Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide

The Cheltenham festival brings out racegoers in large numbers every year. Hundreds and thousands of horse race lovers wait for this festival with great anticipation. For the year 2021, it will commence on Tuesday, 16th March, and end on Friday, 19th March. 

The Cheltenham Festival presents punters with an incredible betting opportunity. If you are lucky to attend, you can place a bet on any horse and cheer it from the stands. Or what seems most likely for 2021, you will be cheering on from home while getting those bets placed online!

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In this guide, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about Cheltenham Festival Betting.

Cheltenham history

Cheltenham has been home to horse racing for over 100 years. In 1815, the first-ever flat race was held on Nottingham Hill. Later, horse racing became a popular event, attracting hundreds of fans each year. However, things were not always smooth. In 1829, a popular parish priest preached to his congregation on the evils of horse racing. The congregants were immensely moved by the sermon that they disrupted a horse racing event at Cheltenham in 1930.

A few decades later, people fully embraced horse racing. And in 1860, the first Cheltenham festival was held. The organizers called it the Grand National Hunt Meeting. Today, the Cheltenham Festival is an epic event with over twenty-five races spread out over four days.

The beginnings of the festival

History credits Mr.W.A Baring Bingham for the growth and development of the Cheltenham festival. He had a tremendous passion for horse racing. In 1881, he decided to buy the Prestbury Park in a bid to re-ignite horse racing in Cheltenham. 

Mr.Baring hosted his first horse racing event in 1898. In 1902, he rolled out the National Hunt Festival. It was so successful, and he decided to keep doing it for the next few years. He paved the way for the expansion of horse racing in Cheltenham.

In 1923, Frederick Cathcart became another important figure in the Cheltenham festival. He brought back the famous Gold Cup that had first run in 1819.

Golden Miller’s input on the Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival did not become a world-class horse racing event without an outstanding horse. Golden Miller was the standout horse in the history of this festival. It was a thoroughbred horse that dominated the festival between 1932 and 1936, winning the races each year. 

One of Golden Miller’s remarkable achievements was winning the Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1934. No other horse has broken his incredible record. That said, the Golden Miller drew massive attention to the Cheltenham festival. Most people wanted to attend this event and watch the magnificent Golden Miller racing.

Cheltenham Racecourse

The Cheltenham Racecourse is located at the famous Prestbury Park. It is close to Cheltenham, Gloucestershire area in England. Although it hosts the National Hunt, its most remarkable event is the Cheltenham festival. The races featured in this event include the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Stayers’ Hurdle, and the Ryanair Chase. 

The racecourse is versatile enough to handle different types of horse races.

The Cheltenham racecourse sits in a scenic location below the Cotswold Hills escarpment at CleveHill. It occupies a whopping 350 acres’ piece of land at the Prestbury Park, and it can hold up to 67,500 spectators.

Areas of the racecourse

The main Cheltenham racecourse has two sections, the Old and the New racecourse. 

The New racecourse terrain is best suited for the steeplechase while the old one is suitable for hurdles. Additionally, there is a cross-country racecourse in the main course. Jockeys mainly use it for cross-country steeplechase.

Enclosures

The Cheltenham racecourse has three different sections. In this section, we will look at each one of them.

The Club Enclosure

The Club Enclosure provides racegoers with the best access to the entire racecourse. You get a remarkable view from the winning post, lawn, or Grandstand. As if that is not enough, you have access to public areas such as the Shopping Village and the Princess Royal Stand.

When you buy the club ticket, you have a variety of options to choose from. It gives you leeway to dining and drinking areas. You can even go to the Tattersalls enclosure eateries. Think of it more like a VIP ticket that gives you more than a regular ticket. Moreover, you can visit over 70 stands at the Shopping Village and buy anything you like. Apart from watching the races, racegoers may enjoy some live music at the Guinness Village and the Centaur.

Best Mate

In regards to pocket-friendly tickets, the Best Mate leads the pack. It provides racegoers on a budget with an opportunity to enjoy the Cheltenham Festival. However, this enclosure is for everyone. It all depends on what you prefer.

The Best Mate section is on the opposite side of the Grandstand. Therefore, racegoers get a superb view of the race tracks. Horse racing enthusiasts on this enclosure have access to world-class bars, high-quality betting services, and splendid eateries.

