Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide

Odds, lines and predictions for the 2020 race

The National Hunt‘s Cheltenham Festival garners fanatic attention from a vast following of horse racing lovers. 

Now a host to a whopping 28 races throughout the four-day festival held in March, the Cheltenham Festival sees a growing attendance of more than 180,000 people

In 2020, the festival will begin Tuesday, March 10, and end on Friday, March 13.

When combined with the fans that tune in via TV, online streaming or radio, the Cheltenham Festival is a major event in the horse racing world.

The racing calendar first saw the Cheltenham Festival in 1902

Since then, it has only grown in prestige and prominence. These days, it’s hard to even think of the National Hunt without the thrill and anticipation to Cheltenham. Consequently, the months leading up to that first race are full of preparations by horses and bettors alike.

Speaking of betting, the Cheltenham Festival sees a monumental amount of wagering, with millions of pounds exchanging between bettors and bookmakers for every single race. 

The UK horse racing industry depends significantly on Cheltenham Festival, as racing on the British Isles wouldn’t be the same without the four-day extravaganza.

Quality is paramount when it comes to entrants in the jump races. 

However, the feature races are the ones that draw in the majority of the crowds. There are several Grade 1 races, including the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday, the Stayers’ Hurdle on Thursday and the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

In between those exciting races, you can also get your kicks watching and wagering on steeplechases, handicap and hurdling races. 

With this many horse races in one spot, you can appreciate that the Cheltenham Festival is the place to be. It is the most important of the National Hunt meetings on the yearly UK horse racing calendar.

Best betting sites for the Cheltenham Festival

The joy of Cheltenham is the variety of quality races available, which bring in bettors of every budget, from low- to high-rollers. 

Several betting sites will meet your wagering needs, although they focus mainly toward US audiences.

Online gambling is legal in most of the US jurisdictions, but not all of them. Therefore, it is your responsibility to make sure you know your local laws before placing any bets. After all, some states consider horse racing illegal.  

We’ve put together a list of sites that make horse race betting fun and easy, while also providing unbeatable service and betting opportunities. 

Furthermore, the sites focus on online horse betting veterans, as well as novices. 

Therefore, you can expect user-friendly interfaces and easy-to-follow markets for the Cheltenham Festival, in addition to other horse races around the world.


Festival Schedule

Cheltenham 2020, Tuesday 10th March, Champion Day – Day 1 Races

13:30Supreme Novices’ Hurdle2m 87yHurdle
14:10The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase1m 7fChase
14:50The Ultima Handicap Chase3m abt 1fChase
15:30The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy2m 87yHurdle
16:10The Mares’ Hurdle (for the David Nicholson Trophy)2m 3f 200yHurdle
16:50The National Hunt Challenge Cup Chase4mChase
17:30The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase3m 7f 147yChase

Cheltenham 2020, Wednesday 11th March, Ladies Day – Day 2 Races

13:30The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race2m 5fHurdle
14:10The RSA Insurance Novices’ Steeple Chase3m 80yChase
14:50The Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle2m 5fHurdle
15:30The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase1m 7f 99yChase
16:10The Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase3m 6f 37yChase
16:50The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race2m 87yHurdle
17:30The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race)2m 87yBumper

Cheltenham 2020, Thursday 12th March, St Patrick’s Day – Day 3 Races

13:30The JLT Novices’ Chase2m 3f 166yChase
14:10The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race)2m 7f 213yHurdle
14:50The Ryanair Chase2m 7f 213yChase
15:30The Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle3mHurdle
16:10The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase)2m 4f 127yChase
16:50Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle2m 179yHurdle
17:30The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase (0-145)3m 2fChase

How to bet on the Cheltenham Festival

No matter what your budget is, there are plenty of ways to get in on the action at the Cheltenham Festival. 

As one of the major race festivals in the world, you can’t afford to miss it, especially with nearly 30 races to make money. 

Whether you place one or 50 wagers, here’s how you can jump right into Cheltenham Festival’s betting action.

Online betting

Horse racing in the US is legal in all states, and approximately 39 states allow legal online horse race betting. 

Some states classify it as off-track betting (OTB), although, horse race betting falls under the category of online gambling, rather than under horse racing. 

