There is a hell of a lot of choice when it comes to betting on Cheltenham with hundreds of licensed online betting sites now available. This is good on one hand as competition results in lower bookie margins, meaning better odds and offers, however it also makes finding the right bookmaker, bet types, prices and promotions to use a little harder.
In this section we break down major bet types, such as lucky betting and totepool, and regular promotions, such as faller insurance and free bets for winners, to ensure you find the right markets and get the value from your bets. We also tell you the best places to place these wagers and get the best offer terms.
We know not everyone who bets on Cheltenham has the background knowledge of a horse racing pundit. In our guides and glossary therefore you can read about all of the major grades, classifications, distances and much more information about National Hunt racing. We also give you details of how to read a race card, what happens when your horse is disqualified, what rule 4 is and more.
Cheltenham Existing Customer Offers
Typically for most horse races with 8 or more runners you can expect 3 places each way at 1/5 odds, sometimes you can get 4 places by default in large field handicaps with 16+ runners. When it comes to Cheltenham, though, bookies do what they can to try to attract your custom and one way they do this is by offering extra places each way and/or enhanced each-way terms, such as 1/4 odds instead of 1/5. You can often find this ante-post as well as on the day of the races. On this page you will find the best enhanced each-way offers for the Cheltenham Festival.
For big high profile race meetings the bookies fall over each other to provide you with offers but for those that bet on racing most weeks then it can be difficult to find added value. Loyalty free bet clubs for horse racing are a good option for existing customers to give more value in the longer term, most of these deals can also be claimed alongside other promotions too.
Horse racing is a sport where predicting the winner is harder than in most other sports and this is why the odds tend to be good, the favourites win only around 30% of the time and this tells you everything. Being liable to upsets means having insurance that gives you your money back can be a sesnible idea in the long run. On our page we list horse racing money back promotions for Cheltenham, the Festival and horse racing in general. Most of these give you a refund if your horse is second, beaten by a length, etc., usually as a free bet but on occasion, especially during the festival, in cash. It has even be known to see money back in cash if you lose during the event.
Best Odds Guarantees work a little bit differently to normal for the Cheltenham Festival and so we have a separate dedicated page for it. Normally BOG is only available on the day the races are held on but for the Festival many bookies will offer best price guaranteed months in advance for feature races and weeks in advance for all races.
Fed up of bookies taking all the profits? Try totepool betting. The tote is in fact one of the oldest ways to bet on horse racing, originally established by the UK government in the 1920's. Now owned by a consortium, and syndicated to other bookies, bets are placed in a pool and shared between the winners with the operator taking a set commission. Totepool bets generally pay better than fixed odds.
Lucky 15, 31 and 63 bets are a type of full cover bet. These are effectively packages that cover all the possible single and multiple bets from a given number of selections, very popular in horse racing. A Lucky 15, for example, is a package of 15 bets on 4 selections (4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles and a 4-fold). Don't just place these bets with anyone however as there are some great bonuses to be had.
Not everybody realises that you are only covered for sure by non-runner no bet if you bet on the day of the race. Placing your wagers before this time is classed as ante-post and with most of these bets you do not get your money back if your horse is a non-runner. There are lots of good reasons to bet ante-post however and some bookies do offer no-runner no bet ante-post, especially for the festival.
Before you bet on horse racing, especially televised and high profile races, consider that you could be earning free bets or bonuses each time you back a winner. We look at some of the very best free bets for winners offers from the likes of Betfair that over time will genuinely add to your winnings.
Before the best price guarantee it was difficult for punters to know when to place their bets. If you take the starting price and it drifts in you would be annoyed and if you took the fixed price and the odds drifted out you would also be peeved. Many bookies now guarantee to match the SP if your on the day fixed price is lower. Some bookies offers are however better than others, find the right BOG offer for you by visiting our best price guide
Looking for ante-post best price guarantees specific to the Cheltenham Festival? See our dedicated page.
This is a great value offer giving you your stake back, usually up to £25, if your horse falls, is brought down or unseats the jockey. Depending on the weather other factors fallers can number quite highly and so why bet without it?
Useful Betting Tools and Features
The nature of elite jump racing is that it naturally favours male horses, simply because stamina comes in to play so much more than with flat racing. Therefore most races that are open to both sexes at the Festival are generally won by males and this is why we have dedicated mares' races. Still that doesn't mean the girls don't do well in some races and if you are looking to back a mare or filly in an open race have a look at this page that shows races with the highest percentage of winners that are mares'.
