Welcome to RacingOnline.com’s ultimate guide to the prestigious Cheltenham Festival. You will learn about the key races during the Cheltenham Festival, how to bet on the Cheltenham Festival from right around the world and some of the things that truly make this event one of a kind in world racing.
Introduction To The 2020 Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting meeting of the year in the UK. At the end of each season a list is published of the top 20 jumps races for betting turnover. The Grand National at Aintree attracts by far the most bets and highest stakes. However, of the other 19 races in the list, at least 10 take place at the Cheltenham Festival. There are now 28 races over four days and each one is a major betting heat. Turnover at the track and away from the course is huge.
The Cheltenham Festival 2020 takes place from Tuesday March 10 to Friday March 13. Traditionally, there were 18 races over three days but the meeting was extended in 2005. The Festival usually takes place three weeks before the Aintree Grand National meeting which is the other major spring festival in the UK. Ireland’s equivalent is the Punchestown Festival which is staged over five days at the end of April. The current UK jumps season ends at Sandown on Saturday, April 26th.
There is a major championship race on each day of the Festival. These four races attract a great deal of ante post betting and media interest. In fact, bookmakers issued prices for these Cheltenham Festival races almost immediately after the they have been run the year previously. This guide will provide a detailed preview of these major races which are as follows:
- Tuesday, March 10th Champion Hurdle
- Wednesday, March 11th Champion Chase
- Thursday, March 12th Stayers’ Hurdle
- Friday, March 13th Cheltenham Gold Cup
The meeting also features other championship races for novices and experienced horses, the championship National Hunt Flat race and a cross country race. Some of the most competitive handicap chases and hurdles are also run at the Cheltenham Festival.The Cheltenham Festival is a unique race meeting. It brings together the best trainers, jockeys and horses from the UK and Ireland. There is a competition between British and Irish-trained winners across the 28 races, At the end of the four days, it is usually close but in recent years the Irish have come out on top.
The Courses At Cheltenham
Cheltenham Racecourse is located at Cheltenham in the English county of Gloucestershire. Each day of the meeting attracts over 60,000 racegoers. There are good transport links from London which is 100 miles away and Birmingham is also within easy travelling distance. A day trip from the north west cities of Liverpool and Manchester is feasible. Overall, there are good rail and road links and these help to attract the spectators in such large numbers. The course and local transport operators put on a fleet of buses that run from the track to the city centre and railway station.
The first two days of the Cheltenham Festival 2020 are staged on the Old Course. This is a left-handed oval of about one and a half miles in distance. There are stiff fences on both tracks but the Old Course is quicker and sharper than the New Course. The New Course is also left handed and oval over 12 furlongs, It is more sweeping so races are usually run at a slower pace which means horses do not necessarily have to run prominently to contest the finish. Races on the Thursday and Friday of the Cheltenham Festival are run on the New Course.
History Of The Cheltenham Festival
The first race that could be classed as a Cheltenham Festival race was the National Hunt Chase that was first run in 1860. It moved to the current site at Prestbury Park in 1902. The 1911 meeting at the track could be considered the first actual Festival. The Stayers’ Hurdle was first run in 1912 and it is the oldest current championship race. The Cheltenham Gold Cup was introduced in 1924, the Champion Hurdle arrived in 1927 and the Champion Chase was first contested in 1959. So, the four championship races are now well-established. The races now have fixed days.
Some recent Cheltenham Festival landmarks and key events include:
- 1987 First female to ride a winner.
- 2001 Festival cancelled due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth in Britain
- 2005 Festival extended to four days.
- 2008 Second day cancelled due to high winds.
- 2015 AP McCoy rides his last winner.
- 2019 67,934 people attend the first day.
The Jockey Club and Cheltenham Executive have initiated some modifications that make for a more comfortable experience for racegoers, including more space and catering and toilet facilities. The Festival continues to grow and it could become a five day meeting in the future.
The Cheltenham Festival regularly breaks records for betting turnover and attendances. Here are some interesting statistics for the Cheltenham Festival 2020:
- The 28 races are made up as follows: Grade 1 14, Grade 2 2, Grade 3 6 and Other 6.
- Hurdles 13, fences 13, cross country 1 and Flat 1.
- Only 4 races do not have sponsors.
- Handicaps: 9.
- Richest race: Cheltenham Gold Cup.
- Average attendance of about 65,000.
- Maximum Gold Cup attendance of 75,000.
- Over 6,000 staff employed, including about 400 chefs.
- About 80,000 journeys on the shuttle bus to and from the course.
- Boost to the local economy in the region of £100 million.
Cheltenham Festival statistics & records
There have been some dominant trainers, jockeys and horses at the Cheltenham Festival in recent years, with it producing some legends like Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins.
