Betting On Cheltenham Festival And Guide – 12th, 13th, 14th & 15th March 2019
The Grand National main competitor concerning jump race is the Cheltenham Festival. This is a meeting of races that culminate with the Gold Cup that is the main race on the final day of the meeting. The Cheltenham Festival is a week full of racing for those people that are passionate about the sport. Surely you can also enjoy it if you are not a true racing lover but for those that are the excitement is increased exponentially.
The main thing that makes Cheltenham Festival so popular is that is a proper feast of racing. The Gold Cup is the tipping point, but it is only one part of it. Over the years it has become more and more popular, and now the meeting begins on Tuesday until Friday with some top races in the schedule. The Cheltenham Festival is without doubts one of the most thrillings periods of competitive racing in the world: from the Champions Day opening events through to Gold Cup Day on Friday with Ladies Day and St. Patrick’s Day that are in the middle.
In this guide, we will tell you all you need to know about the Cheltenham Festival and how can you get the most of your bets. You will learn why the Gold Cup is such an important race for Jump and also what you should expect from the whole week. This is probably the most comprehensive guide on betting on Cheltenham so sit back and good reading!
Cheltenham Festival Race Card & Day Guides
Surely everyone is looking forward to the Gold Cup, but this is a Festival, and there are fantastic races all the way through the week. Cheltenham Festival is not only about the Gold Cup as there are some brilliant days of racing that cannot be underestimated. Below we have looked at all the days of the Cheltenham Festival with a guide, so you know what to expect from them.
Day One – Champion Day
1st Race 13:30
Last Race 17:30
Main Race Champion Hurdle
The first day of the Cheltenham Festival revolves around the Champion Hurdle which gives the name of the day. March can be a little chilly at Cheltenham so make sure you wear something appropriate. You can wear almost anything you want, but generally, you would expect to wear a suit if you are a gentleman and a dress if you are a lady. Below we have taken a look at the racing and please bear in mind that timings can always slightly change:
1:30 pm (Race 1) Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The famous Cheltenham Roar will get the meeting started. This is a Grade 1 race that is open to horses that are aged four and over. It is run on the Old Course, and it is over two miles, eighty-seven yards. Horses will have to overcome eight hurdles with fillies and mares that are usually given a seven-pound allowance. All weights are ten stone and thirteen pounds with the five-year-old that are allowed up to eleven stone and seven pounds.
2.10 pm (Race 2) Arkle Steeple Chase
This is another Grade 1 race that is run on the Old Course. It is named after the horse that won three times the Gold Cup in the 1960s, and it is open to five-year-olds and up. Weight allowance is eleven stone and four pounds with mares that get an extra seven pounds. All horses have to be novice chasers. Thirteen fences need to be jumped, and it is run over one mile, seven furlongs and one-hundred and ninety-nine yards.
2.50 pm Festival Trophy Handicap Chase
This is the third race of the day, and it is a handicap chase that is lasting for three miles and one furlong. It is a Grade 3 race that has twenty fences to be jumped. If you are going to bet on the Grand National you want to keep an eye on this one: usually, the winner is made one of the favourites for the big Aintree race.
3.30 pm (Race 4) Champion Hurdle
This is the primary race of day 1, and it is not surprising as the entire day is named after. The Champion Hurdle is run over two miles and eighty-seven yards with eight hurdles that have to be negotiated. It is a race open to horses of four years and more. Four years old have a weight of eleven stone and two pounds while over five can be eleven stone and ten pounds. Fillies and mares have an allowance of seven pounds. The winner of this Grade 1 race is also the Champion of the Hurdles Division for that year.
4.10 pm (Race 5) Mares’ Hurdle
This is a hurdle event for mares as you can see from the title. Horses can have four years old and more, and the entry weight is ten stone and ten pounds. It was promoted to Grade 1 status in 2015 and has nine hurdles to be jumped over its two miles, three-furlong and two-hundred-yard distance. This is one of the Festival’s newest races as it was established only in 2008.
4.50 pm (Race 6) National Hunt Chase
Riders for this race has to be amateur jockeys on the back of novice chasers. This is a Grade 2 race and has twenty-four fences, and it is over four miles. Horses taking part in this race has to be five-years-old and also have a weight of eleven stone and six pounds. Mares get a seven pounds allowance.