People take all sorts of different factors into account when they bet on horses at Cheltenham and one of the common pieces of information the informed bettor pays attention to is the age of horses. The issue with the Festival is many of the entrants are previous winners and deciding between them can be difficult. We have therefore broken down every Cheltenham Festival race by the average age of the winner to help in picking the right runners.
Favourites win around 30% of horses races in general, but that is taking into account 1000's of races and doesn't reflect the variation in individual races. Therefore, we have broken down every single Cheltenham Festival race and looked at the percentage of favourites that win. If you plan to either back a favourite or an outsider at the Festival you would be wise to check out this page first.
If you like to bet on shorter odds favourites it helps to find races where they win more often, conversely if you back longer odds horses it is good to know what races they are most likely to win or place in. This can be particularly hard during the Cheltenham Festival given all horses that races there are generally winners at other times of the year. Therefore, on our average winner odds page we list the average price of the winners (since 2000 or the first running of the race) for all Festival races, to help you find the right bets.
The Cheltenham Festival witnesses some of the best jump races on the planet with the best runners competing against each other. The issue is almost all horses, jockeys and trainers that race at the Festival are winners, otherwise they wouldn't be there, and that can make picking the right horse to back more difficult. If you want to have a bet on the Festival take a look at out stats and trends pages, which break down average odds, average age, average number of favourites that win (and more), to help you pick your bets.
There really is little reason these days to bet without watching a race live. With so many good online betting sites now providing live streams of horse racing from all over the world why would you bet with a bookie who didn't. The average cost to watch is just £1, with some sites offering live broadcasts for just 50p, or £0.25 each way.
Live betting is at the point now where it is regularly overtaking pre-event wagers for big events. Despite misconceptions it is possible to bet live in play on horse racing, that is if you bet with the right site. You can also stream live alongside and cash out your bets during the race itself. Cheltenham has plenty of long races where in play betting will be useful.
Cash Out, partial cash out, auto cash out, and other tools are very useful and can be highly profitable, when used well. Now available for horse racing multiples, and even for singles during live races with some bookies, this is an exciting betting tool for Cheltenham. Cash out also however carries high commissions, make sure you understand the system first.
Bet Types, How To Bet & Betting Rules
If no horse wins a race of course bookies have procedures in place, all bets are simply declared void and stakes refunded, including ante-post. When no horse finishes a race the race itself is discounted and scratched from the records, no prize money is paid and it is as if it never happened. Thankfully it very rarely happens, in fact there is only one corroborated example at Towcester in 2011, and this was largely caused by rule changes that stop jockeys remounting horses. Perhaps on that basis it may become more common in the future, but it will still be a rare thing to see.
Many of us have been there, at a racecourse having placed a winning bet but for some reason or other couldn't make it back to the bookie to get paid out. This might be because you forgot, had too much to drink, wandered around the course or if it was the last race the bookie may already have left. Fortunately there are systems in place for this and you can still get paid out via the Administration of Gambling on Tracks if it is within one month. If you've bet on the Tote you can claim your winnings at any tote outlet at any racecourse or by writing to Britbet.
We all know 'the going is good' is a positive phrase and that is partly because 'good' ground is often seen as the optimal conditions for horses to run on. Not so firm it will cause injuries but no so soft that horses get bogged down. The going terminology can be a little confusing to the uninitiated so we go through the various ground conditions and the words used to reflect that. Confusingly there are different 'going' classifications in different countries.
The starting price or SP does what it says, it give you the odds of the horse at the time the race starts and betting closes. The price of a horse varies the most in the minutes up to the start of a race and if you think the odds will drift out then taking the SP over the fixed price could be worth it. These days, however, with many bookies offering best odds guarantees that promises to match the SP if higher then there are little benefits to taking it.
Most people who bet seriously on horse racing, or do it for a living, will bet ante-post. These advance bets come with higher risk, such as losing you stake if the horse doesn't run. They can, however, also have a lot of benefits - mainly getting better odds in advance in exchange for that higher risk. Here we look at the pros and cons of ante-post betting at Cheltenham and on horse racing in general and ask if there is a right time to bet ante-post.
