Cheltenham Festival Free Bets & Opening Account Offers

2018 Cheltenham Festival Retrospective 

The 2018 Cheltenham Festival was dominated numerically by two massive stables based in Ireland but Irish trained horses only won one of the four main championship races. Gordon Elliott and Willie Mullins trained 15 winners in total but only Mullins won the Stayers’ Hurdle of the four biggest races. The Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Gold Cup were won by horses based in Britain.   

There were five odds-on bankers and the multiple was popular at over 11/1. Bookmakers like to take accumulators because they have more chances of getting the bet beat. The punter’s running up ante post money was lost when Apple’s Jade was only third in the mares’ hurdle. The other four bankers won so that result saved the bookmaking industry a huge payout. The multiple bets were down after day one. 

Buveur D’Air won the Champion Hurdle again, Samcro won his chosen race, Altior won the Champion Chase and Laurina won as she pleased in the mares’ novices’ hurdle. The race of the week and one of the best in the history of the sport was the Gold Cup. From the start it was a two horse race involving Native River and Might Bite. Native River led from the start to the finishing line to win the Gold Cup.  

Native River is the first horse to win the Gold Cup after being placed in the race in a previous year. Might Bite had the best form but on soft ground Native River had the best chance. It was an intriguing contest over the three miles and two furlongs of the race but Native River outstayed Might Bite after the last fence and up the hill. On good ground Might Bite would be the most likely winner.   

One of the subplots of the festival was the four winners ridden by female jockeys. The tally included the rider of Pacha Du Polder who won the Foxhunters Chase for the second year in succession. Horses that have run well at previous festivals have an advantage and four winners in 2018 also won races at last year’s meeting. Sadly six horses were fatally injured and the Cheltenham executive will look at this issue. 

The leading trainer by prize money won was Mullins but numerically Elliott had the best record. Davy Russell and Jack Kennedy rode four winners each but Russell was the top festival jockey because he also had a second place which Kennedy did not. Elliott’s main backer is Gigginstown House Stud. The owners also own Ryanair and they won their own race, the Ryanair Chase, for the first time. 

It was a close run thing in the battle between the punters and bookmakers over the first three days but it was a bookies bonanza on day four. There was not one winning favourite and only Native River’s win in the Gold Cup cost the layers. Getting the banker’s acca beat helped the bookies but there were still a number of well backed winning favourites. All in all the 2018 Cheltenham Festival was a great event and already you can bet on some of the major races at the 2019 meeting.     

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These are the sign-up offers that are provided for day to day betting throughout the majority of the year, but are amended around once a year for a one-week period around the Cheltenham Festival.

The Festival is the biggest, brashest and most eagerly anticipated event in the horseracing calendar. Held over four days from Tuesday to Friday in late March the meeting is what all top trainers, horses and jockeys gear their seasonal campaigns towards. The biggest prizes, both in monetary and prestige terms, are on offer at The Festival making it the meeting where all racing connections want to have a winner.

We provide you with a comprehensive guide on all things Cheltenham related including our betting stories and stats at the festival from yesteryear.

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Here is our preview of the Champion Hurdle.

Here is our preview of the Champion Chase.

Here is our preview of the Stayers Hurdle.

Here is our preview of the Gold Cup.

2018 Cheltenham Festival Free Bets

Name: Money back for losers in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Bookmaker: Coral (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Type: Refund

Amount: £25

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Minimum bet £1, maximum bet £25. 

Star Rating: xxxx

Comments: An excellent concession that will be a good incentive to bet with Coral. 

Name: 8/1 Sam Twiston-Davies to ride a winner at the Cheltenham Festival.

Bookmaker: Racebets (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Type: Enhanced odds

Amount: £5

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Maximum bet £5, wagering 3x at 1.5.   

Star Rating: xxx

Comments: The true odds are about Evens so a decent concession. 

Name: Double winnings in Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Bookmaker: Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Type: Enhanced returns

Amount: £50

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Maximum free bet £50,   

Star Rating: xxxx

Comments: A good concession that comes in the form of free bets. 

Name: Money back as a free bet if SP favourite wins on Day 1.

Bookmaker: Paddy Power (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Type: Free bet

Amount: £70 maximum

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Maximum free bet £10 per race.   

Star Rating: xxxx

Comments: An excellent refund potentially for seven races. 

Place a bet of up to 10 on any of the races on the first day at Cheltenham, and get your stake back as a free bet if the SP favourite wins the race. Applies to the win market and win part of each way bets only. T&C’s Apply.

Name: Money back as a free bet if first bet loses.

Bookmaker: Paddy Power (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Type: Free bet

Amount: £10

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Maximum free bet £10    

Star Rating: xxx

Comments: A decent £10 free bet for losing first Cheltenham bets.

Name: Money back as a free bet for losers on first and last race at Cheltenham.

Bookmaker: Betway (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Type: Free bet

Amount: £10

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Maximum free bet £10, minimum stake £2    

Star Rating: xxx

Comments: A decent £10 free bet for losing Cheltenham bets.

Name: Free Bet If 2nd or 3rd to the SP favourite.

Bookmaker: Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) 

Type: Free bet

Amount: Up to £20

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Maximum free bet £20, minimum field size.

Star Rating: xxx

Comments: Good incentive to bet. 

Name: Free Bet for faller at first or last jump.

Bookmaker: Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) 

Type: Free bet

Amount: Up to £20

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Maximum free bet £20.

