We are now just two weeks away from the start of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival and as always at this time of year, the weather is continuing to dominate the build-up to the meeting. It has been one of the wettest winters in recent memory so far and Cheltenham will certainly testify that, with the trials day in January run on very testing ground at Prestbury Park.
Having a bet on the official going for day one of the Cheltenham Festival has become increasingly popular in recent years as excited punters look to fill the time in the weeks before the fixture. That is proving to be the case once again this season with Good to Soft unsurprisingly the current market leader with William Hill. Prestbury Park is well know for how quickly it dries out and provided the weather does pick up slightly, then it is safe to say that good to soft is the overwhelming favourite for the first day of the meeting. That is confirmed by the market with good to soft the odds-on favourite and that is sure to be the most popular and sensible bet based on recent history.
Punters looking for a little bit more value in the Cheltenham Festival Going Betting may want to take a closer look at soft, which may appeal to some given the recent weather. The majority of National Hunt fixtures in the UK over the past couple of months have been run on testing ground and it wouldn't take much more rain to ensure that the Festival starts in purely soft conditions for the first time since 2007.
Plenty of punters will certainly be keeping a close eye on the weather forecast over the next couple of weeks with most holding fire with their ante-post bets. The underfoot conditions will play a major part in the outcome of every race at the Festival as it always does, which is why that good to soft is generally considered to be the fairest conditions, in a sporting sense.
Good ground could also come into the reckoning for the first day if we do get a dry few days before the Festival, but the team at Cheltenham will have the option of watering in that instance. There is however no doubt that the modern trend is for good to soft ground and provided we get 'normal' weather in the week before the 11th March, that is surely where the value lies in this special pre-festival market.