5.30 pm Race (7) Novices’ Handicap Chase
This is the race that closes Day One of the Festival. It is a handicap chase for novices and it is run over two miles and four and a half furlongs. There are six fences to overcome along the way. Horses have to be five or older and also have a rating of 0 to 140 in their handicap. This race was added in 2005 when the Cheltenham Festival was expended into the fourth day. Back in 2011 was moved from Day Three to Day One.
Day Two – Ladies Day
1st Race 13:30
Last Race 17:15
Main Race QM Champion Chase
If you want to see beautiful dresses and girls that are having fun you have to head to the Cheltenham Festival on Day Two. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the primary race of the Ladies Day of the festival, and it is not unfrequent to see a few Royals wondering the course.
There is a Best Dressed competition with girls competing for a £10,000 prize. It is suggested that you dress comfortably but make sure you do your best to impress. Below we have presented all the races of the day (bear in mind timings might change slightly):
1.30 pm Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle
This race in the honour of ‘Baring Bingham’ is open to horses that are four-year-old novices and up. The weight can be ten stone twelve and a bit more if they are older then four. This Grade 1 race takes place over two miles and five furlongs and has 10 hurdles that will challenge horses. This race tends to give a good insight on the horses that will do well in the following season’s World Hurdle.
2.10pm (Race 2) Novices’ Chase
This Grade 1 race is run over three miles and one-hundred and ten yards. Horses have to overcome nineteen different fences, and it is open to novice chasers who are five-years-old and older.
Weight wise horses can be of eleven stone and two pounds and a bit more if they are six or older. It is worth noting that some of the winners of this race have gone on to win the Gold Cup the following year.
2.50pm (Race 3) Coral Cup
This race has been run since 1993 and always sponsored by Coral as per the name. It is a Grade 3 race that is open to horses that are four and over, and it lasts for two miles and five furlongs with ten hurdles to jump. It is a handicap race.
3.30pm Queen Mother Champion Chase
This is the feature race of the second day. It was known as the National Hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase until the name was changed in 1980. It is a Grade 1 steeplechase that was established in 1959 and run over two miles with 12 fences that have to be jumped. It is opened to horses that are five or over and weights can be eleven stone and ten pounds with mares that are given an allowance of seven pounds.
4.10pm (Race 5) Cross Country Chase
This cross-country chase lasts for three miles and seven furlongs over the Cross Country Course. There are thirty-two obstacles of different shapes and sizes that horses will have to go over during the running of the race. It is a race for five-year-olds and older and was a handicap race until 2016. It then became a conditions race with a weight that is added to the horses depending on weight, age and sex. It was first run in 2005 which was the year that the Cheltenham Festival was extended to 4 days.
4.50pm Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
This is a Grade 3 handicap hurdle race that is open to juveniles (four-year-old novices and up). It is also a race that was added in 2005 when the fourth day of the festival was created. There are eight hurdles that have to be overcome. The race is run over two miles and ten yards. The race has been named after a former successful Cheltenham Festival jockey, Fred Winter.
5.30pm (Race 7) Champion Bumper
This is a race that is dedicated to horses that are aged four to six. It is a bumper which is another name for a flat race and for this reason, there are no hurdles in this case. It is run over two miles and one-hundred and ten yards. Horses that are four-year-olds can weight ten stone and eleven pounds while five and six years olds are going up to eleven stones and five pounds. This race was established in 1992, and it is one of the most important flat race in the National Hunt calendar.
Day Three – St. Patrick’s Day
1st Race 13:30
Last Race 17:30
Main Race Stayers’ Hurdle
As the name indicates, St. Patrick’s Day is the day for a fun, laughter and of course a few pints of Guinness. The Irish are close to the Cheltenham Festival since Cottage Rake won the Gold Cup in 1948 and Day 3 is celebrating the Emerald Isle. As for any day at the Cheltenham Festival, we have some brilliant racing actions:
1.30pm Golden Miller Novices’ Chase
This race is named after one of the most successful horses at the Cheltenham Festival, Golden Miller. It was established in 2011 as a Grade 2 race, but in 2014 it was promoted to Grade 1. It is open to novice horses that are aged five and over, and it lasts for two miles and four furlongs. It is the first race of the Cheltenham Festival that is run on the New Course and five years olds can weight eleven stones and three pounds. Older horses can go up to eleven stones and four pounds. Horses will need to overcome seventeen fences to have a chance to win this opening race.