Star Rating: xxx

Comments: Good incentive to bet.

Name: Free Bet for faller.  

Bookmaker: Coral(18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Type: Free bet

Amount: Up to £25

Matched: 100%

Conditions: Maximum free bet £25, minimum bet £1

Star Rating: xxxx

Comments: Excellent offer for all races



March 16th 

The Cheltenham Gold Cup looks like an open contest. Might Bite is the form pick but there are doubts about the horse’s liking for soft going and there have been some strange performances at Cheltenham in the past. The horse has veered off course twice after the final obstacle and the layout of the track is a negative. Our Duke is more about potential than the ability to handle the course and the occasion. Native River has festival form and will be suited to the going which could be heavy in places. The horse was third in the Gold Cup last year but can go two better today so NATIVE RIVER is the tip to win the most prestigious chase in the sport. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Native River at 5/1 with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Gold Cup.

March 15th 

Cue Card is now aged 12 and won the festival bumper in 2010. The horse keeps producing the goods at the highest level and there was no disgrace in finishing second behind Waiting Patiently at Ascot. Cue Card won the Ryanair Chase in 2013 and no horse has won a Grade 1 chase for a second time five years after the first success. The fly in the ointment is Un De Sceaux who won the race last year and will be a tough nut to crack. CUE CARD has fallen at the third last fence in the last two Gold Cups and will never win that race now. However, winning the Ryanair Chase for the second time is not a bad alternative. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Cue Card at 9/2 with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Ryanair Chase.

March 14th 

The pivotal race of the meeting from a betting perspective takes place today. Samcro is the odds-on favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30. All of Ireland will be backing the horse and the turnover will be huge. Samcro has not won beyond Grade 3 level and this is the hottest contest over the distance for novice hurdlers this season. If Samcro wins some punters will be playing up their money on Altior in the Champion Chase with while the Irish contingent won’t be able to get enough of Douvan. Presenting Percy will be popular with Irish punters in the RSA Chase.  BLACK OP can do bookmakers a huge favour by beating Samcro in the second day opener.

Today’s Outside Bet: Black Op at 10/1 with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the 1.30pm race. 

March 13th 

The day has finally arrived and it’s the start of the Cheltenham Festival, the biggest and best jumps meeting in the world. The opening day highlight is the Champion Hurdle and that looks like an easy challenge for Buveur D’Air who won the race last year. Getabird has the best Irish form for the opener and connections know how to win this race. Footpad looks a good thing for the Arkle Chase and the handicap chase looks wide open. Apple’s Jade is the best mare in training and can win the championship race. The amateurs have their own handicap chase over four miles and the meeting closes with BARNEY DWAN clear on ratings in the novices’ handicap chase.   

Today’s Outside Bet: Barney Dwan at 10/1 with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the 5.30pm race.

March 12th 

The greatest race meeting in the world is about to begin. There are five odds-on favourites over the four days of the meeting and the accumulator pays 10/1. Bookmakers will take this bet all day because they almost always get one of the hotpots beaten. In theory the quintet of bankers have plenty in hand over the other runners in their races. The racing at the festival is the most competitive of the year and it takes something for a horse to trade at lower than even money. It’s hard to find a weak link in the multiple bet and its only the bookies habit of not paying out these multiples that suggests one of the bankers will not win.    

Today’s Outside Bet: Odds-on favourites multiple at 10/1 with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply).

March 9th 

The difficulty of winning back-to-back Gold Cups is perfectly illustrated by the fact that last year’s winner, Sizing John, will not run next Friday. The horse has been trained for the last 12 months with this year’s race in mind. Just over a week before it takes place Sizing John has been withdrawn due to a pelvis injury. The damage is not career-threatening but this year’s Gold Cup is now off the agenda. Robbie Power rode the horse last year and had the mount next week but now switches to Our Duke who is also trained by Jessica Harrington. Most horses shortened in the betting because Sizing John was about 6/1. If the ground comes up heavy Native River could start the favourite but EDWULF now comes into the picture to make the frame. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Edwulf at 10/1 with Coral (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Gold Cup.

March 8th 

Buveur D’Air looks unbeatable in the Champion Hurdle but after that the race to make the frame looks wide open. A Faugheen in top form would give last year’s winner a good race but that is unlikely after a lengthy absence due to injury. There is a lack of high class two mile hurdlers which means a horse proven at this level can make the payout places again. My Tent Or Yours has finished second in three Champion Hurdles and can chase home the favourite again. Without Buveur D’Air the perennial runner-up would be a short price to pick up place money again. My Tent or Yours looks as good as ever and the horse can handle Cheltenham. If Buveur D’Air did fall MY TENT OR YOURS would be a popular champion but in any case the places are up for grabs.    

Today’s Outside Bet: My Tent Or Yours at 10/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Champion Hurdle. 

