‘The Greatest Show on Turf’ is the pinnacle of the National Hunt season. The finest horses and jockeys do battle over four scintillating days at the Cheltenham festival, where champions will be made, and legends will be born.
Our Cheltenham betting guide will help you enjoy the spectacular festival and give you all the info you need to unearth the winners. We bring you:
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The festival runs from Tuesday 12th March to Friday 15th March.
250,000 people will descend on the beautiful Cotswolds racecourse in March, combining to create the famous Cheltenham roar as they watch their runners charge up that gruelling hill. You’ll feel like you’re a part of the action when your bets are on and the racing is underway.
Day One is Champions Day, featuring four grade 1 races;
Day Two is Ladies Day where high fashion meets tweed;
Day Three is St Patrick’s Thursday, an Irish celebration typified by the Guinness Village;
Day Four is Gold Cup Day, when the sport’s finest compete for the biggest prize in jumps racing.
Many punters consider Tuesday their favourite day of the festival. Four grade 1 races are complemented by three high-class handicaps in a breath-taking start to the week. The highlight is the helter-skelter of the Champion Hurdle, run over two miles, where Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’Air bids for a hat-trick in 2019 after winning the last two renewals.
|Here’s the full race schedule for the opening day:|
|13.30||The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race||2m 87y||Hurdle|
|14.10||The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase||1m 7f||Chase|
|14.50||The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase||3m abt 1f||Chase|
|15.30||The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy||2m 87y||Hurdle|
|16.10||The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle Race||2m 3f 200y||Hurdle|
|16.50||The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase||2m 4f 44y||Chase|
|17.30||The National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase)||3m 7f 147y||Chase|
The second day at Cheltenham is all about fashion whether its stylish hats for the ladies or tweed jackets for the gentlemen. There’s no official Cheltenham dress code but if you’re a racegoer on Ladies day, make sure you’re dressed in your finest for a thrilling day of racing.
The big race of the day is the Champion Chase where Nicky Henderson is strong-handed again with last year’s winner Altior currently odds-on.
|Here’s your schedule for Day Two at the festival:|
|13.30||The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race||2m 5f||Hurdle|
|14.10||The RSA Insurance Novices’ Steeple Chase||3m 80y||Chase|
|14.50||The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race)||2m 5f||Hurdle|
|15.30||The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase||1m 7f 99y||Chase|
|16.10||The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase||3m 6f 37y||Chase|
|16.50||The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race||2m 87y||Hurdle|
|17.30||The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race)||2m 87y||Bumper|
St Patrick’s Thursday
It doesn’t always fall on St Patrick’s day, but Thursday at the Cheltenham festival is dedicated to Ireland. The drinks always flow in the Guinness village and the Irish raiders love nothing more than a winner on the day.
Top Irish trainer, Willie Mullins has taken the last two renewals of the Stayers’ Hurdle with Nichols Canyon and Penhill, so keep an eye out for Faugheen and the double-seeking Penhill this year.
|St Patrick’s Thursday|
|13.30||The JLT Novices’ Chase||2m 3f 166y||Chase|
|14.10||The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race)||2m 7f 213y||Hurdle|
|14.50||The Ryanair Chase||2m 4f 127y||Chase|
|15.30||The Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle||2m 7f 213y||Hurdle|
|16.10||The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase)||2m 4f 127y||Chase|
|16.50||The Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle||2m 179y||Hurdle|
|17.30||The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase (0-145)||3m 2f||Chase|
Gold Cup Day
The climax of the festival is Gold Cup day, and with £625,000 in prize money on offer, it’s the richest non-handicap chase in jumps racing. The Gold Cup has produced some of racing’s most abiding memories as the greats such as Arkle and Desert Orchid have stormed up the Cheltenham hill.