2.10pm (Race 2) Pertemps Handicap Hurdle
This race is run over three miles, and horses have to overcome twelve hurdles. This handicap Listed race was established in 1974 and entrants can be five or older. It is interesting to note that favourites do generally not win this race.
2.50pm (Race 3) Festival Trophy
This is also known as the Ryanair Chase it is run over two miles and five furlongs. It is a Grade 1 race as it was upgraded in 2008 and there are seventeen testing fences for horses to overcome. It is a race that is open to five-year-olds and up and the weight is eleven stone and nine pounds (eleven stone and ten pounds if the horse is over six). Usually, horses that do well in this race will go on to compete in the Gold Cup in the next years
3.30pm (Race 4) Stayers’ Hurdle
The Stayers’ Hurdle is one of the most important races of Day Three. It takes place over three miles and has twelve hurdles for horses to jump. This race has a long history as it was firstly established in 1912. It is a Grade 1 race, and it was moved to St. Patrick’s Day in 1993 as before was either on Day One or Two of the Festival.
4.10pm Stable Plate Handicap Chase
This Grade 3 race is run over two miles and five furlongs, and it is open to horses that are five-year-old and up. It is a handicap race that has seventeen fences.
4.50pm (Race 6) Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
This race is named after Dawn Run which became popular at the Cheltenham Festival after he won the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup in the 1980s. This race is open to horses that are aged four and up and it is run over two miles and one furlong with eight jumps to be contemplated. It was first run only in 2016, so it is by far the youngest race at the Cheltenham Festival.
5.30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup
This race closes Day Three, and it is open to Amateur riders that have horses aged five or over. It is a handicap race with nineteen fences to jump over three miles and one-and-a-half furlongs. Fulke Walwyn’s name was in 1991 to remember a trainer who managed 211 victories at Cheltenham in his life.
Day Four – Gold Cup Day
1st Race 13:30
Last Race 17:30
Main Race Gold Cup
As you probably know this is the most important day of the Cheltenham Festival. As we have seen, we have few days of brilliance at the Festival, but surely there are no races that capture the imagination like the Gold Cup. The crowd you will find at Cheltenham on Day Four reflect this as you have plenty of knowledgeable punters mixed with rich and famous. This is the plan for the day:
1.30pm (Race 1) Triumph Hurdle
This Grade 1 race is for horses that are aged four or more. As the other races on Days Three and Four, this is run on the New Course. There are eight hurdles that horses will have to overcome over a distance of two miles and one furlong. This is, therefore, the number one race for juveniles in the UK. This race was firstly established in 1939 at Surrey’s Hurst Park and moved in Cheltenham in 1965. It is open to novice hurdles only, and it is a great way to start the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.
2.10pm (Race 2) County Handicap Hurdle
This is a handicap race that is run over eight hurdles, and it is open to horses that are aged five and older. It is a Grade 3 race that was firstly introduced in 1920. It is over two miles and one furlong, and in the past, it was the last race of the Cheltenham Festival. In 2009 it was moved to the current position.
2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
This race was introduced in 2005 when the meeting was expanded to four days. It is a Grade 1 race that is for four-year-olds and up. It is run over three miles and has twelve hurdles that have to be jumped. As the name indicates, it is a Grade 2 ace which was given the new status in 2008.
3.30pm The Cheltenham Gold Cup
This is the race everyone has been waiting for: the Gold Cup. It is run over three miles and two and a half furlongs and has twenty-two fences. It is open to horses that are aged five and over and have a weight of eleven stone and eight pounds. If the horse is aged six or over can weight eleven stone and ten pounds. The Gold Cup was established in 1819; however, the race that is run today has stronger links with the one that was introduced in 1924. The Gold Cup is the most important non-handicap chase in Britain and was initially run on the Old Course before being moved to the New in 1959. As you would expect this is a Grade 1 race.
4.10pm (Race 5) Foxhunter Chase
The most anticipated race of the entire week is followed by an ungraded race for amateur jockeys with horses aged five or older. This race was established in 1904: horses will need to do well in the previous year to qualify for this competition. It is open to horses aged six and more, and it is run over precisely the same three miles and two and a half furlongs as the Gold Cup. Also, there are the same twenty-two fences to overcome.