March 7th 

The start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle means the waiting is over and another Cheltenham Festival has begun. As the tapes go up there is a roar from the crowd in anticipation of 28 championships races over four days. It’s the biggest betting meeting over the season and the jumps fixture that matters most. Getabird is the favourite for the opener and the horse is ridden and trained by the favourites to be the leading jockey and trainer in Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins. The horse has the best novice hurdle from Ireland and won a recognised trial and the combination have a great record in the race. However, SUMMERVILLE BOY has the record to beat the favourite and the form of the horse’s run at Sandown has worked out well. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Summerville Boy at 11/1 with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

March 6th 

Ruby Walsh has been the leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival 11 times and in each of the last five years. He has been absent from racing since the back end of last year but is fit and raring to go at this year’s meeting. Walsh is the retained jockey for the Willie Mullins stable and the trainer has enjoyed 54 successes at the Festival which is two less than the number of Walsh’s winning rides. Mullins lost out to Gordon Elliott for the trainer’s title last year but it was close. Both Irish handlers had six winners but Elliot prevailed because he had more horses finish second. Walsh is odds-on to be top jockey but NICO DE BOINVILLE has a good book of rides and is 14/1 with William Hill to upset the favourite.   

Today’s Outside Bet: Nico De Boinville at 14/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) to be the Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey.

March 5th 

There could be testing ground at Cheltenham next week and some horses will benefit from the conditions but the good ground horses will be at a disadvantage. The ground could be worse than good to soft on Gold Cup day next Friday and that helps Native River who could start favourite. The horse specialises in running from the front and holding on to the lead when challengers emerge from the pack and this approach works best when the ground is not described as good. Native River has won 10 races and five of those have been on good to soft ground. The horse’s running style is more effective when there is some give in the ground. DEFINITLY RED would also benefit from soft ground. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Definitly Red at 16/1 with Paddy Power (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Gold Cup.

March 2nd 

There was no racing in Britain and Ireland yesterday but fortunately there was no snow and ice at Meydan so that meeting in Dubai took place. Punters turned their attention to the Festival and there was plenty of action in some ante post markets. Might Bite was well backed for the Gold Cup and Samcro continued to attract interest for his chosen race. The going on the first day of the meeting is projected to be good to soft and some prominent runners relish soft ground. Native River’s chances in the Gold Cup increase with more snow which will take make soft going more likely. The double on Altior and Buveur D’Air pays about 6/5 and that could be popular. Soft ground specialist COO STAR SIVOLA was backed for the Ultima Handicap Chase because of the weather.    

Today’s Outside Bet: Coo Star Sivola at 11/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Ultima Handicap Chase.

March 1st 

Buveur D’Air is the shortest priced ante post favourite of the meeting and defeat in the Champion Hurdle looks out of the question. The horse won the race last year impressively and a similar outcome is expected in the highlight of the first day of the Festival. The second favourite is Faugheen who at his very best would give Buveur D’Air a race but the sparkle from the past has been missing this season. My Tent Or Yours has finished second in the Champion Hurdle twice and is unlikely to go one better this time. Barring a fall or accident Buveur D’Air is home and hosed. The each way value may be with WICKLOW BRAVE who is a Group 1 winner on the Flat and ran reasonably well behind Buveur D’Air in the Champion last year. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Wicklow Brave at 20/1 with Betbright (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Champion Hurdle.

February 28th 

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the toughest races of the season and some horses don’t recover from the exertions of taking part. Back-to-back wins are rare so Best Mate produced a brilliant effort in winning three in a row from 2002 to 2004.  Just to get the horse primed for the day and compete is an achievement but to win in three consecutive years is exceptional.  When Sizing John won the race last year it looked like the start of a winning era for the horse. However, Sizing John has not sparkled since then and is now the third favourite for the Gold Cup. However, the trainer says the horse is in the best condition possible and will ne making a bold bid to win the Gold Cup again. An each-way alternative to Sizing John is TOTAL RECALL. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Total Recall at 20/1 with Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Gold Cup.

February 27th 

The Champion Chase is the two mile championship and is often one of the most exciting races at the Cheltenham Festival. Twelve fences are jumped during the race and there is no margin for error. Any mistake can be costly and the race requires speed and quick jumping. Altior is the odds-on favourite to win the race this year but Douvan is on course to take part and that would set up the clash of the meeting. The horse’s trainer, Willie Mullins, has reported that Douvan has a 50-50 chance of taking part. If the horse were to recapture his best form Altior would not have the run of the race. It would bring together the best horse trained in Britan and one of the best based in Ireland. Each way backers may consider last year’s winner SPECIAL TIARA.    

Today’s Outside Bet: Special Tiara at 16/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Champion Chase.

February 26th 

The Triumph Hurdle is the championship race for juveniles and often an ex-Flat horse has the speed to beat the National Hunt bred runners. That could be the case this year because Redicean is now a leading contender after an impressive trial at Kempton on Saturday. The horse is trained by Alan King who has won the race twice in the past so he knows the requirements. The horse had some success on the Flat but has now recorded three wins in hurdle races over two miles. Redicean beat his rivals by seven lengths without reaching full racing speed. The form stacks up in the context of the most prestigious race for horses aged four of the season on the fourth day of the Cheltenham Festival. MITCHOUKA offers some each-way value for the race. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Mitchouka at 33/1 with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Triumph Hurdle.

February 23rd 

The New One will be running at the Cheltenham Festival for the seventh time but the target is the Stayers’ Hurdle and not the Champion Hurdle that the horse has contested for the last four festivals. The New One probably deserves a two mile championship but could not quite deliver in the hurdle race that matters most. In 2014 The New One was badly hampered early in the race and finished fewer lengths behind Jezki that the incident cost. The horse is now aged ten but the trainer believes he is in the best form of his life. Upped in distance THE NEW ONE could win a Grade 1 hurdle but it will be the longer distance one. 

Today’s Outside Bet: The New One at 12/1 with Coral (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Stayers’ Hurdle.