A dead heat is a situation where two are more horses are tied for a position. While rarer these days with modern photo technology they do still occur and all bookies have rules that will apply in these instances. If tied for first place the payout is divided by the number of winners, if your horse ties in a place the payout is shared between the number of horses and number of places. Find out more on this page.
Betting ante-post is something most people avoid due to the risks of non-runners, injury and poor place terms. Advance betting on horse racing can however yield good returns, especially if you can use knowledge well. For big meetings, such as the festival, you can now reliably get NRNB and even BOG on ante-post bets months in advance, making these bets very attractive.
There is so much more to betting on the nags than a win single or each way bet. In our how to bet guide for horse racing we look at more complex bet types such as full cover bets and forecasts, accumulators and pool betting such as totepool. We also look at different prices (e.g ante-post vs early prices) along with how to get the best out of betting features and offers such as best odds guaranteed and cash out.
Knowing the official rules about what happens to a bet if there is a disqualification or non-runners can help prevent any nasty surprises if you don't get paid out or your winnings are less than you thought they'd be. We explain what happens in these events and we also look at rule 4 and other Tattersalls Rule of Racing to give you the heads up on what will happen to your wagers.
Gone are the days of needing to sit down with a Racing Post before placing your bets. Today betting sites offer a huge range of news, statistics, tip and blog features that can give you far more than any newspaper could. Of course not all sites offer these services and those that do are certainly not all equal. It is important to trust the information you are given.
Horse Racing & Cheltenham Guides, History & Trivia
In 1961 when off track betting shops were first allowed to open many in the racing industry worried that this would take a lot of money away from courses so as a result the betting levy was introduced administered by the Horserace Betting Levy Board. The idea is it takes a proportion (10%) of profits made by bookies on horse racing bets and ploughs that money back into the industry to help courses, welfare, pay for training, enhance prize money and all sorts of other things. In recent times the levy has fallen short due to external factors, here we look at how much the levy brings in.
Horse racing is undoubtably a dangerous sport for horses and jockeys and every year, despite safety improvements, horses die as part of horse racing. Those against racing point out that at least the jockeys have a choice in the matter but those for it attest to the fact that while deaths occur they are at a relatively low rate and death rates are improving. The question is, though, are they? Are we seeing less deaths as part of horse racing in each passing year? It is not always an easy question to answer as many horses, up to 70%, die from related issues away from the racecourses themselves.
Jockey colours have origins going back to ancient Rome or perhaps even earlier as a way to identify different competitors in many forms of horse racing. The modern day silks date back to the origins of formalised racing in the UK in the 15th and 16th century where colours started to be assigned to specific owners to tell runners and riders apart from a distance. Silk was used because it allows free movement but early on not all could afford silk and it was no uncommon to see wool jerseys and later nylon. Still, you can't just have any old colour or pattern there are specific rules in place around silk design today.
In the past it was very much possible to remount a horse if a jockey fell off or the horse fell during a race and indeed the practice is still common in Ireland. In 2009, however, the rules in the UK were changed and jockeys are no longer able to remount if they fall off the horse. This is primarily to protect the horse from further injury given jockeys are not exactly trained vets and horses can have unseen fractures or other issues that can be made worse by continuing a race.
Wild horses will naturally jump over obstacles, usually to either get away from predators or to find food. Horses have a natural propensity and ability to jump and that is exactly why we race them over obstacles like hurdles and fences. Whether horses enjoy it or not is an open question but when trained properly horses are happy to jump as you often see horses that have unseated a riders carrying on to jump subsequent fences. Horses are also stubborn and on many occasions will refuse to jump a fence, it is a common non-finisher reason in the Grand National, for example. Therefore, we can assume horses are generally happy to jump fences, the question is how much of that is natural and how much is down to training?
Astonishingly the record height a horse can jump is just under 2.5 meters and the furthest it can jump is around 8.5 meters. In reality most horses don't jump that high or far but horses in steeplechases can still jump fences in excess of 5 foot (1.5 meters) regularly and can jump around three times their body length, around 7 meters. Not only this they can do it time after time in a single race. Wild horses like to jump but still to get a horse to jump this high and far you need to train them and they need to build stamina to cope with it, which is exactly why jump racing is for older horses.