4.50pm (Race 6) Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Martin Pipe has recorded 24 wins at Cheltenham, and when he retired in 2006, it made sense to dedicate a race to him. This race was established in 2009, and it is a handicap race for conditional jockeys. The race is over two miles and four and a half furlong, and it is for apprentice jockeys. There are nine hurdles to go over before reaching the final furlong.
5.30pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase
Gold Cup day and also the Cheltenham Festival ends with two miles and half a furlong chase. It is a handicap race for horses that are aged five and more and has fourteen jumps over the course. This Grade 3 race was firstly established in 1834, and it is the oldest race that is run during the Festival week. It was moved to the current slot on Day Four in 2009 and changed the name in 2005, after the pass of favourite trainer Johnny Henderson.
Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide
It Is Best To Bet In Shop or Online?
If you are interested in betting on the Cheltenham Festival, the first thing you want to establish is if you’re going to bet in a shop or bet online. We do suggest betting online as you will also get some additional benefits that are not common for high street betting. Some of those are:
– Welcome free bet and introductory bonus offers that are not available in store (see here full list)
– Enhanced place terms: you usually will find 1/4 odds and extra places as standard in the majority of bookmakers)
– Faller insurance: this and other money back insurance offers can add significant value to your bets.
– Non-runner no bet with the majority of the best bookmakers ante-post. Sometimes you also get best odds guaranteed ante-post.
– Instant payouts: money will be credited in the account immediately without the need to show up in a betting shop
– Form, stats and news items: most bookmakers will offer excellent betting information completely free of charge directly on their websites.
– Free bet clubs and other loyalty offers: you can get a lot of your stakes back in free funds by taking advantage of those retention offers.
– The range of depositing options: you have lots of different ways to deposit your money while in the shop you are limited to cash or card.
– Watch races in live stream: you can watch races directly from the bookmakers’ websites at no extra costs.
– See your bet history. You will not be able to lose your winning bet slip!
When to Bet: Better Ante-Post Or On The Day?
In general, it is suggested to bet on horse races on the day of the event as you have better security as non-runner no bet (NRNB) and best odds guarantees (BOG) are generally not extended to ante-post bets. Entries are more or less final at that point which means that there are fewer risks that you are going to back a horse that doesn’t run.
If this is the general rule, it doesn’t necessarily apply to ante-post betting on the Cheltenham Festival. Since this is one of the most significant horse racing meetings in the UK, the majority of top betting sites are also going the extra mile to offer additional benefits that are generally not available over the rest of the year.
For example, you will be able to find non-runner no bet, 1/4 place odds and even best odds guaranteed extended to ante-post bets on all 28 Cheltenham Festival races, usually already two months before the start of the meeting: this makes betting early on the event a lot more appealing as it takes away most of the risks involved.
One of the reasons why ante-post betting is appealing is that you could find very good odds on horses before they become popular. If, for example, you have noticed a horse in good shape early in the jump season and want to back them at Cheltenham, before the others will and reduce the price, then betting ante-post is the way to go.
The main risk is that the horse will not run so if you are betting for example in January with a betting site that does not have Not Running Not Bet offer you will lose your stake. Even if you have an NRNB offer, you will still need to replace your bets at a later stage which can cause issues if you have a few of them.
In some cases, extra place and better place odds are offered by betting sites on the day of the event so you will need to wait to get the best each-way options. Ante-post bets are also not likely to qualify for other offers like faller insurance, money back 2nd, win bonuses and so on.
When To Find The Best Prices?
If you are planning to back a horse to win, then you can look around to find the best odds for the selection you have picked. It is crucial that you make sure you are betting with a bookmaker that is offering the best odds guaranteed: you can then take the fixed price knowing that if the starting price is higher, you will be given the better price. It might be a bit difficult to find a bookmaker that is offering the best odds guaranteed ante-post, but around Cheltenham, there will be similar opportunities.
If you are planning to get excellent odds, you should be looking for unknown and up and coming entrants. The closer you get to the race and the more likely the odds are going to shorten as punters start to place some big bets behind it. Placing bets very early is a risky business as if your horse has a terrible season or it gets injured then you might find yourself exposed. Generally, if you are thinking to place a bet ante-post, you should look to do so in January as top betting sites will launch non-runner no bet offers that will guarantee in case your horse will not run at Cheltenham. If you are going to bet each-way than there are other things to consider that we have listed below.
