Betting Tips and Previews: Cheltenham Festival 2023

The Beginners Guide To The Cheltenham Festival

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Betting at The Cheltenham Festival for the first time?

If so, then this is the article for you!

Let us guide you through the sporting betting extravaganza that brings the Cotswolds to a standstill for four days in March! We’ll explain everything you need to know, right from why the Festival is held to explaining the best way to get the Cheltenham Festival winners.

For those of you who are looking to open new betting accounts, we have a section devoted to highlighting the best Cheltenham Festival free bet offers from our partner firms, Bet365, William Hill, Bet Victor, Betfred and Boylesports.

What is The Cheltenham Festival?

Some describe The Cheltenham Festival as the Olympics of National Hunt racing. This is essentially true. The best horses in UK, Ireland. and occasionally further afield, do battle for the “championship races” which can be described as mini cup finals according to which distance or type of obstacle the horse is trying to jump.

Throughout the jumps season from October to March, the chief aim of nearly every National Hunt trainer is to get their horses to The Cheltenham Festival in one piece. The prize money and prestige of winning at The Cheltenham Festival dwarfs anything else on offer throughout the season, although similar events at Aintree and Ireland do try to compete.

There are also massively competitive large field handicaps which exemplifies the fantastic fun betting opportunities.


So that’s the professional side of things.

The Cheltenham Festival is also a mammoth four day celebration of socialising, betting and perhaps accompanied by some enjoyable liquid refreshment.

Many enthusiasts take the week off work to just sit at home, fill the fridge with Guinness and spend four days doing battle with the bookies!

It’s like the Christmas equivalent for sensible punters. And that does need to be hammered home. The Cheltenham Festival can only be enjoyed by betting what you can afford.

The Key Races

The betting really revolves around the handicaps. Opinions, choices and big priced winners are plentiful. However, the prestige of The Cheltenham Festival centres around the five main championship races.

The Champion Hurdle

The feature race of the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. This is the championship race to decide the best 2 mile hurdler in Ireland, UK or in fact anywhere in the world. Famous winners include Istabraq, who was the last horse to win the race three years consecutively (1998, 1999 and 2000).

This year’s renewal of the race is widely regarded as being one of the most exciting in recent years as the reigning champion, Honeysuckle, will need to do battle with one of the most highly rated National Hunt horses seen in recent years in the shape of Constitution Hill.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase

The feature race of Day 2, the 2 mile chase championship is often regarded as the most exciting race of the week, due to the breakneck pace of the top rated 2 mile chasers.

Errors at fences must be avoided as the race can be lost easily by just one mistake at a fence, even at an early stage of the race.

Trainer Nicky Henderson has a great record in this race having saddled two dual winners in the last ten years: Sprinter Sacre in 2013 and 2016 and Altior in 2018 and 2019.

This year’s renewal looks quite open as current champion Energumene was surprisingly beaten into third by Editeur Du Gite and chief rival Edwardstone in the rescheduled Grade 1 race, The Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham.

The Ryanair Chase

The Ryanair Chase is a relatively new addition to the Cheltenham Festival. It was added in 2005 when the Festival became a four day event. It is a mid-distance stayers championship ( 2 miles 5 furlongs) which is particularly suited to chasers who can stay 3 miles but find the Gold Cup distance too challenging as a test of stamina.

Recent winners include the likes of Un De Sceaux, Vautour, Cue Card, Frodon and Min. The current favourite Allaho, who won the race last year, is regarded as one of the best horses in training.

The Stayer's Hurdle

This is the staying hurdlers championship race and is run over the distance of 3 miles. The most famous winner in recent times is Big Bucks who triumphed on four consecutive occasions from 2009 to 2012. However, Flooring Porter has won the last two renewals and looks primed to land the hat trick this year.

The Gold Cup

The most prestigious race of the entire meeting and the toughest. This is the chasing stayer’s championship race which attracts speedy jumpers but also horses renowned for being tough stayers.