Leading jockeys at Cheltenham Festival
Here are the leading Cheltenham Festival jockeys over the last 10 years:
Year Jockey Number of Winners
2019 Nico de Boinville 3
2018 Davy Russell 4
2017 Ruby Walsh 4
2016 Ruby Walsh 7
2015 Ruby Walsh 4
2014 Ruby Walsh 3
2013 Ruby Walsh 4
2012 Barry Geraghty 5
2011 Ruby Walsh 5
2010 Ruby Walsh 3
* NB: Ruby Walsh has now retired. Nico de Boinville rides for Nicky Henderson, Davy Russell will ride many of Gordon Elliott’s horses and Barry Geraghty will ride many runners owned by JP McManus.
Top Cheltenham Festival trainers
Here are the leading Cheltenham Festival trainers over the last 10 years:
Year Trainer Number of Winners
2019 Willie Mullins 4
2018 Gordon Elliott 8
2017 Gordon Elliott 6
2016 Willie Mullins 7
2015 Willie Mullins 8
2014 Willie Mullins 4
2013 Willie Mullins 5
2012 Nicky Henderson 7
2011 Willie Mullins 4
2010 Nicky Henderson 3
* NB: Paul Nicholls was the leading trainer from 2006 and 2009 and in 2004 and 1999. Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott train in Ireland. Nicky Henderson trains a number of leading contenders for the championship races and Colin Tizzard has some good chances.
Top performers in key Cheltenham Festival races
Here are the winning-most trainers and jockeys for the four major championship races:
Trainer: Nicky Henderson with 7 wins between 1985 and 2018.
Jockey: Ruby Walsh (2011 to 2016) and Tim Molony (1951 to 1954) with 4 wins.
Trainer: Tom Dreaper (1960 to 1970) and Nicky Henderson (1992 to 2019) with 6 wins.
Jockey: Pat Taaffe (1960 to 1970) and Barry Geraghty (2003 to 2013) with 5 wins.
Trainer: Paul Nicholls with 4 wins between 2009 and 2012.
Jockey: Ruby Walsh with 5 wins between 2009 and 2017.
Trainer: Tom Dreaper with 5 wins between 1946 and 1968.
Jockey: Pat Taaffe with 4 wins between 1964 and 1968.
Cheltenham Festival Betting
The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting meeting of the year and turnover is huge on all 28 races. The most popular race for bets and stakes is the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Only the Grand National generates more betting turnover during the year. Royal Ascot is the equivalent of the Festival on the Flat. This meeting takes place over 5 days in June and there are six races on each day. The Gold Cup is the only race at Royal Ascot that comes close in terms of betting to any race at Cheltenham. The Derby is the biggest Flat betting race of the year.
The Cheltenham Festival appears live on terrestrial television. Some bookmakers offer a free bet on the next race if a customer backs a winner in a TV Cheltenham race. Bettors like to place multiple bets on the four major races and a winning acca can produce a life-changing win for a modest stake. Another popular multiple is on horses trained by one trainer or a jockey to win a number of races. The host broadcaster has a multiple bet competition each day. If the bet is not won it is carried forward to the following day of the Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenham Festival Promotions
Bookmakers increase promotional activity in the weeks leading up to the Cheltenham Festival and during the meeting. Betting turnover is huge and just about anybody who has an interest in betting in the UK will place bets.
The new breed of bettors will be looking to open a new online account or reload an existing account. There is also a massive boost to cash betting in licensed betting offices in the UK. However, the online market has the most growth potential. Bookmakers promote a welcome bonus and ongoing deals for existing customers.
Here are some popular concessions and bonuses and the best bookie offers related to the Cheltenham Festival:
Ante post betting on the major championship races at the Cheltenham Festival is popular. Bookmakers issue prices for all the championship races several months in advance of race day. The odds on offer are generally better than on the day of the race. However, ante post betting is fraught with danger because if a horse is withdrawn all bets are lost.
Bookmakers try to attract ante post bets by offering non-runner/no bet from the start of February. The concession initially applies to the four championship races but it is extended to all 28 races a few weeks before the meeting. The concession means if a backed horse is declared a non-runner in the lead up to a specific race, all stakes will be refunded and it is a no bet.
Best Odds Guaranteed
Several leading UK bookmakers offer Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) on all meetings in the UK and Ireland. This concession applies all around the year and not just during the Cheltenham Festival. However, bookmakers promote this concession in shops and online during the four days of the Festival.
If an online betting customer takes a board price or early price and the Starting Price (SP) is different, bets will be settled at the best odds. Bookmakers usually introduce this promise on the morning of the race. Bettors will be able to take advantage of Best Odds Guaranteed from 8am on all four days of the Cheltenham Festival. There are generally no staking restrictions and odds requirements related to BOG.
The most popular racing betting options in the UK are win and each way bets. An each way bet on a horse is in fact two bets: to win a race and make the payout places. Winning each way bets are settled in line with the following place terms:
- Less than 5 runners: win only.
- 6-7 runners: quarter the odds for 2 places.
- 8 runners or more: fifth the odds for 3 places.
- 12-15 runners in handicaps: quarter the odds for 3 places.