How To Get The Best Each-Way Terms
There are two main things you need to consider when backing a horse each way: the place odds and the number of places. It is important to check those carefully as they can add serious value to your bets. If you are going to back a horse to place but you believe it is unlikely that he will win then you want to make sure you get the best place terms. If you think the horse will win, but you are covering yourself in case he will place, then you should optimise for a win payout.
Usually, you will get better place terms if you bet on the day of the event: this is when bookmakers are pushing as hard as they can to attract the majority of customers. If a race ante-post is paying three places each way, you can expect to find four places or even five on the day. Also, you can expect to find more 1/4 odds for a place offers as close as you get to the race.
Taking Advantage Of Added Value Existing Customer Offers
Around Cheltenham, you will be offered some offers from bookmakers to reward loyalty: those will be particularly useful to add value if you bet on races regularly. If you think that the Cheltenham Festival is made of 28 top-level races, it makes complete sense to take advantage of such existing customers offers.
Bookmakers have lower costs in running a website vs a betting shop, and this is the reason why lots of offers that are available on betting sites are not available offline. You will be able to get free bets, money back and insurance deals online especially around top events like the Cheltenham Festival. Those offers are part of the retention deals to ensure you stay with the betting site long-term. It is always important you are familiar with the offer you are being given so make sure to check the terms and condition, so you know what you are getting and how to get it.
Over Cheltenham, bookies are going the extra mile as the competition is particularly intense and they usually run these promotions even at a loss to the betting site. The rationale behind this is that they know that a lot of genuine punters are betting on Cheltenham and they are prepared to take a loss in the short-term in the hope that you will stick around and place future bets with them.
We do strongly suggest you spend some time to check what you are being offered and take full advantage of those promotions. There are all sorts around the Cheltenham Festival, and those are some examples: Faller insurance, money back second, or even money back if you lose, racing free bets and bonuses, best odds guaranteed, odds boosts and price boosts and free bet clubs. If you are a tote punter, you will also find excellent totepool deals around the Cheltenham Festival.
It is important to know that lots of these promotions will pay returns in free bet or bonus tokens: this means that you won’t be allowed to withdraw those winnings until you meet the wagering requirements. In some cases, though you are being given actual cash back.
However, even if you are given free bets and bonuses, those will over time result in more cash winnings so they will still add value to your betting. Usually, if the odds are the same, always go for those bookmakers that have an insurance or extra winning deal.
It also makes sense to have many online betting accounts open so that you will not only be able to get more welcome free bets deals but also you can compare on a bet by bet basis and ensure you are betting with the bookmaker that have better odds for that particular selection.
In our betting offer section, you will be able to get all the details of the different types of offers available.
Form, Statistics, Results, News And Blog Features
As we are getting closer to the Cheltenham Festival, the odds tend to better reflect the chances that a horse has to win the race. Although this is true in general, we have to remember that horse racing is a very variable sport and concerning results, the favourites only win less than a quarter of races on average.
For this reason, if you are betting well in advance ante-post or ten minutes before the race having all of the kind of information is very important. Lots of top bookmakers like William Hill, Betfair, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred can provide all sorts of information, news, statistics, tips form and results on horse racing. Everything is easily accessible from the websites, and the services are entirely free of charge. Making the best use of all those information will result in increasing the chances of winning your horse racing bets.
Live Betting, Cash Out & Live Streaming
One of the best things about betting online is that you can do everything in just a few seconds. Differently from a betting shop where you have to allow at least five minutes as sometimes there is a queue at the counter, when you bet online you can do so even in the last second before the race is started. Some betting sites also offer the opportunity to bet after the race has begun especially on those races that are quite long. In principle, however, you could potentially wait to see how things are going at the first fence before committing.
The vast majority of betting sites do also provide live streaming on all UK and Irish racing at the very least. To be able to access you merely need to bet at least £1 on the race.
