Cheltenham Free Bets

In the world of online betting, there are free bets and then there are Cheltenham free bets!

The former are the sign-up offers that are provided for day to day betting throughout the majority of the year, the latter come around once a year for a one-week period around the Cheltenham Festival.

The Cheltenham 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.

Some bookmakers will completely remove their standard free bet offers at the time of the Festival but others will enhance their offers quite dramatically. Luckily for the punter we at catalogue all the best online Cheltenham free bet offers on one easily navigable homepage.

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

Our Top Recommended Bookmakers for Cheltenham Festival Free Bets :
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Latest Cheltenham Betting News

Champion Chase

The main betting news towards the end of 2016 revolved around Douvan and the horse’s price to win the Champion Chase. Douvan was already odd-on before an impressive run at Cork in December when he beat some useful rivals with disdain. The Willie Mullins trained animal is unbeaten over fences and looks a natural over the bigger obstacles. The winner of the Arkle Chase at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival is now the shortest priced favourite in any of the ante post markets for the 2017 meeting. Douvan has won Grade 1 races at the last two Festivals and its difficult to identify a horse that could prevent the treble. 

Ante Post Value: Back God's Own at 20/1 with Ladbrokes. 

Champion Hurdle 

The New One was set to run in novice chases this season but that plan has now been put on hold. An engagement in a chase at Exeter fell victim to the weather so The New One was redirected to the International Hurdle at Cheltenham. The horse beat his old adversary, My Tent or Yours, conceding weight and that form gets the The New One in to the mix for the Champion Hurdle. Willie Mullins has won four of the last six Champions and is odds-on to be successful again in 2017. However, The New One looks overpriced and is the each way bet of the race. Annie Power will take some stopping with her mare’s allowance but the New One can make the payout places. 

Ante Post Value: Back The New One at 20/1 with Skybet.

Gold Cup 

Djakadam has finished second in the last two Cheltenham Gold Cups and was backed to go better next time after a solid performance at Punchestown. The horse looked in trouble two fences from home but jumped the last two well and stayed on to record a decent win. Djakadam is still relatively young for as staying chaser and could run in at least three more Gold Cups. The opposition is very strong this year and another placed effort could be the limit of Djakadam’s achievements. Thistlecrack was mightily impressive in King George and could be anything in this sphere and Cue Card deserves to win a Gold Cup. Coneygree and Don Cossack (retired) will miss the race due to injury so Native River has emerged as an alternative to the odds-on favouite Thistlecrack.     

Ante Post Value: Back Native River at 5/1 with bet365.

Triumph Hurdle 

The Triumph Hurdle is the championship race for juveniles which means before the turn of the year they are aged three. Joseph O’Brien has some good recruits from the Flat and if any take to jumping the trainer will have a strong hand. It could be that the best horse of this generation has not yet run so this is a market that will take shape nearer the time. Defi Du Seuil did nothing wrong in a prep race in December while Cliffs Of Dover has put together a winning run. However, it is best to wait for more relevant trials before placing any large bets on this unpredictable race. The early impression is that O’Brien will hold most aces on Triumph Hurdle day. 

Ante Post Value: Back Cliffs Of Dover at 16/1 with William Hill.

Cheltenham Festival Day One - Champion Day - Tuesday 14th March

The Skybet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the first race of the meeting and is always a keen betting heat. The best four days jumps racing has begun and punters have full betting banks. There is a huge cheer when the race starts and all the anticipation and excitement is replaced by actual racing. In a survey in the Racing Post the Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival was voted the most favourite single day of racing in the UK. 

The highlight of the first day of Cheltenham is the Champion Hurdle which brings together the best hurdlers over two miles. The race has a history of producing multiple winners and Faugheen and Annie Power, Champion Hurdlers in 2015 and 2016, could be back again. Both horse are trained by Willie Mullins and he will have multiple entries which could include Arctic Fire who has been absent through injury.   

Cheltenham Festival Day Two- Ladies Day - Wednesday 15th March

The second day of the meeting features the Champion Chase which is the championship race for steeplechasers over two miles. The race is run at a fast pace from the outset and quick, accurate jumping is required to stay in contention. Douvan looks the banker bet of the meeting in this race though whether its wise taking odds-on three months ahead of the race is debateable. 

The RSA Chase is the novices’ Gold Cup and brings together the best young, inexperienced chasers over the Gold Cup course and distance. Several horses have won both contests but Blaklion, the winner in 2016, is not a leading contender for the next Gold Cup. The Cross Country Chase adds something unique to the occasion and Any Currency could finally win the race having finished first last time only to be disqualified for a minor banned substance offence. 