As online betting options grow, there are opportunities to bet no matter where you live. There are plenty of chances to place the wager that could be life-changing. 

If you want a shot at taking home serious winnings at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and you don’t want to travel, then online betting is the way to go.

Betting at a teller

The traditional way of betting at any horse race is at the teller of the racetrack itself. So, when you head for the Cheltenham Festival to bet on a feature race, like the Gold Cup, the teller is your first stop

Those who are new to horse race betting may find themselves a bit confused. It’s easy to end up placing a bet you didn’t want to make. 

The information you want to give the teller is: 

  • The race number.
  • The horse’s number.
  • The amount of your bet.
  • The racetrack that you’re placing your bet on.
  • The type of bet that you want to make. 

Specifying the type of bet is especially crucial if you’re interested in making an exotic bet, like a quinella.

All you have to do is walk up to the teller’s counter, give the bet information, give the teller your money and receive your ticket. 

It’s incredibly important that you put your ticket in a safe place. You will need to be able to show the ticket to the teller if you win.

Off track betting

For those who don’t live near a racetrack or will not travel to Cheltenham Festival this year — it is in the UK, after all — another option may be an off-track betting facility. 

OTBs are particularly useful for those who live outside the UK but want to bet on UK races. 

Regulations for off track betting sites can be stricter than the racetrack, so make sure you know your state’s laws before placing a bet. 

Off-track betting facilities are designed to be comfortable, no matter how you bet and can offer betting assistance for newcomers. 

From small bets to high-rolling big bets, you can expect a pleasant and exciting experience at an OTB facility for the Cheltenham Festival.

The festival is a major event that’s well worth marking on your calendar. Across the four electric days, you will want to slap down a bet, that’s for sure. However, online betting is always going to be the easiest option.

Is it legal to bet on the Cheltenham Festival?

Thanks to a federal law passed in 1978, betting on horse racing is completely legal in the US, joining the audiences of Canada and the UK. 

Later, amendments and additional legislation haven’t done much to impact the federal legality of horse race betting online. Most legality is determined at the state level, and it varies from state to state. Currently, 41 states allow online horse race betting. As a result, there are a plethora of choices available to you online, with in-person betting always a fun option. If you should live in one of the other states, you still have options.

There is nothing to stop anyone walking, driving or flying across a state border to bet on the Cheltenham Festival. Doing this is time-consuming and challenging. However, if it means you can make a pretty penny from the UK’s leading horse racing festival, then it’s worth the extra effort, right?

Types of Cheltenham Festival bets

Those familiar with the horse racing industry know the central wagers by heart, namely the classic win, place and show bets. 

These are the most common and easiest bets for gamblers to place at any given horse race, including the Cheltenham Festival races.

  • The win bet is the highest payout of the three, provided your chosen horse places first. 
  • The place bet requires a finish of first or second in the race, paying out for either. 
  • The show bet gives the lowest payout, but also the lowest risk, and pays if your chosen horse places first, second or third. 

The big bucks aren’t in show or place, of course, as more risk yields more reward unless you’re placing large bets. The life-changing payouts come from the exotic pools of bets, also known as quinella bets.

Quinella and exotic bets require specificity, meaning that you must bet on which horse finishes in which place, in the exact order. This bet is not always easy, especially at a competitive event like Cheltenham. 

For instance, exacta bets have you name the first and second places.

Trifecta betting requires the first three and superfecta bets name the first four finishers.

Super high five exotic bets have you wager on the first five winners of the race. 

The odds here are long as you can imagine, but the payouts are incredibly rewarding, to say the least. Want a big payday? Make a quick quinella bet and thank us later.

Cheltenham Festival odds

The Cheltenham Festival, and placing bets on its races, could be considered an unofficial national pastime in the United Kingdom. It attracts bets from people who don’t typically follow horse racing. 

Plenty of “systems” come into play, as each gambler will have their method, no doubt, which is all in the name of increasing their chances of winning. This includes those people who only come out to bet this one time during the year.

A lot of these systems rely on good, old-fashioned superstition, meaning that a large number of people wager based on something like a hunch, a lucky number or just a gut feeling. The number of people who study records, trends, horses, or jockeys is comparatively small, as Lady Luck seems to guide more people than information.