Another significant advantage of betting online is that you don’t have to wait until the race is completed to cash out your bet: bear in mind you will get a worse payout if you decide to use cash out and that it might only be available up to a certain point in the race. It is, however, a functionality that, if used well, can save some losses: for example, if you think your horse has started to fast you can cash out and usually around 30% of your winnings. If you are right and your horse will get tired, then you have made a right decision however if your horse will go on and win you could have won more. This functionality it basically gives you more power and also add a different tactical dimension to betting which is not available offline.
Also, consider that cash out functionality can be used before a race is run to lock a profit: let’s imagine that you are backing a horse at 25/1 on ante-post three months before the Festival. It is possible that the selection you have picked has become more popular and the price has shortened to 10/1. If you cash out, you will secure profit even before the race has started.
How To Bet
Cheltenham Racecourse Guide
Now that you have learned a lot about the history of the Cheltenham Festival, it makes sense for you to learn a bit more about the location where this great festival is taking place.
Cheltenham Racecourse Area
It is important to know that Days One and Two see most races run on the Old Course, while Days Three and Four the actions are on the New Course. The Old Course has the form of an oval shape and has six hurdles and nine fences. The New Course also has an oval shape but it one mile five furlongs in length (The Old Course is one mile four furlongs) and has a two-hundred and twenty-yard run-in. The New Course also has six hurdles and thirteen fences.
Although knowing the size and shape of the two racing tracks is essential when you are placing your bets, it is irrelevant when you are looking to buy your tickets. At the Cheltenham Festival there are three main enclosures you can choose from:
This is where the best seats are located: you can either get to the grandstand’s viewing steps and lawn to get closer to the action or you can look at the horse’s before the race in the Paddock. You can also get to the Winner’s Enclosure after the race to see how the horse is doing and also check the jockey’s mood to see if he can head straight back and win again.
This is where the action happens. With a Tattersalls ticket, you will be able to use the Tattersalls grandstand and also Club tickets give you access to the like of the Paddock and the Winner’s Enclosure. In addition to that, you will also be able to access The Centaur and the racecourse’s Hall of Fame where you will see photographs and history of previous years Cheltenham Festival.
This enclosure is named after the horse that won three Gold Cups between 2002 and 2004. It is situated directly opposite the racecourse’s main grandstand, and it has a perfect view without the big price tag. It was opened in 2004, so it is one of the most modern of the racecourse. The main difference is that a ticket in this area won’t include the access to the Parade Ring.
As you would expect there are lots of different hospitality options at Cheltenham Racecourse. You can get private boxes, Long Run boxes, and so on. If you want to impress clients or friends, you can go for the Parade Ring viewing boxes that overlook the Paddock and Parade Ring. There are also a lot more options, but this will give you an idea of what is possible.
Cheltenham Courses And Fences
The Cheltenham Festival is a top event in the jump racing calendar: for this reason, there are lots of fences in the racecourse. They do not present the same challenge as the ones in Aintree, but they are still worthy of note. Below we have given some information about those:
Fence 3 – this is the most difficult one as there is a water jump that makes it difficult for horses.
Fence 4 – This has an open ditch so horses that have just negotiated the third will be kept under pressure.
Fence 6 – This has an open ditch to cope
Fence 2 – Similarly to the Old Course this second fence also has a water jump so horses will have to have great timing to go over it without issues
Fence 3 – This fence has an open ditch, and it is not easy as horses will have just barely recovered from the water jump.
Fence 5 – Another open ditch that will ask horses to jump high and long to get over it.
Cross Country Course
In addition to the New and Old Course, we have to remember that Cheltenham Racecourse also has a Cross Country Course which is built inside the other two tracks and has the shape of an eight. As it is designed to fit into quite a tight space, the course has some twists and turns and horses that have already run it tend to perform better than those that haven’t. The final three furlongs is on the Old Course which means that spectators in the grandstands can catch the most important part of the action.
Why Betting On The Cheltenham Festival Is So Popular?
The Gold Cup is with the Grand National one of the biggest and best jump race in the world. The main reason why lots of people like the Grand National is that it is very unpredictable given the difficulty of the course and the high number of horses. One of the main reasons why racing fans love Cheltenham is that is not just about a single race, but the whole week there are some significant actions. So while the Grand National is a superb race, the Cheltenham Festival is a week of great races. For example the Queen Mother Champion Chase: this race was established in 1959 and was dedicated to the Queen Mother in 1980 when she turned 80 years old.
