Unearthing Value - The W/O Markets

PR0PJ0E89
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Unearthing Value - The W/O Markets

Postby PR0PJ0E89 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 9:58 pm

As I sit down to write this post I cant help but feel the tingling excitement in my fingers with all of just 28 days to go before the tapes go down on Tuesday afternoon. To those that are unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Festival, it is age-old tradition that the opening race of the meeting (as well as many others) be met with the famous 'Cheltenham Roar' heard around the world! Once that is out of the way, the racing comes 'thick n fast' over four fun filled days and is sadly all over way too soon and we all find ourselves already looking forward to 362 days time.

To combat this meteoric pace of the Festival's schedule it usually helps to do some pre-planning.... or not. While most of us NH OLBG'ers spend the whole season gearing up to this crescendo of blood, sweat and tears others might prefer to keep things simple and only start to look at horses, form, individual races in the weeks leading up to the event. Both ways of working have there own merits, on one hand the hardy veterans have an arsenal of ante post slips that are mostly as dead as dodo by the time March arrives but in the hope that one or two are still live and kicking by start of play. Conversely, the late arrivals do not have the luxury of 'value' as the main protagonists have shown their hand throughout the season and the markets have slowly but surely adjusted accordingly. What they do have though is a clear head and a full form book to look over so if you are one that has a eye for a favourite or a horse near the top of the market this approach may just suit.

Having said all of this, there is no right or wrong way to approach the Festival from a betting perspective, I guess what most people care about when it comes to wagering is whether or not they've made a profit or loss come Friday evening. The idea of this post is explore the ‘medium term' pre - festival market with 4 weeks to go and see if there is still any value to be had. As mentioned earlier by this stage most of the 'long term' ante post value has dried up with the savvy punters sitting on many golden tickets and we are yet to enter the 'short term' stage where most bookies go Non-Runner-No-Bet across the board and the race line-ups really start to solidify. At this stage of proceedings one one market that can give value is the 'Without Markets'. You can find these on Oddschecker just above the list of bookmakers. Usually there will be a 'winner' tab, a 'top 3 finish' tab and a 'W/O X favourite’ tab. This is commonly abbreviated to just 'W/O'.

With this is mind I want to try and find some value using this W/O market and where is best to start looking. What got me thinking was the Mullins and Ricci phenomena that has taken a stranglehold of the opening day the last three seasons and the subsequent bookmaker dynamic that has ensued since. The onslaught began with Champagne Fever collecting the Supreme Novice Hurdle in 2013 for the Mullins/Ricci partnership with Mullins going onto collect first prizes with both Hurricane Fly and Quevega on the same day. In 2014 it was Vautour’s turn to collect 1st place in the openrt along with Quevega again later in the day. However, it wasn’t until Champions Day 2015 which really turned the bookmakers heads and very nearly made the entire industry a whole lot poorer. It was Douvan waiting in line next to win the curtain raiser this time and once he had obliged along with Un De Sceaux and Faugheen it rested on the slight shoulders of the super mare Annie Power to land the 4 timer that every punter from here to Timbuktu seemed to be on….

Racing is never that simple is it? She fell at the last, GASP went the crowd and the rest was history…

So what we have in 2016 is an opening day market where the bookmakers are taking no chances whatsoever with the firepower of Mullins and Ricci. The result is a showing whereby 4 of the first 5 races are dominated by their stable stars, Min in the Supreme, Douvan in the Arkle, Un De Sceaux in the Champion Chase (non Ricci) and Annie Power in the OLBG Mares Hurdle. Now, I’ve spent enough time talking about Mullins and I must stress that the objective here is not to speculate on these favourites too much. Their solid credentials have been well advertised and deserve their place at the top market but the objective here is to find value in the race WITHOUT these horses in market. I’ve selected four horses that I feel hold very good value in the Supreme, Arkle, Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase.


Cheltenham - 1.30 - Sky Bet Supreme Novice Hurdle - Tuesday 15th March 2016

SUPASUNDAE – W/O MIN – 14/1 (SkyBet) 1,2,3 Places

Now before I go on you will probably notice that all four selections from Henry De Bromhead’s yard. It is probably not a coincidence because I do hold HDB in very high regard but on the other hand I have tried to take each horse on its own merits and weigh up the makeup of each race as I go.

