The finest hurdlers, chasers and stayers from across Great Britain and Ireland will vie for glory at the Cheltenham Festival this month. This is the most important and prestigious meeting in the entire National Hunt (jumps) racing season, and you can wager on some exciting races. Read on to learn all about the Cheltenham Festival and the betting options you can choose from.
What is the Cheltenham Festival?
The Cheltenham Festival is a four-day event that takes place in the west of England every year in March. In the UK and Ireland, horse racing falls into two distinct seasons: flat racing in the summer and jumps racing in the winter.
The Cheltenham Festival is the most important event in the jumps racing season, which is known as the National Hunt. There are 40 Grade 1 races over the course of the season, and 14 of them take place during the four days of the Cheltenham Festival.
The races are epic battles, which require the runners to clear fences or hurdles, often in very sloppy conditions if it rains. Many horses fall and fail to finish the races, so you can sometimes bet on a favorite that appears on course to win, only for it to crash to the turf at the final hurdle.
When does the Cheltenham Festival take place?
The 2022 Cheltenham Festival begins on Tuesday, March 15, at Prestbury Park in Cheltenham, England. It is a four-day event, so it finishes on Friday, March 18.
There are seven races per day, always held at the same time, so there are 28 races in total for you to bet on. The main event of the day is always the fourth race on the card.
What are the big races at the Cheltenham Festival?
The most important race is the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which takes place on the final day of the festival. It is the most prestigious event of the season, featuring the most talented horses, trainers and jockeys on the scene. It is a 3m 2f 70y race, with 22 fences to be jumped. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most valuable non-handicap chase in the UK, with a very large prize fund.
The main race on Day 1 of the festival is the Champion Hurdle. This is the number one hurdling race of the season. It has a distance of 2m 87y. On Day 2, the main event is the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the most important minimum-distance chase of the year. It is run over 2 miles, with 13 fences.
On Day 3, the main event is the Stayers’ Hurdle, the leading long-distance hurdle event in the jumps racing season. Yet there are lots of other big races each day, and they are all fiercely contested.
How can you wager on the Cheltenham Festival?
You should have two clear options when wagering on the Cheltenham Festival: fixed odds betting and pari-mutuel betting.
American horse races are paid out on a pari-mutuel basis, where all the money wagered on each market is pooled. The industry takes its cut and the remainder is split among the bettors with winning tickets.
That form of wagering is also available in the UK, where it is known as betting on the Tote, but most people placed fixed-odds wagers. That means you will know exactly how much you stand to win when betting on a horse, without having to be guided by Morning Line odds.
The odds will be presented in the fractional format, which tells you the amount of profit you will earn from a winning bet. For example, if you bet $10 at 9/1 and it wins, you will get a $90 profit. You just multiply your bet by the fraction. You get the bet amount back too, so the total return would be $100.
Sometimes the pari-mutuel payout is larger than the fixed-odds payout, and sometimes it is smaller. All exotic bets – exactas, trifectas and so on – are calculated on a pari-mutuel basis, so you will learn the dividend paid for every $1 wagered after the race has finished.
Are there any other betting options?
You should be able to bet on some Cheltenham Festival futures markets too. One popular market is a prediction on which trainer will secure the most wins over the course of the meeting.
Irish maestro Willie Mullins usually claims that title. He is the clear favorite this year, ahead of compatriots Gordon Elliott and Henry de Bromhead, who won some of the most important races in 2021. British rivals Nicky Henderson, Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton are outsiders in this market.
Another fun betting option is a prediction on who will win the Prestbury Cup. It is awarded to the country – Britain or Ireland – that claims the most wins. Ireland normally wins this trophy, and it is the favorite once again in 2022.