The Champion Bumper is another example as even if it was only formed in 1992, it has become something of a classic over the last couple of decades and it is now one of the most important flat race in the National Hunt calendar.
Another reason why we love Cheltenham so much is that gives bettors heroes: take Ruby Walsh for example. He was born in County Kildare in Ireland and has been on the back of more than two-thousand winning horses. Only two of those fifty-six wins have come in the Gold Cup, and this shows how it is difficult to win the biggest race of the week even for the most successful jockey at the moment.
In addition to great jockey, the festival is also the celebration of great trainers: this is also something that punters find particularly attractive in the Cheltenham Festival.
You should also consider that the Cheltenham Festival is the first significant jump racing meeting of the calendar year: jump racing has a lot more thrilling compared to flat racing with horses and jockey that are risking their lives to compete. Horse racing punters are waiting months for the jump racing season to start and this is also why the ‘Cheltenham Roar’ is so significant: this is the result of the combination of the frustration that comes with the wait and the pure excitement.
So there is not one specific reason that makes Cheltenham Festival so popular amongst betting punters: over the years it has made this meeting the one that racing fans love more than any other. Another strong thing to consider is that this is a week when bettors tend to take bookmakers for a ride: in 2016 the betting sites have lost around £60 million due to strong favourites winning the majority of the biggest races. This was called the ‘worst week ever’ for bookmakers and on the other hand, it was a loving week for punters that walked away from Cheltenham Festival with full pockets.
History Of The Cheltenham Festival
The start of racing at Cheltenham was a bit slow as it took a while for this spa town to bring racing to heart. The first ever run in Cheltenham dates back to 1815 but it was utterly unsuccessful, and for the next race we have to wait another three years. The first race took place in the Nottingham Hill area of the town so in 1818 it was decided to try something else to see if it would increase attendance.
The races took place in the Cleeve Hill area on the 25th of August 1818 and had proper attention so to persuade organisers to keep running also the following year. In 1819 there was a decision to lay an appropriate track for the horses to run around and even a grandstand so that racegoers could sit and watch. Organisers decided to stretch out to three days instead of just one: this was also the year that the Gold Cup was first established.
Over the next decade, more than 50,000 people went to watch the racing, and this also attracted criminality: prostitutes, pickpockets and others individuals arrived at Cheltenham to take advantage of the number of people that were going to the race. Cheltenham soon drew a large number of criminals, and this caught the attention of Reverend Francis Close who was the Anglican Record for Cheltenham. He decided to use his position to persuade his parishioners to disrupt the Festival with any means.
In 1829 bottles were thrown to horses and jockeys and the following year the grandstand was burnt before the start of the festival. For those reasons in 1831, the meeting was moved to another part of Cheltenham which is called Prestbury Park. This location was enough away from Reverend Francis Close, so the protests were stopped, but on the downside, the turf wasn’t as good for racing as at Cleeve Hill. As a result, racegoers started to lose interest, and in 1835 the races head back to Cleeve Hill.
The country, however, was entered into an economic depression and racing as a pastime was out of favour. Despite all those problems organisers of racing never wholly gave up and tried to review the sport during the 1850s but without success.
The Beginnings Of The Cheltenham Festival
The success of the Cheltenham Festival can be almost wholly put down to the work of a single man: Mr W.A Baring Bingham. This racing enthusiast decided to buy Prestbury Park in 1881 with the clear intent of bringing horse racing back to Cheltenham. Initially, he used the grounds that he acquired as a stud farm, but in 1898 he decided that it was about time to bring back racing to Cheltenham. Over the following four years he refined his idea, and in 1902 he launched the National Hunt Festival. This meeting was lasting for two days, and it was successful enough that he continued for the following few years.
The National Hunt Festival was moving locations every year, but none of the courses had the same success that Cheltenham had. In 1911 it was moved permanently to Prestbury Park and that it would be held in March instead of April.
Frederick Cathcart believed that Cheltenham could become as successful for jump racing at Newmarket had been for flat racing. He started to get involved more closely and in 1923 helped to expand the meeting from two days to three. In 1924 he also brought back the Gold Cup that was also extended to three miles to attract more attention.
How The Cheltenham Festival Developed
It was a horse that contributed to making the Cheltenham Festival very popular, and his name was Golden Miller. From 1932 to 1936 he completely dominated, and he made history by winning both the Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same year.
