PartialLogo
RP Recommends

Cheltenham Festival betting 2024: the must-have bookmaker accounts you need for the biggest week of all

Casting the net as wide as possible is paramount in the age of online betting, and this is especially true when it comes to betting at the Cheltenham Festival, which this year gets under way on Tuesday, March 12 and runs until Friday, March 15.

It stands to reason: online bookmakers are never more eager to get punters in the door than for Cheltenham in March, the biggest betting week of the year when it comes to horseracing.

The punter with unwavering loyalty to a single firm is hindering themselves massively at Cheltenham. Imagine being a diehard William Hill punter and missing out on other great offers for both new and existing customers elsewhere. Making a profit across the 28 ultra-competitive races at the Cheltenham Festival can be hard enough without tying one hand behind your back.

While we can all get wrapped up once the week of the Cheltenham Festival arrives, the battle to get ahead is an annual event these days. Before the winning jockey in the Cheltenham Gold Cup has even weighed in, punters will be able to bet on next year's running – not to mention half a dozen other races at the following year's Cheltenham Festival.

Taking a view on a race months in advance and getting it right is among the most satisfying feelings as a punter. But so is backing a winner on the day, particularly at the biggest meeting of all.

The odds have never been skewed so greatly in favour of the punter who can make best use of the myriad offers available at Cheltenham. Here we assess how best to navigate the landscape of betting at the biggest meeting of the year.


Why you can trust RP Recommends


About the author

Robbie Wilders started with the Racing Post in 2018 and joined the tipping team in early-2022. He specialises in ante-post betting and is best known for writing the popular Ante-Postman email, a free weekly column that aims to unearth early value for readers and is already moving markets.


RP Recommends: the must-have betting account for Cheltenham Festival 2024

Betfair

When it comes to punting during the Cheltenham Festival, there is simply nowhere better to bet than the Betfair Exchange.

Image link

Constitution Hill (Nico de Boinville) wins the Supreme Novices HurdleCheltenham 15.3.22 Pic: Edward Whitaker
The Cheltenham Festival: the biggest betting week of the year when it comes to horseracingCredit: Edward Whitaker

The best online bookmakers for Cheltenham Festival betting in 2024

bet365

bet365 have been typically strong with their ante-post offering in the lead-up to the Cheltenham Festival and they will be a go-to bookmaker for punters during for the biggest week of all.

They offer best odds guaranteed from 8am on the day of racing and will also price-match the likes of Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power, Coral, Sky Bet and BoyleSports on all races on ITV, which is a hugely positive incentive.

Additionally, bet365 regularly offer enhanced each-way terms on the hotly contested Cheltenham Festival handicaps, while they also tend to hold their nerve for longer than most when they take one on in the market.

Main pros:

  • Great all-rounder
  • Excellent non-runner no bet concessions
  • Tend to hold their nerve for longer than most
Image link

Betfair

If you are serious about your betting there is no excuse not to have an account with Betfair. Even if you struggle to get a meaningful wager on via the sportsbook, there are likely to be no such worries on the exchange as racetime approaches.

It is a platform where punters essentially compete against each other and the opportunity to get matched at prices that often blow the usual books out of the water – even allowing for Betfair's commission – is rife.

You hear reports these days of high-rolling punters bemoaning the lack of liquidity on the exchange on quiet Mondays, or on the lesser meetings on busy Saturdays. When it comes to the Cheltenham Festival, however, there is simply nowhere better to get on than the Betfair Exchange. Every single event at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival will turn over millions in the day-of-race market.

As is often mentioned by RP Recommends, the Betfair Sportsbook runs parallel to the main exchange product and is not always among the most-sought after bookmakers to bet with. However, they can come up with decent on-the-day deals during Cheltenham, such as a £10 free bet on each day of the festival if a £10 multiple is placed.

Their each-way place terms are also competitive, so you may wish to stack these offers if they are available this year. It might be possible to get a free multiple into over-broke place books.