The use of the whip in horse racing is one of the most controversial subjects surrounding the sport. Many feel the use of a whip is cruel and that jockeys overuse whips when it is not actually adding any extra benefit. The rules have been modified over the years to reduce the use of the whip and new consultations are in place to look at the future use of it. Whips are used for many reasons other than to just make a horse run faster, such as steering to avoid collision or simply to regain focus in the horse approaching a fence. Whether the benefits outweigh the potential pain and distress to the horse remain open for debate.
In Europe we are often blinded to the fact the thoroughbred racing is not the only type of horse racing in the world. Indeed, there are many different breeds of horses that have been bred and tailored to racing over the years. This includes Arabian horses that have been racing far longer than thoroughbreds and are built to withstand direr and harsher environments, Standardbred horses that are commonly used for harness racing and the American Quarter horse that was bred initially to run a quarter mile.
Let's face it some races have ridiculous names because of sponsors, the likes of 'Try Our New Bet Builder Novices' Hurdles', but we have to accept that without the sponsors we wouldn't be able to deliver high level elite racing like we see at Cheltenham and the Festival especially. Here we look at who sponsors the various races at Cheltenham, not just for the Festival but for all meetings at the course. We look at what sponsorship entails, what they get for it and we look into some of the longest running and bigger Cheltenham race sponsors.
Racing is not the game for the rich it once was with more and more syndicates getting involved in racehorse ownership it has opened up the sport to normal people as much as the elite. Frankly most racehorse owners do not make money and indeed most suffer substantial losses. Joining a syndicate in the hope you make money from a horse is a dream but an unlikely outcome, most people join syndicates to get involved with racing and for enjoyment rather than as a financial venture. Still, there is always the chance you can get lucky and find a future Gold Cup winner.
Horses, like humans, do not all weigh the same amount. Weight is affected by age, sex, diet, training regime, breed, seasons, travelling and all sorts of other factors. A healthy weight for a horse is between 1000-2000 pounds with mares' generally weighing less than horses. Flat racing horses are young, generally 4 and under, and haven't achieved their top weight by this point and so can run faster. Jump racing horses require a lot more stamina to compete and tend to be older, they are more muscular and muscle weights a lot and so will tend to be heavier. In handicap races weights are adjusted depending on the horse and jockey weight combined.
Travelling is rarely fun as a human but at least we know why we are travelling, where we are going and how long it will take. Horses cannot prepare in the same way when being transported around by road or air but at the same time the nature of being a racehorse means horses are transported regularly from a very young age. Horses are very well adapted to being moved around and in reality there is little noticeable impact on performance. Only the best horses will travel the furthest distances, which can skew things in itself, but data may actually show that long haul fights and jet lag may in actual fact help the horses in the subsequent races.
Being a jockey is one of the riskiest pursuits in professional sport. After all they are riding an animal that weighs half a ton alongside other horses and jockeys jumping over fences for sometimes over 3 or miles and often in poor conditions. All jockeys get injuries in their careers, it is part and parcel of the sport, but within that there are mechanisms in place to try to minimise those injuries and in particular stop deaths. Here we look at the personal protective equipment worn by racehorse jockeys, what they are required to wear, how it works, how the rules have changed and what may happen in the future.
Racehorses are bred to have dense high twitch muscles that naturally get hot during the course of a race. Horses do overheat and it is not uncommon to see buckets of water thrown over horses after races, especially long jump races like the Grand National. Jump racing takes place over the winter to avoid most overheating problems but unseasonably hot days can still have a big impact on the runners. Even in flat racing meetings are often called off when the temperature goes above 30 degrees. Find out why horses overheat and what can be done about it.
The truth is most race horse owners do not actually make money from their horses and for most it cost them money. Why own a horse, therefore? Well, there are a lot of other benefits to owning a racehorse other than winning money. Owners get privileged access to courses, trainers and 'important' people in the world of racing. Racehorse ownerships offers prestige as well giving people a far more intimate and detailed understanding of how racing works. These days more syndicates own horses than ever before, so it is not just a pursuit for the rich.
The top speed of a race horse is variable and it depends on the age of the horse, length of the race, whether it is flat or jumps, the ground and weather conditions along with a load of other factors. Typically a young 2-4 year old horse in a short 5 furlong flat race can get up to around 40 mph, for longer 2-3 mile races over jumps that speed may drop to the mid-20's mph. The fastest horse on record ran at just shy of 44 mph but it is fair to say most horses won't be getting to that level. Still, horses are fast, that is why we race them, and in a mid-distance flat race you can easily get speeds in excess of 35 mph average.
