Cheltenham Festival 2018 Betting
With millions of pounds set to be gambled on the 2018 Cheltenham Festival over its four fantastic days, here is the Timeform beginners guide to betting on horse racing...
The two main types of bet are win only and each-way. A win only bet is simple—your horse must win—while an each-way bet is two bets in one; half of your stake goes on the win bet and half goes on the place bet (which is your horse to finish in the first two, three or four finishers depending on the number of runners and race conditions).
The aim when betting on horse racing is always to secure the best odds available about the horse which you think is going to win the race (or be placed).
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Betting on Course
There’s nothing like the atmosphere of the betting ring, especially at the Cheltenham Festival, where around £1 million in cash will change hands on each day of the meeting via the on-course bookmakers.
On-course bookmakers are located in designated betting areas of each individual racecourse’s enclosures and operate in the same way as high-street bookies, offering mainly win an each-way bets, although many will only accept a minimum stake bet (often £5).
State to the bookmaker the number of your chosen horse and stake—e.g. ‘Number 5, £10 to win’—and then listen as the bet is repeated back to you. In return for your stake you will be given a betting slip that details the bet and any winnings due; check this carefully and notify the bookmaker if there is a mistake.
Bookmakers offer different odds to attract your business, so make sure you look around for the best odds available, and remember, never throw away your betting slip until you hear the ‘Weighed In’ announcement as horses do occasionally get disqualified following a Stewards’ Enquiry.
Betting on the Tote
Betting on the Tote means you’re not betting against a bookie—it’s like the lottery as your stake goes into a pool and the amount you win depends on how many winning tickets there are. You don’t get fixed odds as you would betting with a bookmaker, though betting on the Tote can sometimes pay more.
The Tote offers many different types of bet, including win only and each-way as well as multiple bets such as the placepot and jackpot, which gives you the opportunity to win a fortune from a small stake. The aim of the placepot is to select one horse—or more (though your stake will multiply)—to finish placed in the first six races on the card, whereas with the jackpot you must find the winner in the first six races at a selected meeting.
The placepot was a very popular bet at last year’s meeting (Gold Cup day saw a record Cheltenham Festival pool) and pools of over £1 million are expected for the placepot this year, while the average payout for the jackpot at the Cheltenham Festival over the last five years is £52,000 to a £1 stake.
There will be a number of Tote betting facilities all around Cheltenham racecourse.
Betting markets on the Cheltenham Festival races— especially the likes of the Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle – open well in advance, with bookmakers offering prices on all the main contenders.
You can bet ‘ante-post’ (in advance of the event) in betting shops or online, though make sure you shop around for the best odds available as the price you take will be the price at which you get paid out; i.e. a £10 win bet at 10/1 will return £110.
If you back a horse ante-post and it does not run then you lose your money, although a popular incentive introduced in recent years is non-runner, no bet (NRNB) whereby your stake is refunded if your horse is not declared for the race for which you’ve backed it.
During the Cheltenham Festival a wide range of bookies will promote introductory offers and free bets, as well as other betting incentives such as ‘best odds guaranteed’ whereby if your horse’s starting price is bigger than the odds you’ve taken then you will get paid out at the higher price.
Betting on the Exchanges
The betting exchanges—the biggest of which is Betfair—allow you to bet against other punters rather than bookmakers, with odds usually being greater because of this reason.
You can bet in the traditional way of backing a horse to win or finish placed, though you can also accept a bet from a fellow punter if you believe a horse is not going to win or finish placed. This is known as ‘laying a bet’ and if the horse in question does indeed lose then you will receive the punter’s stake (if the horse wins then you will pay them).
Betting exchanges also allow you to bet ‘in-running’, with the prices changing live as the race is being run.
Place bets on the Betfair Exchange.
Finally, look out for Special Bets (online or in shops) such as Top Jockey at the Festival—for which Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh will be popular—and Top Trainer at the Festival—for which Willie Mullins, Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson will be among the favourites. You can also bet on such as how many Irish-trained winners there will be at the Cheltenham Festival.