The Cheltenham Festival has been running annually since 1911 at the famous Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, England, and next year's event will aim to be the best yet, with four epic days of National Hunt racing between March 12 and 15 2019. Thanks to the combination of reputation, prize money, media coverage and big fields, the Cheltenham Festival remains the highlight of the National Hunt season for horses, jockeys, trainers and horse racing gamblers.
In addition to a six or seven cracking races to bet on each day, there's also the ante-post market to consider throughout the jumps season, plus a lot of special Cheltenham Festival offers from bookmakers. With a frantic four days of action, understanding Cheltenham odds, finding the best Cheltenham Festival betting odds and wagering on the top Cheltenham betting markets is crucial for punting success.
Understanding Cheltenham Odds
The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest week of the NH horse racing season for bookmakers as well as bettors, so the Cheltenham odds on offer are extensive with UK bookies on the internet. The main markets for Cheltenham are the ante-post odds, along with regular race day odds. The ante-post Cheltenham markets refer to betting on the race throughout the season, when some enticing odds are available due to all the variables that can happen during the build-up to the Festival.
Cheltenham has a very strong and popular ante-post odds market, because all the big stables are aiming their horses for The Festival. Once the final declarations have been made, ante-post betting closes and the bookies start pricing-up the races in standard fashion. However, the range of bets and special Cheltenham Festival markets available, are extensive.
Finding the Best Cheltenham Festival Betting Odds
Ante-post Cheltenham Festival odds are freely available virtually all year round since the markets are created shortly after a Festival finishes and updated as the contenders' form develops. Closer to the starter's orders, the markets for the week's races and Cheltenham odds are all available well in advance at all the leading online bookmakers.
However, the frantic action of Cheltenham Festival week means that the odds can move fast, making a site like bookmakers.co.uk a very useful punting tool to compare odds and find the best betting value. Cheltenham bookies run a huge range of special bonuses and free betting offers, which are often well worth taking advantage of.
Top Cheltenham Betting Markets to Consider
There are 28 races spread across four days at the Festival, with a full selection of tricky handicaps, intriguing novice races and the four feature events - The Champion Hurdle, The Stayers Hurdle, The Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup. Focussing on some of the top Cheltenham betting markets is worth particular consideration:
Ante-post Cheltenham odds
Using your own eagle eye, in addition to reading expert opinion and trainer updates, can give you a potential edge when it comes to taking Cheltenham odds months in advance of the Festival. For example, the 2019 Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy was backable at 6/1 before the start of the new NH season; if he performs well over the winter, he's likely to go off at a significantly shorter price. The risk of ante-post Cheltenham bets is the chance of injuries, a loss of form, or being a non-runner. However, with big odds available, a few ante-post Festival bets can be worth a flutter.
Cheltenham 'banker bets'
While the Cheltenham Festival is ultra-competitive, it also contains more than a few races where the favourites have excellent chances. While it's wise to carefully analyse the hype, there's plenty of expert information available which can guide you towards the favourites that look like legitimate 'bankers'. It's popular - and wise - to back these favourites in multiple bets, like doubles and trebles.
Dutching races & EW odds
Big fields frequently mean that even the favourites in many Cheltenham Festival races are 5/1 or bigger odds. While it might not be an easy task to pick all the winners, the value odds make for some nice each-way bets, in addition to the strategy of backing 2/4 horses in a race at big odds, with a split stake.
The Gold Cup odds
Since the year 2000, only one horse with an SP of over 8/1 has won the flagship race of the week, The Cheltenham Gold Cup: Lord Windermere at 20/1 in 2014. That makes it a potentially punter-friendly race to bet on since it’s generally won by one of the top three in the market. It's then usually a case of analysing which fancied horse is the one to back.