Main pros:

  • A must-have for the Cheltenham Festival
  • Exchange markets involving great prices with millions bet on the day
  • Good sportsbook promotions including free bets on racing multiples
Image link

Coral

The free-to-play £50,000 Coral Racing Super Series is often a big hit with punters. The task is simply to select a horse to place in all seven races each day of the festival (not as easy as it sounds!) and that is an excellent no-risk proposition worth playing in, even for a bit of fun. They sometimes lag behind their rivals regarding place terms, but the compensation for that is usually superior odds on the win side of the bet.

Coral are a strong bookmaker for the week-in, week-out punter. They are not the strongest on promotions and therefore regular Coral punters may want to spread their net a little wider during Cheltenham week.

Main pros:

  • A solid horseracing-focused bookie
  • Free-to-play Coral Racing Super Series
Image link

Ladbrokes

The Ladbrokes prices mirror those of sister company Coral and that means you can duplicate your wagers at the same price across two platforms. That is handy for those who stake big, although admittedly getting on is not such a big issue at the Cheltenham Festival.

Main pros:

  • Respected and established bookmaker
  • Free bets up for grabs during Cheltenham
Image link

Paddy Power

Nobody can compete with Paddy Power's aggressive marketing and their Cheltenham Festival offers are generally standout too, with generous place terms in the races that merit them.

Their relationship with Betfair is akin to that which Coral and Ladbrokes share, although Paddy Power will typically be a more attractive traditional sportsbook option than the Betfair Sportsbook.

Main pros:

  • Market-leading offers and promotions
  • Generous each-way terms on certain races
  • Attractive and popular traditional sportsbook option
Image link

Sky Bet

Sky Bet's money-back concession in the Supreme has been an outstanding offer for a few years now and has helped ensure that even those who failed to identify the winner of the festival's opening race weren't out of pocket. Their place terms, often among the best in the industry, excel even during Cheltenham week too.

Main pros:

  • Industry-leading money-back offers
  • Exceptional each-way betting markets
Image link

Tote

Pool betting is a separate entity to conventional bookmaking and the Tote's sizeable Placepot pools at the Cheltenham Festival make it a must for punters seeking an interest for a minimal outlay that can pay huge dividends.

At the festival, they serve up guaranteed Placepot pools of £1 million across all four days. It is certain we can expect major dividends once more with the punting world's eyes fixed on Cheltenham and the Tote's excellent six-race product.

Main pros:

  • Home of the Placepot at Cheltenham
  • Offer a great range of pool betting markets
Image link

Unibet

The traders at Unibet have earned their stripes ahead of this season's Cheltenham Festival as they towered above their opposition in terms of volume of horses priced up in the handicaps.

This can be a gripe with other firms as sometimes a key runner is missing from an ante-post list. When contacting the traders to request a bet regarding an absent horse, you are invariably showing your hand and inviting the bookmaker on the other end to cower behind their bat.

Finding a viable runner in a Cheltenham Festival handicap will not normally be an issue with Unibet, who take ante-post laying more seriously than most – and they even offer ante-post markets nobody else will price up, which is something to bear in mind generally.

Main pros:

  • Wide range of ante-post markets including handicaps
  • Traders are not afraid to price up a race ante-post
  • Money-back offers on certain races
Image link

William Hill

William Hill were the first major bookmaker to go non-runner no bet on all Cheltenham Festival races in the first week of January and with that came great intrigue. Generally speaking, the earlier the better with NRNB. Those whose targets are up in the air are gradually firmed up and there is less time for horses to be ruled out of the festival due to physical ailments.

Their on-the-day Cheltenham offerings in 2023 were also interesting. Pushing out Constitution Hill to even-money for the previous running of the Champion Hurdle (from 1-3) provided excellent value for punters, while they offered generous place terms across the week. Keep your eyes peeled for similar offers this time round.

Main pros:

  • Quick to offer non-runner no bet (NRNB) concession
  • Popular promotions involving big horses
  • Generous place terms available
Image link

Another leading bookmaker worth betting with

BoyleSports

BoyleSports are right up there when it comes to place terms in the big handicaps. Punters betting on the Ultima Handicap Chase last season would have been paid out even if their horse finished seventh. Perming horses up in these advantageous each-way races at the festival can be a good way to get an edge.