Cheltenham Festival Day Three - St.Patrick's Day - Thursday 16th March

If there is such a thing as a weak day at the Cheltenham Festival it would be the Thursday. However, there are seven races on each day of the meeting including the World Hurdle on day three. With doubts about the running plans for many of the leading contenders Uknowhatimeanharry looks a solid proposition having won over the course and distance last season. 

The Ryanair Chase is run over the intermediary distance between the Champion Chase and Gold Cup. Ar Mad missed the Festival last season through injury but made an encouraging reappearance over two miles at Sandown. The horse seemed to be crying out for a longer race and the Ryanair Chase could be ideal though running plans have yet to be confirmed.

Cheltenham Festival Day Four - Cheltenham Gold Cup Day - Friday 17th March

The fourth and final day of the meeting features the highlight, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The race is the Blue Riband of chasing and the most prestigious race in the division in the world. A horse must have some speed and stamina and good jumping is an obvious requirement for success. Cue Card would be a hugely popular winner but former winners, Coneygree and Don Cossack, will be hard to bet. 

The supporting races are all competitive on one the biggest days of the season for betting. The Triumph Hurdle opens the programme and the Foxhunters’ Chase follows the Gold Cup. The amateur riders race is run over the same course and distance as the big one which never fails to deliver. When the last race is over anticipation starts again for the next Festival this time the following year. 

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 1991 there have been 25 meetings and 25 renewals of the four championship races, so 100 races in total.

Champion Hurdle Winners 1991 to 2016 (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

    Trends Tip: Yorkhill at 12/1 with William Hill.

Champion Chase Winners 1991 to 2016 (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: 4
  • Under 10/1: 21
  • 20/1 and over: 0
  • Under 20/1: 25
  • Odds-On: 2
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 9

    Trends Tip: Fox Norton at 7/1 with William Hill.

World Hurdle Winners 1991 to 2016 (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: 5
  • Under 10/1: 20
  • 20/1 and over: 3
  • Under 20/1: 22
  • Odds-On: 3
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 10

    Trends Tip: Jezki at 14/1 with William Hill

Gold Cup Winners 1990 to 2015 (no race in 2001)

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

  • Biggest price: Norton’s Coin 1990 100/1 (Sirrel Griffiths and Graham McCourt)
  • Shortest price: Best Mate 2004 8/11 (Henrietta Knight and Jim Culloty)
  • Average price: 1/1
  • 10/1 and over: 6
  • Under 10/1: 19
  • 20/1 and over: 4
  • Under 20/1: 21
  • Odds-On: 1
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 8

    Trends Tip: Cue Card at 6/1 with William Hill

Four Championship Race Winners 1990 to 2015

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

  • Biggest price: Norton’s Coin 1990 Gold Cup 100/1 (Sirrel Griffiths and Graham McCourt)
  • Shortest price: Sprinter Sacre 2013 Champion Chase 1/4 (Nicky Henderson and Barry Geraghty)
  • Average price: 7/1
  • 10/1 and over: 21
  • Under 10/1: 79
  • 20/1 and over: 9
  • Under 20/1 91
  • Odds-On: 9
  • Number of favourites or joint favourites: 36

          Trends Tip: Djakadam at 10/1 for the Gold Cup with William Hill

Please note that odds are correct as at December 15th and subject to fluctuation.

About 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 last season 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. At the time of writing Skybet are going non-runner no bet in the four championship races. All the major high street and online firms will have something up their sleeve for that week in the middle of March.  

The relationship between racing and the bookmaking industry is in a state of flux. The racing authorities want more money from offshore betting and are threatening to refuse sponsorship deals from bookmakers. The Ladbrokes World Hurdle may not have a sponsor in March. All no doubt will be fine on the day when the focus will be on the racing and not the politics. Here are some observations on the four most prestigious races at the meeting with indications they are in our 10 to Follow and showing best odds and the relevant bookmaker for the fancied runners.   

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.

Daily Betting Offers

Skybet have special offers for the horse racing over the weekend.

Betfair have enhanced odds for the Australian Open.

Ladbrokes are offering a free £8 ante post bet for the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.

Boylesports refund stakes if a backed horse falls at the first or final fence.

William Hill are now promoting an OFFER CLUB with free bets for losing multiple bets.

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