Cheltenham Racecourse 13 March 2020 Festival Day 4 The JCB Triumph Hurdle Race. Goshen ridden by Jamie Moore fall at the last hurdle whilst leading and part company. Photo Andy Watts /"

Cheltenham Profit and Loss

You can't win 'em all, as the saying goes. And that was certainly true of my wagering week at the biggest meeting of them all, the Cheltenham Festival, writes Matt Bisogno.

In the spirit of openness, I've produced a short video review of my book, warts and all. In fairness, it is pretty much all warts!


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Much more Festival fallout next week.

Here's hoping you fared better than me! Leave a comment and let us know how you did: good or bad, we're all in this together!


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29 replies
  1. garywaters
    garywaters says:

    Share your pain Matt! Had 3 winners over the week but all in the 3/1 to 4/1 range, needed a few of the bigger priced ones to hit the mark. So took a hit on the week. Had 2nds with Lord Du Mesnil, Easywork (ew), Dynamite Dollars (ew) and Latest Exhibition. On the latter, I reckon this was the 1st potato race for years to be run at a sensible pace which is why I think the staying form held up and market principals came to the fore, would be interesting to see if sectionals back that up.
    Normally at this stage I’d say there’s always Aintree and Punchestown but let’s see on that one!

  2. RonCombo
    RonCombo says:

    I admire your candour Matt, not many would front up like that. Pain shared is a pain halved perhaps. Santini did for me as well (along with a couple of others of course), making it a pretty desperate Festival. Avanti!

    • andyhodge87
      andyhodge87 says:

      On a personal note it was my best festival to date all down to getting 4 lines on the place pot on Thursday….
      Seconditis cost me a fair bit with melon minella indo santini being the biggest blow on win only selections at ante post prices. All in all a good festival some cracking finishes and a new superstar in Goshen to look forward to…

  3. gilly 666
    gilly 666 says:

    Certainly day 1 Matt start well for me, managing to land Put The Kettle On and Grace’s Orders at the morning price. Only landed 2 more winners during the next 3 days, but sensible staking and also a couple of nice price EW efforts, showed some decent profit. Fine margins though, would have been very different for me without day 1.

  4. acranea
    acranea says:

    Well. It’s a miserable tale of woe isn’t it?

    BUT…take heart. it’s still better than I managed !

    I still can’t quite get my head around it to be honest.

    28 races, of which I bet in 20.

    Lord De Mesnil, Darver Star, Us & Them all placed…& that was that !!

    Not one single winner. An entire Cheltenham without a winner. 32% of bank returned.
    Realistically it’s going to take until halfway through the flat season to get back to parity if I return to form. Assuming that there’s actually going to be any racing of course.

    My last Cheltenham without a single winner?

    1998 !

    I hope to God this is a once in a century thing :-/

    It’s made all the worse by recent history. last year was solidly good, 2018 was the best festival ever. Couldn’t stop winning ! 2017 was big profits, 2016 was moderate but boosted by an enormous ante-post price on Thistlecrack.
    I’ve kind of got used to Cheltenham being an automatic source of income in recent years. So a horror show like this year hits all the harder. Bit like a stock market correction I guess.

    Anyway…I seriously need a lie down. It’s going to be a bloody long road back.

    Always next year isn’t there? 🙂

  5. Brian Collins
    Brian Collins says:

    Luckily I managed to stay out to a large degree as I would definitely have lost plenty.I had 2 bets Third Wind and Ard Abhainn so showed a small loss.
    However I found studying the handicaps really difficult primarily caused by the large number of totally unexposed horses from the Elliott and Mullins yards who had hidden their light under a bushel by not contesting handicaps prior to the meeting.
    There were 4 well backed winners from these stables who had never run in a handicap in hurdle/chase handicap before and were impossible for the handicapper to assess properly.Column of Fire who had run in 1 handicap and would probably have won was another impossible to rate.
    It might be a topic for another day but going forward there is surely a case for having a ruling that horses have competed in a minimum of 2/3 handicaps prior to the meeting.

    • Matt Bisogno
      Matt Bisogno says:

      It’s definitely a subject I’ll be returning to next week, Brian. And well done for keeping powder dry!


  6. fingers
    fingers says:

    A candid summary Matt and commiserations…only had four bets with one faller and the other three placed but the sickener for me was Happy Diva which I had at 39/1 for 20 quid win and place on the Exchanges and came to win its race after cruising through only to grabbed by fav near the line.

  7. bigvern63
    bigvern63 says:

    Can’t win them all Matt…..just have to hope the Premier League ends now and the Cherries don’t get a chance of climbing out of the relegation zone.

    My betting strategy involves generally a large number of multiples and cast the net far and wide so inevitably plenty of winners, but plenty of losers……if Stolen Silver and Column of Fire had placed/won respectively on the final day, would have been approximate 40% return overall. Small(ish) margins but then if my Aunt had the you know what, she would be Uncle!!

