Preparing to trade a major meeting – Cheltenham

Big race meetings

Big meetings generally mean significant opportunities for me, so I take a lot of care to carefully prepare for each one. Trading Cheltenham is a big opportunity as it’s one of the biggest meetings on the Betfair exchange, in fact, all betting exchanges will be flush with liquidity.

These are strong betting markets and if you don’t like the crazy amounts of money and large queue sizes when you are Betfair trading. You may find stepping back to Betdaq works well during the meetings. But especially so for the feature races, like the Cheltenham gold cup.

Price movements on something like Cheltenham differ slightly from your day-to-day jump racing markets. Prices move in much more shallow patterns generally, and volatility is lower.

Most years, the big meetings, including meetings like the Cheltenham Festival, account for good chunks of my entire year. That’s why I put so much effort into each one. Not only that, but while invites are always gratefully accepted, I’m still politely declining them.

So let’s have a look at how I prepare for Cheltenham.

Collecting and analysing data

When an important horse racing meeting is on the horizon, I have already done much work ahead of it.

I always have tons of data to analyse because I also collect data when I trade.

Bet Angel is well set up to help you achieve this, as you can run automation and/or spreadsheets in the background while you carry on with your everyday trading. Therefore new data piles up in the background for you to look at later.

After the event, whether racing, football or Tennis, I sift through the data and see what worked and if I could have done better, it’s the trading equivalent of Kaizen.

Collecting data in this way allows you to reflect on what happened in prior years, but it can also tell you how the market is changing and anticipate future changes. As the festival gets underway, I’ll try to blog what I see, so you should be able to see my observations.

You can hypothesise what will happen, but you will only know when it gets underway.

I still screen-record my trading!

You may be interested that I still record my trading, especially at big meetings.

When that roar goes up at the Cheltenham racecourse, my first video will have been complete, and I’ll be looking at the data at the end of the session. Recording the screen and my trading software gives me a chance to ‘re-live’ the meeting again and remember what it felt like. I’ve already watched last year’s races, and it brought back many memories.

I tend to keep notes next to each meeting, reminding me of what I am thinking and how I reacted to what I saw. It’s a mental note of how it felt, so I re-read those.

General Cheltenham observations

Of course, alongside Cheltenham comes some of the biggest sports betting markets of the year. The highest turnover race will likely top £10,000,000 in matched bet volume, so this is a big meeting.

Plenty of conventional betting, Betfair trading, and the odd lay bet in the big fields. So while Cheltenham is viewed favourably, it often doesn’t suit people’s trading styles. On average last year, each race traded over £4m, ranking around nine times greater than the average race.

However, it’s not just about the amount matched, as it’s all relative. If the rate at which the money is being matched is also nine times higher, then the net effect is no different from a trading perspective.

Cheltenham advice

One thing you will not be short of at Cheltenham is advice. There will be tons around, and a lot of it is free. Everybody has an opinion from a betting perspective.

The festival is often dominated by competitive handicaps of impenetrable complexity. Trying to unpick some value from that is tempting for the potentially huge payoff but almost impossible. Make sure you leave the traditional betting on the other side of the book!

Traditional gambling and trading do not sit comfortably next to each other.

Don’t forget the bread-and-butter meetings.

With all the hype surrounding Cheltenham, it can be easy to forget that the big festivals are just a minor part of the 15,000 or so races that face us yearly.

So never forget that 75% of all races are grades 4-6; that’s where your year is made or lost. While we are still awaiting spring, plenty is around to get tucked into and build up that trading bank ahead of the big meetings.

Good luck at Cheltenham!

Cheltenham traded range

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