Saturday, 22 May 2010

This is a topic that divides the punting world - Ante Post Markets. For every person who loves an ante post wager, there is someone else that wouldn't touch them with the proverbial. I want to look at why there is so much difference in opinion; to some degree it entirely depends on which sports you bet on; how much disposable income you have; whether you want a guaranteed runner on each bet and how patient you are with your punting balance! Now because I am a dedicated follower of the ante post markets, I am going to emphasise why I feel its one of the most enjoyable parts of betting. Sure not everyone can afford to lump on Big Bucks for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham 2011 at 5/4 in May and sit tight until March to see whether its going to run, but its still possible to find value in ante post markets. I like to find betting opportunities where I expect the price to drop dramatically in the run up to the event. Now I can here the doubters: if you bet in advance, there is every chance you could lump on a runner which is withdrawn, a tennis player who gets injured or a golfer that gets distracted by off-course distractions, however you should be willing to take that chance because this is reflected in the price. Take horse racing for example, and the biggest punting race of them all, the Grand National. If you were to compare the prices of the runners merely 48 hours before the race, I would say at least 80 per cent of them have a shorter SP on race day than the best available price. This year's national was perhaps the most clear example of this, when it ran to a 155 per cent over round. Now you can argue that this race is unique because its the only race each year where Joe Bloggs and his granny step into a bookmakers to place a bet on a horse because they like the number of syllables in its name, but the point is still valid, why take 10/1 on the winner Don't Push It, when it was available at 25/1 just 72 hours before? Any respectable punter knows the importance of value in this game, and backing favourites in the grand national at an sp over 50% shorter than in its ante post listing is the quickest way to the poor house. Especially when it was a much bigger price days before.
Ante Post betting also plays a pivotal role for me and my approach to the Cheltenham Festival. I love building my ante post portfolio in the months leading up to the event. Every weekend there are movers and shakers in the market, you can see a run in November and study how that could effect the market for March. That way the festival lasts more than 4 days for me, but 4 months. Sure there are going to be times when you back a horse at 10/s for the Champion Hurdle then watch it get slammed by 20 lengths a few weeks later, but that's all reflected in the price. One example was Master Minded in 2008. After watching Matt Chapman interview Paul Nichols on a cold January Sunday afternoon on the Get On Show, I backed the horse each way at 16/1 for the Champion Chase. It then went on to not only run at Cheltenham at around 3/1 but produced one of the best chasing displays in recent memory to win by 19 lengths. And the best part of that bet was knowing that I had backed it at 16/1 compared to its sultry SP.
It also works for other sports, and I often place ante post wagers on golf. You can gradually build up your stakes in the lead up to a specific event, as most of the majors have markets in place the full year before it takes place. I say, if you have the patience to back a player 6 months before even the first tee shot takes place, and you have a solid opinion then why wait? Imagine the scenario. You know that the 2010 Open is going to be at St Andrews. You study past form at the course for the top players, you consider their form in recent Majors and then decide that you want to lump on Lee Westwood. What's wrong with backing the guy every month to small stakes, knowing that by the time you get to the 4 day event you have a retirement inducing stake on the guy that you genuinely think will win the event? I appreciate that a lot of people will completely disagree with this approach, but it works for me, and its just as exciting but without having the feeling you've been hit by a truck if you open the war chest on a Thursday morning only to find that he's carded a 78 by 5pm that same day.
And that's basically why I love ante post betting. I know its got its shortfalls, and some people reading this will disagree with every word, but isn't that what punting is all about - a game of differing opinions?...

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