Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide

The Cheltenham Festival is an annual four day atmospheric National Hunt meeting where accomplished and future immortals of racing's jumping roster descend upon for their crowning moments. Cheltenham festival is one of the busiest weeks of the year for betting on horses. Schooled, prepared and skilled by their masterful trainers, roared on by their impassioned owners, filled with emotion and yearning for years of provision and readying to culminate in achievement, triumph and acclaim on the grandest stage.

Staged at the homely Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire, the towering stands are filled with admirers and well-wishers for each day of the Festival. Steeped in history and tradition, with its grand build up that never fails to excite and entertain. The Cheltenham Festival exceeds a collection of races, as each contest is a heavyweight encounter for prize money, second to only the Grand National.

From the moment the tape is risen to signify the start of the first race of the March spectacle, until the final horse crosses the finishing line on the concluding day of the Festival, a global audience turns up and tune's in to witness ever second of every ultra competitive contest.

Cheltenham is also the biggest Festival on the betting calendar, and here at Monsterbet, we will guide you through the Cheltenham Festival with our comprehensive guide of all the races, from start to finish. We've also dived into our Top Recommend Bookmakers for all the latest Free Bet offers. With our Festival guide and free bets, you'll be on your way to a profitable four days of punting.

The Feature Races

The Cheltenham Festival embodies everything that's great about National Hunt racing, and each race held during the Festival is engulfed in history, prestige and stature. Without doubt, the centrepiece and feature of every Cheltenham Festival is the Gold Cup, run over the trip of three miles, two and a half furlongs. The Grade One contest is open for horses aged five or older, and for the contenders who thrive over the twenty-two fences of the new course, they could join the illustrious roll call of greats to win the blue riband event, iconic victors such as Best Mate, Arkle, Golden Miller and Kauto Star.

The leading long distance hurdle race in the national hunt racing calendar is the World Hurdle, held traditionally on the third day of the Festival. The three mile event is equipped with twelve tricky hurdles and open to horses aged four-years-old and up. The World Hurdle has seen supreme equine stars such as Big Bucks, Inglis Drever and Galmoy crowned long distance hurdle champions.

From the leading long distance hurdle to the leading minimum-distance chase, and the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Established in the late 1950's, the race was renamed in 1980 after the Queen Mother's 80th birthday, in honour of her tremendous support to racing. The two mile contest is run on the old Cheltenham course and has twelve fences to be jumped. Celebrated names to have won the Queen Mother Chase include Badsworth Both, Viking Flagship and Master Minded.

The final event on our list of Feature Races at the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle. With eight hurdles to be jumped and just over two miles to cover, fluid and speedy jumping is a necessity to stand a chance of accompanying glorious names to have won the race, such as Istabraq, Persian War, Lanzarote and Hattons Grace. Established as the most celebrated Hurdle race of the year, the Champion Hurdle is thrilling and action packed, and one of the most competitive races of the entire Festival.

The Cheltenham Festival – From Start to Finish

Supreme Novices' Hurdle

Two miles and half a furlong – Eight hurdles jumped – Traditionally the opening race of the Festival.

Arkle Challenge Trophy

Two miles – Twelve fences jumped – Race was renamed in 1969 to pay tribute to the three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Arkle.

Festival Trophy Steeple Chase (Handicap)

Three miles and half a furlong – Nineteen fences jumped – Horses such as West Tip and Rough Quest have won this race before going on to also land the Grand National.

Champion Hurdle

Two miles and half a furlong – Eight hurdles jumped – Principal trainers and owners target this grand race, including Peter Easterby, Nicky Henderson and J.P. McManus.

Cross Country Handicap Chase

Three miles and seven furlongs – Thirty-two obstacles jumped – Introduced in 2005, the Cross Country Chase is a sight to behold and a feature for racegoers.

Mares' Hurdle

Two miles and four furlongs – Nine hurdles jumped – Introduced in 2008 and won by wonder mares' such as Quevega.

Novices' Handicap Chase

Two miles, four and a half furlongs – Sixteen fences jumped – Introduced in 2005 and won by some of the finest jockey's such as AP McCoy, Barry Geraghty and the first ever winner, Mattie Batchelor.

 

 

National Hunt Steeple Chase

Four miles – Twenty-four fences jumped – The gruelling four miles is the longest race staged during the Cheltenham Festival.

Neptune Novices' Hurdle 

Two miles and five furlongs – Ten hurdles jumped – Established in 1971, the roll call of winning trainers to lift this historic trophy is a who's who of racing, superb handlers such as Edward O'Grady, Martin Pipe, David Nicholson, Willie Mullins and Aidan O'Brien.

RSA Chase

Three miles and half a furlong – Nineteen fences jumped – A prestigious race in its own right, but several winners such as the mighty Denman have won the RSA chase to then go on and lift the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

Two miles – Twelve fences jumped – Traditionally the highlight of the second day of the festival. The Champion Chase is named after the Queen Mother, who owned Game Sprint when he finished as the runner-up in the 1976 renewal.

Coral Cup (Handicap Hurdle)

Two miles and five furlongs – Ten hurdles jumped – Introduced to the Cheltenham Festival in 1993, and is open to horses aged four-years-old and up.

Fred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap

Two miles and half a furlong – Introduced in 2005, the race is named in memory of former jockey and trainer Fred Winter.