February 22nd 

Native River has seen some support for the Gold Cup and the Colin Tizzard horse is now the second favourite. He finished third in the race last year and made an impressive comeback in the Denman Chase. The trainer has been out of form but his horses came good last spring and that augers well for Native River. The trainer has give NATIVE RIVER a light campaign to peak on Gold Cup day and now only Might Bite is shorter in the betting for that race. Native River’s stablemate will probably run at the Festival but the target has not been confirmed. The horse has fallen in the last two Gold Cups but Native River could win the race for the stable this year. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Native River at 11/2 with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Gold Cup.

February 21st 

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the first race of the Cheltenham Festival and the start is accompanied by a huge roar from the crowd. When the Racing Post did a survey of the sports’s most popular days the Tuesday of Cheltenham came out on top. The start of the first race is the culmination of months of planning and expectations. The four day festival is a war not a battle but it helps to start the meeting with a winner and there is often a well backed favourite. The Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh combination won the race from 2013 to 2015 but Labaik won for Gordon Elliott at 25/1 last year. Getabird is the Mullins favourite this time but MENGLI KHAN could still emerge as a leading novice and looks good value at the current price.   

Today’s Outside Bet: Mengli Khan at 14/1 with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. 

February 20th 

Samcro is the Irish banker of the Cheltenham Festival but some of their hot pots have got beat in the past but the form of this horse is rock solid. Samcro was the standout lot at the Goffs Sales after racing at Aintree on the first day of the Grand National meeting in 2016. The hype and fee has been justified and the horse is unbeaten in six starts. The owners have announced that their horse will run in the novices’ hurdle over the intermediary distance and the best price is 8/11. With running plans not yet decided for several horses prominent in the betting finding the each-way value is difficult. Assuming Samcro is home and hosed its race for the places and IF THE CAP FITS has an appropriate name but even then only second place is up for grabs. 

Today's Outside Bet: If The Cap Fits at 20/1 with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle.    

February 19th 

The main betting news of the day concerns the Grade 1 Ascot Chase last Saturday. The race was won by Waiting Patiently but Cue Card ran brilliantly and was only beaten into second place by two and three quarter lengths. CUE CARD ran to eight pounds of his best ever rating and has place prospects in the Gold Cup. Our Duke came back into the picture after a win in Ireland and the horse will be suited by the trip. Waiting Patiently is now a contender for the Ryanair Chase but the horse may bypass Cheltenham and run at Aintree instead.  Black Corton must now be considered for the RSA Chase after winning a key trail at Ascot. Elgin comes into the Champion Hurdle picture after winning at Wincanton but only to make the frame because Buveur D'Air looks unbeatable. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Cue Card at 33/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Gold Cup.

February 17th 

The Ryanair Chase is the championship race in the discipline at the intermediate distance. It is for horses who do not have the pace to run in the Champion Chase or the stamina to be competitive in the Gold Cup. The sponsors are also the owners of Gigginstown House Stud but they have never won their own race. The Ryanair Chase was added to the meeting when it was extended to four days in 2005. The last two renewals have been won by the trainer and jockey combination of Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh. Un De Sceaux won the race for the team last year and is again the favourite.  SUB LIEUTENANT ran well at Punchestown in a Grade 1 chase behind Sizing John and Djakadam in December and could finally provide the sponsors with a win in the race with their company name in the title.   

Today’s Outside Bet: Sub Lieutenant at 20/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Ryanair Chase. 

February 16th 

Total Recall has emerged as a horse with the potential and attributes to emulate Golden Miller and win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season. The main target has always been the National for which the horse has been given a manageable weight but plans have changed and Total Recall is now heading to Cheltenham. The Willie Mullins trained animal is highly progressive and could still be the handicap cert of the century in the National. A decent effort in the Gold Cup could see TOTAL RECALL start at the lowest odds for the National favourite for several years. The horse has shown massive improvement this season and a Gold Cup challenge could see that process gather pace. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Total Recall at 20/1 with  Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Gold Cup.  

February 15th 

Only one horse has won the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Grand National in the same year (Golden Miller in 1934) and L’Escargot was the last horse to win the two biggest jumps races of the season at any time in a career.  The horse won the Gold Cup in 1970 and 1971 and National in 1975. Its rare feat to be a leading contender in both contests but DEFINITLY RED has the attributes to play a big role this season in each famous race. The horse was fancied for the National last season but was pulled up and won the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, a race that is a major trial for the Gold Cup over course and a similar distance.    

Today’s Outside Bet: Definitly Red at 20/1 with Paddy Power (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Gold Cup.  

February 14th 

Douvan was a long-odds on favourite to win the Champion Chase at last year’s Cheltenham Festival. However, the horse ran poorly and clearly something was amiss. Douvan has always been seen as a two mile specialist but the Willie Mullins trained horse could now be a leading contender for the Ryanair Chase run over five furlongs more. Douvan has not run since the Cheltenham race but has been given an entry in Ireland over two miles and four furlongs. Bookmakers reacted to the news by cutting the horse’s price for the longer Festival race even though DOUVAN has not contested a race beyond two miles and a furlong.

Today’s Outside Bet: Douvan at 8/1 with Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Ryanair Chase.  

