The Cheltenham Festival is the Holy Grail of National Hunt racing. It may not get underway until March 14th 2017 but, as usual, the excitement relentlessly builds for weeks and months beforehand.
As leading contenders lay their credentials on the line in key trial races beforehand, Cheltenham Festival betting turnover, particularly ante-post wagers on the Championship races, builds and builds. Little wonder odds for Cheltenham week appear the moment the horses cross the line the previous year!
Come race week itself Cheltenham racecourse, will play host to 250,000 racegoers over the four day festival. Over 70,000 people are expected to attend the showpiece Cheltenham Gold Cup day and both on and off course Cheltenham Festival betting turnover will be stratospheric.
Coinciding with this Cheltenham Festival betting orgy, bookmakers will be doing all they can to entice new business touting free bets on the Cheltenham Festival.
Meanwhile Cheltenham Festival betting guides will come complimentary with most national newspapers and a recent trend has seen all sorts of dedicated Cheltenham Apps appear on the market.
Cheltenham Festival Races 2017
Here’s our run-down of the Cheltenham Festival dates…
Champion Hurdle Day – Tuesday 14th March
One of the key races of the Cheltenham Festival schedule is the Champion Hurdle and it is the headline event on Day 1 of the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Those that bet on Cheltenham’s races every year will know this race is second in betting turnover only to the Gold Cup (Cheltenham Gold Cup Day is always on a Friday) and it features an illustrious list of previous winners including 2004/5 winner Hardy Eustace, three time winners Istabraq and See You Then and those brilliant dual-winners from the 1970’s Sea Pigeon, Monksfield and Night Nurse.
There has not been a back-to-back winner of the Champion Hurdle for 11 years though so defending champion Annie Power may have her work cut out in 2017. And those looking for a Cheltenham Festival betting pointer should take note that five of the last six Champion Hurdles have gone to Irish-trained runners.
One of the most popular Cheltenham Festival dates, the days racing kicks off with the Supreme Novice Hurdle and the Tuesday Cheltenham race schedule also features the Festival Handicap Chase, Arkle Challenge Trophy and David Nicholson Mares Hurdle.
Ladies Day – Wednesday 15th March
Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival schedule, labelled ‘Ladies Day’, features the Queen Mother Champion Chase, another of those level-weights Championship races where Cheltenham races betting goes wild.
Master Minded was an imperious dual winner of this contest in 2008/2009 as was Sprinter Sacre in 2013. The Nicky Henderson-trained chaser returned from injury to re-claim the Champion Chase title in 2016. Unlike the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase has not been an Irish free-for-all with just two of the past ten winners coming from the Emerald Isle.
The Wednesday card at Cheltenham racecourse also features the Neptune Novice Hurdle (the opening race on the card), the Cross Country Chase (a race normally monopolised by Irish-trained runners), the massively competitive Fred Winter Hurdle and the curtain faller is the Champion Bumper.
Despite the limited form on offer in the Bumper this National Hunt flat race is one of the biggestCheltenham Festival betting races. There are always plenty of whispers, at least three ante-post gambles and often a winner that goes on to greatness. Cue Card being the most recent example.
St Patrick’s Thursday – 16th March
Cheltenham Thursday just happens to be St Patrick’s Day and features the World Hurdle, a three-mile level-weights championship contest formerly known as the ‘Stayers Hurdle’.
Multiple winner Big Bucks gave this race some real credibility. The contest had steadily grown as the last century ended and by 2003, when Baracouda won it for the second time, the World Hurdle was starting to be taken seriously as a championship race.
That reputation was enhanced further by Inglis Drever who claimed the title three times (2005, 2007 & 2008) but the World Hurdle truly claimed its place amongst the highest echelon of National Hunt races when Big Bucks deservedly earned the title of ‘the greatest staying hurdler in history’ in taking the race for a four consecutive years.
The 2012 World Hurdle victory of Big Bucks was his 16th consecutive race win (sadly he was injured after his 18th successive win) and at odds of 5/6 he went off his joint highest price of those 16 race starts.