It’s a special year in 2019 as the original Gold Cup will be awarded to the winner for the first time since the 1970s. The trophy was offered to Cheltenham racecourse by a private owner who had kept it in a bank vault for over four decades. It will now return to its rightful place on the winners’ podium to be awarded each year going forward.
|Here’s the line up for the big day:|
|13.30||The JCB Triumph Hurdle||2m 139y||Hurdle|
|14.10||The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Race||2m 179y||Hurdle|
|14.50||The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race||2m 7f 213y||Hurdle|
|15.30||The Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup||3m 2f 70y||Chase|
|16.10||The St. James’s Place Foxhunter Steeple Chase Challenge Cup||3m 2f 70y||Hurdle|
|16.50||Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase||2m 62y||Chase|
|17.30||Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle||2m 4f 56y||Hurdle|
We’ll keep you up-to-date with the best tips for the festival as our experts seek to uncover the value.
We keep a close eye on the betting and you’ll be the first to know about the latest steamers and market-movers.
You’ll get our latest ante-post tips as Cheltenham approaches and news filters in from around the stables. And we’ll have a full betting guide for each day with our best bets for every race.
Form is hugely important in horse racing, and so are the historical trends that can help you narrow down the field. A look back over previous Cheltenham festival results can give you plenty of pointers to help pick out the winners.
Here’s the last ten year’s results in each of the four big races:
|The Champion Hurdle|
|2018||Buveur d’Air||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty||7||4/6F|
|2017||Buveur d’Air||Nicky Henderson||Noel Fehily||6||5/1|
|2016||Annie Power||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh||8||5/2F|
|2015||Faugheen||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh||7||4/5F|
|2014||Jezki||Jessica Harrington||Barry Geraghty||6||9/1|
|2013||Hurricane Fly||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh||9||13/8F|
|2012||Rock On Ruby||Paul Nicholls||Noel Fehily||7||11/1|
|2011||Hurricane Fly||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh||7||11/4F|
|2010||Binocular||Nicky Henderson||Tony McCoy||6||9/1|
|2009||Punjabi||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty||6||22/1|
|The Champion Chase|
|2018||Altior||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville||8||EvensF|
|2017||Special Tiara||Henry de Bromhead||Noel Fehily||10||11/1|
|2016||Sprinter Sacre||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville||10||5/1|
|2015||Dodging Bullets||Paul Nicholls||Sam Twiston-Davies||7||9/2|
|2014||Sire de Grugy||Gary Moore||Jamie Moore||8||11/4|
|2013||Sprinter Sacre||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty||7||¼|
|2012||Finian’s Rainbow||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty||9||4/1|
|2011||Sizing Europe||Henry de Bromhead||Andrew Lynch||9||10/1|
|2010||Big Zab||Colm Murphy||Barry Geraghty||9||10/1|
|2009||Master Minded||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||6||4/11|
|The Stayers’ Hurdle|
|2018||Penhill||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend||7||12/1|
|2017||Nichols Canyon||Willie Mullins||Ruby Walsh||7||10/1|
|2016||Thistlecrack||Colin Tizzard||Tom Scudamore||8||EvensF|
|2015||Cole Harden||Warren Greatrex||Gavin Sheehan||6||5/2F|
|2014||More Of That||Jonjo O’Neill||Barry Geraghty||6||15/2|
|2013||Solwhit||Charles Byrnes||Paul Carberry||9||17/2|
|2012||Big Buck’s||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||9||5/6|
|2011||Big Buck’s||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||8||10/11|
|2010||Big Buck’s||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||7||5/6|
|2009||Big Buck’s||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||6||6/1|
|The Gold Cup|
|2018||Native River||Colin Tizzard||Richard Johnson||8||5/1|
|2017||Sizing John||Jessica Harrington||Robbie Power||7||7/1|
|2016||Don Cossack||Gordon Elliott||Bryan Cooper||9||9/4F|
|2015||Coneygree||Mark Bradstock||Nico de Boinville||8||7/1|
|2014||Lord Windermere||Jim Culloty||Davy Russell||8||20/1|
|2013||Bobs Worth||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty||8||11/4F|
|2012||Synchronised||Jonjo O’Neill||Tony McCoy||9||8/1|
|2011||Long Run||Nicky Henderson||Sam Waley-Cohen||6||7/2F|
|2010||Imperial Commander||Nigel Twiston-Davies||Paddy Brennan||9||7/4F|
|2009||Kauto Star||Paul Nicholls||Ruby Walsh||9||9/4|
They say that the stats don’t lie, and we’ve picked out some of the most telling Cheltenham trends to help give you the upper hand in the big races.
