Cheltenham Festival 2016: Betting On a Budget


I sit here as the first race of this years Cheltenham Festival is set to begin having taken on a new persona for Severn Sport, The Responsible Gambler. I wanted to do something different for the website in regards to the festival, that went hand in hand with the fact I have a week off work for the racing. So I decided to bet, everyday, up to £10 a day. Betting on a budget if you wish.

As it so happens I began this week with a couple of wins. Firstly, after setting up on a Ladbrokes grid card, I was given a £10 free bet. I put this on England to win the Six Nations, something that was secured last weekend. I had won £26.25 from the free bet. I reinvested that in a terrible lucky 15 on Monday’s racing and £3.25 on the mighty Sportsreport who won at Plumpton, returning me a lovely £21. Suddenly I was going into today’s opener at Cheltenham £40 up for the week, my first bit of luck for a while and this now meant that for the start of the week mainly I would be able to do my budget betting on money that wasn’t even mine, free money! I like this. I like this a lot.

Race 1 – Supreme Novices Hurdle; 1:30pm

Well what an annoying yet decent race for me that was. For today’s £10 I have laid down a 20p each way lucky 15 (costing £6) a 10p each way lucky 15 (£3) and have laid out a £1 placepot. Simple bets which allow me to sit back and enjoy.
Following the first race I am still in the placepot but my lucky 15’s have taken their first beating of the afternoon (first of many I am sure). In the 20p each wayer I had Bellshill who faded faster than Arsenal’s chances of winning the Premier League and in the smaller bet I had Charbel who faded to 5th (when Paddy Power were only paying 4 places….story of my life) meaning two losers on the bets. Brilliant. My eyes are fixed on the placepot now though. I only did it for a laugh but leg 1 over and I am still in it thanks to third placed Buveur D’air. Bring on the Arkle up next where realistically I cannot see anything over than a Douvan win.

A quick word of note in between races, as a Responsible Gambler I have taken advantage of small bets and offers to allow me to bet within my means. Something everyone should do. As an ex-Betting shop manager I have seen first hand people betting money they cannot afford to lose. Never get into that position. But as I said, take advantage of free offers. Today I was able to have an extra free £5 bet in Paddy Power on tonight’s football via a code sent to my phone for their betting machines. So hopefully I could be in line for winning another £50 of free money. Loving life. Half an hour to kill, time for some Rocket League with my boy Nicholas Giorgino.

Another quick word. F***ing Tombstone finished 4th ahead of Charbel, honestly. As a man who loves wrestling and is exciting for Wrestlemania season, the season that belongs to the Undertaker and his Tombstone Piledriver I had been eyeing up Tombstone for a week or so but went for Charbel after reading today’s Racing Post. Damn it Butler, shake yourself off and we will go again.

Race 2 – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy; 2:10pm

Ahead of the race, I don’t have to much on this one. The Responsible Gambler is no fool, not too many runners, in a short race, with one of the best horses of the week. I’m on Douvan for the placepot and we will see if I can move on to leg 3 after the race. See you on the other side.

Bring on leg 3. Douvan p*ssed it. Even with Vaniteux falling two from home I doubt Douvan would have been caught. Ruby Walsh didn’t have to ask him any questions, barely touched him until the straight. That is how you ride a winner. As I said, bring on leg 3.


Ruby Walsh and Douvan oozed class today to romp to victory in the Arkle on a fantastic day one for the former


Race 3 – Ultima Handicap Chase; 2:50pm

I am the epitome of the phrase “never change your mind” simply because over last weekend along with Tombstone, Flue Bowl and Killala Quay I was eying up the Young Master in this one. I changed my mind and backed Beg to Differ, who didn’t even finish I don’t think. Oh well, who cares when Holywell finished 2nd and I am suddenly starting to dream of a perfect start to the festival as he helps he through into leg 4 of the placepot later on. Loving life right now, give it an hour and it will all be over, I’m pretty certain of it. Back to Rocket League after beating Club Brugge in the Champions League on FIFA 16. So far I am getting a great run for my money for just a mere £10 worth of bets. Leg 4 of the placepot sees me move onto Nichols Canyon as well as one of my massive price favoured horses Lil Rockerfeller (took 40/1). I’m beginning to dream.

Race 4 – Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy; 3:30pm

Wow. What a performance. Ruby rode Douvan beautifully earlier on but he rode Annie Power even better. Confidence personified is the expression on Mr Walsh’s face as he celebrates an incredible Champion Hurdle victory. Me? Lil Rockerfeller struggled from start to finish, something I half expected from the 40/1 shot but I am over the moon that Nichols Canyon battled hard for a 3rd place finish meaning I AM STILL IN THE PLACEPOT!!! It’s almost like the Royal Rumble or being in the running for the Next Top Model, the longer you are in it the more it will hurt when you get knocked out of it. Hopefully if I am going to be knocked out of it, then it must be the next favourite Vroum Vroum Mag in the next leg.

My lucky 15’s have been left in a shambolic state, hopefully I can win something, anything! Only time will tell.

Race 5 – OLBG Mare’s Hurdle; 4:10pm

Ahead of this one all of Channel 4’s coverage has been about Annie Power and the next favourite Vroum Vroum Mag. Considering I have a placepot going here this is putting me at a sense of feeling uneasy due to the fact that it was about this time last year that Annie Power fell at the last in the same race. The biggest moment of the last 12 months, one I can remember fondly. My BetFred shop went silent for about 5 seconds as Annie’s legs went from underneath her on the last and that was it. On the day it saved my one shop a £5k payout, just imagine how much it saved a busy shop!!! Anyway the race is off, talk to you soon.

Well f*ck me. I have only gone and got into the final leg of the placepot. If I win this, Ruby Walsh can touch me, wherever he wants! To avoid getting too excited here I’m going to have to, HAVE to play some FIFA to calm down. Ruby dominating on Ruby Tuesday. My hat (if I was wearing a hat) would be tipped for Mr Walsh. 3 out of 4 so far is not bad at all.

Race 6 – National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup; 4:50pm

Jesus. I didn’t realise the last two races were not being shown on Channel 4. Plus I am not a subscriber to Racing UK so there is no way I can watch this race. I’m nervous though. The nerves that will be only made worse as I scroll twitter ferociously to try and see my horse in the placings for this bloody placepot. No way it can happen surely, surely I cannot get a winner on the first day. I can’t bare to ponder, FIFA will calm my nerves….

I HATE HORSE RACING!! Can you f***ing believe it? I had two horses in that race, one for the lucky 15 and one for the placepot, in a race that only paid out first 3 as its a non handicapped spectacle and I happen to have picked the horses that finished 4th and 5th typical. And just to make matters worse, the one I had for the lucky 15 finished 5th when Paddy Power were paying first 4!!! I could cry. Still, with the mere fact that I am betting money Ladbrokes have given me and not my own hard earned money (hard…yeah right!) means that whilst I am down in terms of betting I am not actually down in cash. Responsbile Gambling at its finest. And to be honest I still have Killala Quay in the 5.30 and also have the football to look forward to later on tonight. So there is still a chance, even a slight one, that I will be picking up some cash tomorrow. Until then learn from my mistakes from today, something I will do for tomorrow and follow three rules
1) Use free bets to your advantage
2) Have fun but bet within your means

See you tomorrow where not only will you be able to read about day 2 of Betting on a Budget but you will be treated to the next instalment of the Severn Sport podcast.

Ryan Butler