Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide | Cheltenham Odds & Bookmakers

Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest betting event in horse racing.
Held annually every March, it’s championship races are the culmination of National Hunt owners, trainers and jockeys’ hopes and dreams and the countdown invites much anticipation and expectation among punters. As a bonus, over the four days, bookmakers come up with an overload of special betting offers, rewards and free bets designed to entice.

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Cheltenham Festival Schedule 2020


13:30 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

14:10 – Arkle Challenge Trophy

14:50 – Ultima Handicap Chase

15:30 – Unibet Champion Hurdle

16:10 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle

16:50 – National Hunt Challenge Cup

17:30 – Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase


13:30 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

14:10 – RSA Chase

14:50 – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

15:30 – Queen Mother Champion Chase

16:10 – Cross Country Chase

16:50 – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

17:30 – Weatherby’s Champion Bumper


13:30 – JLT Novices’ Chase

14:10 – Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle

14:50 – Ryanair Chase

15:30 – Stayers’ Hurdle

16:10 – Brown Advisory Plate

16:50 – Mares Novices’ Hurdle

17:30 – Fulke Walwyn/Kim Muir Chase

  • DAY 4 (FRIDAY)

13:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle

14:10 – County Handicap Hurdle

14:50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

15:30 – Cheltenham Gold Cup

16:10 – Foxhunter Challenge Cup

16:50 – Grand Annual Chase

17:30 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle


Cheltenham Racecourse – The Lowdown

There are other National Hunt racing festivals in the spring but neither Aintree nor Punchestown compare to the Cheltenham Festival.

Built in a natural amphitheatre in the shadow of Cleeve Hill in Gloucestershire Cheltenham racecourse, known colloquially as Prestbury Park, actually has two tracks.

Both the Old Course and slightly longer New Course are used on different days. The New Course has a tricky downhill fence and a longer run-in for steeplechases than the Old Course.

Hurdle races over two miles on the New Course also have a slight peculiarity in that most of the obstacles are jumped early on in the race with only two hurdles being jumped once runners begin the downhill run to the home straight.

Cheltenham is synonymous with jumps racing and hosts the world-famous Cheltenham Festival every March. The traditional championship races consist of the Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Few venues compare when it comes to excitement, drama and atmosphere with the course able to accommodate up to 70,000 spectators.

It attracts the cream from both sides of the Irish Sea and legions of racing fans. If you enjoy National Hunt racing and like to have a bet, there is no place like the Cheltenham Festival so here is our take on what can be on offer at the Festival.

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History of the Festival

Racing was taking place in the Prestbury Park area of Cheltenham as early as 1815.
It started at Nottingham Hill before moving to Cleeve Hill on a more permanent basis. Three days of racing began taking place regularly every August from 1819, with crowds of up to 50,000 people watching what was then a series flat races.

However, after church-led protests and a general downturn in fortunes, racing ceased in the 1840s and the land was used for farming until bought by WA Baring Bingham, who wanted to develop a stud farm and was also a fan of horse racing.

By 1898, Baring Bingham had organised a race meeting and a National Hunt Festival of sorts began in April 1902. In 1911, the move to Prestbury Park was completed and the prestigious National Hunt Chase was featuring alongside in the Cheltenham Gold Cup by 1924 – the Stayer’s Hurdle had been inaugurated in 1912 and the County Hurdle had followed in 1920.

Seven years later, innovative course chairman Frederick Cathcart introduced the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Festival adopted a form that would be recognisable, even today.


Famous Festival Winners

The list of famous Cheltenham Festival winners is almost endless and history is constantly being rewritten.
Golden Miller won five Gold Cups between 1932 and 1936. To date, he is the only horse to win both the Gold Cup and Grand National in the same season.

Cottage Rake was the first Irish-trained horse to win the Gold Cup in 1948 and also won it in the following two years. It was his popularity that inspired the annual Irish pilgrimage to Cheltenham which seems to grow in number every year.

Achieving an incredible Timeform rating of 212, a record for a chaser that will never likely be surpassed, Arkle won three successive Gold Cups between 1964 and 1966 and 27 of his 34 career starts.

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Best Mate also won three successive Gold Cups between 2002 and 2004 and was only beaten once at Cheltenham throughout his career when second in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Hatton’s Grace, Sir Ken, Persian War and See You Then all won the Champion Hurdle three times.

So did the mighty Istabraq, who may well have surpassed his illustrious predecessors had the 2001 Festival not been cancelled due to a foot and mouth outbreak.

