With Cheltenham only a couple of weeks away some concern was expressed on the MySportsAI email forum about the extreme prevalence of soft and heavy going this NH season and how this may cause upsets at Cheltenham when we are likely to hit better going. Could all those fancied horses who have done well over the winter on soft going come unstuck at Cheltenham when better ground is likely. If this is the case then bookmakers could be in for a good week.

To examine this I looked back at the last 10 seasons and did a simple calculation. Using a numeric value for the going where Heavy = 6 and Firm = 1 I calculated an average going for the months November to February in each year. I then examined the fate of the market in that years Cheltenham festival. Perhaps higher average pre Cheltenham going would mean more market upsets.

Here are the results for all Betfair SP prices and laying to win £1

Year 2010 pre going 4.62 LayVarPL +2.174 average win price 20.84

Year 2011 pre going 4.43 LayVarPL -0.61 average win price 15.2

Year 2012 pre going 4.14 LayVarPL -0.02 average win price 14.46

Year 2013 pre going 5.03 LayVarPL -1.54 average win price 15.98

Year 2014 pre going 4.8 LayVarPL +0.06 average win price 17.27

Year 2015 pre going 4.78 LayVarPL -0.42 average win price 13

Year 2016 pre going 5.01 LayVarPL +2.17 average win price 10.7

Year 2017 pre going 3.05 LayVarPL -0.61 average win price 17.1

Year 2018 pre going 4.56 LayVarPL -0.12 average win price 15.12

Year 2019 pre going 3.68 LayVarPL -0.35 average win price 24.99

As we enter 2021 Cheltenham the pre going value is 4.54 not as generally soft as some other years.

The above figures do not seem to spell a pending doom for punters at the front of the market, indeed the best year was 2016 which came off a seemingly wet 5.01 winter. As I have always said, in general terms does the going really matter, well not really.