2020 has been a real shocker hasn't it?
...A REAL ANNUS HORRIBILIS
The misery that is 2020 showed early indications of the year that was to come as after 4 glorious, bountiful Seasons with amazing profits and big priced winners it all came crashing down for the, up to then, ultra reliable, unbeaten Route 66 as it experienced it's worst Cheltenham ever.
In the grand scheme of things it certainly wasn't the worst thing to happen in 2020 but I really love the Route 66 Service and it's failure at this year's meeting hit me hard. It's the Festival Trends flagship service and has a lot of followers that I know I let down this year. It caused me many sleepless nights.
Whether the Cheltenham Festival should even have gone ahead this year is still open to much debate but what isn't in doubt is that Route 66 underperformed massively at Cheltenham this year and as a result I've had to do a lot of indepth analysis and some deep soul searching to try and find out what went wrong.
Lessons have been learnt, new measures have been taken and more research has been conducted to get it back on track and I'm determined to get it back making the profits we'd all come to know and trust.
SO, WHAT DID GO WRONG? and HOW CAN WE GET IT RIGHT THIS SEASON?
Although it would be the easy option, unfortunately I can't blame the coronavirus pandemic for the results we suffered over the four days. Instead I've had to go through what I thought looked a very strong ante-post portfolio pre-Cheltenham to see where it all went wrong and make the following painful conclusions;
Wrong picks: Well, duh! Yes, obviously I picked the wrong horses from the 66 Race Trials featured in the Route 66 service but, in my defence, there were a lot of long standing trends that were broken at this year's Festival and there were a few horses I noted but didn't back for one reason or another. A horse that fell last time out winning a novice chase, a horse that last ran at Huntingdon winning a Festival race, horses defying massive breaks since their last run and a 10yo winning a Graded Novice Chase were all winners breaking long standing trends. All of them ran in a Route 66 race at some stage last season but all were overlooked by me because they didn't fit the profile. A small consolation is at least we know that we are focusing on the right races, I just need to do a better job of selecting the right horses this year. From now on, form will override trends for this particular service. My biggest regret from the whole meeting though was not backing Lisnagar Oscar after noting his excellent effort on Cheltenham Trials Day. He was the one that got away in 2020 and my leg was sore well into April as a result of me kicking myself repeatedly! He wasn't the only one though with Min, Simply The Betts and Dame De Compagne also slipping through the net after positive post race comments.
The Irish: I'll hold my hands up, I have always preferred to back British trained horses at the Festival. I always have. It has served me well in the past but obviously with the two Irish powerhouse stables of Mullins and Elliott dominating the meeting over the last 5 or so years that is now a foolish concept and it makes no sense to continue to focus more on the home challenge than the Irish raiders. So this Season I will be incorporating more Irish trials, looking at the Dublin Racing Festival more thoroughly and I am in the process of producing a comprehensive Guide to the Irish challengers over the last 5 years with specific focus on the handicaps. Hopefully this will help in trying to work out patterns and the routes the Mullins and Elliott horses are taking on their way to the Festival.
Gordon Elliot: Which leads me on to the top Irish trainer and his handicap runners. Quite simply the man is re-writing the book when it comes to winning handicaps at the Festival. He's hiding the true ability of his horses throughout the Season with the sole intention of having them well handicapped and primed to strike for that one week in March. Whether that's by getting over lenient marks from the handicapper, by running his horses in races above their ability, over the wrong distance, over the wrong obstacles or simply
schooling them in public running them 'quietly' to get them qualified for specific races (see Pertemps result 2020) it's been very difficult to get certain handicaps right with our ante-post bets. So this Season I will only be making our bets for the handicaps at the 48 hour declaration stage (except the Pertemps Hurdle).
The Going: It's a very important factor when considering a bet but is the one variable we can't take into account when backing ante-post. We have no control over the ground conditions when placing our bets up to 5 months in advance and unfortunately you just have to take it on the chin if the ground doesn't come right for our selections. The going for the first day of the meeting was soft and it stayed that way for the rest of the week scuppering a number of high profile bets we had. This one was completely out of my control and will be again this year but hopefully our luck will change and we'll get the ground conditions to suit our runners over all 4 days. Starting with good to firm ground for Silver Streak in the day 1 Champion Hurdle!
Bad Luck (?): As it's always been when betting on horses, at the end of the day you still need everything to go your way. Horses can get injured and don't make it to the meeting, the going can change against your selection, a horse can fall, or another horse can bring your fancy down or you can avoid all these scenarios, have the odds in your favour and still get beaten. We had more than our fair share of horses miss the Festival this year along with numerous fallers and seconds over the week with Kildisart, Night Edition, Appreciate It, The Storyteller and Latest Exhibition all filling the runners up berth at big prices. Perhaps the biggest mystery of all though is how the heck did Defi Du Seuill get beat in the Champion Chase? Having 5/1 about a 2/5 favourite that gets well and truly stuffed is particularly galling and probably best sums up our week.
I hope you'll consider giving Route 66 another go this year. I still have complete faith in it and I know it is a great concept that can make the Cheltenham Festival a profitable meeting by finding even more amazing big priced winners.
Know that I'll be giving my all to make it the very best Season yet but if you're still stinging from this year's disaster and need a little more encouragement...
HOW CAN I MAKE IT UP TO YOU?
And as a final gesture of goodwill, all subscribers can have the FULL Festival Trends Cheltenham Festival 2021 Service thrown in as well. That's all the stats guides, all the trends and all the tips and ratings included (usual RRP £20)
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