Compared to what other British racecourses offer, the Best Mate enclosure is unbeatable. Its only downside is that you do not have access to the Final Flight of the festival. You also can’t go to the Parde Ring, Pre-Parade, and the Shopping Village.

The Best Mate enclosure is cosy, vibrant, and entertaining. When you purchase a Best Mate ticket, you enjoy other activities such as live bands. There are also DJs on the site to keep the music going.

Tattersalls

If you like to get close to the action, the Tattersalls enclosure is the ideal stand. It allows you to see the riders and runners at close range. This section gives you access to the Parade Ring, the Grand Stand steps, and the Winning Post. 

Racegoers who choose the Tattersalls have all their needs catered for. The area has a myriad of bars and eateries. 

With the Tattersalls ticket, you are free to explore the Guinness Village and the Sopping Village.

Cheltenham courses and fences

Old Course

The Old Course starts on top of a hill. As soon as the races commence, the riders and horses find themselves travelling at a surprising speed. 

This course has three fences; Fence 3, 4 and 6

Fence 3 is the most challenging. It has a water jump that can easily throw horses off their game. Fence 4 does not make things any easier. It has an open ditch that provides an even more significant challenge.

During the preparation of the 2010 Cheltenham Festival, the management decided to move the penultimate fence 239 yards. The objective was to move it a little bit further from the bottom of the hill and make it easy for the horses to slow down. Previously, horses fell when trying to slow down as they raced downhill.

New Course

The New Course also has three fences; Fence 2, 3 and 5

Nevertheless, the New Course is much different from the Old Course. On the downhill run, there is only one fence. Due to the two downhill fences, this course is equally challenging for the riders and their horses. It demands great skill. 

The New Course adds a twist to its hurdles. On its last 7 furlongs, there are only two flights for the horses. Horses run for about 3 furlongs before getting to the final flight. 

In the County Hurdles and Triumph Hurdles, the first hurdle comes too early in the track. Horses and riders who are not well prepared for this are caught cold. It takes time for riders and horses to get accustomed to the different challenges presented by the entire racecourse. But this is what makes the Cheltenham festival even more exciting.

Difference between the old and the new course

The Old and New Cheltenham courses have a lot in common. They are both stiff towards the finishing line and have a water jump. However, the degree of stiffness on both tracks tends to vary. The new course is demanding in terms of the horses’ stamina, while the old track forces horses to travel at a high and uncomfortable speed. The difference between the two racecourses is the degree and type of difficulty.

Cross country course

The Cheltenham cross country course has a host of human-made and natural obstacles spread out throughout the track. These include ditches, banks, timber rails, hedges, and so on. Mike Etherington-Smith, who was in charge of the 3-day cross country horse race at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, designed this course. It’s left and right, twists and turns, keep the racegoers entertained as the horses navigate the treacherous track. Punters watch in great anticipation, hoping that the outcome will win them some money.

How to get to Cheltenham Racecourse

There are several ways to get to the Cheltenham Racecourse. Racegoers can choose a method that’s most convenient for them. Here are the available options:

By Air

You can get to the Cheltenham racecourse on a helicopter. During the festival, the management provides a temporary airfield in the UK. It can receive slightly over 400 flights throughout the festival.

The temporary heliport sits on the northeast corner of the Cheltenham racecourse. It is strategically placed outside the course. Therefore, helicopters landing and taking off do not interfere with the proceedings of the race. The racegoers who arrive on helicopter land at the airfield and take a bus ride to the racing arena. Before alighting at the venue, they have to show their tickets.

Any visiting aircraft must contact airfield management before the race day to pre-book landing. The airfield management confirms all bookings and furnishes the pilots with the necessary information.

Train

Racegoers coming from Bristol Temple Meads and Birmingham New Street can opt for the train. A journey to the Cheltenham Spa Train Station only takes about 40 minutes. When you get to the station, you find a stagecoach shuttle bus waiting for you. Once you board the bus, it takes 10-15 minutes to get to the racecourse. 

Driving

If you prefer driving to the racecourse, it will take you five minutes from the Cheltenham Town Center. But that is if you take the Evesham road. The best part is that there are roadside signs put in place to direct you to the racecourse. 

The organisers put them up when the festival is a few days from starting. 

The management advises those who rely on satellite navigation to key in the postcode: GL50 4SH in their GPS devices. With the AA route planner, you only need to choose GL50 4SH as your destination.