The most famous recent winner is Best Mate who triumphed three times in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The Willie Mullins trained Al Boum Photo was successful in two consecutive years in 2019 and 2020. Willie Mullins also trains the current favourite, Galopin Des Champs.

How to Win At The Cheltenham Festival

Avoid Big Punts On The Handicaps

The handicaps are extremely challenging to solve. British horses are competing with numerous well handicapped Irish horses and it is therefore difficult to establish what the rating of these Irish horses really are. It’s a bit of a lottery in other words. Stick to small sums and shop around for the best odds and best place offers.

Have A Banker!

A Cheltenham banker is one very large bet which is placed on the best horse running during the Festival. This needs careful consideration. The key to a good Cheltenham banker is not the horse itself but the quality of the opposition.

It is probably wise to avoid bankers in novice chases as they are more prone to errors. Grade 1 senior hurdle events such as The Champion Hurdle or The Mares Hurdle are probably good targets.

The idea is that this bet will cover all your losses for the rest of the week and leave you guaranteed with a small profit or breaking even at the very least.

Only Bet On Irish Trained Horses

In recent years, this has become highly advisable simply because the Irish have dominated the Festival through the powerhouse stables of Gordon Elliott, Henry De Bromhead and chiefly Willie Mullins.

Gordon Elliot & Willie Mullins.jpg
This scenario is unlikely to change very soon. Only Nicky Henderson has managed to walk away with 2 wins or more in recent years. Avoid British trained horses unless they are banker material.

Each Way Betting

Each way betting has become a far more attractive punting option since betting firms added extra places albeit with reduced fractional percentages of the full betting odds.

However the point of each way betting is to have in place some sort of insurance in case your horse is narrowly beaten, the idea is not to make a large sum of money (unless it’s huge odds of course!).

Now with firms paying 6, 7 and even 8 places on the big handicaps, you can expect money back even when your horse trails in 15 lengths behind the winner. A lot of firms are now offering 4 places on the non-handicaps instead of the customary 3 places.

Is it worth following a jockey or trainer?

Financially it is not a good idea to follow one particular jockey or trainer. However, it is a good policy to place a bet on the jockey or trainer who may win the most races at The Festival. For top jockey, this is easy to calculate based on the rides that the jockey is booked on.

However, it is definitely worth studying all the horses trained by Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot, as they have dominated the winners enclosure in recent years.

Trainers who perform well in the UK, such as Paul Nicholls and Harry Skelton, have come up short in recent Cheltenham Festivals so are best avoided currently.

How To Bet If You Are A New Customer

Opening a new betting account in the run up to the Cheltenham Festival is the best time to open a new account! Betting firms are stumbling over each other to fight for your custom and will offer plenty of free Cheltenham bet incentives to get your account under way! Here is a summary of the offers from our partner firms:


  • Bet365 Betting Offer: Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets

New Customers (available throughout Cheltenham Festival 2023)


Key Terms of the Offer:

New Customers only. Bet £10* & Get £30* in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5* and £10* to your account and bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply. (#Ad)

Join and Claim Offer with Bet365!


  • Betfred Betting Offer: Bet £10 Get £40 in Bonuses

New Customers (available throughout Cheltenham Festival 2023)


Key Terms of the Offer:

New 18+ UK customers only. Register using the promo code WELCOME40, deposit and place first bet of £10+ on Sports (cumulative Evens+) within 7 days of registration. First bet must be on Sports. £30 in Free Bets and £10 in Free Spins (50x20p) credited within 10 hours of bet settlement. Free Bet stakes are not included in any returns. Bonuses have a 7-day expiry. Payment restrictions apply. SMS verification and/or Proof of I.D and address may be required. Full T&Cs apply.

Join and Claim Offer with Betfred!

