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Friday, 4 February 2011

Odds of winners in Cheltenham grade races and handicaps

Jasen Aitchison

Cheltenham has a reputation for serving up some long odds winners, whether it is in grade races and/or handicap contests. The latter often sees long-shot outsiders upsetting the odds while the graded events generally go to those at the head of the market. However, in the unpredictable nature of the Cheltenham festival is all too familiar with long-shots defying the odds to overcome the favourites. But is there a succinct difference in the starting price odds of graded race winners and Handicap victors?

In the 2010 Cheltenham festival the largest handicap race winner was Chief Dan George in the William Hill National Hunt Chase at odds of 33/1. Compare this with the largest winner in a grade 1 event and one will find Bertie's Dream who won the Albert Bartlett Novices at the same price. At first glance there is little difference between the two, and while larger odds are common in both races, they tend to be more so in Handicaps. By their very nature Handicap races allows for more skill in the betting as horses are weighted accordingly and if all horse were to run to their handicap mark, it should theoretically all pass the finish post together in a dead heat. The Festival is notorious for long odds winners and if we take the aforementioned William Hill Trophy Handicap and analyse the winners of the last ten years – winners of 33/1, 50/1, 25/1 and 20/1 have gone in. This just goes to show the each way value there is to be had in handicap races. Cheltenham Festival odds

Grade 1 events in the past have often been won by the market favourites. Take Kauto Star and Big Buck's as two defining examples who have won the Gold Cup and World Hurdle twice before at odds against. The better the grade of a race will see only the top performers participate and these horses are fairly short odds in the betting because all have fantastic ability and form. In the Gold Cup last year horses as high as 250/1 went to post yet rarely threatens against top class opposition who head the betting. However, Mon Mome was priced at 50/1 for this race last year and did manage third albeit a massive twenty-three lengths behind subsequent 7/1 winner Imperial Commander. While you may see 50/1 shots win Handicaps it is unlikely a horse this price will take one of the four major championship races, of which many go to single figure odds winners.

Author: Jasen Aitchison

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The latest Cheltenham Festival odds are already available for 2011.