Cheltenham – Short Priced Favourites

Last year’s Festival saw five horses starting at under 2/1 and although three of them won there were still a couple of reverses for backers of shorter priced horses with Cue Card and Time For Rupert both failing to deliver in their respective races. Of course those the record of those short-priced good things was bolstered by the ever reliable duo of Big Buck’s and Quevega.

That record set us thinking about the overall wisdom of supporting horses priced at under 2/1 in general at the Cheltenham Festival and if that would have made you an overall profit. Since 1980, a total of 139 horses have been dispatched at under 2/1 with 57 winning (41% strike rate) and producing a level-stakes loss of -£4.66. That loss increasing if you purely look at the record of supporting odds-on favourites during that identical timeframe – just 13 odds-on favourites have been successful from 27 qualifiers in that time. Fans of Cheltenham betting need to bear this in mind.

Taking a look at the record of this group decade-by-decade shows that since 2000, thanks to a golden spell between 2002 and 2007 when there were 15 winners, the last 10 years have been profitable for short priced backers. But are the figures skewed by that golden period and should we be wary of short prices overall at the Cheltenham Festival?

We think that the answer to both of those questions is yes and to be backing at those sort of prices at one of the most competitive National Hunt meetings of the year you do need everything in your favour and we would be wary of supporting horses in general at those prices. The last four Festivals have seen just 8 winners from 22 qualifiers and if you had supported all of the qualifiers you would have made a level stakes loss of 4.57. Those following Cheltenham 2012 bets need to remember this.

As things stand at the moment in the ante-post lists this is starting to look a very competitive Festival but there are still around six races of the 27 where favourites look likely to start under 2/1 interestingly the two successful horses that stated under 2/1 last year look set to do so again this – Quevega and Big Buck’s. Those two once again look very solid options but we would be very careful when supporting horses under the 2/1 threshold at the ever-competitive Cheltenham Festival, for all their successes we are sure that there will be a couple of “shorties” that get beaten this year to spoil the party.

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