Racing, the sport of Kings. Well, maybe not anymore as the sport has become so universally loved by the wider public. And that can only be a good thing.
While both Jumps and Flat racing takes place all year around, the ultimate highlight of the racing calendar is The Cheltenham Festival.
The absolute pinnacle of National Hunt racing, it is where the best chasers and hurdlers from across the UK, Ireland (and sometimes France) come together to battle it out for that coveted win.
Here, our aim is to provide top horse racing tips and answer as many questions as possible about betting on the Cheltenham Festival. After all, it’s not fair if the bookies get to win every time!
When Is The Cheltenham Festival?
The Cheltenham Festival is an annual horse racing event that takes place in Cheltenham, England. Typically, it is held over four days in March, from Tuesday to Friday.
BET £10 GET £20 IN FREE BETS
New UK customers (Excluding NI) only. Mobile exclusive. Min stake £10. Min odds Evs. Free bet applied on 1st settlement of any qualifying bet. 30 days to qualify. Free bets expire in 7 days. Cashed out/Free Bets won’t apply. Payment method restrictions. 1 Free Bet offer per customer, household & IP Address only. Full T&Cs apply. 18+ begambleaware.org. #ad. Please bet responsibly.
In 2023, the Cheltenham Festival will take place from Tuesday, March 14th to Friday, March 17th with 28 races scheduled to be run in that time.
As the dates are not fixed, it is worth noting that they may vary slightly from year to year, so it is always a good idea to check the official Cheltenham Racecourse website for the most up-to-date information.
How Many Races Are In The Cheltenham Festival?
As mentioned above, there are 28 races scheduled to take place over four days of racing.
Each day consists of seven races with the first starting at 13.30pm. A race then takes place every 40 minutes after that until the last race at 17.30pm.
In order, the races for The Festival 2023 are:
- 13:30 – The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)
- 14:10 – The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase (Grade 1)
- 14:50 – The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (Premier Handicap)
- 15:30 – The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)
- 16:10 – The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)
- 16:50 – The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Premier Handicap)
- 17:30 – National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) (Grade 2)
- 13:30 – The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)
- 14:10 – The Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1)
- 14:50 – The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Premier Handicap)
- 15:30 – The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Grade 1)
- 16:10 – The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase
- 16:50 – The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Premier Handicap)
- 17.30 – The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1)
- 13:30 – The Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
- 14:10 – The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Listed)
- 14:50 – The Ryanair Steeple Chase (Grade 1)
- 15:30 – The Betfred Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
- 16:10 – The Magners Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase) (Premier Handicap)
- 16:50 – The Jack de Bromhead Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)
- 17:30 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase
- 13:30 – The JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
- 14:10 – The McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle Race (Premier Handicap)
- 14:50 – The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)
- 15:30 – The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase (Grade 1)
- 16:10 – The St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase
- 16:50 – The Mrs Betfred Mares’ Steeple Chase (Grade 2)
- 17:30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Types Of Bets For The Cheltenham Festival
Now that we now when The Festival starts and what the races are it’s time to turn our attention to betting on them.
Let’s start at the beginning. Once any race has ended, particularly the bigger ones, bookmakers will often produce ANTE-POST odds for the following year.
That means you can place a bet on many of the races from as early as the day the current race has finished. An example will be when this year’s Gold Cup has been run and the winner has been crowned, you will be able to bet on the Gold Cup 2024.
Sounds great because you will inevitably get much bigger odds than you would on the day of the race.
However, there is a drawback with ante-post bets. The reason why the bookmakers give you greater odds is that if your horse does not run in your selected race, you will lose your money.
It is therefore important to do your research on your runner to make sure its target for the season is the race you are betting on. Even then there is absolutely no guarantee that they will actually run.
What Are Win Only Bets?
If you have decided to avoid the risk of an ante-post bet, you will want to wait until the bookmaker confirms that the race is Non Runner Money Back.
That means, if for some reason your horse doesn’t run, you get your money back. Odds will be shorter, but it is less risky so a decent trade off.
From there, it’s time to pick the horse you want to back. Do your research, and once you know who you fancy you must decide if you want to place a ‘Win Bet’ or an ‘Each-Way Bet’.
A win only bet is a type of wager in which you place a bet on a single horse to win a specific race.
With a win only bet, you are essentially predicting that the chosen horse will finish in first place, and the bet will only be paid out if the selection wins.
For example, if you place a win only bet on a horse and that horse finishes in first place, you will receive a payout based on the odds offered at the time the bet was placed.
However, if the horse finishes in second or any other position, you will lose the bet and receive no payout.
Win-only bets are popular in horse racing, as they offer the potential for higher payouts than other types of bets. However, win only bets are also riskier, as you must correctly predict the winner of the race in order to receive a payout.
What Are Each Way Bets?
An each-way bet is a type of bet commonly used in horse racing, but also in other sports like golf, where a large field of competitors is involved.