- 16 runners or more in handicaps: quarter the odds for 4 places.
Bookmakers offer extra places on some races at the Cheltenham Festival. These races are usually competitive handicaps with fields of 20 runners or more. Typically, a bookmaker will offer five or six places at one quarter the odds. There might be adjustments in the odds to compensate for this concession. However, Cheltenham Festival bettors can benefit from extra places.
Money Back If Second To The SP Favourite
The first race of the Cheltenham Festival 2020 is the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. The race starts with the Cheltenham Roar from the crowd. Race fans have been looking forward to this race since the end of the previous Festival. Bookmakers offer some excellent concessions to attract new customers and maintain the loyalty of existing customers. The race sponsor of the Festival opener refunds all bets if the backed horse finishes second behind the Starting Price (SP) favourite. In effect, this is a free bet if the favourite wins on the runner-up. The refunds is often limited to £50 which comes in the form of cash or a free bet. There are no restrictions to how the refund is used but it appears in a customer’s account before the second race of the Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenham Festival betting site sign up offer free bet
Some bookmakers keep things simple during the Cheltenham Festival and credit new customers with a free bet. This is one of the best bookie deals because it is a no deposit bonus. Similar free bets at other times of the year are matched deposit and matched bet bonuses. In these cases, the value of the bonus equates to the value of the first deposit or first bet. The free bet is usually £25 but there are no staking and odds restrictions. The free bet cannot be withdrawn but there are no time limits on when it must be staked. Bookmakers will transfer the free bet before the start of the Cheltenham Festival. Many beneficiaries will use the free bet during the Cheltenham festival and bet with the bookmaker over the four days of the meeting.
Every UK-facing online bookmaker offers a full Cheltenham Festival betting service. The service features ante post and day of the race betting markets for all 28 races. Customers can also place Forecast and Tricast bets on each race. Cheltenham Festival accumulators and system bets are also popular. Some bookmakers offer acca insurance and acca enhanced odds for Cheltenham Festival multiples. Sites offer live steaming when customers place a qualifying bet for as little as £1 on all the races at the Cheltenham Festival 2020.
Cheltenham Betting Sites
In addition to bookmakers, there are a number of betting sites related to the Cheltenham Festival. For example, At The Races, Racing Post and Sporting Life have micro-sites for the Festival. These betting sites include the following Cheltenham Festival related features: previews, interviews, tips, betting, race cards and results. Some betting sites also provide video clips of races from previous Festivals and the championship races at the Cheltenham Festival 2020. The previews include the opinions and recommendations of well-known pundits who are often ex-jockeys.
Cheltenham Festival Betting Apps
Most of the leading UK bookmakers have launched mobile apps. Betting content is not allowed on the Google Play Store so Android users cannot download a bookmaker app. However, iOS users can download bookmaker apps from the iTunes Apple Store. There is a mobile version of most bookmaker websites, as long as the browser is mobile optimised. So, customers using smartphones and tablets can bet on the Cheltenham Festival.
The leading bookmaker apps are fully functional and replicate the website. That means mobile users can claim the welcome bonus and benefit from any Cheltenham Festival ongoing promotions. The betting apps also feature a full range of ante post and race of the day markets for the meeting. The bookmaker apps also offer Best Odds Guaranteed, non runner/no bet, extra places and free bets for the Festival.
At The Races, Racing Post and Sporting Life have mobile apps that can be downloaded from the appropriate stores. There is less screen space than the desktop computer versions, but the apps still provide plenty information about the Cheltenham Festival. Some betting mobile sites publish videos of the major races and provide detailed statistics before and during the Festival. Mobile users are well catered for during the Cheltenham Festival.
Cheltenham Festival Tips
Here are some ante post tips for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. The odds are correct as at December 19th, 2019 and are subject to change. At the time of writing, any withdrawn horses count as non-runners. It might be better to wait until bookmakers offer non-runner/ no bet before placing ante post bets on the Cheltenham Festival 2020. Another factor to take into account is horses with a number of potential targets. For example, Willie Mullins makes multiple entries for his Festival horses and only decides running plans in the last few days. Three months ahead of the next Cheltenham Festival, there will still be many developments and changes in the betting markets. Bearing in mind these provisos, the Cheltenham Festival 2020 tips are as follows:
Cheltenham Festival 2020 FAQ
Here are the answers to some common questions about the Cheltenham Festival 2020:
What is the Cheltenham Festival? The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting meeting of the season in the UK.
When is the Cheltenham Festival? The next Cheltenham Festival takes place from Tuesday, March 10th to Friday, March 13th 2020.
Where is the Cheltenham Festival? The Festival takes place at Cheltenham racecourse at Prestbury Park in Gloucestershire.
Why is the Cheltenham Festival so popular? Cheltenham stages championships races in a wonderful setting.
Who appears at the Cheltenham Festival? The best jockeys, trainers and horse from Britain and Ireland compete at the Cheltenham Festival.