Betting Guide2018-09-13T07:14:29+00:00

Festival Betting Guide

Horseracing has been at the heart of British popular and sporting culture for centuries and, for many, ‘having a flutter’ is key to the enjoyment of the raceday. A bet can make an already exciting race far more thrilling, backing your selection with cash and watching your chosen horse win is a great feeling.

We’re proud to partner with – a leading source for expert tips, exclusive betting promotions and racetrack news – so you can get all the latest betting news and tips for the world’s most breath taking race meeting, The Cheltenham Festival! supply most of the content on this page so any views expressed are not those of Cheltenham Racecourse so please not only bet responsibly but form your own opinion as well!

How free bet offers work

The annual war between punters and bookmakers across the four days of the Cheltenham Festival sees hundreds of thousands of pounds in cash and also Cheltenham Festival free bets change hands on-and-off the track through the myriad of on-course bookmakers.

Both those bookmakers who will ply their trade in the betting ring, along with the betting shops and booths scattered around the Cheltenham Festival racecourse will see plenty of trade from punters; while off-course betting shops and online portals also see an upsurge in business as big wagers are struck on races such as The Stan James Champion Hurdle, The Timico Gold Cup and The Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle across the four days of the top-class feast of racing that takes place each year in March at the Gloucestershire venue.

The Cheltenham Festival possesses great allure for punters old and new, and many bookmakers look to entice new customers into the thrills that the spectacle of the Cheltenham Festival offers each year. With quality jumps horse racing throughout the jumps season, bookmakers are always looking for new and exciting ways to secure custom from those new to the sport, and also older hands who may be looking around for value. The Festival sponsors Betway are quickly gaining traction as one of the most popular bookmaker and their welcome bonus is a favourite for Festival punters (Bet £10 get £30 in free bets – 300% matched free bet).

There are many different types of free bets punters can claim online. Here is a list of the most popular bonuses out there:

  • Deposit Match – deposit and get the same value as free funds.
  • 100% Match Bet – get a free bet to the same value as your first bet.
  • 300% Match Bet – bet as little as £10 and get £30 in free bets added to your account.
  • Risk-Free 1st bet – have your first bet on the house. If it loses, get your stake back.

How to Pick a Horse

No one can tell you who is going to win any given race – follow your favourite trainer or jockey, pick your favourite colours, go with a quirky name or even your lucky number. Others, however, rely on studying a horse’s form. ‘Form’ simply refers to how well a horse has been doing recently. You can find this information in the racing section of your racecard (a racecard is like a programme that you can buy at a course, listing all the information you need to know on the day’s runners.)

A good start when studying the horse’s form is to ideally pick a horse that has run well recently. This can be highlighted by lots of 1, 2 or 3s in its form figures. Beware of the letters U,F,P, which stands for Unseated, Fell and Pulled Up, you could be taking a risk.

Following a trainer or jockey can pay dividends, especially if they are in form or have a strong record at the Cheltenham Festival. But don’t expect just because you have heard of a jockey or trainer that they will win – your favourite jockey can’t be victorious in every race he rides in!

Arguably, the most popular way to select a horse is by the jockey’s silks. It takes no skill or knowledge, but has proven to be very profitable. If red is your favourite colour, then choose a horse whose jockey will be wearing red. It doesn’t have to be your favourite; it can be the right combination that takes your fancy.

Then, of course, there is the grey factor. Who doesn’t like a grey horse? If that is your view then head to the Parade Ring before the race and look out for a gorgeous grey. Alternatively, do the same but pick out the best looking horse and put faith in its performance on the track to match its star quality in looks.

Ways to bet:

Once you have made your choice, it is time to actually put your money where your mouth is. There are three ways to bet at the race track:

  • Rails bookmakers: look for the big boards full of starting prices and the bookies shouting out various odds.
  • William Hill betting shop, which is the same as any bookies in any town centre.
  • Totepool: look for Tote windows or staff roaming in the hospitality areas. If you need advice just ask.

Alternatively, you can bet online.

We recommend:

  • Daily Racing Tips
  • Betting Specials
  • Enhanced Odds Offers
  • Get Free Bets
  • Find Promotion Codes

Types of Cheltenham Festival bets

Most Common Bet Types How they work
Single 1 bet on 1 selection in one event
Double 1 bet involving 2 selections in different events. Both must be successful to get a return
Treble 1 bet involving 3 selections in different events. All must be successful to get a return.


Tricasts are only accepted on horse racing handicaps with 6 or more runners:

Straight Tricasts – This bet involves 3 selections in a race finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the order named. (The closest equivalent to a Tricast in many countries is a Trifecta or a Tierce).

Combination Tricasts – This bet involves 3 or more selections in a race finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in any order. To calculate the number of bets in a Combination Tricast multiply the number of selections by the preceding number. For example, a £10 Combination Tricast (CTC) with four selections would cost £240. That’s 4 x 3 x 2 = 24 bets.