    Always next year.

    All the best, Chris

  8. Colin Metcalfe
    Colin Metcalfe says:

    Did okay as I always back ew at the festival, but still not as well as last year. Had a few bets on Goshen as my nap of the week too .

    Day 1
    Put the Kettle on (W16/1)
    Sharjah (placed 16/1)
    Lord du Mesnil (placed 6/1)

    Day 2
    Envoie Allen (W4/6)
    Dame de Compagnie (w5/1) plus
    Cracking Smart (placed 33/1)
    Queen Brook (placed 8/1)

    Day 3
    The Storyteller (placed 6/1)
    Oldgrangewood (placed 11/1)
    Plan of Attack (placed 10/1)

    Day 4
    Aramon (placed 8/1)
    Monkfish (w5/1)
    Greaneteen (placed 5/1)

  9. bigvern63
    bigvern63 says:

    Sorry, Cherries comment was wrong way round…..meant to say hope they do get a chance….& that’s from a supporter of the Seagulls!!

  10. Colzoss
    Colzoss says:

    My week improved as it went on and had Monkfish and Indefatigable on the last day as well as poor Gashen.Quite why I backed Indefatigable I’m not sure.I have written it on my notes with an (R) after the name if anyone has any suggestions.Not that I’m complaining.

    • Noisynoy
      Noisynoy says:

      How bizarre! I too had Indefatigable and also cannot give a reason as to why! It will almost certainly have been after interrogating “Instant expert”. That horse along with Lisnagar Oscar (BFSP119/1) gave me a break even week, which I now realise was almost success!

  11. guy weaver
    guy weaver says:

    Hi Matt,
    Looks like we had a similar week, but as you say in the video it was fine margins.
    For me a couple of big bets that I really fancied made all the difference…Asterion Forlonges (would have been fine if they turned the course round and went right handed, but a danger to the whole field in the Supreme), Minella Indo went 1-10 in running, still cant believe what I saw when Champ rocketed past! then Melon win only on betfair, Goshen in the Triumph (what a killer!) and also went with you on Santini in the gold cup…
    Only real bright spot was my ante post bet on Envoi Allen in the Ballymore at 10-1 in December.
    Agree with Brian’s comments above on the handicaps but maybe I should have just followed the money…
    Gave a chunk back this week but I’m still ahead for the season and we live to fight another day.
    Waiting for a Geegeez subscriber to cheer me up with a positive story as there must be some this week!

  12. chazzer66
    chazzer66 says:

    Thanks for the full expose Matt – painful indeed. I fared a little better coming out very slightly ahead on the week overall – a fraction under 3%.

    I had a bet on 26 out of 28 races – 5 winners and 17 places. Its not a great return but I am grateful honestly.

    Very hard work (albeit this is pleasure honestly!) and some of that coming in some pretty fortuitous places with others falling. If Kildisart had taken the Ultima and Column of Fire hadn’t fallen it would have been serious chicken dinner! Fine margins indeed…..

  13. Ken King
    Ken King says:

    Had a good Cheltenham myself. Like many had a good few ew big prices bringing home the bacon.
    However my big AP bet Goshen fell felt bad for all connections.
    However backed Mullins first 4 winners ,though not for big money though wh8xh gave me a reasonable profit,enough for a slap up fine dining experience with a bit to spare.
    Overall Profits for 4 days just shy of 450 pounds.

  14. RoosterCogburn
    RoosterCogburn says:

    I always take Cheltenham week off work and bet in every race just because its Cheltenham. I found it very hard work and like Brian its the handicaps which have always been difficult enough which have become impossible if you dont follow the money blindly. I got 70% of my money back which looking at the above is not too bad a result.Very good of you to share your tale of woe Matt.

  15. kemal
    kemal says:

    Well I didn’t do too badly this year..had Paisley Park NOT to win after reading your writeup and had Lisnagar Oscar for £1 ew! Yes really! Returns on a few more..Santini,Melon,Shishkin and a couple of others so not too bad for a change!
    A few thoughts….really sad for Sam Twisty to lose the ride on Politologue..that lad does get more than his share of bad luck,very glad for Darryl Jacob to get a good winner..he’s had a poor time recently,Goshen..the unluckiest loser EVER!, and Geraghty showing that although he seems to have lost it a bit over chases(apart from Champ…WOW!) he has few masters in tactics on a good hurdler.

