Tom Jicha

Tom Jicha grew up in New York City and worked with John Pricci at the short-lived revival of the New York Daily Mirror. Tom moved to Miami in 1972 for a position in the sports department at the now defunct Miami News.

Tom became the TV critic in 1980 and moved to the South Florida Sun Sentinel in 1988. All the while he has kept his hand in sports, including horse racing. He has covered two Super Bowls, a World Series and the Breeders Cup at Gulfstream Park.

He's been the Sun Sentinels horse racing writer since 2007 as a staff member, and continues to this day as a free-lancer.

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Cheltenham Festival Stats You Should Know Before Betting

By J. Clark

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest events for betting in horse racing in the UK and beyond every single year.
With 28 races across four days in the middle of March, there’s plenty to gamble on. Before placing any bets though, it’s worth considering recent Cheltenham Festival stats and trends.

While these can’t guarantee you’ll get the winner, they can certainly help narrow the field down at the premier British National Hunt horse racing gala.

(CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06image
"Winners’ enclosure at the Cheltenham Festival"

Favorites your friends in Arkle and Champion Hurdle
Betting market leaders in the Arkle Challenge Trophy for novice chasers and Champion Hurdle, both run over about two miles on day one of the Cheltenham Festival, have great recent records.

Six of the last seven Arkle favorites have won the race, so that bodes well for Le Richebourg at 10/3 with William Hill. The Irish raider also brings Grade 1 form from the Emerald Isle to the table.

Champion Hurdle favorites, meanwhile, have a 50 per cent success rate in the last 20 years. Buveur D’Air has won the last two renewals for trainer Nicky Henderson, though it is worth highlighting that the standout 2/1 market leader at Betfair faces serious challenges from mares he must give weight to this year. Indeed, the most serious challenger looks like coming from Apple’s Jade, who is best-priced at 9/4 with Unibet. It could be the best race of the Festival if Apple’s Jade and Buveur D’Air are at their best.

Swerving the Supreme leader looks wise
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle traditionally gets the Cheltenham Festival underway, but favorite backers have been stung plenty of times here. Just one outright market leader has won this race in the last decade.
It may thus be wise to spend free Cheltenham bets 2019 elsewhere on a banker like Queen Mother Champion Chase fancy Altior. That exceptional horse has bucked the recent trend of favorites flopping in that big race on the second day of the Festival.

"Altior" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Carine06

Altior is the only market principal since 2014 to justify favouritism in the Champion Chase. He’s odds-on at 4/9 with 888Sport to retain his crown and go 18 races unbeaten over hurdles and fences. Min and Footpad, given odds of 8/1 by Betfair, look like Altior’s most likely challengers, but it’s going to tough for anyone to unseat the champion.

Handicaps have to be studied carefully
Although two favorites won Cheltenham Festival handicaps in 2018, that was the first time in four years market leaders landed any of these fiendishly difficult races. They are ultra-competitive races which with careful study you can find successful profiles for.

The best betting advice based on trends here is to make sure you back horses each-way. Favorites have still run into a place regularly enough, but there are certain events where they are best avoided.
It’s the handicap hurdles where market principals have the worst winning record. No favorite has won either the County Hurdle on Cheltenham Gold Cup day or the Coral Cup on Ladies’ Day at the meeting for a long time.

One trend to get you started on Cheltenham Festival handicaps is that recent winners of the Close Brothers Novices’ Chase and Kim Muir Challenge Cup for amateur riders have both been horses rated around 137 over fences. The official handicapper in the UK is the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and their marks are published on racecards.

Written by Mark Berner

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