We start with the opening race on the first day and the horse I think has been overlooked in the market is the Henry De Bromhead’s charge SUPASUNDAE (SS). This horse that has been on my radar ever since he arrived in Ireland at the beginning of 2015 having won a bumper at Ascot in December 2014 for the Andrew Balding team. That day he won very nicely pulling 2 ¼ lengths clear of a young contender named YANWORTH and another 10 or so lengths clear of a competitive field that also contained THISTLECRACK. Now I’ve learnt that its always dangerous to take NHF form too literally as most of the horses in them are still learning and improving day by day. However, in light of what the aforementioned have gone onto achieve and the fact they are two of the hottest favourites for this year’s Neptune Novices Hurdle and World Hurdle contests it is worth highlighting this form. Since that point, SS took part in the 2015 Cheltenham Champion Bumper and led for most of the contest. As they turned into the straight he was still leading and only got tired as they came up the hill and eventually finished 5 lengths back in 5th of 23. He was not stopping up the hill and I feel if he can settle a little bit better there is no reason why he cant save a bit more energy for the hill come March. In the last year he has remained lightly raced, running once more after Cheltenham which was a disappointing run in the Punchestown bumper. His seasonal reappearance in November at Gowran Park was an encouraging return where he finished a close 3rd behind the Gigginstown horse STONE HARD and JP horse DON’T TOUCH IT. DTI has since come out and impressively won maiden hurdle at Leopardstown at the end of January so it was clearly a solid pipe opener. SS second start of the season was at Leopardstown just after Christmas where he comfortably put the 2014 Bumper winner SILVER CONCORDE to bed by 13 lengths. He again travelled prominently and easily moved into a commanding lead as they entered the home straight. To me it looked like an assured performance from a horse who has gears and that is still improving therefore I see no reason why he can’t continue to do so at Cheltenham. He will have to improve to win of course but I see this profile as far more progressive than that of the 7yo SC who has somewhat surprisingly been chosen by Pricewise for the race. He has smart form in the book, has the experience of running in a ferociously run Champion Bumper which I think is a big bonus so the 14/1 W/O the Mullins horse that strikes me as terrific value.

Cheltenham - 2.10 - Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase – Tuesday 15th March 2016

SIZING JOHN – W/O DOUVAN – 6/1 (BetVictor) 1,2,3 Places

We haven’t seen SIZING JOHN since Boxing Day when he produced a laboured effort at Leopardstown again behind DOUVAN. That effort was far from encouraging but we have to be fair to the horse and HDB has always stressed that the horse does not want a mud bath and the flatter course which would have not have suited. If we look back to last season his efforts behind DOUVAN at Cheltenham in the Supreme and at Punchestown they offer a far more accurate representation of the difference between the horses. Looking at the winning distances its roughly 7 lengths that SJ has to find. Fast forward to the setting of the Arkle, a race where there is such little room for error, it only would take one slight mistake from the Mullins principal for those 7 lengths to be dramatically reduced. Looking back at SJ’s two runs prior to Christmas at Punchestown makes for very pleasant watching. He was assured, accurate and athletic at most of the obstacles and given the way he travelled so strongly in the Supreme from the front last year I feel he can easily translate that form to the bigger fences in a race where the quicker they go the more comfortable he will be. There has been some talk of SJ taking up the alternative entry in the JLT novices but given stamina concerns and L’AMI SERGE’s tame effort at Warwick and AR MAD’s unfortunate absence it would surely pay to tackle the Arkle as originally planned. 6/1 W/O the favourite strikes me as a very appealing bet.

Cheltenham - 3.30 – Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy – Tuesday 15th March 2016

IDENTITY THIEF – W/O FAUGHEEN – 4/1 (bet365) 1,2,3 Places

The 2015 Fighting Fifth winner IDENTITY THIEF is one of the most exciting horses in the HDB yard and I feel he is the live outsider in this year Champion Hurdle. FAUGHEEN is most probably everyone’s idea of the banker of the week but as I said earlier I’m looking to take him on and with style of bet I don’t even have to. IT came across to Newcastle at the end of November and performed brilliantly to beat TOP NOTCH by a neck but with a little bit in hand. He showed a tenacious attitude after getting in tight to the last hurdle handing the impetus over to TN he was able to rally and get back up before the line. The way this race panned out made me think that a strongly run 2 miles at a course like Cheltenham is possibly his perfect trip. Another horse that appreciates a sounder surface puts his effort last time out at Leapordstown on the 29th December into a different light. Neck and neck as they jumped the last hurdle both he and NICHOLS CANYON looked like they were in a battle to the line but in the end IT tired in the last 100 yards or so. I think that was a very solid effort but its hard to know whether he will enjoy the Cheltenham test because he has no experience of it so therefore he is probably the riskiest selection I’ve made. With no priors at a course I always like to look at their stallion’s record and IT is by Kayf Tara. Kayf’s Tara’s progeny have a poor record in hurdle races at Prestbury Park 10/107 but they do perform well at 2m4f (67/470). This suggests to me that IT will appreciate a strongly run championship race and will stay up the hill very well. At 4/1 W/O the favourite it is the least value selection of the lot but I do feel his profile is very encouraging, could he give Gigginstown their first victory in this race?

