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Place Your Bets Like a Pro at The Cheltenham Festival

This article will explore how to place bets like a pro at the Cheltenham Festival. We will provide tips, strategies, and insights to help you make informed betting decisions and maximise your winnings.

The Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of National Hunt horse racing, attracting the finest equine talent. As the biggest and most prestigious event on the racing calendar, the Festival offers many betting opportunities.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of placing bets at the Festival, we must understand the various available bets. The most popular bets are Win, Place, and Each Way bets.

At the Cheltenham Festival, the volume of races can be overwhelming. You may want to have a betting strategy in place.

One approach is to focus on specific races or races that suit your betting style.

For example, if you prefer longer-distance races, the Gold Cup, Stayers’ Hurdle or the National Hunt Chase may be the races for you.

Alternatively, the Champion Hurdle or the Champion Chase may be your focus if you prefer shorter races.

Key Factors When Betting on Cheltenham Festival Races

If you are preparing to bet on the Cheltenham Festival, here are a few of the key factors to consider before you begin putting your bets on.

Do Your Research On Horse, Trainer & Jockey

Even if betting on horse racing is new to you, try to do a little research before placing any bets. This means looking at the history of the horses and jockeys and their previous performances at Cheltenham. Recent form can also indicate if a horse is likely to run to it’s best, or if there are red flags you should know about.

You should also watch some of the widespread news and updates leading up to the Cheltenham Festival. News such as injuries or changes to the going will help you make better betting decisions when doing your research.

Consider the Betting Markets

Another important factor to consider is the betting market. The odds of each horse can change rapidly, depending on the amount of money being bet on them.

It’s worth watching the market movements to identify any heavily-backed or drifting horses in the betting.

Market confidence is always a factor, because even if you’re the trainer or owner there are always things you don’t know about that affect every horse race.

Keep an Eye on the Weather

The weather can significantly impact the outcome of races at the Cheltenham Festival.

The Festival takes place in March, so conditions can really vary a lot from year to year. Some years, it can feel like summer has come early. In other years it can feel like the depths of a West Country winter.

If the ground is heavy or soft, horses that prefer winter ground will have an advantage. Conversely, horses that prefer faster ground perform well if the weather is dry in the run up to their race, and the going is reported as good or faster.

Set a Budget

Finally, it’s essential to have a budget and stick to it.

The Cheltenham Festival can be an expensive week for punters, with plenty of opportunities to place bets on a wide range of races.

It’s easy to get carried away and bet more than you can afford to lose, so it’s important to set a budget and stick to it.

This is even more important if you’re physically attending The Festival. It’s almost impossible not to be caught up in the excitement and atmosphere, particularly if you are well-refreshed!

At times like this it’s always particularly important to focus on your decision making and beware of placing bets that are usually outside of your comfort zone.

How to Place Bets at Cheltenham Festival: Betting Offers and Bookie Recommendations

traditional bookmaker

Regarding the Cheltenham Festival, bookmakers go all out to attract new customers and retain existing ones. This means plenty of betting offers and promotions are available to take advantage of.

One of the most popular offers is the free bet, which allows punters to place a bet without risking their own money. Free bets are usually offered to new customers as a welcome bonus but can also be available to existing customers during the Festival.

Another popular offer is enhanced odds, meaning the bookmaker offers a higher price than usual on a particular horse or race. Enhanced odds offers are usually only available to new customers, but some bookmakers may offer them to existing customers during the Festival.

Money-back specials are also common during the Cheltenham Festival. These offers give punters their stake back as a free bet if a certain condition is met, such as if their horse finishes second or the favorite wins the race.

It’s important to shop around for the best offers and promotions. Different bookmakers offer different deals, so it’s worth comparing them to see which offers the best value. However, it’s also important to read the terms and conditions carefully before taking advantage of any offer, as restrictions or requirements may need to be met.

In terms of bookmaker recommendations, there are several that are worth considering. Bet365 is popular, offering a wide range of markets and competitive odds. Paddy Power is also well-regarded thanks to its innovative promotions and fun marketing campaigns. Other bookmakers worth considering include William Hill, Betfair, and Ladbrokes.