Champion Bumper

Two miles and half a furlong – Flat race (No obstacles jumped) – One of the most intriguing and competitive races at the Festival, a race also often targeted by Irish raider Willie Mullins.

 

 

Jewson Novicies' Hurdle

Two miles and four furlongs – Seventeen hurdles jumped – Introduced to the Festival in 2011, open to horses aged five-years-old and up, and is run on the new course at Cheltenham.

Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle 

Three miles – Twelve hurdles jumped – This is the Final of eight qualifiers that take place during the five months prior to Cheltenham.

Ryanair Chase 

Two miles and five furlongs – Seventeen fences jumped – Introduced to the Festival in 2005, the Ryanair Chase has become one of the highlights of the Festival, won by star names such as Albertas Run, Riverside Theatre, Imperial Commander and Our Vic.

World Hurdle

Three miles – Twelve hurdles – The feature race on the third day of the Festival, the World Hurdle has been won by class individuals such as the Paul Nicholls-trained Big Bucks.

Byrne Group Plate

Two miles and five furlongs – Seventeen fences jumped – Established in 1951, one of the toughest handicaps at the Festival, a race won on multiple occasions by Martin and David Pipe.

The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup 

Three miles, one and a half furlong – Nineteen fences jumped – One of the oldest races of the festival, established in 1946. Originally named the Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Steeplechase after the brother of Mrs Evan Williams, a cavalry officer during World War II. In 1991, the name Fulke Walwyn was added to the race, to honour the trainer who amassed 211 wins at Cheltenham, including forty at the Festival.

 

 

Triumph Hurdle

Two miles and one furlong – Eight hurdles jumped – Only contested by juveniles, the Triumph Hurdle is one of the marquee races at the Festival. Targeted by major connections, trainers and jockeys. The race has also been won by legendary flat jockey Lester Piggott in 1954, one of his twenty hurdle victories.

Vincent O'Brien County Handicap Hurdle

Two miles and one furlong – Eight hurdles jumped – A race named in honour of the achievements of Vincent O'Brien, an Irish trainer who amassed twenty-three victories at the Cheltenham Festival.

Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 

Three miles – Twelve hurdles jumped – Established in 2005, the race has been won by some of the Cheltenham Festival's best jockey's, AP McCoy, Robert Thornton, Davy Russell and the late Campbell Gillies aboard Brindisi Breeze in 2012.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

Three miles, two and a half furlongs – Twenty-two fences jumped – The centrepiece of the Festival and the final day. The Gold Cup was inaugurated in 1924 and is the race that simply everybody wants to win.

Foxhunter Chase

Three miles, two and a half furlongs – Twenty-two fences jumped – Known as the 'Amateurs Gold Cup', the race is contested over the same trip as the Gold Cup, and has been won by jockey's Ted Walsh, Oliver Sherwood and Bryan Smart, who have all gone on to become successful trainers.

Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

Two miles, four and a half furlongs – Nine hurdles jumped – Introduced in 2009 in honour of the fifteen-time Champion Trainer Martin Pipe, who accumulated thirty-four Cheltenham Festival wins. The race is open to only Conditional Jockeys.

Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase

Two miles and a half furlongs – Fourteen fences jumped – The oldest race of the Cheltenham Festival, introduced in 1834, and is also the last race of the entire Festival. Renamed in 2005 after the father of trainer Nicky Henderson. Johnny Henderson was a racehorse owner and was vital in safeguarding the Festival's future at the Cheltenham course, forming a holdings trust to buy the venue following interest from property developers in the 1960's.

 

Betting on the Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is the equivalent to the World Cup for jump racing enthusiasts and punters. The build up to the prestigious four day festival begins month's in advance, and intensifies to fever pitch in the weeks leading up to the March show-piece. Along with the traditional Horse Racing markets, bookmakers are now offering betting markets many months to a year ahead of race-day, punters must be wary of dabbling into the tricky ante-post market.

An obvious advantage to backing a horse in the ante-post market is the price. For example, a leading contender for the Champion Hurdle, and a horse seen as the festival banker to many can be backed at 5/2, a few months from the festival. As seasoned horse racing punters will know, that price could be considerably shorter if you were to back this selection on the day of the race. However, many customers of high-street and online bookmakers wouldn't have read the tiny terms and conditions that state, should the horse not participate, it would not only throw the Champion Hurdle race wide-open, but it'll also throw open and leave your bank account a little lighter, as non runners are deemed 'losers' in the ante-post market.

Other pitfalls to try and avoid include, dually entered horses. A horse could be entered in two races at the Festival and bookmakers will price up the selection for both races. If you were to back a dually entered horse for a particular race, to then see him/her rerouted to another race at the festival, you would also be on a losing bet. But that's not all, as 'betting sod's law' dictates, you would then have to sit back and watch the horse win on the bridle at the festival, knowing you've backed it for another race.

As betting in the ante-post market has increased in popularity, bookmakers now also offer markets such as 'To Win at the Festival'. To avoid the conundrum of dually entered horses, you can now back a horse to simply win any race during the four day festival.

The Major bookmakers have also introduced a 'non runner, money back' concession. You'll have to shop around and do your research but some bookmakers offer this as far out as two weeks from the Festival. Placing a bet under this blanket concession protects you should your selection not participate, so there’s really no need to hesitate, use our Monsterbet top recommended bookmakers for the latest free bet offers, and place your Cheltenham Festival bet now.