Cheltenham – 3.30 – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase – Wednesday 16th March 2016

SPECIAL TIARA – W/O UN DE SCEAUX – 6/1 (Paddy Power) 1,2,3 Places

SPECIAL TIARA is probably the most solid proposition of the four horses I’ve mentioned in this post. I feel in the current market he is being overlooked given what is an extremely consistent profile since the end of 2014. His race record since then has been 1/3/1/4/2 with his 4th at Navan in soft conditions the only really disappointing run in that time. Last time out in the Tingle Creek he was upside SIRE DE GRUGY at the last fence before being shoulder barged out of the way. In my opinion given he was brought essentially to a standstill he would have won that race given he only finished less than a length behind the winner at the line. If he had won the Tingle Creek I believe he would be a couple of points shorter in the market so it’s probably not a bad thing. If we look back to last year’s Champion Chase won by DODGING BULLETS the race was run at its traditional championship ‘no holes barred’ pace and ST actually led them for most of the way around. He gave Noel Fehily an absolutely terrific spin jumping boldy and quickly throughout, upsides at the last fence in the end only lost by less than 3 lengths finishing 3rd. Since that run Fehily has tried to settle Special Tiara more in his races and that seemed to pay huge dividends in the AP McCoy Celebration Chase at Sandown in April last year. There he led from pillar to post and comfortably saw off SPRINTER SACRE by 4 lengths. Now SS may have had a rejuvenated 15/16 season but I do not see how he is shorter in the same market (at 15/8) than HDB’s charge. If he is able to settle better in this year’s Champion Chase I can see him running an even better race than last year. The rivals in this race are few and far between with the exception of UDS and those that do look to line up are thoroughly exposed. Added to that DB's less than vibrant reappearance at the weekend I’m happy to look elsewhere and ST ticks a lot of boxes for me at 6/1 W/O the favourite.


In conclusion, I feel all four of the horses I’ve mentioned give the punter tremendous value without even having to take on the Mullins All Stars. I've picked horses that all have very good strike rates, are lightly raced and hold solid form credentials. If you were to go E/W on all selections you are effectively getting 4 places paid presuming all of the favourites are involved at the business end of things. If you take all four horses with Betfair you can get 2500/1 on an accumulator which I believe is well worth some small multiples on.

Lastly, If you do fancy them all in the full markets you can get:

SUPASUNDAE - 20/1
SIZING JOHN - 16/1
IDENTITY THIEF - 14/1
SPECIAL TIARA - 14/1


That’s an accumulator of 80325/1 at bet365 and something that would appeal to the small stakes punter looking for rewarding multiples.

I really do think the W/O markets are worth looking at so I would love to see everyone post their fancies.


Cheers, Joe.
Last edited by PR0PJ0E89 on Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Micko70
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Postby Micko70 » Tue Feb 16, 2016 10:02 pm

Top stuff Joe, nice little accy there mate

Best of luck with that, we can chat about on the opening day over a nice cold one

Pretty sure Tommy Buckley has an EW lucky on the same 4 horses

nors
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Postby nors » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:21 am

You mentioned this at Warwick Races Joe and good to read your thoughts on the W/O market on the forum.

Interesting that we have a couple of members interested in De Bromhead horses.

Do any other members regularly use the W/O market?

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Postby Robmull » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:47 am

Excellent post Joe.

To assist readers with assessing the best value bets prior to and during the Cheltenham Festival, I have produced the following blog, which includes a section on determining whether the Without Markets offer better value than the standard Win/Each Way odds.

Cheltenham Festival – How To Secure The Best Value Bets
http://www.olbg.com/blogs/post.php?id=410705

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Postby nors » Wed Feb 17, 2016 9:03 am

When you remove the fav it may be a good exercise in looking at the betting percentages of each race, you may need to work this out yourself but it may give you clues to whether the new head of the market is bomb proof.

At Cheltenham this may not work so well because all races are jam packed with quality, but its a useful exercise.

PR0PJ0E89
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Postby PR0PJ0E89 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:34 pm

Fantastic blog Rob, a real thorough and logical insight into all the various ways of punting at the festival. I'm by no means a mathematician so I for one are taking notes :win:

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Postby Robmull » Wed Feb 17, 2016 1:40 pm

Glad you found it useful Joe.

It is amazing how many of the bookmaker concession appear to offer an edge, but in fact provide worse value than the competition, whilst others are really worth making use of.

All the best.

Rob.

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Postby Sticky99 » Wed Feb 17, 2016 8:19 pm

Great post Joe! Some great tips in there :win:

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