February 13th

One of the many big betting heats at the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Bumper. A bumper is a flat race for horses bred for National Hunt racing and often produces a horse who has gone on to much better things. Cue Card won the race in 2010 and became one of the best chasers in training and won multiple Grade 1 races. The horse that has the best form for this year’s race is Blackbow. The Willie Mullins trained runner is the current favourite for the most prestigious bumper race of the season but STAY HUMBLE is also a contender at a bigger price.   

Today’s Outside Bet: Stay Humble at 20/1 with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Champion Bumper.

February 12th 

With just four weeks to go before the Cheltenham Festival the betting action is hotting up. The four day jumps meeting brings together the best horses from Britain and Ireland over fences and hurdles, the unique cross country course and in the championship race for bumpers. The big market movers after the weekend racing are Altior (Champion Chase) and Native River (Gold Cup). Kalashnikov won the Betfair Hurdle in style and is now a leading contender for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. WICKLOW BRAVE could make the frame in the Champion Hurdle. 

Today’s Outside Bet: Wicklow Brave at 25/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) for the Champion Hurdle.

Cheltenham Festival Market Movers (Wednesday March 14th): 

The best backed horse of the day is Max Dynamite (2.50pm) at 8/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) 

Previous Market Movers

Sizing John misses the Gold Cup and as the horse was the 6/1 third favourite the other runners have shortened in the betting and Might Bite is now the 4/1 favourite with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply). 

Sceau Royal will miss the Arkle Chase so the four horses at the head of the betting shortened in price. The best odds for the leading contenders are as follows:

Footpad 11/8 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Petit Mouchoir 9/4 with Paddy Power (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Saint Calvados 7/2 with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Brain Power 15/2 bet365 (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Redicean 6/1 for the Triumph Hurdle with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Cue Card 12/1 for the Ryanair Chase with Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Mitchouka 33/1 for the Triumph Hurldle with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Global Citizen 12/1 for the County Hurdle with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Virak at 12/1 for the Foxhunter's Chase with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) 

Elgin 20/1 for the Champion Hurdle with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Black Corton 10/1 for the RSA Chase with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Waiting Patiently 4/1 for the Ryanair Chase with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) 

Cue Card 33/1 for the Gold Cup with  William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Our Duke 9/1 for the Gold Cup with Paddy Power (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Kalashnikov 15/2 for the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle at 8/1 with bet365 (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Saint Calvados 11/2 for the Racing Post Arkle with William Hill(18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Footpad 11/10 for the Racing Post Arkle with Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Samcro 4/5 for the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Buveur D'Air 4/9 for the Champion Hurlde with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Monalee 4/1 for the RSA Chase with Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Altior 8/11 for the Champion Chase with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Min 9/4 for the Champion Chase with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Supasundae 3/1 for the Stayers' Hurdle with Paddy Power (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

We Have A Dream 7/1 for the Triumph Hurdle with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Might Bite 3/1 for the Gold Cup with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Native River 6/1 for the Gold Cup with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply) 

Cheltenham Festival Betting News    

Some Bookies Introduce Non Runner No Bet Early In January (Written on January 3rd). 

After the major meetings at Kempton and Leopardstown over Christmas ante post betting on the major races at the Cheltenham Festival in March is more fraught with danger than usual. Backing horses well ahead of the big races has always been risky. If a week is a long time in politics then over two months is a lifetime in the training of thoroughbred horses for specific targets. A number of bookmakers have eliminated some of the risk by offering non-runner no bet at the start of 2018. Christmas has come early for ante post Cheltenham punters.    

Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook amongst others will refund all stakes when a horse that is backed for the five most prestigious races at Cheltenham in March is withdrawn before the day of the race. In normal circumstances this risk of not getting a run is offset by better odds but so much can happen between the start of the year and the second week in March. You now have the guarantee of getting your money back if you bet on a horse that does not take part. 

The leading online bookmakers use Cheltenham offers to attract new customers and capture the loyalty of existing customers. It’s a brutal cut-throat business and it’s more than a coincidence that some of the leading operators introduced non runner no bet on the five biggest races at the Festival at the same time. It will be interesting to see how long it is before the other major players follow suit. Its odds-on there will be some PR announcements on the subject in the near future. 

Traditionally, bookmakers offered the NR/NB concession for the four major championship races no sooner than the start of February. This year it was announced early in January that a number of prominent operators were offering money back for bets on withdrawn horses for the following races: 

  • Cheltenham Gold Cup
  • Champion Hurdle
  • Queen Mother Champion Chase
  • Stayer’s Hurdle
  • Ryanair Chase 

The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting meeting of the year. Individual standalone races like the Grand National and the Derby are huge for turnover but Cheltenham is a four day orgy of betting on the best horses in championship races. Trainers are keeping their options open so taking fancy prices in ante post markets could be unwise but now you won’t ‘do your dough’ if the backed horse does not appear. It must be the earliest introduction of non runner no bet in Cheltenham Festival betting history. 

This year is quite rare in that so many running plans are unclear. You could back a horse in each of the five featured races and not one could turn up on the day at Cheltenham. That would be frustrating but at least now the pill would not be so bitter to swallow as you get your money back. Some bookies even combine Best Odds Guaranteed with this concession. It’s fair to say that as a Cheltenham ante post punter you have never had it so good! 

Update on January 10th:

This outstanding concession was extended even further during the second week in January when three bookmakers introduced non-runner no bet for all the 28 races at the Festival. There was an upsurge in betting following the announcement and business has been booming with the three firms. Punters can now place ante post bets knowing they will not lose their stake if the backed horse does not run. There have been plenty of shocks so far this season and getting stakes back for no-shows at Cheltenham is a great incentive to get involved even more than two months before the meeting that matters most.