Cheltenham Festival Betting Odds

Cheltenham Festival betting plays a large part of a punters’ mindset during the National Hunt season, and plots and plays are often planned weeks and months in advance as punters seek that big win as they dissect the form and assess the displays throughout the season of the big-race candidates as they go about their respective preparations for their Festival targets each March.

From the early days of the season in early-October, every trainer sets their hopes on their stable stars as the likes of Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls, Nicky Henderson and Gordon Elliott chart the paths their stable-stars will take throughout the season before hopefully pitching up at the ‘greatest show on turf’.

And sometimes punters can steal a march on the layers by identifying and getting on early-season hopes where the ante-post market could provide some significantly longer odds on a particular fancy. Of course, there are risks attached with taking such a gamble at an early stage of the season.

If the horse gets injured, for example, or loses their form then that early wager could be wasted or the available odds lengthened considerably from the earlier markets; but if the converse were to happen and the early season fancy continues to run well and rack up further successes, then those odds could shorten and make that early wager look even more attractive.

The ante-post market may have cleaned out several bookmakers had the great ante-post punt of 2015 come to fruition. On that occasion, punters lumped on early on a strong day-one Willie Mullins foursome that would have created massive liabilities for the likes of bet365 had all four won.

As it transpired, bookies breathed a massive sigh of relief as Annie Power – the last of the four to run following earlier wins for Douvan, Un De Sceaux and Faugheen – crumpled on landing over the final flight having looked in command of the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle to audible cries of anguish from punters not only on course, but also around the country as countless ante-post slips bit the dust.

The first day of the Cheltenham Festival is often the punters’ favourite, and the early exchanges between punters and bookmakers can set the tone for the rest of the week. If the punters have a good first day, Cheltenham Festival odds for the rest of the meeting can shorten as the layers seek to shore up their losses.

Starting with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Tuesday, one of the biggest betting events of the year as punters look to get off to a winning start, the Arkle Chase and the Champion Hurdle both provide significant additional competitive betting heats.

On day two, the action is dominated by the Champion Chase and the RSA Chase, both of which will have generated plenty of ante-post interest throughout the season; and the winner of the latter could well be subject to early support for the following season’s Gold Cup. Indeed the RSA Chase can prove an excellent clue to future seasons’ Blue Riband.

Day three: The Stayers’ Hurdle, JLT Novices’ Chase and the Ryanair Chase provide further competitive betting heats on day three, and the World Hurdle has thrown up some scintillating performances from the likes of Thistlecrack – one of the biggest winners for punters in recent seasons – as well as staying greats such as Big Buck’s, Inglis Drever and Baracouda.

And on day four – the final day of the Cheltenham Festival – centre-stage is taken by the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and for many punters the culmination of months’ worth of ante-post wagers in the premier chase of the four-day Festival.


Bookmakers offer fixed odds so you can figure exactly what you stand to win before you bet. When betting at a course, there will be many bookies to choose from, so shop around to see who has the best odds on the horse you fancy. Many bookmakers will have a higher minimum bet than the Tote and they will usually offer far fewer types of bet, sometimes just ‘to win’ or ‘each-way’. To win is simple; your horse must come first. Each-way means you are placing two bets, one on your horse to win and one on it to be placed, which means finishing in the first two, three or four depending on the terms of the race. Typically, a horse must finish in the first three to be classified as being placed, but in larger fields it may well be that fourth is enough to get a winning bet. Remember, that an each-way bet involves two separate bets so if you are planning to spend £10 then ask for £5 each-way.

  • The number of the horse
  • The bet type
  • Your stake

You’ll receive a receipt that you will need to keep safe so you can use it to collect your winnings if things go your way.

Be responsible:

Putting on a bet at the races is all part of the experience and we challenge anyone to not scream with frustration or delight as their horse approaches the winning line!

The secret, of course, is never to bet more than you can afford to lose. Stick to the plan – be it £2, £5, £10 or £20 per race – and don’t let success or failure affect that plan.


William Hill Betting Shop:

If you are betting in the William Hill betting shop, you will have to decide whether to take the odds at the time you are placing your bet or let it roll and accept the SP, the starting price that is on offer when the tapes goes up. If you are placing a bet with the Tote, you don’t have that option. That is because the odds fluctuate depending how much money is staked on the race and on each particular horse.


There are Tote betting points throughout the racecourse. With the Tote, you’re not betting against a bookie; your stake goes into a pool, and like the lottery, your win depends on how many other winning tickets there are. Fill in a form with your stake, the type of bet and your horse – minimum bet £2.

For all single race bets, you can simply call over the details of your selections at any Totepool betting position, by stating the following:

For example “A £5 Toteexacta on horses 4 & 6 in race 2 at Ascot please.”

  • Your stake
  • The type of bet
  • Your horse number(s)
  • The race number
  • The race meeting