Human athletes and sports stars these days have very specific nutrition and diets to help them reach and stay in peak condition. Naturally the same is true for racehorses, afterall horses and trainers receive money and prestige for winning and staying ahead of the competition by any means is a necessity. Wild horses often feed on grass and hay but the energy required by a thoroughbred to run a horse race is way to high for that so diets are not focused around high protein, high fibre ingredients that provide slow release energy.
These days top race horses are moved around a lot more than in the past. Take the Irish for example at the Cheltenham Festival, in the 1970's they were lucky to bag a handful of winners from the select horses sent over but now Ireland train more winners at the meeting than the Brits and send up to 40% of the horses. It is not just Irish horses that travel though, in recent years huge prize money races in the middle east, Asia, Australia and America means top horses now travel internationally too. Here we look at how horses are transported by road and air, what the rules are and what the potential impact could be on the horses themselves.
We are all very much used to watching all weather flat racing but at one time we had all weather jump racing too in the UK. Unfortunately it didn't really work out thanks to the fact that jump racing is already a winter sport when the weather is often bad and so all-weather jump racing failed to gain any popularity. The races tended to be low class and many people felt they may be fixed. In the end it was safety concerns that put a halt to the practice, despite several attempts to bring it back. As artificial surfaces improve, though, there is a chance we may see it again in the future.
Tic Tac, or tick tac, is an old sign language system that bookies would use at horse and dog racing tracks to communicate with staff about the odds that other bookies were offering. In the days before high speed internet and mobile phones it was difficult for an individual bookie to keep on top of fast moving odds markets and so many would employ tic tacers who would assess the prices offered by other bookies and feed back to their own people. The art is now pretty much dead but it is fascinating to read about and watch.
The Cheltenham Festival is not all about what happens in March, being the pinnacle of the jump season there of course needs to be a means for horses to qualify for the leading races and this is what you will often hear referred to as 'the road to Cheltenham'. No, we are not talking about the A435, rather the races that take place throughout the winter that can give winning horses a place in some of the worlds biggest jump races.
Like most human sports starts horses can only be at the top of their game for so long, often retiring with potentially half their life or more ahead of them. Horses are, however, expensive to keep and in the past that has meant many sublime animals have gone to waste for lack of anything else for them to do. These days race horses that come to the end of their racing life, or who couldn't make it as a race horse, are now often retrained into different disciplines. Here we look at the retraining of race horses and what many end up doing when they finish racing.
Human sports stars go on to have whole careers after they give up the sport but when racehorses reach the end of their racing life it is ultimately the owner the decides what happens to them. Thankfully most race horses are now tracked and with new bans on race horses entering the food chain it means more horses are now being retrained or rehomed than before. We look at why race horses retire and what happens to them when they do, fortunately the slaughterhouse ending is becoming less common.
Even to the trained eye it can be difficult to tell two horses apart a lot of the time, indeed this is why we have robust procedures that ensure the right horses are allocated the right numbers and jockeys, with several checks supposed to be in place before a horse goes to the start. Unfortunately in spite of that horse racing mix-ups still happen, perhaps more so than they should do. Here we look at mix-ups in horse racing where horses have run under the wrong name, either by accident or by foul play.
There are plenty of young stars in many sports but it is far more difficult for a young jockey to break through given the simple physical demands of horse racing, minimum weight limits and qualifications required. Therefore those that do make it when they are young are extra special and this is why we have created this page to celebrate the youngest jockeys in history and look at what made them different.
Horses eyes are situated on the sides of the head, which gives them good peripheral vision for spotting predators in the wild, but for race horses see over 180 degrees can lead to distractions. Therefore, many race horses and driving horses wear blinkers to block the peripheral vision to allow them to focus on the race without being distracted by crowds, other horses or anything else. Here we look at what blinkers are, why horses wear them, how to know when a horse will be wearing them and critically if they affect performance.
Horse racing has come a long way in the past 50 or so years with regards to offering opportunities to female jockeys in the sport. Frankly, though, despite that fact that women have proved to be as good as men and they have a natural build that suits being a jockey horse racing is still mostly male dominated. Here we look at the female pioneers that have started to break down the glass ceiling within the sport, and continue to do so into the future.