The Champion Hurdle Winners’ Trends
Of the last twelve winners:
The Champion Chase Winners’ Trends
Of the last twelve winners:
The Stayers’ Hurdle Winners’ Trends
Of the last twelve winners:
The Gold Cup Winners’ Trends
Of the last twelve winners:
Trainer and jockey trends are also worth looking out for as the powerful stables bring out the big guns for the highlight of the jumps season.
As you can see from the table below, Irish trainers Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins have dominated in the handler’s stakes. Top English trainers Nicky Henderson and Paul Nichols have provided the only competition. Ruby Walsh has long-since cemented his position in Cheltenham folklore, and he’s topped the riders’ chart for an incredible 8 of the last 10 years.
|2008 – 2018 Results|
|Year||Top Trainer (wins)||Top Jockey (wins)|
|2018||Gordon Elliott (8)||Davy Russell (4)|
|2017||Gordon Elliott (6)||Ruby Walsh (4)|
|2016||Willie Mullins (7)||Ruby Walsh (7)|
|2015||Willie Mullins (8)||Ruby Walsh (4)|
|2014||Willie Mullins (4)||Ruby Walsh (3)|
|2013||Willie Mullins (5)||Ruby Walsh (4)|
|2012||Nicky Henderson (7)||Barry Geraghty (5)|
|2011||Willie Mullins (4)||Ruby Walsh (5)|
|2010||Nicky Henderson (3)||Ruby Walsh (3)|
|2009||Paul Nichols (5)||Ruby Walsh (7)|
It’s a huge time of year for the bookmakers and there are plenty of free bets for you to claim.
Over £150 million is bet on the Cheltenham Festival each year. The bookies are keen to get a slice of that action and come up with a great variety of different special offers to grab your attention.
You can expect to get some tasty enhanced odds sign-up offers on at least one short-priced favourite. This kind of offer is a good starting point for betting at Cheltenham because it gives you a boost to get you off and running. Stakes are usually limited to £5 or £10, but when you’re getting odds of 4/1 or 5/1 on an odds-on favourite, it’s practically free money.
Most betting sites offer non-runner no bet deals, so you don’t lose out on ante-post bets or late withdrawals. Extra place terms are also common among our best bookies giving you a better chance of a return if your runner comes in 4th or 5th.
We’ve got the best offers from some of the biggest bookmakers for the festival. And we’ll keep you up-to-date with all new promotions in the build-up to the festival.
Claim one of our Cheltenham free bets today and get started.
Over 200,000 pints of Guinness are sunk at the Cheltenham festival, more than 10,000 bottles of Champagne are opened, and over 30,000 hospitality meals are consumed. It’s about much more than just horse racing.
While lots of punters go for the day’s racing, plenty of people enjoy a full Cheltenham racing break to take advantage of the facilities and entertainment at the event.
The Jockey Club offer a whole range of hospitality packages, including hotel stays and helicopter transport to the racecourse.
There are several Michelin star restaurants on the festival grounds and a boutique shopping village. You’ll see live performances from bands in five different locations throughout each day, and of course, there’s the ever-popular Guinness Village.
The cheapest single day tickets to the festival are £41, which gives you access to the Best Mate enclosure. Around £60 will get you into the famous Tattersall’s enclosure where you’ll get a better view of the winning post. And for roughly £90 you can get access to the more exclusive Club enclosure with prime viewing positions of both parade ring and winning post.
If you really want to make it an occasion, you can enjoy fine dining in a private box with a perfect view of the racecourse. However, the top private boxes go for around £900 per person, so you might need to back more than a few winners to pay for it!
