Attracting up to 70,000 racegoers a day and promising the finest jump racing action, visitors can expect an electric atmosphere during the extraordinary four days that make up the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse, from Tuesday 14 to Friday 17 March 2023.
If you’re planning to visit Prestbury Park, or one of the many bars and pubs screening the races, find out how to pick a winner at Cheltenham Festival with tips from betting expert, Simon Clare.
What do you need to consider when choosing which horses to back?
If you’re following racing week-in week-out, you’ll have got to know many of the leading contenders for the big races, and formed opinions of them.
If not, then you can use The Racing Post’s website and form sites to see what their recent form is like, whether they’ve run at Cheltenham before, the ground they like, the distances they’ve run and how they ran at last year’s event.
Are there any particular trainers worth knowing?
It’s a big contest between the Irish and the English, as historically all the great Irish come over to take on the English at Cheltenham. The two biggest English trainers are Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls, while the Irish trainers to look out for are Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.
At Cheltenham Festival, you’re throwing all those big names into one big melting pot. Of course, that’s not to say that those four trainers are going to win all 28 races; at Cheltenham there still is the opportunity for smaller trainers to have a little shot of glory.
What about the jockeys?
The jockeys who ride the most winners, and have performed best under the huge pressure, do tend to come out on top when the margins are at their narrowest.
Some to look out for include the likes of Ruby Walsh, Davy Russell, and Barry Geraghty from Ireland, and English jockey Richard Johnson, but there are lots of others. A great jockey and a great trainer can’t make a slow horse run faster, the horse still is the key ingredient.
Is it worth listening to tipsters?
National newspaper tipsters put up their selections every day. They are paid to try and find winners and they’ll be judged on how they do at the big meetings like Cheltenham Festival.
If you type in Cheltenham Festival tips or previews on social media, you’ll find endless results. It’s such a hugely popular event and there are so many blogs and websites dedicated to it. Many of them are just fans and enthusiasts who go to every race.
That’s the beauty of Cheltenham – it’s a very easy event to read up on, even if it’s just to enhance your enjoyment to understand the story behind each race and the horses running, but it’s also to assist you deciding what to bet.
Is picking the favourite a novice approach to racing?
It’s definitely not a stupid thing to do, especially as 33 per cent of all jump races are won by the favourite. But if you just back the favourite every time, you would end up losing money because, despite the fact you are cheering home a lot of winners, your profit/loss would be in the negative.
An intelligent approach is to focus around the fact that most of the winners will come first, second or third place. On the basis that you want to have a stake in the game, focusing on some of those likely favourites is much more likely to have a horse turning for home, so you can have those moments when you punch the air and wave your winning ticket around.
What makes Cheltenham Festival so special?
It is the biggest racing festival of the year, bar none. In betting terms, the Grand National is an amazing single race, but in terms of actual race meetings, more money is bet at Cheltenham Festival over the four days than any other meet.
It’s a race that’s got everything. The courage, competitors, bravery, plus a huge sporting element, and the amazing atmosphere, with up to 70,000 people there every day.
But, the most important thing is to ensure you’ve had plenty of fun along the way. It’s about betting within your means and treating it as part of enhancing your enjoyment.