Another horse that contributed to making the history of the Cheltenham Festival was Cottage Rake who won the Gold Cup for three years in a row from 1948 to 1950. It was the first horse trained in Ireland to do so, and since then rave lovers from the Emerald Isle have enjoyed a great relationship with the Cheltenham Festival.
In the 1960s Johnny Henderson and some of his friends decided to buy the course at Cheltenham. They invested a significant amount of money to improve the facilities on the racecourse and also to rebuild the grandstand that was there since 1911.
Those investments capture the attention of bosses at BBC sport who started to broadcast the Cheltenham Festival. During that time a horse was about to do what Golden Miller did in the 1930s: his name was Arkle, and over his career, he ran in thirty-four races and won twenty-seven of them. He won the Gold Cup in 1964 and also repeated the success in 1965 and 1966.
The Modern Day Cheltenham Festival
A fundamental way for a race meeting to survive and have success is to engage with the public: this is why horses like Red Rum, Golden Miller and Arkle have helped a lot in improving the success of the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival.
Punters love this meeting so much that every new generation has their own stories that they can tell. In 1990s Istabraq made punters dream with back to back Champion Hurdle wins for three years in a row. Best Made did the same from 2002 to 2004 by winning three Gold Cups.
The Cheltenham Festival success continued in the new millennium and in 2005 it becomes a four-day meeting with six races every day. Festival organisers made sure that the quality will remain in place and that there won’t be any drop off in any of the races.
There are a quarter of million people coming to Cheltenham Racecourse every year, and it is one of the most significant money-spinning events in the whole UK. Gate receipts are as high as £7 million over the course of the week and the existence of the Old Course and the New Course ensure that different events can be hosted without loss of excitement.
Attendees can get to Cheltenham on any day of the Festival and be able to pay for a ticket with the only exception being Gold Cup Friday. The racecourse is continuously improving to cope with demand, and on the final day of the Festival, it ensures that around 70,000 can watch the racing. Prizes money have also increased significantly over the last few years: in 2017 more than four million pounds were put into the different price pots: this is the sign that Cheltenham is one of the most important racecourses in horse racing.
Cheltenham Festival Statistics & Key Facts
Every day lots of things happen at the Cheltenham Festival, and it is essential to keep updated especially if you are an active punter. You can get all the info you need on all the major bookmakers that will have sections dedicated to this event with news, statistics, tips, form and lots more.
Cheltenham Spa Information
Since this is a spa town, the restorative effects of the local waters have attracted many people over the centuries. The horse meeting it is not the only thing Cheltenham is known for: you can visit this Gloucestershire town to see the well-respected Literature Festival or the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The Cheltenham Science Festival is also something to note for those who like scientific discovery. The most popular of all though is probably the Food & Drink Festival that is in the town every June. So as you can see Cheltenham can be visited every time of the year in addition to March, of course, when the racing is taking place. Cheltenham is in a perfect location of the country with beautiful nature in the Cotswolds so make the most of your visit.
How Can You Get To Cheltenham Racecourse?
If you are coming by car, you will be looking for the M5. This motorway will take you to Cheltenham itself, and the A4019 will take you to the course. You will need to have pre-booked a space, or you can try the luck in the unofficial options available.
Around 70,000 are going to Cheltenham during the Festival week so don’t be surprised if trains are really busy. Cheltenham has its train station, but you should aim for Cheltenham Racecourse Station as you will be just 10 minutes away from the racecourse. If you like to make an entrance, you can also go to Toddington Railway Station where you will be able to get a classic steam train from there to behind the grandstand on Festival days.
There are lots of bus stations close to the Cheltenham Racecourse. Which number to get it depends from where you are coming from but if you see any of those bus numbers 578, 608, D, E, 99, HC4, N and 94U then you are on the right path.
Even though there aren’t airport at Cheltenham, you can fly either to Bristol or Birmingham and make your way to Cheltenham. If you are flying to Bristol, you can get a bus from the airport to Bristol Temple Meads (30 minutes), and from there you can get a forty minute train to Cheltenham Spa Station. If you are flying to Birmingham, you can get a train directly at Birmingham International Airport and get to Birmingham New Street. Here you can get a train to Cheltenham Spa which is around an hour and a quarter journey.