A Personal Perspective Of The 2017 Cheltenham Festival 

My Mum’s maiden name is Walsh and her eldest brother is called Roy so when the Cheltenham Festival comes around she always tells me to back horses ridden by R Walsh. On the third day of the 2017 meeting she decided to have a bet on the races live on ITV….she had more winners in one afternoon than I did over the full four days. A bout of seconditis was painful but Arctic Fire got me out of trouble. 

That horse won the County Hurdle on the Friday at 20/1 so a decent each way bet repaired much of the damage of the previous three days. However, Gold Cup day is an occasion on which I bet in cash at a betting office so it was predictable that I lost my winning slip on Arctic Fire. The cashier tried to fob me off with “well that’s tough son” but from experience I knew about the lost betting slip procedure. 

One of the best times of the day during Cheltenham week is the mornings when you are convinced you have solved the puzzles of the day’s racing. No bets are losers at that stage and its all about excitement and anticipation. My banker bet of day two was Whisper in the RSA Chase, a horse that was a loser, a winner and then a loser again in the space of about ten seconds. The race was one of the most bizarre ever seen. 

Cheltenham and racing in general is full of hard luck stories but the RSA Chase will take some beating in the context of ones that got away. Might Bite had the race in the bag jumping the last but down tools and swerved across the course. Whisper stormed by on the run-in and was clear 50 yards from the line at which point Might Bite was persuaded to start running again and won the race in a tight photo finish. It was like winning the lottery but forgetting to buy a ticket. 

They do say drinking and gambling are not a good mix and personally for me the juries out after the third day. I was despatched to the bookies at lunchtime to place four £1 singles on horses ridden by Ruby Walsh on behalf of Mother. I then independently bumped into the Murphy brothers and it was a sunny day and one of the family traits is they are partial to a drink. Joe passed on the batton to Lawrence but I stayed out for the racing that day. 

There must have been something in the air or I ate something that didn’t agree with me but as the afternoon progressed I started feeling rather strange but a large dry white wine settled my stomach every half hour or so. There is a correlation between the amount of alcohol consumed and why your banker can’t get beat. I backed bravely on Unowhatimeanharry but at the request of a lady friend had an each way saver on Lil Rockefeller!  

Unowhatimeanharry looked all over the winner two out but was outstayed by Nichols Canyon. Lil Rockerfeller ran a great race and held on for second and the payout places at 33/1.  The winner was ridden by Walsh which meant the two most important women in my life who bet on names beat the bookies while I “did my conkers” on the favourite and biggest fancy. Fortunately, Let’s Dance saved the day but I broke my mobile phone and mislaid my iPad. It must have been the excitement of the Cheltenham Festival. 

Over four days and 28 races I backed just three winners but they were at 20/1, 9/1 and 6/4 and bet on six horses that finished second all to win. In theory level stake betting would have won me money over the course of the week but big bets on Unwhatimeanharry, Death Duty and Djakadam distorted the figures. Cheltenham is what it is and its as much about the social occasion and reaffirming friendships than winning money. Non-racing acquaintances of mine found four winners on one afternoon and a horse that was placed at 33/1. 

Cheltenham week is special and unique and brings together so many strands of my work and leisure time. Despite the financial hit and run of near misses win, lose or draw I’ll be back next year to go through the same process again and as I write this piece there are only 258 sleeps before the 2018 Cheltenham Festival!  

A Betting Perspective Of The 2017 Cheltenham Festival 

Bookmakers have reported that the 2017s Cheltenham Festival was their best for a number of the years and that they won the contest with the punters to end the week in front. Whereas last year three of the four major championship races were won by the favourite only one market leader obliged this time. There were a number of relatively big priced winners in the handicaps and minor upsets in the graded races. Ruby Walsh was the top jockey while Gordon Elliott was the leading trainer with six wins. 

There is usually a pivotal race at the meeting and this year it was the Gold Cup. The first three in the betting were big losers for the major layers so Sizing John did them a huge favour. Bookies must have been fearing the worst as Djakadam looked the most likely winner turning in but a jumping error at the second last handed the initiative to Sizing John and the horse stormed up the hill to win well. Native River made the frame but Cue Card fell while Djakadam faded into fourth place. 

The bookmakers were in a happy position after three days but Gold Cup day could have negated all the good. Punters got off to a good start with Defi Du Seuil’s win in the Triumph Hurdle but winners at 20-1, 16-1, 12-1, 10-1 and 13-2 sent bookies home with smiles on their faces having won the annual battle. Ireland had 19 winners and Britain 9 but most of the visitors’ winners did not have strong support in the market. The Irish won the bumper and cross country race but not with their best prospects. 

The meeting began with an Irish trained winner in the opener but Labiak was not fancied. Overall bookmakers avoided first-day liabilities with the defeats of the heavily backed quarter Melon, Singlefarmpayment, Liming and Yanworth. There was only one winning favourite on the seven-race card and that was Altior at 1-4 in the Arkle. It was a much better start for bookmakers than the last few years and they maintained the ascendancy over the rest of the week.    

Douvan was turned over at long odds-on in the Champion Chase. Might Bite struck back for the punters in the RSA Chase, despite trying to give away the race to Whisper who had been well backed. Honours were about even on day 2 except for one bookmaker who rumour has it accepted a bet of £375,000 on Douvan. Bookies are usually happy to lay the short stuff and one in particular made serious money in that way. 