It’s worth noting that some bookmakers may offer better odds or promotions for certain races or bets, so it’s important to keep an eye on the market moves and offers, and shop around to find the best value.

Types of Bet at the Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest horse racing events in the world, offering a wide range of betting options for punters. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, plenty of betting options are available to suit your needs.

Here is a closer look at the different betting options at the Cheltenham Festival and suggest ideal races for each.

Win Bet

The win bet is the simplest and most popular bet in horse racing. It involves betting on a horse to win the race. If your horse finishes first, you win the bet. Any other outcome (barring a voided race) and you lose your stake.

The win bet is ideal for punters who are confident in their selection and want a straightforward bet that is easy to understand.

Weight-for-age races which are usually Graded events, such as The Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle, and showcase Gold Cup are often very popular win bets. These races typically include the best horses around, and the household names of the National Hunt scene.

You’ll see lots of strong favourites in these races (think of famous jumps horses like Constitution Hill, Big Bucks, Hurricane Run, Kauto Star) who turn up year after year and have thousands of fans.

Although the odds for these runners are often very short, that doesn’t stop people backing them or putting them into multiple bets or accumulators as a win bet.

Each Way

An each-way bet combines a win bet and a place bet. It involves betting on a horse to win the race and finish in a certain position, usually in the top three or four, depending on the number of runners.

If your horse wins, you win both the win bet and the place bet. Your horse finishes in the place position and you win the place bet but lose the win bet. If your horse finishes outside the place position, you lose both the win bet and the place bet. The each-way bet is ideal for punters who want to hedge their bets and reduce risk.

The County Hurdle, Grand Annual, and Kim Muir Handicap Chase are ideal for each-way bets, as they are often unpredictable races with a large field of runners.

Forecast & Exacta

A Forecast bet involves selecting the first two horses to finish first or second in a race, in the correct order.

You can cover both horses finishing in either position by placing two separate forecast bets as a reverse forecast (e.g. 1 to beat 2, and 2 to beat 1).

This kind of bet has a bigger payout than a win bet on the winning horse, but as you need to choose the correct horse to finish 2nd, it’s often a lot harder to guess correctly.

The odds for any forecast bet is calculated using a particular formula and published for industry use as an official number, much like an industry Starting Price (also known as SP).

The Exacta bet is essentially a forecast bet which is placed in the Tote pool. The Tote is the British totalisator which uses the weight of money in the market to calculate payouts.

This means that instead of the industry odds which are calculated using a set formula, weight of money behind any given bet is the a significant factor in the final payout calculation.

Sometimes the Exacta payout can be way higher than for a Forecast bet. However, if the result you have chosen is unusually popular across the market, your payout can be less than for a Forecast bet.

As a rule, people betting on big outsiders tend to side with Exacta, whereas punters betting on fancied horses often side with a Forecast, which is also known as a Computer Straight Forecast (CSF) in the industry.

Landing a forecast or exacta can yield excellent profits for punters who want to take a risk and potentially win big.

These types of bets tend to be most popular in weight-for-age races where only a few horses are likely to win, and the fields are somewhat smaller.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase, and Gold Cup are ideal for Exacta bets, as they are prestigious races with small but competitive fields.

Large field handicaps at the Cheltenham Festival are very hard races to land this kind of bet, so tend to attract less money from punters.

Tricast & Trifecta

In case you haven’t guessed, these two bets are simply 3-horse versions of the Forecast and Exacta.

To win, you need to predict the 1-2-3 result in a race, which can be extremely difficult.

However, this doesn’t make it impossible, and some of these results yield incredible 5-figure odds payouts when three outsiders fill the first three places.

These are the kind of bets where you might win thousands of pounds from just a few pence staked.

But unsurprisingly, landing such a payout is extremely difficult and only happens to a punter occasionally in a lifetime of betting on horses – if ever!


A placepot is also a very popular Tote pool bet during the Cheltenham Festival.