Let's face it there are less dangerous things to do than be a jockey, especially a jump jockey, so it is no surprise that most consider retirement by their mid-30's if injury doesn't get them before that. Flat racing jockeys can go longer but even they succumb to the strains of riding horses daily by they 40's usually. There have, however, been a few stand out jockeys that have lasted so long they were riding into their 60's and 70's. Here we look at the oldest jockeys in horse racing history.
There is only one name that really stands out when we look at the record jockey in each Cheltenham Festival race and that is Ruby Walsh. The legendary jump jockey, and eleven time winner of the top jockey title, holds the record number of wins in an astonishing 11 out of 28 races, that is 39%. He holds the record for the top two races, the Mares' Hurdle (8) and Supreme Novices' Hurdle (7). Barry Geraghty is also up there with records in 6 races. Here we look at the record jockey in all Festival races.
Training a horse to win any race at Cheltenham is hard but training multiple winners is an outstanding feat. Here we look at the trainers that hold the records in all 28 Festival races. The list is dominated by Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson who hold the records in over half of the races. Add Paul Nicholls and Jonjo O'Neill to that list and we cover 24 out of 28 races.
To win a race at Cheltenham is a huge feat for any horse but to go on and win one of these elite jump races more than once is truely outstanding. Here we look at the top 10 Cheltenham Festival races that have produced the most multiple winners and why. Quevega tops the list having wn the Mares' Hurdle no less than 6 times, followed by Golden Miller with 5 wins in the biggest race, the Gold Cup.
Let's face it money talks and it is no surprise to anyone that the best horses, trainers and jockeys enter into the races with the highest prize money because they have the most to gain. Financially as well as for their reputations. The Festival at Cheltenham is the pinnacle of jump racing and provides upwards of £5 million in prizes across the 28 races. On this page we look at the top ten highest prize money races at Cheltenham as well as how prize money works and how it is calculated.
If you are going to be a professional sportsperson then, let's face it, there are easier routes to go down than being a jockey. Often third on the list when celebrating any win, behind the horse and trainer, for most jockeys it is a damned hard life with little recognition of quite how much effort they put in. An average jockey might earn only around £25-30k a year yet will race around 1300 miles in total, spending 1000 hours driving to courses and suffering any number of injuries along the way. Find out more about the life of a racing jockey.
Let's face it we watch flat racing because it is fast and prestigious but we watch jump racing because it is more of a spectacle and the best races to watch, for the neutral, are the ones with the most obstacles to be jumped. Why? Because lots of fences generally means lots of drama and ultimately it is the drama that we remember. Here we look at Cheltenham Festival races with the most fences. Logically these tend to be the longest races with a higher average age for the winners.
When it comes to flat racing it is the shorter races that are the most compelling, but for jump racing it is often the opposite. The longer the race the greater the spectacle, the more that can go wrong ultimately, just think why is the Grand National so popular? Here we look at Cheltenham's longest races, many of them are also the oldest races, which tells you that these are the races that last the test of time. Find out more about them.
It is always nice to read about the oldest races, they are the ones that give the depth of history to an event like the Festival, but like any major events you need to change things from time to time to keep things fresh. On this page we, therefore, look at the newest races at the Cheltenham Festival, including the races added in 2005 when the 4th day was added and other races added since then.
Being a vegan to some is about diet and health, not eating meat or animal derived products or using things that have been tested on animals. Veganism is, however, more than just about nutrition it is a philosophy in itself and most people that class themselves as pure vegans will also not approve of, watch or bet on horse racing. Here we explore the topic of veganism and horse racing and ask whether becoming a vegan makes people dislike animal sports or whether it is those that dislike those sports already are more likely to become vegan.
Let's face it you can't blame a horse for taking drugs like you can for human sports but ultimately the horses are controlled by people and there are some people that will take any advantage to win, including doping. Here we look at horse doping, the rules around it, banned substances and what happens when horses have illegal substances in their system?
There are very few easy fences in jump racing but there are certainly some fences that are harder than others and a few obstacles that strike fear into jockeys (and most likely horses) as they approach them and try to get over them. Here we look at some of the most feared and difficult fences and obstacles to jump in horse racing, typically over half of these are at Aintree on the Grand National course. We also look at some spectacular jumps from around the world.