Main pros:

  • Excellent place terms, especially on the handicaps

Bookmakers were made to suffer as Galopin Des Champs and Lossiemouth obliged at short prices
Racegoers on day four of the Cheltenham Festival in 2023Credit: Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

What makes a good online bookmaker for betting at the Cheltenham Festival?

Taking an early view

Ante-post betting is often where the juiciest rewards lie. It is something every racing punter will have dabbled with, whether that be via early markets for the weekend's feature races or a longer-term interest at the Cheltenham Festival or Grand National.

Consistently snapping up fancy prices about a horse and blowing on-the-day players out of the water with a superior position is going to do your prospects of making the game pay no harm.

The first half of the jumps season is, rightly or wrongly, essentially billed as a build-up to the festival. Therefore, there is barely a big race from November to February that will not cause ructions in the Cheltenham Festival ante-post markets.

Every firm wants a slice of the ante-post pie – and it is not a case of them piggybacking off each other's work, or the often-illiquid Betfair Exchange markets.

You will often find significant variances in festival prices across the board, reinforcing the importance to have all bases covered with a wide range of accounts.

In an age of stake restrictions to limit bookmaker risk of being stung by sharp money, festival markets are often where traders appear to be at their most accepting.

Non-runner no bet

The non-runner no bet (NRNB) concession has added a new dimension to Cheltenham Festival betting and accepting a reduced price about a horse is often a popular option for ante-post punters.

The risk associated with a long-term interest – for instance horses sustaining festival-ending injuries or having an alternative target – is eliminated with this offer, which guarantees the return of your stake if your selection does not run.

Bettors can rest easy with that safety net, although NRNB prices must be compared with the operators who choose not to offer that service.

A Plus Tard: pulled up in the Gold Cup
The non-runner no bet (NRNB) concession has added a new dimension to Cheltenham Festival bettingCredit: Ryan Pierse (Getty Images)

Taking 20-1 NRNB about your Gold Cup fancy who is 25-1 without that comfort is usually more logical than playing another horse who is 10-1 NRNB when 20-1 is available elsewhere.

Of course, the calculation changes somewhat depending on how far away the race is and on the likelihood of your selection running. This is a case where the exchange markets, which are not always the most useful for ante-post Cheltenham Festival betting, can help.

On-the-day offers

History tells us a Cheltenham Festival market in the first week of November is probably going to bear minimal resemblance to what is available come raceday in March.

Once the final field for a race is confirmed that is when the trading competition really begins. Among the punter-friendly incentives that bookmakers offer include best odds guaranteed, enhanced place terms, price boosts and free bets.

The offer most notable at Cheltenham compared with other meetings is the money-back special. Some firms will refund losing stakes on a race, typically the first race of the day, in order to secure your custom for the rest of the day or even the week.

Once these offers are revealed in time for the 2024 festival, RP Recommends will assess and collate them.


Conclusion

The Cheltenham Festival has become the cornerstone of the jumps season for a reason. The cliches about 'racing's Olympics' hint at an undeniable truth that these are among the most competitive races of the whole season, from the opening Supreme on Tuesday to the closing Martin Pipe on Friday.

As a punter, you want to be able to concentrate on finding winners. That is why you should stick with the Racing Post, who will offer you the chance to bet with many of the firms listed here without moving from our website or mobile app.

When it comes to the week itself, make sure you are armed with as many accounts as possible to take advantage of the frenzy of offers at the Cheltenham Festival. Some firms will also offer boosted welcome bonuses, so if any of the bookmakers named here make appeal and you do not have an account with them yet, set aside some time ahead of the 2024 Cheltenham Festival and be sure to expand your betting toolkit.


RP Recommends: read the full series


Commercial notice: This article contains affiliate links. Offers are handpicked and come from operators our experts have first-hand experience of. Opening an account via one of these links will earn revenue for the Racing Post, which will be used to continue producing our award-winning coverage of horseracing.


Published on 4 March 2024inRP Recommends

Last updated 17:00, 4 March 2024

iconCopy