With an each-way bet, you are essentially placing two bets in one: one bet on a horse to win, and another bet on the same horse to place, usually to finish in the top two, three or four, depending on the size of the field.
For example, if you place a £10 each-way bet on a horse in a race (total £20), you are essentially placing two bets: a £10 bet on the horse to win, and a £10 bet on the horse to place.
If the horse wins the race, you get a payout for both the win bet and the place bet, typically at a fraction of the win odds (usually 1/4 or 1/5 of the win odds), which can still result in a decent payout.
If the horse places (finishes second, third, or fourth, depending on the terms of the each-way bet), you will receive a payout for the place bet only.
The advantage of an each-way bet is that it provides a degree of insurance against your horse finishing just outside the top position, which can still result in a payout.
However, since an each-way bet is essentially two bets, it costs twice as much as a win only bet.
NOTE: Most each-ways bets are only cost effective if the horse you back has odds of 6/1 or higher. It’s all about the maths!
Can You Place Multiple Bets On The Cheltenham Festival?
It is possible to combine a number of the Cheltenham Festival races in a multiple bet to try and increase your winnings.
For example, if you want to select the winner of the four Championship races (Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup) you can do this in an ACCUMULATOR.
The odds will depend on the four prices and you can do so by backing all four horses to win or as an each-way bet where they only need to finish in the frame for you to collect.
An accumulator is the simplest form of a multiple bet that exists, as the unit stake you choose is exactly how much you pay for the bet.
Some punters prefer to stick to the same trainer or jockey in these bets. In 2022 Irish Trainer Willie Mullins set the Cheltenham Festival record with TEN winners at the meeting and will prove very popular again at the 2023 meeting.
What Are The Biggest Races To Bet On At The Festival?
With 28 races, few people will back a horse in every race. So if you just want to concentrate on the bigger races, here they are…
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a prestigious Grade 1 National Hunt horse race that takes place on the last day of the Cheltenham Festival. The race is run over a distance of 3 miles 2 1/2 furlongs (5,292 meters) and features 22 fences to be jumped.
The Gold Cup has a rich history dating back to its inaugural running in 1924 when it was won by the horse Red Splash. Since then, it has become one of the most important races in the National Hunt calendar, attracting the best horses, jockeys, and trainers from the UK and Ireland.
Over the years, many great horses have won the Gold Cup, including Golden Miller, who won the race five times between 1932 and 1936, and Arkle, who won three times in the mid-1960s. More recent winners include Best Mate, who won the race three times between 2002 and 2004, and Kauto Star, who won twice in 2007 and 2009.
The Gold Cup is known for its thrilling finishes, with some of the most memorable moments in racing history occurring in the race. One such moment was in 2012 when the horse Synchronised fell at the last fence, allowing the eventual winner, Sizing Europe, to take the lead and win the race.
Today, the Cheltenham Gold Cup remains one of the most highly anticipated races in the National Hunt season, with fans from around the world tuning in to watch the best horses, jockeys, and trainers battle it out for glory.
The favourite for the 2023 running of the 3m2f chase is the Willie Mullins trained Galopin Des Champs on odds of 6/4. This may change as the race draws closer.
The Champion Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt horse race that takes place annually at the Cheltenham Festival. The race is run over a distance of 2 miles and features 8 hurdles to be jumped.
The Champion Hurdle has a rich history dating back to its inaugural running in 1927 when it was won by the horse Blaris. Since then, it has become one of the most prestigious hurdle races in the National Hunt calendar, attracting the best horses, jockeys, and trainers from the UK and Ireland.
Over the years, many great horses have won the Champion Hurdle, including National Spirit, who won three times in the 1940s, Persian War, who won three times in the 1960s, and Istabraq, who won three times in the late 1990s and early 2000s. More recent winners include Buveur D’Air, who won the race in 2017 and 2018, and Epatante, who won the race in 2020.
The Champion Hurdle is known for its fast-paced and competitive nature and remains one of the most highly anticipated races in the National Hunt season.
The Grade 1 races takes place on the opening day of the festival.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is a Grade 1 National Hunt horse race that takes place annually at the Cheltenham Festival. The race is run over a distance of 2 miles and features 13 fences to be jumped.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase has a relatively short history compared to other major races at the Cheltenham Festival, with its inaugural running taking place in 1959.
The race is named in honor of Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, who was a keen supporter of National Hunt racing.
Over the years, many great horses have won the Queen Mother Champion Chase, including Badsworth Boy, who won the race three times in the 1980s, Viking Flagship, who won twice in the 1990s, and Sprinter Sacre, who won the race in 2013 and again in 2016 after coming back from a heart problem.
Today, the Champion Chase is a Grade 1 Steeple Chase that is the feature race on day two of the Festival.
So there you have as much information about betting on the Cheltenham Festival as possible.
We hope your questions have been answered and you are now armed with all the information you need to go forth and place a bet with more confidence and hopefully even bag a win or two!