That said, each horse will have a different amount of weight, and so the odds will shift after the announcements. 

Aspiring gamblers should always keep an eye on the changes, and make their decisions afterward, as the shift can sometimes be significant enough to affect a wager. It is fine to wait until the very day of the race to receive the latest updates before you bet. 

The current odds for the Cheltenham Festival are below, so you have some idea of where to consider placing your bet:


Past winners of the Cheltenham Festival

The Gold Cup is the title to win at the Cheltenham Festival. This main event is important to several famous racehorses in National Hunt history. 

Golden Miller is the most successful horse in the history of the Gold Cup, winning the race five times in the 1930s

More modern winners saw Arkle take three victories in a row in the ’60s, while Best Mate, trained by Henrietta Knight, made three consecutive victories beginning in 2002. 

The trainer who has seen the most success in the Gold Cup is Tom Dreaper with five wins. However, the next few years favor trainer Paul Nicholls, as he found great success in lifting the Gold Cup.

Below, you’ll find a list of the last 20 years of the Cheltenham Gold Cup winners. 

You’ll notice no entry for 2001; the festival was canceled that year as it was deemed too risky due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the British Isles

Outside of that, this event has been a pastime for generations. It has seen some famous names fly down the final furlongs.

Road to the Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is preceded by a series of seven top-class horse races, both British and Irish, over hurdles, with a culmination at the Champion Hurdle. 

This series, known as the Road to Cheltenham, was developed conceptually by Racing for Change. The group’s goal is to reappraise the fundamentals of how horse racing is promoted. Racing for Change is under the umbrella of the British Horseracing Authority. They were joined in the creation of the Road to Cheltenham by leading British online bookmaker Stan James.

Seven horse races make up the series. 

November sees the first at Wincanton Racecourse with the Elite Hurdle, followed by Cheltenham Racecourse’s Greatwood Hurdle

In Ireland, also in November, the third is the Morgiana Hurdle, which takes place at Punchestown Racecourse

The last in November is the Fighting Fifth Hurdle, which is at Newcastle Racecourse.

December sees only one race with the International Hurdle taking place at Cheltenham Racecourse, while January follows with its Haydock Park race, the Champion Hurdle Trial

Finally, the Cheltenham Festival itself hosts the final of the series in March, the Champion Hurdle.

The concept of the Road to Cheltenham series is based around raising awareness for British horse racing among the general public. It, thereby, leads to new followers of the sport and higher attendance at races. 

If you have your eye on placing a bet at the Cheltenham Festival, it’s certainly advisable to keep at least one eye on the Road to Cheltenham.

How to watch the Cheltenham Festival on TV or via online stream

The 2020 Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner, meaning that preparations are already well underway. You are going to want to know where you can find the best place to take in the excitement of the races. UK audiences will find this easy to do, as they can tune into Channel 4 on their TV, website or mobile app.

It’s also possible to access the race from anywhere else in the world; all you need is an internet connection. Watchers outside of the UK can still tune into Channel 4, but you’ll need a VPN because online streaming is the best option here. 

Your country’s sports channels may also cover the Cheltenham Festival, as nearly every country has an opportunity for watching. After all, the worldwide audience is more than 600 million, and there are a lot of bets to place. You’ll, therefore, want to be able to watch along, especially if you’re placing a wager on the outcomes.

History of the Cheltenham Festival

British racing is hallmarked by the Cheltenham Festival, to the point where they can almost be considered synonyms. 

Many professionals in the field, including trainers, jockeys, and punters, see it as the pinnacle of jump season, the most distinguished of them all. 

In terms of prize money for the winners, the Cheltenham Festival comes second to the Grand National only. It is a four-day event, with every day having several quality National Hunt races. Championship races are the goal for many of the competitors, with the Road to Cheltenham and trials taking place leading up to the festival, as we have just discussed.

Origins of the Cheltenham Festival

What the Cheltenham Festival certainly has on its side is history and plenty of it. The first Cheltenham Festival was in 1902, hosted at Prestbury Park. You’ll find it in the same location today. 