Bus

If you plan to use the bus, take some time to look at the coach parking map. The coach symbol should lead you to the nearest bus coach stop. It is paramount to follow this symbol regardless of the direction of your travel. The last thing you want to do is getting stranded on a race day. Coaches have to arrive at the racecourse early. The management restricts them from accessing the venue from 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm.

Local buses are available for people living around Cheltenham. You can use the Stagecoach Service D, and E. Buses are available at short time intervals, ranging from 10 minutes, 15 minutes and 1 hour.

Cheltenham Festival betting

Betting makes horse racing events more exciting. The Cheltenham Festival is no exception. Most horse racing enthusiasts are always looking forward to wagering on their favourite horses. 

In the past, punters used to buy horse racing tickets at the racecourse. But with technology, you can bet on this festival online right from the comfort of your home. If you prefer the old school type of betting, you can buy tickets from betting shops at the racecourse.

What’s more, is that you now have a lot of resources at your disposal. You can research the horses competing at the 2021 Cheltenham festival and find out crucial information on each horse. Such details can help you make more accurate predictions and win some money.

When to find the best odds

Horse racing punters like to bet ante-post or on the race days. You can find the best and most competitive odds on the day of the race. Apart from that, the list of all the running horses is already out. As such, you will not make the mistake of backing a horse and find out that it will not run on the race day. Unfortunately, this happens a lot with ante-post betting. 

The advantage of betting on the Cheltenham Festival is that it is a popular event. Therefore, bookmakers offer great advance bet offers to punters. These are benefits that you will barely find with other events. 

A notable advantage of ante-post betting is that you could find high odds on a horse that has not broken into the limelight. If this horse has done well in the jump season, you could win good money by backing it before the price changes.

Where to bet

If you do not know where to bet for the 2021 Cheltenham festival, there are many reputable sportsbooks that cover this event. Betting online is always the best option. It gives you time to compare odds and various bookies. Ensure that you place your bets with a reputable operator that offers excellent betting features and competitive odds.

When to bet

When to bet on the Cheltenham festival depends on you as the punter. You may want to accumulate several bets before the event. In such circumstances, ante-post betting could come in handy. Nonetheless, some of the horses you bet on may not participate in the festival due to various reasons. With some bookies, you may lose your stake if this happens. Always read the terms and conditions of your preferred bookie. This will help you decide on whether to bet on the trace day or ante-post.

What to look for in a horse when betting

To refine your horse racing wagering skills, you need to have a sharp eye for the best horses. When considering a horse to back, you need to look at various things. These include its current form on different tracks and its past performance at the Cheltenham race tracks. Apart from that, you need to consider the jockey, trainers, and what they have achieved in their racing careers. 

Here are other essential factors worth of your consideration;

Distance

When it comes to horse racing, distance is of the essence. A horse with a record of winning races of a certain distance is likely to do it again. A win course is marked as “C,” and the distance win is marked as “D.” 

When a horse wins both the course and the distance, it is marked as “CD.” As you research, look at the horse with these letters. 

Class 

Just like any other race, experts give an official ranking to horses. These are the classes that distinguish the racing ability of various horses. Always study the official ranking online before backing any horse.

Course experience

A horse and rider with vast experience on a specific course have a high likelihood of winning. Looking at the previous performance of a horse in this festival will give you a hint of its course experience.

Trainers

Trainers have different achievements and level of experience. Go for a trainer who has trained the most winning horses. There is always the horse he has trained that will perform well. Choosing a trainer who has had the most success at the Cheltenham Festival is a brilliant decision. 

Recent form

Looking at the recent form of a horse can give you a clue of how it is likely to perform. A horse that has done well in recent competitions may thrive during the 2021 Cheltenham festival. Good form in the past few races is an indicator of a horse’s current racing ability. Put your money where the pattern suggests that a particular horse is in great shape.

Age

A horse’s age affects its performance on the tracks. It is likely to do well during its peak age and perform moderately before it attains this age. Most people think that younger horses are more energetic. While there is some truth to this assumption, it does not mean that a younger horse will always outrace an older horse. 

When betting on thoroughbred horses, you should not back the younger horse based on this assumption. To increase your chances of winning, pay close attention to the past trends of the horses. Since 1986, there are only two horses aged five years that have won the Champion Hurdle. 

The performance of most horses tends to improve as they get older.

Weight (Official Rating)

In any horse race, the weight of the horse comes into play. 