Let's face it jumping onto the back of a thoroughbred horse and running at up to 40 miles an hour, often over fences, with a load of other horses and riders is hardly a risk free pursuit. Everyone who has ever ridden a horse has fallen off it at some point and for jockeys racing horses most days of the year it is a fact of life that at some point they will get an injury. Here we look at jockey injuries, the most common body part affected and the differences between jump and flat racing injuries.
Leading jockeys can earn a lot of money but the reality is most do not, largely becoming a jockey is a labour of love requiring long days, lots of travel and taking risks. Therefore, those that become jockeys tend to do it for their love of horses and racing and most will not earn enough from racing to simply stop working when they retire. Here we look at how to become a jockey and what it takes to be a professional.
In all elite sports there is a risk of injury and with horses having been bred for thousands of years to be as fast and strong as possible it is natural that common injuries affect these animals. Today the number of horses that die or are put down from injuries is at its lowest rate ever but there are still some injuries that cannot be fixed and lead to horses suffering an early end to life. Here we look at the most common injuries that race horses suffer from and why.
While a typical horse race will have prize money in the low 10's of thousands there are races out there today that boast staggering prize money, well into the millions. Many of these new mega-rich races are held in countries like Saudi Arabia and Duabi who have compensated for a lack of history by offering silly levels of prize money. We look at the richest races in horse racing and as none of them are jump races we also look at the richest jump races too.
The evidence that our climate is changing is now irrefutable and data suggests that in the UK a warming world will manifest itself in the form of hotter direr summers and warmer wetter winters. Of course dry summers is no bad thing for flat racing but wetter winters could have a big impact on the jump racing season. Recent years have already seen more meetings cancelled due to waterlogging than ever before. How will jump racing and racecourses adapt in the future?
Horses are a lot like humans, they are very fast and reactive when young and grow stronger and gain stamina with age. An ex-racehorse will generally live to 22-28 years old, retiring before the age of 13 for most, which is roughly equivalent to humans who compete in professional sport when extrapolated. What is interesting is that horses are living longer, just like people are, largely thanks to better science, diet and care.
In handicap races it doesn't really matter what the jockey weighs as that is taken into account but for other racing it can be a critical factor. Of course, we know jockeys tend to be small and lean but even then a few pounds can make a big difference. There are minimum weights in place but this still hasn't stopped all of the issues with jockeys and eating disorders. Find out more.
You might see all the weird and wonderful names of horses and think you can come up with virtually any name. The reality is naming a horse is more complicated than you might think, with around 30% of those proposed being rejected. This is usually because it is the same or similar to an existing name but in many cases they are rejected because they are rude. Here we look at the rules around naming and few of the dodgy ones that slipped through.
It might be a question you ask down the pub after a few pints but actually people have wondered this question for a long time and there have in fact been numerous races between greyhounds and horses to see who will win. It may seem a silly question but when you think about it there is a lot that comes into play when asking who would win a race between a horse and a dog.
Jump racing is an intensive sport requiring stamina and with pace when it matters. Arguably stayers races are the most difficult of all types of jump racing, with long races (often over 3 miles) with more fences or hurdles to jump and more risk of falling. We look at what makes a good stayer, how horses are bred and trained for these races along with the biggest races and most famous stayer horses.
While most people have heard of a Stewards Enquiry, or may have had a bet impacted by one, few know what actually goes on behind the scenes. Here we look at exactly what a stewards enquiry is, what the process is and common reasons they are brought forward. We also cover what happens to bets when there is an enquiry and how they are different to disciplinary hearings.
There is nothing worse than a horse winning a race only to then see it disqualified. From a betting perspective the official result is what they will pay out on but we deal with that on another page. Here we are looking at the major reasons why horses get disqualified, when a horse can be disqualified who makes the decisions. We also look at some famous examples.
The phrase usually goes 'out with the old and in with the new' but not at Cheltenham racecourse which boasts two main courses along with a third more challenging cross country course. The fact that Cheltenham has three elite National Hunt courses is one of the very reasons why it hosts the biggest jump racing festival in the world but how exactly are the courses different and what are the features of each?
Flat races and jump races are obviously very different. Flat races are faster, generally over a shorter distance and are dominated by younger horses whereas jump races are more about stamina over longer distances and of course with hurdles and fences. Therefore, when it comes to training horses for these two very distinct disciplines what are the differences and similarities in the methods used?