Sea Pigeon only won two Champion Hurdles but that was in a golden age for two-mile hurdlers when he was consistently competing against the likes of Night Nurse, Monksfield and Birds Nest. Peter Easterby’s versatile gelding was also good enough to win two Chester Cups and an Ebor on the Flat.

Dawn Run is still the only horse to have won both the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup and more recent heroes include the flying grey Desert Orchid and Big Buck’s.

The latter won four consecutive World Hurdles at the Festival between 2009 and 2012 to cement his place in the history books.
Badsworth Boy is also a legend having won the Queen Mother Champion Chase three times between 1983 and 1985. He was trained by Michael Dickenson – there will be more about him in a following section.

Will another superstar emerge from this year’s Festival?


Cheltenham Festival’s Most Successful Trainers

Fulke Walwyn’s 40 winners at the Cheltenham Festival between 1946 and 1986 stood as a record until eclipsed by Nicky Henderson. He trained the winners of four Gold Cups and two Champion Hurdles the Royal trainer is commemorated in the title of the Fulke Walwyn, Kim Muir Memorial Chase at the Festival.

Nicky Henderson is also a Royal trainer, and the Lambourn handler continues to trade blows with the powerful Irish yards who have begun the dominate the Festival.

Willie Mullins has been the dominant force at the Festival for a number of years but is now being challenged by fellow Irishman Gordon Elliott. However, he currently holds the record for wins.

Martin Pipe saddled 34 Festival winners, including two Champion Hurdles with Granville Again in 1993 and Make A Stand in 1997. The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival is named in his honour.

Fred Winter oversaw 28 Festival winners and is the only person to have won the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Grand National as both jockey and trainer. He won the Gold Cup twice and the Champion Hurdle three times as a jockey and four times as a trainer.

He is also remembered at Cheltenham with the naming of the Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle.

Michael Dickinson achieved the extraordinary feat of saddling the first five home in the 1983 Cheltenham Gold Cup and Paul Nicholls has been leading trainer at the Festival on numerous occasions and is also still a powerful force.


Most Successful Current Trainers at The Festival

Willie Mullins IRE 65
Nicky Henderson 64
Paul Nicholls 45
Jonjo O’Neill 26
Gordon Elliott IRE 25
Philip Hobbs 20
Edward O’Grady IRE 18
Nigel Twiston-Davies 17
Alan King and David Pipe 15
Jessica Harrington IRE 11
David Elsworth 9
Enda Bolger IRE and Arthur Moore IRE 8
Henry de Bromhead IRE 7
Mouse Morris IRE 7
Colin Tizzard 7
Tony Martin IRE, Donald McCain, Aidan O’Brien IRE, Oliver Sherwood and Venetia Williams 6
Noel Meade IRE 5


Most Successful Jockeys at the Festival

Ruby Walsh has partnered 59 winners at The Festival. His first came aboard the Willie Mullins-trained Alexander Banquet when he was just 18 in the 1998 Weatherbys Champion Bumper – his last coming in 2019 aboard Klassical Dream, also trained by Mullins, in the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

His successes include the Unibet Champion Hurdle a joint-record four times and the Stayers’ Hurdle a record five times. He also won the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice on the great Kauto Star and partnered Quevega to a remarkable six victories in the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle.

Between 2002 and 2019, he never had a blank year at The Festival.

Pat Taaffe and Fred Winter are famous names from the past who boasted a good strike-rate from fewer opportunities.
Sir Anthony McCoy rode 31 winners at the Festival in his illustrious career and Barry Geraghty has so far amassed 38 winners and may yet get a few more before he hangs up his riding boots.


Leading Current Jockeys at the Festival

Barry Geraghty 38
Richard Johnson 23
Davy Russell 22
Nico de Boinville 10
Tom Scudamore 10
Paul Townend 10
Mr Jamie Codd 9
Bryan Cooper 8
Noel Fehily 7
Sam Twiston-Davies 7
Paddy Brennan 6
Jack Kennedy 5

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Feature Races – Champion Hurdle Recent Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer
2019 Espoir D’Allen 5 M Walsh G Cromwell
2018 Buveur D’Air 7 N Fehily N Henderson
2017 Buveur D’Air 6 N Fehily N Henderson
2016 Annie Power 8 R Walsh W Mullins
2015 Faugheen 7 R Walsh W Mullins
2014 Jezki 6 B Geraghty J Harrington
2013 Hurricane Fly 9 R Walsh W Mullins
2012 Rock On Ruby 7 N Fehily P Nicholls
2011 Hurricane Fly 7 R Walsh W Mullins
2010 Binocular 6 A McCoy N Henderson
2009 Punjabi 6 B Geraghty N Henderson
2008 Katchit 5 R Thornton A King
2007 Sublimity 7 P Carberry J Carr
2006 Brave Inca 8 A McCoy C Murphy
2005 Hardy Eustace 8 C O’Dwyer D Hughes
2004 Hardy Eustace 7 C O’Dwyer D Hughes
2003 Rooster Booster 9 R Johnson P Hobbs
2002 Hors La Loi III 7 D Gallagher J Fanshawe
2001 NO RACE
2000 Istabraq 8 C Swan A O’Brien
1999 Istabraq 7 C Swan A O’Brien
1998 Istabraq 6 C Swan A O’Brien


