Profile
If you knew the winning formula, you wouldn’t take advice from us! The problem with horse racing is that the runners have minds of their own, and they can have good days and bad days just like any athlete. Still, some signs do point to mounts worth backing and others that you should leave alone, especially in handicaps.
For example, certain races at Cheltenham are dominated by highly-rated horses, such as the Ultima Handicap Chase where more than 75% of the last 13 winners have rated above 140. That puts Escaria Ten at the top of the Cheltenham odds at 6/1 for several reasons. Firstly, the bookmakers believe it’s the best runner in the race with a top handicap, and secondly, the handicap rating dovetails with the winning profile of the last 13 victorious horses.
However, Cheltenham horse racing tips will differ if you prefer the market for the County Hurdle. After all, more double-digit winners have been recorded recently, which suggest less handicapped horses seem to have an advantage.
British Vs Irish
There are several subtexts at every Cheltenham festival, but one that never gets old is the battle between the Irish and British horses. Most supporters want to see the latter win on home turf, yet the former has been incredibly consistent over the last couple of years.
Regardless, if you’re expecting to tune into ITV to see the Irish runners dominate, you might want to double-check. Yes, the form of the Irish syndicates is scintillating in recent years. However, this doesn’t take the pound-for-pound handicap into account.
Data points out that last season’s Irish handicap hurdlers were five pounds worse off than their UK counterparts. This means a strong Irish contender could easily romp to victory this year, but if you think it’s worth a flutter, you should remember that the UK runners are generally lighter and less impeded.
If in Doubt, Pick a Top Trainer & Jockey Combination
Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson take the handicap races at Cheltenham seriously. Okay, they might not be as lucrative in terms of money or esteem, but the wins add up to a champion trainer title at the end of the four days. The same goes for the jockeys.
The final selection is your decision. Still, it’s worth considering the profile of former winners, the pound-for-pound handicaps and the top trainers and jockeys if you want to be