Cheltenham Festival 2018 took place in the UK from Tuesday, March 13th-Friday, March 16th. Over the four days of the festival, 28 races were run in total. Quite a few amazing and unusual stories emerged over the course of the event. If you wagered on Cheltenham, hopefully you managed to make some money, but with more than a few surprises, it is possible you lost money as well.
Let’s take a look at some of the race outcomes and lessons for punters from this year’s festival to help you prepare for placing bets on horse racing events in the future and of course, Cheltenham Festival 2019.
OLBG Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1): Benie Des Dieux Wins
One of the first interesting stories to surface this year took place on Champion Day, the first day of the festival. This race was won by Benie Des Dieux. This was both surprising and intriguing, considering that this Apple’s Jade won the previous yerar. There were two competing horses Mullins was running in the race, but Benie Des Dieux blew right past them.
What We Learned:
This was a rough day for Willie Mullins, and not the only one—Wednesday was also bad (more on that shortly). Mullins himself was pretty level-headed about it. On Wednesday he stated, “It’s disappointing, but I don’t think we were unlucky in any race yesterday, so I wasn’t to worried about that.” He managed to hold it together, and he actually did quite well the next day (which I will also talk more about in just a bit).
The bottom line here is that it is easy to get discouraged when things do not look like they are panning out, but flukes and unpreictable events do happen. Willie Mullins still ended up being a strong bet on Thursday, and despite of what happened on Tuesday and Wednesday, punters still made good money on Thursday when four of his horses won.
Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1): Summerville Boy
What makes this race and its results interesting is the fact that Summerville Boy previously was running in a different type of race altogether. At the beginning of the season, he was in novice chases. Trainer T R George saw opportunity and decided he wanted to switch him over to hurdles.
This is a great example of how the expertise and intuition of a trainer working with the right horse can be a winning partnership. Another trainer (and owner) probably would have stuck with novice chases, which would have been a mistake.
Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1): Altior
What a painful lesson this was for punters! Consider these staggering outcomes:
- An estimated £10m was lost by punters collectively who bet on Douvan to win the Champion Chase.
- This made it a great day for bookies. In fact, William Hill released a comment stating that it was “one of the best outcomes for bookmakers since the turn of the century.”
- One guy managed to lose £375,000 … ouch.
What happened with Douvan?
Sadly there have been no updates on the horse’s status, but it is believed that something is affecting Douvan’s health. An MRI and X-ray will be scheduled. Hopefully soon we will know what went wrong and whether Douvan stands a chance to recover.
But one thing is certain, and that is that a lot of punters’ wallets will not be recovering anytime soon from this catastrophic loss.
This story goes to prove that you can never be 100% sure what is fated to happen with any given race. There is no such thing as a sure bet, so if you are ever going to put £375,000 on any horse, you sure had better be wagering an amount you can afford to lose.
As for Willie Mullins, his mettle helped him hang in there, and the next day he was feeling a lot better. On Thursday, four of his horses raced to victory: Yorkhill in the JLT Novice’s Chase, Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase, Nichols Canyon in the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle, and Let’s Dance in the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle.
Some punters who watched his failures on the first two days of the race might have been tempted to give up on his horses, but that would have been a poor decision. Mullins knows his stuff, and what happened with Douvan was the exception, not the rule.
RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
Probably the weirdest race this year was the RSA Chase, featuring an unusual horse named Presenting Percy. Had Presenting Percy run at full power and speed, he could have bested the other horses by an astounding 20 lengths.
Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase: Native River
Friday held yet another surprise in store for racing fans, who watched in wonder as Native River seized the Gold Cup. This victory was incredible, because it was the first horse ever run in the Gold Cup by trainer Colin Tizzard.
This is no easy feat. Many trainers run horse after horse in the Gold Cup and fail to win it. Willie Mullins for example has managed to achieve second place with six different horses in the race over the years, but he has never had a single horse come in first.
This actually is a human interest story as well. The jockey who rode Native River to triumph is named Richard Johnson.
The day did not go as well for Colin Tizzard’s horse Cue Card. Cue Card’s performance two years ago was strong enough that he seemed to have a real chance at the Gold Cup this year, but his 2018 run was not so good and he is getting old. While he is expected to do well at Aintree in April, he probably will never win the Gold Cup.
What We Learned:
Native River’s win seemed unlikely in light of the trainer’s lack of Gold Cup experience, but they pulled off a victory anyway. A story like this is a great example of a situation where the right trainer, jockey and horse managed to rise above a variety of factors which should have made it hard or even impossible to win the Gold Cup. If you were observant enough to identify this winning team, you probably took home a nice payout from Cheltenham 2018.
One Amazing Story From Cheltenham 2016
Finally, one more incredible human interest story from this year’s Cheltenham Festival concerns not another horse or trainer, but one of your fellow punters.
The Sun reported that a 67-year-old factory worker (unnamed in the article) placed a life-changing bet of just £1 on Cheltenham.
The amount he won? A whopping £250,382. Now that is one heck of a return on an investment.
The man in question is a father of three from South London. He chose to take a long shot in a bet known as a “Lucky 31,” picking five horses:
- 2.10 Arctic Fire 22/1
- 2.50 Penhill 14/1
- 4.10 Pacha Du Polder 22/1
- 4.50 Champagne Classic 25/1
- 5.30 Dodging Bullets 12/1
Four of his selections went on to become winners, with only Dodging Bullets losing.
Reportedly the man always likes to bet on Cheltenham, saying, “I don’t bet much but when I do it’s always on outsiders and also each-way.”
Ladbrokes spoke up on the win. He said, “In a week when bookmakers emerged the winners, this one punter’s incredible predictions made sure we didn’t get away scot-free.”
What Can We Learn From This?
A win like this is once-in-a-lifetime. For most, it is never-in-a-lifetime. As Ladbrokes emphasized, this was an “incredible prediction,” and quite unlikely to win.
In fact, usually, I do not recommend taking complex bets like these which are contingent on so many things going your way but I would like to amend that statement based on this story a bit.
One reason this bet worked was because the entire bet did not rest on every single horse winning. Even though one selection lost, the bet was still profitable. If he had one all five selections, he would have received a million pounds.
The other reason this bet worked was because it was not a big risk. This guy did not put an arm and a leg on the line here, just one pound. He had very little to lose, and as it turns out, everything to gain.
Taking small wagers like these can be fun, and occasionally might change your life. Of course, the day you take a big wager like this, you are probably going to lose it all. Then again, that is true even if you are taking a “sure” looking bet like the one I talked about earlier that cost a guy more than £300,000 on Douvan!
So feel free to place exotic wagers on horse races—just make sure that you are wagering conservatively with your bankroll. That way you will not go broke on unlikely wagers, but you still put yourself in the running for huge payouts if the miraculous should occur. Would this win have been even more amazing if the guy had put down £100 or £1,000? Of course—if he had done that, he would have become insanely rich—but this was still enough to buy a bungalow and make a dream come true.
Cheltenham 2018 Was a Thrill to Bet On … Time To Start Getting Ready for Cheltenham 2019
We now have a year’s wait ahead of us as the horses, jockeys, and trainers all prepare for Cheltenham Festival 2019. If you plan to bet again on next year’s festival as well as other horse racing events throughout the year or if you are new to betting on horse races, this is the perfect time for you to start preparing. It is never too soon to start doing your research. As you can see, unpredictability and surprising upsets are common during Cheltenham. With the right insights, you could have achieved some amazing wins during this year’s festival. Good luck next year!
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