Cheltenham Racing Festival - Day One

Cheltenham Racing Festival - Day One. Pic: Getty Images.

Cheltenham Proved Yet Again, It’s Not About The Horses . . . It’s About The Stories Behind Them

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DragonBet on-course bookmaker James Lovell gives the inside track on Welsh sport – what’s hot, what’s not, and who’s the talk of the betting ring.

Cheltenham 2023 will live long in the memory.

It had it all – a horse for the ages, emotion by the bucketload, and a Welsh winner to cherish.

Constitution Hill was what everyone hoped he’d be – a superstar of limitless ability.

Honeysuckle brought tears to the eyes and reminded me that racing is not just about the sport, but the stories behind the headlines and the people it brings together.

Galopin is a machine and then there was that Welsh hero in the shape of Premier Magic.

Now, Premier Magic was trained and ridden by Bradley Gibbs, someone I’ve had the pleasure of watching in the muddy point-to-point fields of Wales for a number of years.

Thanks to Brad, what should have been a winning race for us turned out to be a losing one, but it was one I didn’t mind doing our money on.

Point-to-points are the grassroots of racing and the reason Wales keeps punching above our weight on the big stage.

Apart from Cheltenham, they are my favourite days to be a bookmaker. It’s a hark back to old times where it’s old-fashioned bookmaking. Opinions and sheer weight of money decide the odds, nothing else.

The point-to-point season just about gets going from now on, and although fixtures are becoming fewer, I can’t wait to get stuck in.

Anyway, back to Cheltenham. For DragonBet, it was our first online and we knew it was going to be a thrill.

Just how much of a thrill, I don’t think we were prepared for.

The biggest single liability was £40,000 over a £5,000 treble that included Mighty Potter, Shiskin and Luccia.

All of them got beat, but there were some funerals as well as the marriages. We took an £18,000 hit on Wednesday’s bumper when a customer landed £4,000 on A Dream To Share at 9/2, to name just one.

There were plenty of peaks and troughs in between as well.

The festival took a few years off our lives, but we’re glad we did what we intended to do when we set out on this journey.

That was, to go back to the old school of bookmaking – no gimmicks, just good, fair prices and the promise of laying a decent bet (as well as the daily DragonBoosts).

The week was like the first Wilder-Fury fight, where after two days we were out cold on the canvass with no chance of beating the count.

Thursday felt like we’d risen from the dead – a bit like Fury when he beat that count – and we got through Friday ending with a tied event.

It was an adrenaline rush and one we’re all in the game for. It proved that neither bookmaking, nor punting, is easy. But done responsibly, it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

On Sunday, we had a real change of gear when I was back on track at Chepstow.

It was student day and you’ll have to believe me when I say, I saw all sorts there.

The boys seemed to have forgotten to put on socks and the girls had forgotten to put on bras! Or so I was told, I was busy bookmaking.

It was a lively atmosphere, though, and some bookie-friendly results. Needless to say, an enjoyable day.

The big meeting this weekend is Newbury, where the BetVictor Handicap Chase takes centre stage.

It’s an impossible race and at the time of writing it’s hard to find an angle.

What I can tell you, though, is that the 2.40 and 3.15 races are non-handicap hurdles.

Now, if you were to back the favourites – blind – in these type of races over the last five years, you’d be running at a 56% strike rate and 10 times your stake in front.

Keep your eye on the site for the weekend specials, Welsh football teams, the Croatia-Wales opening Euros qualifier, and, as usual, we’ll be the best prices on Welsh players, teams and events.

Pob lwc whatever and wherever you’re having a bet.

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