The Cheltenham Festival – The ‘How To’ Guide

How to bet on the 2018 Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham 2018 Betting
The Cheltenham Festival is more popular than it has ever been and the spectacle of the finest national hunt racehorses battling up the famous ‘Cheltenham hill’ before tens of thousands of racegoers in full cry is truly a sight to behold.

Make no mistake, the Cheltenham Festival is a betting feast.  Unlike Royal Ascot, where pomp and ceremony comes hand and velvet glove with champagne and fiver bets, most people bet on the Cheltenham Festival in serious way.

It is estimated that around £600 million will be bet on the 2018 Cheltenham Festival and the online bookmakers have made it very simple to place a bet at Cheltenham 2018.

Online you will find dedicated ‘Cheltenham Festival’ micro sites featuring simple-step betting options. That’s not to say you cannot bet on the Cheltenham Festival in ways far more elaborate than straight-forward win and each-way bets.  Multiple and exotic bets are not only accepted, they are encouraged.

Cheltenham Festival Form & Form Guides

When it comes to National Hunt racing at the highest echelon, all roads lead to Cheltenham and every race during the season beforehand is pretty much considered to be a prep-race by the form experts who dissect form and results under a microscope.

Unlike the Grand National, that other jump racing betting feast, the average punter will be pretty clued-up when it comes to assessing horses chances and therefore the dumbed-down newspaper pull-outs are not exactly an idiot’s guide.

In fact, as most newspapers and major online sites have exclusivity agreements with jockeys and trainers (Nicky Henderson with Unibet, Gordon Elliott with Betfair for example), you can learn plenty from these Cheltenham form guides.

Of course you can do the leg-work yourself and burn the midnight oil while swotting up on past results, either in the form books or by video form guides which the major bookmakers now archive.

Cheltenham Betting Tips for 2018 Feature Races

Cheltenham Betting Options

You can bet on the Cheltenham Festival in dozens of different ways.  Traditional win and each-way bet options have been joined by ‘place only’ betting as popular options in recent years but Cheltenham being Cheltenham, bookmakers tend to push their boat out so far it floats in the Pacific Ocean.

This is one of the few occasions during the year when the Tote pools will be brimming with cash and landing an exotic Tote bet could see you residing on your own private island.  A Scoop6 bet is in operation for each of the four Cheltenham Festival days, as is a Jackpot, Quadpot and the ever-popular Placepot.

Traditional forecasts and tricasts are also likely to yield big dividends but, for the most part, the bookmakers biggest liabilities will be in multiple bets such as Lucky 15’s, Luck 31’s and Lucky 63’s.  These multi-leg bets are a favourite with people who like to support one jockey or one trainer in the weeks biggest races.

And online sportsbooks, keen to keep your loyalty for the entire four days of action will be giving away Cheltenham free bets aplenty.  Be sure to lookout for their Cheltenham free bet offers which can add up to be worth a pretty penny and may be the difference between winning and losing at the end of the 28 race feast.

Understanding the Cheltenham Odds

The glory of the Cheltenham Festival is the build-up.  The moment the horses cross the line in the main ‘Championship races’ betting markets are in place for the following year’s renewal.

Around the turn of Christmas bookmakers tend to remove the ‘ante post’ rules from these markets (meaning if your horse does not run you lose your money) and make them ‘Non Runner No Bet’ (NRNB).  This sees betting on the main Cheltenham races go into a frenzy and Cheltenham betting odds can and do fluctuate wildly as trainers make form plans as to what race their horses will be aimed at.

Unquestionably betting early will give you the best chance of getting the best prices and in this day and age of ‘ Best Odds Guaranteed’ you would be mad not to take an early fixed-price. There is nothing to be gained (and a lot to lose) by simply placing your bets at SP. (Starting Price)

Keep your eyes peeled for ‘Price Boosts’ offered by the major online bookmakers and, naturally, always shop around for the best Cheltenham betting odds as this will definitely increase your chances of winning in the long run.

And don’t forget many online sportsbooks will offer Cheltenham free bet concessions for people unlucky enough to have their horse beaten in a photo or simply finish second to the SP favourite.

How to Find a Cheltenham Winner

Unquestionably the major ‘Championship races’ and the novice races are the easiest place to identify Cheltenham winners.   As every horse carries the same weight it is far easier to assess each runner’s chances.