Weight is crucial for punters who like handicap bets. A well-weighted horse has a slight advantage in any race. However, it would be best to consider the weight of its rivals before placing your bet.

 Besides that, other factors influence the performance of a horse regardless of its official rating. When using weight to back a particular horse, look at the previous statistics and weight trends. Remember that horses with more weight are likely to do well in various races. And horses that carry less weight also flourish in particular races. 

Jockeys 

Horse racing is not all about the horses. The skills and experience of a jockey can determine the outcome of a race. As the 2021 Cheltenham festival edges closer, start familiarizing yourself with jockeys’ stats. Take a look at both the past performance of the jockey and the horse they will be riding. Additionally, find out who is its current trainer. 

Learn as much as you can about the horse and jockey in contention. The best combination has a higher likelihood of winning.

Cheltenham festival betting lingo

To excel at the Cheltenham festival betting, you need to familiarise yourself with its wagering lingo. Below are some of the common phrases that you might come across.

Allowance

This refers to the weight exception given to a horse due to the inexperience of the bookie

Also ran

This is backing any horse that will not make to the top 4 spots

Accumulator

This is a bet that involves two or more different races on the same bet slip. You have to get all the predictions right to win it.

Each-way

This is a type of wagering that revolves around two betting options- a particular horse to win the race or finish among the top 3.

Bar

This refers to the lowest horse race betting odds that forecasts don’t quote.

Form

This refers to the current performance (a record) of a particular horse in racing competitions. 

Evens or even money

This is staking an amount that is equal to your possible winnings.

How to bet on the Cheltenham Festival

Sportsbooks offer a wide array of racing options. These include;

Each-way betting

Each-way betting consists of two in one betting options- the “win bet” and the “place bet.” A good example is backing a particular horse to win; that is the win bet. A place bet is backing the same horse to finish in the top 3 or 5 positions. If you get both predictions right, you win. 

Ante-post betting

Ante-post betting means betting in advance. For instance, the 2021 Cheltenham Festival starts in March, but you could start betting on it in January.

Combination bets

Combination bets win only when you wager for four runners from one race- you can pick up to 20 runners. However, you have to get all the predictions right to win the combined price.

Cheltenham bet types

Tote betting

Tote betting is one of the most exciting bet types offered during the Cheltenham betting festival. However, it is much different from what is offered by the traditional racecourse sportsbook. In this kind of betting, all wagers on a particular horse are pooled together, and the stake collected is shared among the winners of the pool. But this is after the bookmaker subtracts their cut.

Starting price

The starting price bet revolves around the prevailing fixed odds of a particular horse before the race starts. 

Cheltenham races favourites

Bettors can wager on the Cheltenham favourites. This is a bet type that revolves around backing the best horse in a specific race. 

Non-runner- no bet

A non-runner- no bet means that if you place a bet on a particular horse, the bookie will refund your stake. This only happens if the horse you pick does not run.

Cheltenham Festival betting markets

The Cheltenham Festival offers some of the best betting markets. You can start researching the markets as early as now. Some of the exciting markets include the Stayers Hurdles, the Supreme Novices Hurdles, and the Gold Cup.

Cheltenham odds

Horse race punters have access to the best odds during the Cheltenham festival. Bookies release the odds early for punters to start betting. If you are a serious bettor, you can undoubtedly find several value bets.

Best bookmakers for the Cheltenham festival betting

There are several reputable bookmakers that cover the Cheltenham Festival. Here are some of the online betting operators who feature all the events of this festival:

Bet365

Bet365 is an excellent bookmaker that always provides lucrative odds for the Cheltenham Festival. They have done so consistently for the past decade. This being the biggest horse racing event every year, bettors can expect competitive odds from Bet365. So, if you love the betting opportunities provided by this festival, signing up with Bet365 would be a great idea.

RaceBets

RaceBets has stolen the hearts of many punters who prefer to wager on horse and greyhound racing. Each year, bettors access the best horse racing odds of the Cheltenham festival. The site offers a world-class betting experience. Players can try their luck on ante-post and race day events. You also get live bet and cash-out features.

Betfred

Most horse race punters love the old fashioned mode of betting. And Betfred being an old-school bookie, provides an epic horse racing experience. Betfred has been in the bookmaking business for a long time. Therefore, they understand what a regular punter needs. Besides that, they offer exciting jackpots and lucrative Totes for the lucky bettors. And during the Cheltenham festival, they surprise punters with lots of sign up bonuses and promotions.