Bet Victor

  • Bet Victor Betting Offer: Bet £5 Get £30 in Bonuses

New Customers (available throughout Cheltenham Festival 2023)


Key Terms of the Offer:

18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £5 at odds 2.00+ within 7 days of registering, no cashout. Get 2x £10 Free Bets, set events at odds 2.00+. Plus a £10 Slot Bonus, selected games, wager 20x to withdraw max £250. 7 day bonus expiry. Card payments only. T&Cs apply, see below. | Please gamble responsibly

Join and Claim Offer with Bet Victor!

  • Bet Victor Betting Offer: Bet £5 Get £20 Rewards

New Customers (available throughout Cheltenham Festival 2023)


Key Terms of the Offer:

18+ New customers only. Opt in, bet £5 at odds 2.00+ within 7 days of registering, no cashout. Get 2x £10 Free Bets, set events at odds 2.00+. Plus a £10 Slot Bonus, selected games, wager 20x to withdraw max £250. 7 day bonus expiry. Card payments only. T&Cs apply, see below. | Please gamble responsibly

Join and Claim Offer with Bet Victor!

  • Bet Victor Betting Offer: £10 in Money Back Free Bets

New Customers (available throughout Cheltenham Festival 2023)


Key Terms of the Offer:

18+ New customers only. Opt in, place your first bet of £10 or more on any horse at the Cheltenham (win single only). Get £10 refund in Free Bets if your 1st bet loses, valid until 17:30 GMT on 15.3.23. No wagering requirements. Card payments only. T&Cs Apply. See below. | Please gamble responsibly

Join and Claim Offer with Bet Victor!

  • Bet Victor Betting Offer: Bet €5 Get €40 in Free Bets

New Ireland Customers (available throughout Cheltenham Festival 2023)


Key Terms of the Offer:

18+ New Customers only Opt in & Bet €5+ (odds 2.00+) on any race at Cheltenham from 10:00 UK time 10.03.23 until 13:30 UK time 17.03.23. Get €40 in Free Bets for Cheltenham, No Cash out. Free Bets expire 18.30 UK time on 17.03.23. Card payments only. T&Cs Apply, See Below. | Please gamble responsibly

Join and Claim Offer with Bet Victor!


  • Boylesports Betting Offer: Bet £25 Free Bet Bundle

New Customers (available throughout Cheltenham Festival 2023)


Key Terms of the Offer:

18+. UK Customers (Excluding NI) only. Cash stakes only. Min £10 stake required for initial £5 free bet. Min odds ½. Max £25 in free bets. Subsequent free bets equal 50% average of each 3 £5 max qualifying bets. 13 settled bets required to receive full £25 free bet. Qualifying bets must be placed on sportsbook within 30 days of opening account. Cashed out bets will not qualify towards your average stake. One free bet offer per customer, household or IP address only. Free bet expires after 7 days. Payment method restrictions apply. T&Cs apply

Join and Claim Offer with Boylesport!

William Hill

  • William Hill Betting Offer: Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets

New Customers (available throughout Cheltenham Festival 2023)


Key Terms of the Offer:

18+. Play Safe. From 00:001 on 18.10.2022. £30 bonus. New customers only. Minimum £10 stake on odds of 1/2 (1.5) or greater on sportsbook (excluding Virtual markets). Further terms apply. #ad

Join and Claim Offer with William Hill!

Existing Customers Offers

Non Runner No Bet

Bet365 and William Hill are both offering Non Runner No Bet for ALL races at The Cheltenham Festival. This means that any bets placed on Cheltenham Festival races will be automatically refunded if the horse is withdrawn at any stage before the race.

Betfred are offering NRNB on the championship races: The Champion Hurdle, The Champion Chase, The Stayers Hurdle and The Gold Cup.


Have a great Cheltenham Festival 2023 and have fun!

Matt is Howtobet4free's resident Horse Racing expert, writer, tipster and a huge Cheltenham Festival fan. He occasionally dabbles in Golf, Football and anything else you can gamble on!

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