It's that time of the year again. Sickies will be pulled, lectures will be skipped and all for the sake of losing a shed load of money on something that the vast majority of us know sweet fuck all about. As far as this country's sporting traditions go, this is surely one of the best.
Listen to our day one review and day two preview on our daily sports podcast, The Racket:
The taking part is all that really matters and as long as you remember that, it's impossible to really be a loser. In case you haven't noticed, we're getting in the excuses early.
Now don't get us wrong, there are those out there who have things figured out. Deep statistical analysis has its place but, for the vast majority of us, we fall back on pure and utter nonsense. Strategies that are doomed to failure but which we nonetheless follow because that's the way it's supposed to be. We're lambs to the slaughter and we're okay with it. The slight possibility that this might be our year/day/race keeps us coming back.
We've already outlined five of the most questionable strategies but, now it's time to focus in on everyone's favourite when it comes to Cheltenham, or any race meeting for that matter. 'I'm backing Ruby'.
With the might of Willie Mullins' stable behind him, it often seems as if he can't be beaten but is that true, before you go sticking this month's rent on Min, Douvan and Annie Power just because it says R Walsh beside them, we've taken a look at some stats for you.
Courtesy of the Racing Post, here's what happens if you put €1 on every horse that Ruby saddled in jump meetings over the past five seasons.
Irish Jump Meets
Great Britain Jump Meets
In other words if you went off the tried and tested method of putting €1 on every one of Ruby's rides over the past five seasons you'd be down €353.57.
But what of today at Cheltenham?
Walsh rode three winners: Douvan (1/4 fav) in the Arkle Champion Trophy Chase, Annie Power (5/2 fav) in the Champion Hurdle and Vroum Vroum Mag (4/6 fav). Putting a euro on each of these races would yield a return of €6.41. Walsh finished second upon Min in the first race of the day, meaning that the day would have yielded a profit of €5.41.
As any number of hardcore gamblers will no doubt tell us, this completely ignores pretty much all given wisdom heading into Cheltenham week. And we're okay with that. Instead, we're here purely for those of you who have gone through the form and perhaps fancy Henderson, Nicholls or Twiston-Davies to upset the applecart in the Champion Hurdle.
You'll probably be wrong to but when someone asks you why you didn't just go with Ruby (and they will ask you) you can try and let on that you know what you're talking about.