Betfair

Betfair is another fantastic horse race betting operator. It is both a fixed-odds bookmaker and a betting exchange. As such, punters can lay their bets on other bettors and take advantage of the competitive odds. Aside from that, punters have access to incredible betting features. These are the likes of cash out and live-streaming. If you like to bet on live horse racing matches, then Betfair is your go-to bookmaker.

888sport

Since 1997, 888sport has been home to thousands of happy customers. They have shown tremendous commitment to providing horse racing markets from the Cheltenham festival. When it comes to offering various bonuses and rolling horse race betting promotions, 888sport does not hold back. Every year, they have generous sign-up bonuses for punters targeting to wager on horse races.

How to watch the Cheltenham Festival live?

The Cheltenham Festival attracts millions of viewers in the United Kingdom. Racing TV and ITV1 hold the exclusive rights to broadcast this event. This means that they will cover all the races in the upcoming 2021 Cheltenham Festival. For live bettors, you can catch the live action on online betting operators. However, you can only follow it up on sites that have a live streaming feature.

2021 Cheltenham Festival schedule

The 2021 Cheltenham Festival schedule will run for four days. Below is a breakdown of the events;

Tuesday 16th March 2021- Champion day

Wednesday 17th March 2021- Ladies Day

Thursday 18th March 2021- St Patrick’s Day

Friday 19th March 2021-Gold Cup Day

When will the Cheltenham Festival start?

The 2021 Cheltenham festival will start on Tuesday, 16th March 2021, and run through to Friday, 19th March 2021. 

What time does the Cheltenham Festival start?

During the 2021 Cheltenham festival, the gate will open for the public at 10:30 am. However, the first race will start at 1:30 pm. The highlight of the day will begin at 3:30 pm, while the last race will commence at 5:30 pm.

The Cheltenham Festival is arguably one of the most prestigious horse racing events. The event guarantees the fans a four days’ horse racing action featuring the best horses. You can expect to see your favourite jockeys in action. You can catch the live horse races on the racecourse or live or TV. Regardless of how you want to watch it, you will undoubtedly have lots of fun. 

Besides entertainment, the festival will present you with an opportunity to wager on all horse races. You could get lucky and walk away with massive winnings. Nonetheless, this will depend on your choice of odds as well as the bookmaker. The bottom line is that the event has everything for every bettor.

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL RACES; DAY 1 – 4

DAY 1- TUESDAY

Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance: 2m 87yds

Purse: £70,337.50

 

Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance: 1m 7f 199yds

Purse: £98,764.20

 

Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance: 3m 1f

Purse: £61,897

 

Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance: 2m 87yds

Purse: £264,609.67

 

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance: 2m 3f 200yds

Purse: £67,524

 

Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed Race)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance: 2m 4f 44yds

Purse: £39,389

 

National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance: 3m 5f 201yds

Purse: £74,306.25

 

DAY 2- WEDNESDAY

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 5f

Purse: £70,337.50

 

Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  1m 7f 199yds

Purse: £98,764.20

 

Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  3m 1f 

Purse: £61,897

 

Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 87yds

Purse: £264,609.67

 

Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 3f 200yds

Purse: £67,524

 

Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed Race)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 4f 44yds

Purse: £39,389

 

National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  3m 5f 201yds

Purse: £74,306.25

 

DAY 3- THURSDAY

Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 3f 168yds

Purse: £84,405

 

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 7f 213yds

Purse:  £56,270

 

Ryanair Chase (Grade 1)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 4f 127yds

Purse: £197,115

 

Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 7f 213yds

Purse: £182,877.50

 

Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 4f 127yds

Purse: £61,897

 

Daylesford Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 179yds

Purse:£50,643

 

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  3m 2f

Purse: £41,510

 

DAY 4- FRIDAY

JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 179yds

Purse: £73,505.50

 

Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 179yds

Purse: £56,270

 

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 7f 213yds

Purse: £73,505.50

 

Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  3m 2f 70yds

Purse: £351,687.50

 

St. James’s Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  3m 2f 70yds

Purse: £26,685 

 

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

Age: 5-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 62yds

Purse: £61,897

 

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Age: 4-year-olds and above

Distance:  2m 4f 56yds

Purse: £43,330