Recent Trends

83 per cent of the last 36 winners won had won their previous race.
Trainer Willie Mullins has won 4 of the last 9 renewals.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has won the race seven times.

Irish-trained runners and those trained by Nicky Henderson have won 81 per cent of last 21 runnings between them.
69 per cent of the last 13 winners were aged either six or seven.

More than 100 five-year-olds have run the Champion Hurdle since 1985 but only two have won.
There have only been two winners aged 10 or older since 1927.

66 per cent of the last 35 winners had finished in the first four at the previous season’s Cheltenham Festival.
58 per cent of the last 24 winners had run on the Flat prior to going jumping.

Only one winner since 2006 had raced more than 12 times over hurdles in total.


2020 Champion Hurdle Analysis

Nicky Henderson is expected to run five in his bid to win a fifth Unibet Champion Hurdle.

According to bookmakers, Epatante is expected to prove the pick of his quintet.
She beat several other Champion Hurdle entries with plenty in hand in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Ireland’s top trainers Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott also have multiple entries.

The former’s Cilaos Emery will need to be supplemented but the latter has entered smart novices Abracadabras and Envoi Allen but they have alternative targets at the Festival.
Henry De Bromhead is toying with the idea of running the unbeaten Honeysuckle but she may run instead in the Mares’ Hurdle.

PENTLAND HILLS could improve the record of five-year-olds in hurdling’s Blue Riband.
A lack of conditioning probably cost him victory on his reappearance and he was then outstayed at Haydock on heavy going when probably hitting the front too soon.

Last year’s Triumph Hurdle winner has deliberately had a light campaign and will be able to put his speed to good use as long as the ground is not testing.


Feature Races – Queen Mother Champion Chase Recent Winners

Year Horse Previous Form Age Price Trainer Jockey
2019 Altior 11-111 9 4/11 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville
2018 Altior 1111-1 8 Evens Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville
2017 Special Tiara 3-6315 10 11/1 Henry de Bromhead Noel Fehily
2016 Sprinter Sacre 2P2-11 10 5/1 Nicky Henderson Nico de Boinville
2015 Dodging Bullets 45-311 7 9/2 Paul Nicholls Sam Twiston-Davies
2014 Sire de Grugy 12111 8 11/4 Gary Moore Jamie Moore
2013 Sprinter Sacre 111-11 7 1/4 Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
2012 Finian’s Rainbow 121-12 9 4-1 Nicky Henderson Barry Geraghty
2011 Sizing Europe 13-223 9 10/1 Henry de Bromhead Andrew Lynch
2010 Big Zeb 1-2141 9 10/1 Colm Murphy Barry Geraghty


Recent Trends

95 per cent of the last 38 winners started at odds of 10/1 or shorter.
75 per cent of the last 20 winners started at odds of 5/1 or shorter.
94 per cent of the last 17 winners had run in the calendar year.

75 per cent of the last 20 winners ran in the previous season’s Arkle or Champion Chase
11 of the last 19 winners ran in the Tingle Creek Chase that season.
65 per cent of the last 17 winners were second-season chasers.


2020 Champion Chase Analysis

ALTIOR has only been beaten once so far over fences.
That was on his return to action this season when racing over a trip too far at Ascot.

Maybe he didn’t impress everyone in the Game Spirit at Newbury in his prep race but he still won with a fair bit in hand and it will take a brave man to oppose the 10-year-old as he bids to become the first horse since Badsworth Boy in 1985 to win three consecutive Betway Champion Chases.

Defi Du Seuil, who won the JLT Novices’ Chase at the Festival in 2019, has been the stand-out performer in 2m chases this season and the young pretender rates the danger as he appears to have the beating of three-times Festival winner and two-times Champion Chase runner-up Un De Sceaux.

Chacun Pour Soi has also been popular with punters but this has not been a great race for Willie Mullins recently.