Supporting the staying hurdle elite cast is the Ryanair Chase – won last year by the brilliant but ill-fated Vautour – the JLT Novice Chase, the Kim Muir Challenge Cup, the Festival Plate (all for chasers) and two hurdle races: the Mares Hurdle and the Pertemps Final Hurdle.
Cheltenham Gold Cup Day – Friday 17th March
And finally the curtains will come down on Friday, simply known as ‘Cheltenham Gold Cup Day’. The action will kick-off with the Triumph Hurdle – a race jockey Barry Geraghty has won four times in the past eight years – and is followed by two more hurdle races: the County Handicap Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle.
All of this before the biggest Cheltenham Festival betting race of them all, the Gold Cup. It’s not only punters that want to win on the Gold Cup; there is no owner in the sport of national Hunt racing that does not want to claim this fabled prize.
But it is no easy task, despite some of the greatest chasers in history winning this race recently – Kauto Star and Denman come to mind – no horse has won the Gold Cup in back-to-back years since 2002, 2003 and 2004 winner Best Mate.
If you have any money left at the conclusion of the Gold Cup you will then be faced with three bigCheltenham Festival betting conundrums: The Foxhunter’s Steeple Chase, the Conditional Jockey’s Hurdle and the Grand Annual Chase. Good luck finding the winner’s in these, they are normally a minefield.
Cheltenham Betting offers
As the Cheltenham Festival draws closer more and more bookmakers will be issuing many Cheltenham betting offers, Cheltenham free bets and concessions.
Unquestionably one or two firms will be handing out Cheltenham free bets on the opening race of the Festival on each of the four days.
SkyBet were the first to offer this amazing Cheltenham betting offer which refunds bets (as aCheltenham free bet) if you back the loser in any of the daily curtain-raisers: The Supreme Novice Hurdle, Neptune Novices Hurdle, JLT Novice Chase and Triumph Hurdle. Paddy Power and William Hill are always like to run a similar Cheltenham free bet offer.
And ante-post punters will be amazed by bookmakers willingness to offer ‘non-runner no-bet’ terms weeks before the 2017 Cheltenham Festival gets underway.
Cheltenham Betting Tips
Here are four long-range antepost Cheltenham tips, one for each race day…
Cheltenham Day 1 tips
The Champion Hurdle market is dominated by Willie Mullins runners and it is hard not to see him winning it again. However, we don’t think it will be with the defending champion Annie Power, instead we are expecting the brilliant 2015 Champion Hurdle winner, Faugheen, to make up for missing last year’s race with another smooth victory. He is one of our top tips for Cheltenham 2017.
Cheltenham Day 2 tips
Last year’s Arkle winner, Douvan, is long odds on to win this race and barring injury he surely will. Normally we are loathed to give odds-on Cheltenham betting tips but his sequence of 11 wide-margin consecutive wins speak volumes about this one’s ability.
Cheltenham Day 3 tips
Annie Power, the defending Champion Hurdler may have been defeated in the World Hurdle in 2014 but (barring one fall when leading and going best in the 2015 Cheltenham Mares Hurdle) she has a record of 15 wins from 17 career starts and we think as a 9-year-old the 2017 World Hurdle is hers for the taking. She’s one of the best tips for Cheltenham 2017.
Cheltenham Day 4 tips
And finally our Cheltenham Gold Cup tips goes to Coneygree, the British bred and trained racehorse who won the 2015 Cheltenham Gold Cup on only his fourth chase start and returned from a year off injured to finish an excellent second to Cue Card in the Lancashire Chase.
He may be turning 10 but there are few miles on his clock and that reappearance was an excellent effort and he can join Kauto Star in become one of the very few horses to reclaim the Gold Cup crown.
Best Cheltenham Apps
If you want to know more about the Cheltenham Festival 2017, be it Cheltenham tips, offers ofCheltenham free bets, we suggest you have a scout through the App store as some excellent apps for betting have surfaced in recent years giving punters even more chance to win on this four dateCheltenham betting extravaganza.
Don’t forget new-age Cheltenham betting apps (and microsites from exciting bookmakers) do a lot more than simply accept bets and provide jockey’s colours. They are generally jam-packed with statsand facilitate live streaming of all the Cheltenham racing action.