Forced to work for a living nowadays, Jack Houghton has had to come up with profitable punting strategies that don't rely on hours of form study. Having outlined the tenets of successful Festival betting earlier in the week, here he outlines his selections for Tuesday's card...
"The New One (4.03/1) is a rare thing: a Cheltenham Festival winner who didn’t have to post a fast time to lift the crown, and hasn’t posted one since."
13:30 - Supreme Novices' Hurdle
Our speed-rating test eliminates all but three of the field: Josses Hill (18.5), Irving (4.57/2) and Gilgamboa (13.5). Of some concern is that none of these have any Cheltenham form in the book, and in the case of Josses Hill and Irving, their best clock-performances came at Kempton and Ascot respectively, which are very different tracks to what they will face today. Nonetheless they have all shown an ability to operate at an end-to-end pace and I'll be splitting my stake between the three. For those looking for a single selection, Gilgamboa looks the best value.
14:05 - Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase
Despite the customary small field this is a competitive race, with our tests only eliminating four of them. Those that remain are Valdez (10.519/2), Trifolium (5.49/2), Grandouet (11.521/2), Dodging Bullets (6.86/1) and Rock On Ruby (6.05/1). Valdez's Newbury win in November looks like the best piece of clock-form on offer, but the smarter move may be a place lay of Champagne Fever (1.728/11), who has yet to demonstrate that he can operate at the same kind of pace over fences as he did over hurdles.
14:40 - Handicap Chase
Our system comes into its own when dealing with these monster-sized handicap fields and, sure enough, applying the speed-rating and Cheltenham-form tests eliminates all but four: Time For Rupert (16.015/1), Solix (60.059/1), Fruity O'Rooney (32.031/1) and The Package (26.025/1). It's a split stake again for me, in the hope that a couple will still be in the running as they turn for home.
15:20 - Champion Hurdle
The New One (4.03/1) is a rare thing: a Cheltenham Festival winner who didn't have to post a fast time to lift the crown, and hasn't posted one since. Although only a nine-runner race, the presence of three McManus horses suggests there will be a fast pace in Tuesday's Champion Hurdle, and so The New One will likely have to produce something more than we've seen before to lift the crown. It's not impossible that he will, but Hurricane Fly (4.1), My Tent Or yours (5.24/1), Jezki (11.521/2) and Melodic Rendezvous (30.029/1) are all more reliable propositions, and at bigger prices. At the odds, I'll be backing Hurricane Fly to win and Melodic Rendevous (5.39/2) to place.
16:00 - OLBG Mares´ Hurdle
Quevega (1.9520/21) is the only mare to remain after applying our speed-rating test: her best being upwards of two-stones better than any other competitor. Even discounting her best performance on the clock (which came in 2009) and focusing on more recent performances, she is still nearly a stone better than L'Unique, the next highest rated. Let's not try and complicate the uncomplicated - Quevega to win.
16:40 - Amateur Riders´ Novices´ Chase
Our speed-rating test eliminates all but four here: Firm Order (36.035/1), Midnight Prayer (10.09/1), Shutthefrontdoor (4.94/1) and According To Trev (30.029/1). The first two of those are debuting at Cheltenham, but I'm happy to split my stake between all four in a race that is very difficult to assess any other way.
17:15 - Novices´ Handicap Chase
Another race on a tough first day that looks like it's going to be a nightmare to decipher, only for horses to fall away when our tests are applied. Ohio Gold (22.021/1), Baby Mix (24.023/1) and Up To Something [(80.0]) are all possible contenders to finish the day off for us with a big-priced bang.
*All odds quoted are a guide and you are recommended to take Betfair SP.