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An expert's guide to The Festival presented by Magners

Blog 4th March 2020 Cheltenham

The Festival at Cheltenham is just around the corner, four days of extraordinary kicks off in just 4 days. Peter Watton from OddsMonkey gives his expert advice for picking a winner at The Cheltenham Festival from 10th - 13th March.

It’s one of the most anticipated events in the horseracing calendar and it's no wonder why. During the 28 races of Cheltenham Festival, approximately 500 horses will be competing for a chance to win over £6 million in prize money. Add to that the electric atmosphere and stunning fashion, it is certainly a date to put in your calendar.

When and where is it?

This year, The Cheltenham Festival will take place from Tuesday 10th March to Friday 13th March at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Prestbury Park, Gloucestershire. Over the course of the four days, 28 races will take place. Here's the schedule:

Also known as Champion Day, the first day of the festival boasts top-quality racing, including the legendary Unibet Champion Hurdle, which offers racers £450,000 in prize money.

  • 1:30pm: Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) – £125,000
  • 2:10pm: Racing Post Arkle Novices' Chase (Grade 1) – £175,000
  • 2:50pm: Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) – £110,000
  • 3:30pm: Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) – £450,000
  • 4:10pm: Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle (Grade 1) – £120,000
  • 4:50pm: Northern Trust Company Novices' Handicap Chase (Listed) – £70,000
  • 5:30pm: National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders' Novices' Chase) (Grade 2) – £125,000


Also known as Ladies Day. Day Two of The Cheltenham Festival is a marvelous mixture of traditional racing and cross country. The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and RSA Insurance Novices' Chase are the two to look out for, but the day plays host to many other exhilarating races.

  • 1:30pm: Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) – £125,000
  • 2:10pm: RSA Insurance Novices' Chase (Grade 1) – £175,000
  • 2:50pm: Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – £100,000
  • 3:30pm: Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1) – £400,000
  • 4:10pm: Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (Conditions event) – £65,000
  • 4:50pm: Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – £80,000
  • 5:30pm: Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1) – £75,000


The third day of the festival includes a whole host of exciting races. Look out for the Grade One Ryanair Chase and Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle, which will be the highlights of the day.

  • 1:30pm: MARSH Novices' Chase (Grade 1) – £150,000
  • 2:10pm: Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – £100,000
  • 2:50pm: Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) – £350,000
  • 3:30pm: Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (Grade 1) – £325,000
  • 4:10pm: Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Grade 3) – £110,000
  • 4:50pm: Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle (Grade 2) – £90,000
  • 5:30pm: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase (Grade 2) – £70,000


Also known as Gold Cup Day, the festival certainly goes out with a bang. Make sure you don’t miss the event's biggest and most prestigious race, The Cheltenham Gold Cup, where some of the country's most elite horses and jockeys will compete for the winning title.

  • 1:30pm: JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) – £125,000
  • 2:10pm: Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3) – £100,000
  • 2:50pm: Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) – £125,000
  • 3:30pm: Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1) – £625,000
  • 4:10pm: St James's Place Foxhunter Chase (Grade 2) – £45,000
  • 4:50pm: Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) – £110,000
  • 5:30pm: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle (Grade 2) – £70,000


How to pick a winner

Now that you know the schedule, it's time to start planning your bets. But how do you pick a winner?

  • Watch the odds: Odds will tell you how likely it is that a horse will win. This is the simplest way of picking a winner, as bookmakers often consider a whole host of factors like previous wins and performance to decide on their odds. The shorter the horse's odds, the more likely it is to win, but you’re probably going to get less money back if they do win. So, it's worth shopping around to see which bookmaker can offer the best odds. Sometimes, it might be an option to bet on a horse with longer odds, as this can get you a decent return if they manage to pull it out of the bag on the day. However, unless you do your own background research to find out which underdog has a chance, it's best to err on the side of caution and pick a favourite.
  • Do some research: Cheltenham is an incredibly competitive event, and experience can go a long way. So, it might be a good idea to do your own research on the horse and jockey before placing a bet. Some horses might have a history of coming in second or third, others might end up winning other races at the festival, so they could be ones to watch in 2020. The Racing Post has up-to-date statistics for each horse, keep an eye Cheltenham's website or Twitter account can tell you the conditions of the track a few days in advance. Taking a look at these before you place your bets will allow you to make a more informed decision.
  • Ask an expert: If you're really serious about your bets, you could always ask an expert who can give you their predictions based on factors such as the horse’s age and the going of the course. These tipsters usually request a hefty fee for their services, though, so you might be better off doing the research yourself.


Just four days away before four days of extraordinary, buy your tickets in advance for the best price. 



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