The first steeplechase race began in 1904, and would later become the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which was run for the first time in 1924. Red Splash took home that first victory. 

The Gold Cup was the first of the championship races to be recognized at the Cheltenham Festival, and would later be joined by three others.

Next came the 1927 inauguration of the Champion Hurdle, followed by the 1959 addition of the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The Stayers’ Hurdle was introduced in 1972, which was known as the Ladbrokes World Hurdle for a 10-year stretch. It was the last of the championship races to be added, and four is where the number remains today.

While there is a selection of major races at the Cheltenham Festival, one race, in particular, has a place in the heart of the British nation. 

The Champion Chase had been active in one form another since 1958, but in 1980 it took on a much more sentimental meaning. The Queen Mother had been a noted supporter of horse racing throughout her life, so the famous race was named after her. 

Over the next few years, it would be Badsworth Boy that would stake claim to the event, winning the crown in 1983, 1984 and 1985, an astounding record for such a hotly contested race.

Canceled in 2001

The Cheltenham Festival has been a cornerstone of the British sporting calendar for generations, but even this famous event doesn’t have a spotless record. 

The year 2001 saw a major outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in the British Isles. While original plans only postponed the Cheltenham Festival until April, the decision to cancel it ultimately came after a case was reported nearby at Prestbury Park. 

Similar controversy occurred in 2008 when the second day of the event was wiped from the schedule due to high winds

Thankfully, cancellations such as this are a rare occurrences at the Cheltenham Festival, with races usually occurring as planned rain or shine.

Became a four-day festival in 2005

As the Cheltenham Festival saw the turn of the millennium, it was clear that it was more popular than ever. 

The year 2005 brought in the first of the four-day festivals instead of the previous three-day event. Thursday’s championship race was given to World Hurdle, bumping the Gold Cup to Friday to fill out space. Five new races were also introduced, and two more since, so the current total sits at 28 races throughout the four-day festival.

Since 2005, the four-day event has been a massive hit with bettors, with now nearly 30 races taking place. In recent years, rumors have even run rampant that a fifth day could be added. The demand for Cheltenham Festival racing is as big as ever in 2019, so the introduction of even more races does make sense. 

One event official also said that the introduction of an additional day was “inevitable,” so watch this space in 2020 and beyond.

Cheltenham Festival FAQ

The 2020 Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday, March 10, and finishes on Friday, March 13.

The Cheltenham Festival has feature races and supporting races. The feature races begin on Tuesday with the Champion Hurdle as a showpiece, continue on Wednesday with the run of the Queen Mother Champion Chase, and end on Friday with the peak of the Festival, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Currently, almost 30 races involving both feature and supporting races take place at the Cheltenham Festival. Rumors say there is consideration for adding a fifth day, and if that happens, you can expect the number of races to increase in the next few years, possibly getting closer to the 40 mark.

Over 500 total horses compete in the many different events at the Cheltenham Festival. Every year sees more entrants competing than previous years, and the number is only increasing as each event passes.

The National Hunt chase requires a distance of 21,120 feet, and is the longest and most difficult race in the Festival. Grueling doesn’t even begin to describe the National Hunt chase, with some believing it to be the true marathon of global horse racing.

The Cheltenham Festival offers a £6 million prize pot over the whole course of the four-day event. You will note that this isn’t the biggest payout pot at a horse racing event, but it’s not exactly an amount to be scoffed at either. That being said, the Gold Cup prize fund is second only to the Grand National in the UK.

Four mares in total have won the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival – 1925’s Ballinode, 1958’s Kerstin, 1972’s Glencaraig Lady, and 1986’s Dawn Run. Unlike a lot of major horse racing events, mares have a fine history at the Cheltenham Festival, especially on the track racing for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 2011 winner, Long Run, set the record for the fastest time at 6:29.7. With almost a decade under its belt, we don’t expect this record to be broken.

2014 featured the only horse to have ever won six Cheltenham races, Quevega. Even more impressive, these were consecutive seasonal victories. Her latest win actually surpassed the five consecutive race streak set by Golden Miller from 1932 to 1936, though Golden Miller was the first to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National in a single season. Quevega has certainly earned its place among Cheltenham Festival legends with its consistent performance.

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