Normal service was resumed on the Thursday as Willie Mullins had his first winner with Yorkhill. The champion Irish trainer got back in the mix for leading training honours with another three well-backed winners. Victory for three favourites saw the punters cope with the odds-on defeat of Unowhatimeanharry to end the day in front. That meant everything was to play for on Gold Cup day but the bookies made hay while the punters watched six favourites let them down. 

Cheltenham Festival 2018 Ante Post Betting 

No sooner has one Cheltenham Festival ended and bookmakers and punters are speculating on how the main races at the meeting pan out next year.  However, if the horse you backed does not run all stakes are lost. Ante post betting is fraught with danger but you could get better odds than those on offer on the morning of the race or compared to the starting price. Some bookmakers are were offering non-runner no bet from January. Stakes should be kept to a minimum but at the best prices at the time of writing a £10 multiple on the following horses returns over £12K. 

So here are selections for the four championship races at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival. Prices were correct on January 19th and are subject to change. 

Champion Hurdle  

Melon at 20/1 with William Hill (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

In the first few days after the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Melon was backed for the Champion Hurdle of 2018. The trainer Willie Mullins was confident of a big run at Cheltenham and the horse was only beaten by Labaik who often refused to start in the past. Melon has only run five times over hurdles in public so there is room for improvement. The horse put up an impressive performance and only succumbed to Labiak who is a risky proposition and could be anything. A safer option is to back Melon for the Champion Hurdle as Faugheen has returned from a long absence and looks vulnerable. The younger horse could become the trainer’s best hope but Buveur D'Air will be difficult to beat. 

Champion Chase

Charbel at 25/1 with Ladbrokes (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Charbel seemed to be going well when falling two out in the Arkle Chase. It’s debateable whether the horse would have beaten Altior but he was jumping well and didn’t look like stopping. Usually falls occur due to tiredness but Charbel had set a decent pace and didn’t look like faltering. Altior may well have stormed clear up the hill but that would be more to do with that horse’s ability rather than any weakness with Charbel. Douvan ran too bad to be true in the Champion Chase to be true and at his best is a massive danger but Charbel is a more speculative bet and therefore carries less risk. 

Stayers' Hurdle 

Unowhatimeanharry at 14/1 with Boylesports (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Unowhatimeanharry ran a fine race in the Stayers’ Hurdle and was right in contention at the last hurdle. The horse was outstayed up the hill by Nichols Canyon and Lil Rockefeller but lost little in defeat. Unowhatimeanhaary was the best staying hurdler in Britain and Ireland before the Festival but Nichols Canyon now has that honour. That horse could win the next two stayers’ hurdle races or could be targeted at different races and Lil Rockefeller is unlikely to show the level of form again. By a process of elimination that leaves Unowhatimeanhaary as the ante post pick 

Gold Cup  

Might Bite at 3/1 with Betfair (18+ Ts and Cs Apply)

Thistlecrack will not run due to injury and but remains an exciting prospect for chases. Sizing John won last season's Gold well but was not exceptional on ratings and ran poorly in Ireland over Christmas. OurDuke has something to prove but potentially could run a huge race. Might Bite showed in winning the King George he is the best chaser in Britain and Ireland. If the horse stays on his feet and runs to the line he will be a tough nut to crack. There are risks invlved but Might Bite is the slection for the Gold Cup.

Cheltenham Betting Stories and Stats

Gambling Tales That Stand Out

Annie Power 2015

When Annie Power was approaching the last with Mares’ Hurdle won bookmakers were facing an estimated £40 million payout on the Willie Mullins four timer. On the first day of last year’s festival Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen had won for the trainer so all the running up money was on Annie Power. The horse had done everything right up to approaching the final hurdle but misjudged the obstacle and fell ruining a multitude of accas. The nightmare scenario for the bookmakers was averted by a horse that was trading at 1.03 in running but found a way to lose the race.

Beech Road and Waterloo Boy 1989

A friend who lived in Beech Road in Waterloo just north of Liverpool had the bet of a lifetime on the Tuesday of Cheltenham in 1989. A small punter he had a £2 double on Beech Road in the Champions Hurdle and Waterloo Boy in the Arkle. This was a massive case of placing a bet based on the names of the horses with no form logic. Both outsiders duly obliged and the double paid 1070/1 for a return of £2140 for a couple of quid but he didn’t mention the winning bet to his wife.

Norton’s Coin 1990

Norton’s Coin is the biggest priced winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and only the second winner trained in Wales. Sent off at 100/1 his trainer Sirrel Griffiths thought that was an outrageous price. The horse had some form in the book that suggested winning the Gold Cup was not a forlorn hope but very few punters backed him at Cheltenham or in the betting offices. Norton’s Coin beat Toby Tobias by three quarters of a length with the 10/11 favourite Desert Orchid 4 lengths further back in third place.

Michael Dickenson’s First Five 1983

Michael Dickenson was a bit of a fruit cake but he knew how to train steeple chasers. He eventually moved to the United States to train Flat horses and invented an artificial racing surface. However, he will always be remembered for training the horses that finished in the first five in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Dickenson had won the race in 1982 with Silver Buck but surpassed that achievement a year later when his Bregawn won the race. The horses that finished in the next four places all came from Dickenson’s stable and the achievement is arguably the greatest in the history of the race.

