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A look ahead to the 2021 Cheltenham Festival: handy hints and betting tips

The four days of the Cheltenham Festival are a punter's paradise
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Each year, the Cheltenham Roar welcomes the biggest meeting of the National Hunt season. As the runners for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle jump off, it announces the beginning of four days of pulsating action at the Cheltenham Festival.

From the crowning the heroes of tomorrow in the Champion Bumper, to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, festival week is the highlight of the National Hunt calendar.

Over the course of the four days, 230,000 racing fans will pile through the gates of Prestbury Park to cheer on their heroes.

Each afternoon stages seven races as the action unfolds up the famous Cheltenham hill.

The Champion Hurdle takes centre stage on day one where some of the world’s best hurdlers will duke it out over two miles, while the Queen Mother Champion Chase is the highlight on Wednesday.

Thursday’s feature is officially the Stayers’ Hurdle, although the Ryanair Chase, over the intermediate 2m5f trip, is considered one of the top prizes at the festival.

The best though, is left until last. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is up for grabs on the Friday, with a field of top-class staying chasers battling it out for the most prestigious prize in jumps racing.

As well as enjoying the cream of the crop competing on the biggest stage, there are also plenty of opportunities to place, and hopefully win, a bet or two.

The Cheltenham crowd roar home the runners in each race

Cheltenham Festival Tips

With 28 races spread across the four days of the Cheltenham Festival, there are plenty of opportunities to try and pick a winner.

Although you might approach each race at Cheltenham the same way you’d target a seller at Southwell or a maiden hurdle at Taunton, betting at the Festival may require you to shift tact.

We provide free Cheltenham Festival tips before and during the big week, so make sure you keep an eye on the Tote blog and our social media channels for the latest information.

Tote Betting

Placing your bets with the Tote means you could be getting better value with your Cheltenham Festival bets and that fact rang true at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.

Tens of millions of pounds are staked on bets during the Cheltenham Festival and our pools regularly swell to over £1,000,000.

The bigger pools and the different opinions that come with the large fields at Cheltenham mean backing an outsider with the Tote can see huge returns.

At the 2020 Cheltenham Festival there were a number of big-price winners where the dividend paid greater than SP:

Shishkin - Tote £7.80 | SP 6-1
Put The Kettle On - Tote £18.60 | SP 16-1
Ferny Hollow - Tote £13.40 | SP 11-1
Sire Du Berlais - Tote £12.10 | SP 10-1
Lisnagar Oscar - Tote £85.70 | SP 50-1
Burning Victory Tote £13.20 | SP 12-1
It Came To Pass - Tote £162.60 | SP 66-1
Indefatigable - Tote £31.50 | SP 25-1

Our Tote Guarantee means you never get paid at less than SP! Quite often, the Tote dividend is considerably bigger.

Also at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival:

If you’d had £10 on each winner you’d have £1409 more than doing the same at SP!

Over the course of the festival, over £2.5m was won by punters betting on the Placepot.

The biggest dividend came on Thursday where it returned £2,556.80 to a £1 stake.

There was a single £10 line bet struck on course which returned over £25,000.

Previous experience of running at Cheltenham can often prove vital

Cheltenham Festival Betting Angles

The art of finding a Festival winner includes taking into consideration variables which might not necessarily apply all year round.

Prestbury Park’s 55,000-strong crowd can either bring out the best of a horse or cause a particularly lively one to boil over. Finding those that relish the big occasions is what it’s all about.

Over half of the winners at the last two Cheltenham Festivals had run at the meeting in previous years, giving them vital experience of the big occasion.

Although Festival experience is important, general course form is also worth thinking about.

Cheltenham is an undulating course with a stiff finish, and the fences take a lot of jumping. The famous Cheltenham hill has caught out many a horse over the years who have looked like sure-fire winners, only to see their stamina ebb in the closing stages.

Siding with course winners, or horses that have run well at Prestbury Park previously, is a favoured tactic of many bettors.

Festival Handicap Betting

Of the 28 races at the Cheltenham Festival, 11 are handicaps, where a horse’s official rating determines the weight it will carry against its competitors.

Wins at the Festival are so prestigious that ensuring your horse has a weight that allows it the best chance to win, often defines a trainers pre-Festival plan.

A horse targeting a particular handicap chase may run over hurdles in order to protect its chase mark for the big day. Winning too many races or running well in chases in the lead up to the Festival may mean a rise in the weights for the season-long target. It’s a fine art that many trainers pull off to a tee.

Although you may dismiss one that hasn’t run over fences for most of the season but is entered in the Grand Annual, for example, it may well have been for a good reason.

Changing of the seasons

Another variable to consider, that often comes around at the time of Cheltenham Festival, is the changing ground. While the British climate is always predictably unpredictable, come March-time it's likely that the worst of the season’s weather is behind us.

That means if the Cheltenham Festival is run on Good-to-Soft ground, or better, after a particularly wet winter, form can sometimes be misleading.

Consider whether the reason a horse has been beaten throughout the winter is due to the ground. Could better ground at the Festival spark a revival in their performances?

As the seasons change, paying close attention to a horse’s form on the ground is important.

* This article was originally posted on tote.co.uk

Each afternoon stages seven races as the action unfolds up the famous Cheltenham hill
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