The handicaps are where things get really tricky.  One thing is certain, find a winner in some of these big-field handicap races and you are sure to be handsomely rewarded as double-digit priced winners are commonplace.

In the championship races and novice hurdles there are some rules you should stick to, namely a horse with:

  • Recent winning form
  • Course & distance form
  • Winner of the corresponding race last year
  • Or winner at the previous year’s Festival
  • Hailing from a top yard

As for those notoriously difficult handicap races, following the weight of money is not a bad system.  Most definitely lookout for horses with a progressive profile and stay away from exposed types.

Betting Smart at the Cheltenham Festival – Tips & Tricks

As Cheltenham betting tips are plentiful, and this meeting represents the biggest feast of sport gambling you will find anywhere, you have a classic marketplace scenario where shopping around will guarantee you some outstanding bargains.

Betting margins are notoriously small (that’s the percentage points bookmakers have in their favour) at the Cheltenham Festival and with odds boost, money back concessions, exchange betting and Tote betting, there are very real opportunities to turn those percentages around to be in your favour.

As a rule of thumb it is often best to bet on the big priced horses on a Betting Exchange like Betfair, or into the Tote pools which you can do via all the major online bookmakers.

Conversely, if you are backing a horse towards the head of the betting the ‘Fixed Odds’ option is best as you can benefit from several Cheltenham betting offers such as:

  • Best Odds Guaranteed
  • First Past the Post
  • Money Back as a Cheltenham Festival free bet

Cheltenham Festival Q & A’s

When is the Cheltenham Festival?

March 13th to 16th inclusive.  The highlight of the opening day is the Unibet Champion Hurdle, the showpiece Cheltenham Gold Cup is on the final day.

How Can I Watch the Action?

If you want to see the action live you are best advised to buy your tickets from the racecourse in advance.  Gold Cup day is sure to be sold out so tickets will not be available on the day.

But most will watch the action on TV with ITV being the official broadcaster.  Specialist subscription horseracing channel, Racing UK, will also be represented at the racecourse and they always deliver a quality production.  If you just want to watch the racing you can do so through all the major bookmakers who make live pictures available to their customers who place a bet of £1 or more.

What is a Starting Price?

Commonly referred to as an SP, a Starting Price is the odds a horse was trading when the race began.  All horses in all races, win or lose, will have an official SP and it is the price you will receive about your selection unless you have taken an agreed price or ‘fixed odds’.

What are Fixed Odds Bets?

If you are having a bet on the Cheltenham Festival as a novice you will probably place single and each-way bets.  With these and most bets placed via an online bookmaker you can take an agreed price, ‘fixed odds’ about your selection(s).  This is an agreed price which any potential winnings will be paid out.  It is a little like taking out a ‘fixed-rate’ mortgage as opposed to a ‘variable’ mortgage.

However, bookmaking has changed in recent times and in this modern era punters have protection of ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ which means if a horse starts at a price bigger than the odds which you struck your bet, these are the odds you will receive. So, if you take a ‘fixed odds’ price of 12/1 and your selection wins at 16/1, you will receive £16 in winnings and not £12.

What’s the Most Likely Way to Show a Profit?

There are 28 races to bet on at the Cheltenham Festival but, while bookmakers are obliged to accept wagers on them all, you can pick and choose which ones to invest your money on.

This allows you to be selective and only place bets on strong fancies in the races which are conceived to be easier to find a winner:  The Supreme Novices Hurdle, Champion Hurdle, Neptune Novices Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers Hurdle and Triumph Hurdle.  However, easier to pinpoint winners invariably means shorter prices and, in turn, smaller returns. Alternatively you could tackle some of the big handicap races and back several runners.

It is all a case of what you want to achieve; small winnings and limited risk or huge potential winnings with a likelihood of a total loss?  If you are happy to opt for the latter Jackpots, Placepots, trebles, accumulators and notoriously difficult tricasts are for you.

Are There any Other Cheltenham Bets to Consider?

Every year there are more and more Cheltenham betting markets on offer.  Irish trained horses have become prevalent during the past decade which means the Prestbury Cup (an award given to the country, England or Ireland, which trains the most winners) is a keenly contested accolade and an increasing popular betting medium.  Ireland won ‘the Cup’ in 2017.

In a similar theme you can back on the number of Irish trained winners, who will be the leading owner, trainer and jockey plus the number of winners individual trainers will supply.