Going: The going refers to the official state of the turf on the racecourse. The main categories are firm, good, soft, and heavy. Certain horses prefer to race on firm or soft ground and it can make a big difference to their chances in a race.
Chase: Sometimes referred to as a steeplechase, a chase is a race where horses jump larger rigid obstacles called fences. The fences are a minimum of 4 ½ feet in height.
Hurdle: A hurdle is a race in which horses jump smaller obstacles, usually 3 ½ feet in height.
Bumper: A bumper race is a national hunt flat race for horses who are training to become hurdlers and chasers. The races are generally restricted to four, five, and six-year-olds and run over 1 ½ to 2 ½ miles.
Cross Country: One race each year at Cheltenham is run over the old cross country course. It takes th festival back to its roots, with the race consisting of a variety of natural and man-made obstacles including banks, ditches and hedges.
Stayer: A stayer is a term used to refer to horses that thrive on tests of stamina. In jumps racing, staying races are held over 3 – 4 ½ miles where extreme stamina comes into play.
Novice: A novice is a horse who had not won a race under a particular code (hurdle or chase) prior to the current season. Novice races can be great pointers to future success, with runners in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle often aimed at the following season’s Champion Hurdle. For chasers, the RSA Chase is seen as a stepping stone to the next year’s Gold Cup.
Furlong: A furlong is one eighth of a mile. For example, a 2 ½ mile race is often referred to as a distance of two miles four furlongs.
Handicap: A handicap is a race where horses carry different weights to compensate for their relative ability. Each horse is allotted a rating by the official handicapper which determines the weight it will carry in the race. The aim is to level the playing field and make the race more competitive.
Each-way bet: An each-way bet is when your stake is split into two bets, one backing the horse to win and one backing it to place in the race. A place means finishing in the first 2 – 5 of a race, depending on the number of runners. If your horse places, you will be paid out at a quarter or a fifth of the odds. If it wins, both parts of your bet are paid out.
Blinkers: Blinkers are a type of headgear worn by horse to restrict their peripheral view and help them to concentrate on the race.
Steamer: A ‘steamer’ is a horse who is being continually backed in the betting markets causing its odds to shrink in the build-up to the race. The opposite is a ‘drifter’ – a horse whose odds get larger because it is not being backed.
Market-mover: A ‘market-mover’ can be a steamer or a drifter – it refers to a horse whose odds are changing due to the amount of money being bet on the race.
Ante-post: The ‘post time’ is the start of the race. Ante-post bets refer to wagers placed at least a day in advance of the race, sometimes months beforehand.
Non-runner no bet: This is a deal offered by several bookmakers. If your horse doesn’t run in the race for any reason, your bet is refunded. It’s useful for ante-post bets where a horse might get injured before the big day and be unable to race.
Extra place terms: Another deal offered by bookmakers, extra place terms means your each-way bets will be paid for an extra finishing position in the race. For example, if the top three places are paid out in a race, a bookie offering extra place terms will pay out for the first four finishers.
The Jockey Club expects over 260,000 people to attend the festival over the course of the four days in March 2019. The average attendance is 65,000 per day while the maximum capacity on Gold Cup day is 70,000.
The first official Cheltenham Festival was held in 1911. It was originally named the National Hunt Meeting and had regularly changed venue since the first National Hunt Chase was run in 1860. The meeting settled at Cheltenham in 1911 after an agreement between the National Hunt Committee and the Steeplechase Company, and it has remained at Cheltenham’s Prestbury Park ever since.
The prize fund for the 2019 Gold Cup is a whopping £625,000. In addition, the original Gold Cup will also be awarded to the winner this year after its return to the racecourse. It will be mounted on a plinth bearing the name of every horse to have won the famous race.
The top two trainers in the history of Cheltenham are Willie Mullins (61 winners) and Nicky Henderson (60 winners). Both have great chances to add to their numbers at the 2019 Festival. The leading jockey is Ruby Walsh, with 58 winners to date at the Cheltenham Festival. His partnership with Willie Mullins is one to watch again this year.
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