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Feature Races – Stayers’ Hurdle Recent Winners

Year Winner Jockey Trainer Age Weight SP Official Rating
2008 Inglis Drever Denis O’Regan Howard Johnson 9 11-10 11/8 172
2009 Big Bucks Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 6 11-10 6/1 170
2010 Big Bucks Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 7 11-10 5/6 174
2011 Big Bucks Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 8 11-10 10/11 174
2012 Big Bucks Ruby Walsh Paul Nicholls 9 11-10 5/6 174
2013 Solwhit Paul Carberry Charles Byrnes 9 11-10 17/2 154
2014 More of That Barry Geraghty Jonjo O’Neill 6 11-10 7/2 160
2015 Cole Harden Gavin Sheehan Warren Greatrex 6 11-10 14/1 158
2016 Thistlecrack Tom Scudamore Colin Tizzard 8 11-10 Evs 168
2017 Nichols Canyon Ruby Walsh Willie Mullins 7 11-10 10/1 161
2018 Penhill Paul Townend Willie Mullins 7 11-10 12/1 153
2019 Paisley Park Aidan Coleman Emma Lavelle 7 11-10 11/8 156


Stayers’ Hurdle Trends

89 per cent of every winner this century came from the first four in the betting.
83 per cent of the last 8 winners had finished first or second in all of their runs that season.
87 per cent of the last 15 winners were 10/1 or shorter.

No five-year-old has won the race.
There has been no winner aged 10 or older since 1986.
Irish horses have only won three times in 25 years.


Stayer’s Hurdle Analysis

The 2020 Paddy Power Stayer’s Hurdle is really all about one horse.

PAISLEY PARK, the defending champion, often hits a flat spot in his races, as he did in last year’s race.
But he is some sight to behold once the turbo kicks in.

Emma Lavelle’s eight-year-old has won all seven races since beaten in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham two years ago. He looked as good as ever in the Cleeve Hurdle in January and is probably one of the Festival bankers, though won’t be much of a price.

The mare Benie Des Dieux has won all completed starts for Willie Mullins and is the only other that punters have latched on to.
Samcro could figure if recapturing past glories while Emitom is still a relatively unknown quantity but multiple winners are not uncommon in this race and Paisley Park appears to hold all the aces again.


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Feature Races – Cheltenham Gold Cup Recent Winners

Year Winner Age Jockey Trainer
2019 Al Boum Photo 7 P Townend W Mullins
2018 Native River 8 R Johnson C Tizzard
2017 Sizing John 7 R Power J Harrington
2016 Don Cossack 9 B Cooper G Elliott
2015 Coneygree 8 N de Boinville M Bradstock
2014 Lord Windermere 8 D Russell J Culloty
2013 Bobs Worth 8 B Geraghty N Henderson
2012 Synchronised 8 A McCoy J O’Neill
2011 Long Run 6 S Waley-Cohen N Henderson
2010 Imperial Commander 9 P Brennan N Twiston-Davies
2009 Kauto Star 9 R Walsh P Nicholls
2008 Denman 8 S Thomas P Nicholls
2007 Kauto Star 7 R Walsh P Nicholls
2006 War Of Attrition 7 C O’Dwyer M Morris
2005 Kicking King 7 B Geraghty T Taaffe
2004 Best Mate 9 J Culloty H Knight
2003 Best Mate 8 J Culloty H Knight
2002 Best Mate 7 J Culloty H Knight
2001 NO RACE
2000 Looks Like Trouble 8 R Johnson N Chance
1999 See More Business 9 M Fitzgerald P Nicholls


Recent Trends – Cheltenham Gold Cup

100 per cent of the last 20 winners were aged nine or younger.
95 per cent of the last 20 winners had raced no more than 12 times previously over fences.
92 per cent of the last 12 winners had not run more than three times that season.

89 per cent of the last 20 winners finished first or second in their previous race.
80 per cent of the last 20 winners had run in either the Savills Chase or the King George that season.


Cheltenham Gold Cup Analysis

Cheltenham is a like a second home for Frodon and Bryony Frost. Unfortunately, the five-times course winner struggles to stay 3m2f in a truly-run race and a more likely target is the Ryanair, which he won last year.

Challengers have been lining up to take on AL BOUM PHOTO all season in the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup but several of fallen by the wayside in terms of performance.
The defending champion won the Savills Chase with plenty in hand when last seen and the form of that race has been franked.

Gordon Elliot thinks the world of Delta Work while Santini advertised his claims with victory in the Cotsworld Chase at Cheltenham.

Clan Des Obeaux won the King George at Kempton in December but was only fifth last year in the Gold Cup and his Cheltenham record is off-putting.


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