This bet involves choosing a horse that will place in each of the first 6 races at Cheltenham that day. You can also place Placepot bets at any other race meeting in the UK.

However, because of the sheer size of the betting pool for this event, the potential payouts for a win can be huge.

The aim for a big payout is to find outsiders that are placed in races where the fancied horses, those carrying most of the money, fail to be placed themselves.

When this happens, all the money staked on bets containing the fancied horses in the pool is essentially lost to those punters that staked it, and you and the other gamblers whose bets are still active are in the running to win their money.

This means that for relatively little outlay, if you can choose a horse to place in each race and results go your way with a little luck you’ll have a betting interest in 6 races with a real chance of a good payout at the end.

Excitement can build to epic proportions if you are lucky enough to get this bet right. As such, the Placepot is a very popular type of pool bet during the Cheltenham Festival and can be a lot of fun if you land on the right horses.

It is harder than it sounds but give it a go. This bet really could be one you’ll love!

How to Place Bets at Cheltenham: Where to Bet

So now you know how to find bets, and the types of bets available to you. Now you need to know where to bet or the easiest ways of placing a bet.

This section lists and explains the different places you can get your bets on, so check this out before you go ahead and put your money down.

Online Betting

Whether you’re a first-time punter or an experienced horse racing fan, shopping for the best odds is always worthwhile.

Online betting is an excellent way to maximise your Cheltenham bets, as it allows you to compare all UK’s leading bookmakers until the races start.

The vast majority of major bookmakers do most of their business through well-built betting apps, so this is a popular and easy way of placing your bets.

Being able to place your horse racing bets from your telephone with just a few taps is very convenient. Using a computer or tablet to get your racing bets on is just as simple.

Most bookmakers usually offer bonuses and advantages to encourage people to use their app or website. This can include Early Prices, Best Odds Guaranteed, Extra Place Races (for each-way betting) and even free bet credits placed in your account.

Digital betting represents by far the largest market share of any betting method, and is the best choice for most people.

You can also use online betting to access a betting exchange to place your bets (see below). This often pays better odds but can have other drawbacks.

Exchange Betting

Cheltenham Festival is one of the world’s most beloved horse races, taking place over four days with an average attendance of 65,000 spectators daily. This renowned event generates over £100 million in betting revenues annually.

There are several ways to place your bets like a pro at the Cheltenham Festival. On-course and online betting are viable options, but exchange betting is one of the most efficient approaches.

On an exchange, each wager involves two types of bettors. The first is the backer, who believes a certain outcome will occur.

The second group is that which believes the opposite will occur.

Doing this allows you to place bets on teams you think will win and then lay those teams when you believe they won’t. This strategy can prove highly profitable as the odds may be higher than the bookmaker offers.

On-course Betting

Another popular way to wager at the Cheltenham Festival is through on-course betting. Bookies provide various prices for each race, and it can be an excellent opportunity to win big with your chosen selections.

At the Cheltenham Festival, some betting sites may offer new customers price increases to help them maximize their money. These offers can be particularly advantageous on short-priced favourites since they may often come at double or triple odds for first-time bettors.

Many horse owners consider horses who have previously performed at Cheltenham Festival as they should be familiar with its unique track and intense atmosphere. However, this isn’t always a guarantee – horses returning from injuries or long breaks have been known to triumph at this meeting.

Bet365, BetVictor, and 888Sport are the main on-course bookmakers you can expect at the Cheltenham Festival. These reputable names offer competitive prices and tempting offers for new and existing customers throughout the week.

Tote Betting

To become an expert at Cheltenham Festival betting, you must understand how to use the Tote. The Tote is UK and Irish horse racing’s most popular pool betting option – pari-mutuel or mutual betting.

The Tote works similarly to the lottery; all money bet goes into one large pool and then is divided among punters with winning tickets. If fewer people have backed your horse, you will receive a larger share of the pot.

The Tote offers an array of wagers, from simple Win and Place to the more complex jackpot and Pick Six options. However, many punters still favour the classic Win bet as their go-to choice.

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