Expert predicts how weather could impact Cheltenham winner
Horse racing fans will no doubt be counting down the days until the start of the Cheltenham Festival. But which horses will triumph throughout the event? In this article, Ross O’Connor from MansionBet explains how the weather can impact a horse’s chances of success on the turf.
One of the biggest events in any horse lover’s calendar is just around the corner. After a more subdued event in 2021 thanks to empty grandstands, the Cheltenham Festival is back with a bang this year. The event is running from the 15th–18th March, and has a total of 28 races for fans to enjoy. But which horses are predicted to perform well this year?
The success of a horse is dependent on a number of factors, including the health of the horse, and the skill of both the horse and jockey. But another factor which some may not consider is the weather on the day. The condition of the track, or what bookmakers describe as ‘the going’, can significantly impact a horse’s performance. If you’re looking to pick a winner at Cheltenham Festival, here is how to take the weather into consideration.
Hot days can have a major impact on the speed of the horse. In fact, research has found that every 1°C increase in ambient temperature can slow a horse down by an average of 0.11 km/h (University of Roehampton). If you’re looking to make a bet, it’s a good idea to back one of the lighter horses, as they will have less weight to carry so shouldn’t be as severely impacted by the heat as a heavy horse might be.
There is always the possibility that a race will get called off if the temperature is too high for the horses to race comfortably in. However, as it takes place in early spring, this shouldn’t be an issue for the Cheltenham Festival.
A cold racing day can impact how well a horse performs. While cold-blooded horses generally deal with the cold best, most of these breeds are used in agricultural work, whereas hot-blooded horses are used in racing. Where a breed comes from can play a role in how well it can deal with the cold too. Breeds from warm countries, such as Arabian horses, are built for warmer climates so they naturally don’t handle the cold as well as British breeds (Redwings). As most British racing horses are Thoroughbreds, they’re all put at a disadvantage by cold weather.
It’s also a good idea to look at the weather in which the horse has been training in. If they’ve been training in cold weather for a while, they may be used to it and be able to perform better. However, if it’s been too cold for them to train, for example if there’s been snow or the track has been too icy, then it’s best to back another horse that may be more prepared for the event.
Just as with betting on horses racing on cold days, it’s a good idea to look at the past experience of a horse when betting on them on a rainy racing day. Consider the conditions they’ve been training in, and look at their past performances to see how well they’ve performed on soft and heavy ground. While heavy ground isn’t preferred by most horses and jockeys, some enjoy the challenge and can even relish in it, so make sure to keep an eye out for these competitors.
As heavy ground can make the race much more challenging for most horses, it can sometimes become more difficult to predict, especially with horses that haven’t had experience running on heavy ground. It’s a good idea to do plenty of research into the history of the racing horse before placing a bet in these conditions.
Racing on windy days can really help or hinder the riders depending on which direction the wind is blowing. While all horses will face the same conditions on a windy day, some will be able to perform better than others. It’s a good idea to bet on horses who have already performed well in windy conditions. You should also consider where the horse is on the racetrack. Front runners will be directly in the wind, whereas those behind will have some shelter from it, which can allow them to preserve their energy, so make sure to pay close attention to this.
You may also want to consider the temperament of the horse. Strong winds can cause horses to become spooked, which is bad news in the middle of a race. Bet on the calmer horses, as these are the ones more likely to take the wind in their stride.
What are the long range forecast predictions?
While the Great British weather can sometimes seem impossible to predict, long range forecasts can give us an indication of what the racing conditions may be. At the time of writing, the first day of the festival looks set to have a small amount of drizzle and a moderate breeze. The remainder however is predicted to be dry with minimal wind. The temperature is predicted to be in the low double figures, and is currently expected to range between 10°c and 12°C.
Currently, the conditions don’t appear to seem very adverse at all, but bear in mind that this can change rapidly. The going is available six days before a meeting, so make sure to keep an eye out for this closer to the time too.
The weather can have a major impact on the performance of racing horses, and knowing how the animals may be effected can give you an edge when placing a bet. If you use the tips above, you should be able to make a more accurate prediction of the winner of the Cheltenham Festival.