25 Year Betting Statistics

The 2001 Cheltenham Festival did not take place due to the foot and mouth outbreak. So, since 1992 there have been 25 meetings and 25 renewals of the four championship races, so 100 races in total.

Champion Hurdle Winners 1992 to 2017 (no race in 2001)

Horse, year, price, (trainer and jockey).

  • Biggest price: Hardy Eustace 2004 33/1 (Dessie Hughes and Conor O’Dwyer)
  • Shortest price: Istabraq 1999 4/9 (Aidan O’Brien and Charlie Swan)
  • Average price: 8/1
  • 10/1 and over: 6
  • Under 10/1: 19
  • 20/1 and over: 2
  • Under 20/1: 23
  • Odds-On: 3
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 10

Champion Chase Winners 1992 to 2017 (no race in 2001)

Horse, year, price, (trainer and jockey).

  • Biggest price: Newmill 2006 16/1 (John Murphy and Andrew McNamara)
  • Shortest price: Sprinter Sacre 2013 1/4 (Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty)
  • Average price: 5/1
  • 10/1 and over: 5
  • Under 10/1: 20
  • 20/1 and over: 0
  • Under 20/1: 25
  • Odds-On: 2
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 9

World Hurdle Winners 1992 to 2017 (no race in 2001)

Horse, year, price, (trainer and jockey).

  • Biggest price: Anzum 1999 40/1 (David Nicholson and Richard Johnson)
  • Shortest price: Big Buck’s 2010 and 2012 5/6 (Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh)
  • Average price: 8/1
  • 10/1 and over: 6
  • Under 10/1: 19
  • 20/1 and over: 3
  • Under 20/1: 22
  • Odds-On: 3
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 10

Gold Cup Winners 1992 to 2017 (no race in 2001)

Horse, year, price, (trainer and jockey).

  • Biggest price: Cool Dawn 1998 25/1 (Robert Alner and Andrew Thornton) and Cool Ground 1992 25/1 (Toby Balding and Adriam Maguire) 
  • Shortest price: Best Mate 2004 8/11 (Henrietta Knight and Jim Culloty)
  • Average price: 8/1
  • 10/1 and over: 7
  • Under 10/1: 18
  • 20/1 and over: 4
  • Under 20/1: 21
  • Odds-On: 1
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 8

Four Championship Race Winners 1992 to 2017 (no meeting in 2001) 

Horse, year, price, (trainer and jockey).

  • Biggest price: Anzum 1999 40/1 (David Nicholson and Richard Johnson)
  • Shortest price: Sprinter Sacre 2013 Champion Chase 1/4 (Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty)
  • Average price: 7/1
  • 10/1 and over: 22
  • Under 10/1: 78
  • 20/1 and over: 9
  • Under 20/1 91
  • Odds-On: 9
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 36    

About The Cheltenham Festival

The Christmas trials in England and Ireland have made some issues clearer but muddied the waters with others in the context of ante post betting for the four championship races at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The holiday programme provided much food for thought and some ramifications for those four days in March. The festive races were significant in their own right but all roads lead to Cheltenham in this sport.

The Festival dominates National Hunt racing like no other single tournament or fixture in any other sport. The meeting has been described as the Olympics of jumps racing and winning one of the historic races is the ambition of most owners. The superpowers of training and ownership dominate but the beauty of the sport is that a horse with unfashionable connections can have a day in the sun. Norton’s Coin was trained by dairy farmer but won the Gold Cup in 1990 at 100/1.

Sire De Grugy was bought as a birthday present by his family for Steve Preston, a man not of great wealth. The team had some great days out, most notably when winning the Champion Chase in 2014. A horse can come from left field literally and take on and beat the big boys at the pinnacle of the sport. Jump racing is more democratic than Flat racing and there are thousands of horses in fields, especially in Ireland, that can win a gold medal at the most important fixture of the year.

The Cheltenham Festival is huge for the betting industry and results at the meeting can have a significant effect on their bottom line for the year. If Annie Power had completed the final leg of the Willie Mullins four-timer on the Tuesday in 2015 the bookies would have paid out an estimated £40 million on all the multiples but the horse fall at the last hurdle with the race won. The major races are always in the top 10 for betting turnover throughout each year

Bookmakers compete with free bets and promotions throughout the year. The objective is to get new customers with enticing sign-up deals. Turnover and odds restrictions negate some of the benefits but during Cheltenham week you can almost bet for free. All the major high street and online firms will have something up their sleeve for that week in the middle of March.  

Cheltenham Betting Specials

As well as enhanced Cheltenham free bets many online bookmakers also introduce Cheltenham betting specials, over the course of The Festival, in relation to different races.

Paddy Power are perhaps the most synonymous with Cheltenham Festival special offers. In recent years their big promotions have revolved around refunding bets on specific races if the named favourite wins. In 2010 this worked to the Irish firm’s advantage when pre-race favourite Dunguib was well beaten in the Supreme Novices Hurdle. But punters got their own back in 2012 as Sprinter Sacre romped home in the Arkle and Paddy Power were required to refund all losing bets on the race.

Paddy Power aren’t the only bookmaker to offer Cheltenham specials along with their Cheltenham sign-up bonus, however. Whether it be enhanced place terms, faller insurance, enhanced odds or refunds on beaten favourites most bookmakers will offer some form of special offer over the course of the week. Many will introduce a new offer every day.

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