  16. sinkov
    sinkov says:

    I bet in 27 out of the 28 races and on Thursday evening was feeling fairly pleased with myself, in 13 of the 20 races so far I had 6 winners,7 seconds and was nicely up on the week. I don’t know what to make of Friday, I didn’t get much wrong, one of my selections was in the first two in all seven races, quite an achievement really, the problem was none of them won, I had seven seconds. It was Friday the 13th so perhaps I should have seen it coming.The earlier profits dribbled away race by race and I ended up with 6 winners and 14 seconds on the week and a small loss of 3% of my stakes. I should be happy enough with 20/27 finishing first two, a couple more of the seconds finishing first would have seen me well in front, a 10/10 split even nicer, but that’s the way it goes sometimes. I should point out I don’t just bet one horse per race, I’m happy to go in mob-handed, sometimes 4/5 running for me in some of the big fields. It is frustrating though, like some others, I expect to win at the Fez and quite honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t. But that’s racing, I’ve been at it long enough to know that I shouldn’t ever think I’ve got got this game beat.

  17. jashmeade
    jashmeade says:

    I never seem come out of cheltenham without a profit of some sort, reason why any free bet I gain between now and Cheltenham next year gets placed on the festival, if you do that you have such an edge before the meeting starts. My personal highlight was Samcro which i backed at 5/1 and 7/1 to win any race.

  18. jb
    jb says:

    First and only time I’ve salvaged result in the last.Mirror pull out section, always excellent.Free net 85p and 2£ daily PPower voucher .Newsboy gives 3 fancied, Indefatigable ..PP 40/1.. also had 4 others in a combo f cast..small stakes..Pileon from either RacingvTekgraoh punter email.So csf 224/1..always one lucky day.Cheltenham invariably is a mix of Faves like Al Boum or lucky like Burning Victory* Was all on Gishen 4s ep..missed 1.04 lay I. Running to the last. The tacky going messed up days 1 to 3.. some races 30 to 40secs above standard so wrecked a few.

  19. TomWool
    TomWool says:

    Thanks for sharing your Festival betting week Matt. As you say, it’s the fine margins that make the difference and it could have easily been a good week for you.

    My own record was a similar case of what might have been. I made an overall loss of 4.3 points on the Festival from 32 bets. Having ‘hit the bar’ a few times, a profitable week wasn’t far away for me either.

    Bets: 32
    Won: 4
    2nd: 4
    3rd: 4
    4th: 2

  20. Chris mawer
    Chris mawer says:

    Yes mat I had my worse Cheltenham for a few years doesn’t help when I only concentrate on handicaps and five out the nine won my horses priced 100/30 6-1
    With powerful connections the itv crowd was crowing saying punters having brilliant time of it but not one’s like me who spent hours trawling threw form and statistics looking for a bit of value just to see same old faces collecting every race plenty of big priced places but no winners stick to flat from now on I think

  21. paul romain
    paul romain says:

    Really good review Matt. Made me feel a bit better about my similar week! I probably shouldn’t mention that I was screaming “”FALL OFF FFS!! at Jamie Moore when I realised Burning Victory was running on towards the last…but karma got me mid-whoop when CoF came down too later!!

    You’ve motivated me to fill in my version of your spreadsheet. I’ve been putting it off!!

    PS always get back on the horse. Win trixie scooped 20/1 return Saturday, and I put Delire Destuval 25/1 in my ew Lucky 15 with 12/1 and 8/1 places If only Garo Du Juilley had decided to jump a hurdle

  22. stevieb48
    stevieb48 says:

    My Cheltenham was made by one bet which I would normally not have done. My wife and I had won a competition on the Attheraces site for a day at Hexham races. When we go racing which is not very often my wife always insists on doing the Placepot which we duly did for Hexham. I had a feeling racing might not go ahead during our lunch due to the extremely high winds so I decided to do the Placepot at Cheltenham.
    The bet was placed at 1:15pm – 48 bets @ 20p £9.60 staked. We left Hexham and arrived home to find the
    first 4 legs were successful.. Leg 5 we had Simply the Betts (1st) & Oldgrangewood ran on into 4th. Leg 6 was down to Concertista (my personal bet of the day) – what a way to get the bet up! I was not expecting too much of a payout (4/6 favs placed) so was Flabbergasted when it paid £2.5K. I had it to 80p. I went to Newcastle races on Saturday to collect £2040.44! The biggest win I’ve had in over 50 years of punting!

  23. Mal
    Mal says:

    Well done Matt. Brave move. Great to hear everyones stories…Thank you.
    I finished up and I think it is down to being more selective than excitable as I used to be when younger!
    Personally, I think anti-post is a bookie benefit ( and ESP) at this meeting and I’d rather take shorter odds.
    There are plenty of goodies race week to make up and I’d really like to see punters stop it!
    Had “Column of Fire” finished in the first two, then Elliot would have won the trainers championship!
    So, Abracadabras getting beat a nose kinda bookended what could have been a great week!
    Matt, the Irish absolutely FARMED the handicaps and everyone needs to take this into account next year!

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