Generally having long odds is a sign you should leave that horse well alone but of course there are instances where runners have far exceeded their expectations and won with silly odds. On this page we look at the longest odds winners in horse racing as well as the longest odds winners at the Cheltenham Festival. Perhaps reading this may give you some insights to find the next 100/1+ winner out there.
Let's face it if the Cheltenham Festival is regarded as the biggest jump horse racing event in the world in terms of pretty much every measure but one of the most important of those is the amount that is bet on it. The Festival attracts just shy of £1 billion a year in bets and they are just the ones that are known about. It is truly eye watering the amount people stake on this event and on our page here we look at those numbers and why betting at Cheltenham is such big business and why it is so important to the horse racing industry.
Cheltenham is a very old spa town nestled on the edge of the Cotswolds, this means there are lots of reasons why people visit the place other than for racing, with tourism and other festivals a big draw fro the town. There is no doubting those Cheltenham would not be the place it is without horse racing and the Cheltenham Festival in particular. On this page we look at how much the Festival is worth to the local and British economy.
Being an owner of race horses may carry a lot of prestige but in reality it is an expensive hobby for most. It takes a lot of time, vision and money to be a successful owner but while these are the people that carry the industry they receive little credit compared to jockeys and trainers. We have therefore celebrated the top 5 owners of Cheltenham Festival winning horses in modern times.
Cheltenham racecourse can certainly be put into the top bracket when it comes to accessible courses. They have worked hard to make as many areas as possible accessible to people with mobility issues and this is reflected in the 1000's of people a year that visit the course with reduced mobility. On our page we look at accessibility at Cheltenham in general and for the Cheltenham Festival.
You might think the result to the question 'what is the oldest Cheltenham race' would be a one line answer, however, it is not actually that simple. When looking at the oldest Cheltenham race still running today there is no clear definition as some of the oldest races have had gaps or have been run at other courses. We therfore look at several races that could be classed as the oldest.
There is less of a disparity between men and women when it comes to trainers compared to jockeys. Only recently have female jockeys been giving relative parity with men, however, female trainers have been training winning horses for a long time. Still, it is an uphill battle for top women trainers as the world of horse racing is still elitist and chauvinistic, we look at the biggest, best and most successful female trainers.
The majority of people that own horses do not do it for the money, in fact, very few owners make money out of owning horses. Unless you lucky enough to own the next Frankel, Red Rum or Tiger Roll then owning horses will likely cost you. Therefore most owners do it for the prestige and glamour attached and of course one of the groups that courts this lifestyle the most are celebrities, who can afford to lose money for the lifesyle it gives them.
Looking in from the outside you might assume that no one involved in racing is allowed to place bets on the sport but in actual fact the rules are very different depending on the persons role. Jockeys are heavily restricted from betting, as you would expect, but for trainers and owners the rules are more flexible. There are also some employees, such as vets and drivers, that cannot bet but others that can, so what are the rules and why?
It has been said in recent years that Irish horses and trainers have come to dominate high level National Hunt racing, the Cheltenham festival in particular. Is that actually true however, or is it is just big trainers like Willie Mullins that make it seem that way?
No one can argue that Cheltenham racecourse is by far the biggest visitor attraction in Cheltenham but at the same time you cannot forget that Cheltenham is nestled in the heart of Gloucestershire and the Cotswalds and is one the prettiest places to visit in the world. The historic spa town can trace its history to before Roman times and visitors are spoilt for choice for things to do and places to visit. If you plan to go the races and have some spare time read our guide for the best things to do in and around Cheltenham and Gloucester.
There are obvious links with the royal family and elite flat racing, such as Royal Ascot, but it is not common to think of royalty being associated with jump racing. The Cheltenham Festival is however an exception to this and has long has an association with the monarchy, going back to Richard III.
Indeed, one of the biggest races of the festival is the Champion Chase, which is named after the Queen Mother, who loved the festival perhaps more than any other family member in history. Read our page to find all the links between the royals and Cheltenham.
Being a bookie isn't exactly seen as a difficult persuit, hence the phrase 'you've never seen a poor bookmaker', but in reality being an on-track operator can be one of the hardest jobs in the industry. The rise of online betting with better odds and concessions has meant on-track bookies are decreasing and the remaining independents are struggling with expenses are also rising. So, just how much does it cost to be a bookmaker at a racecourse?
Racehorse owners often buy horses for many reasons other than to earn money out of them. It is actually difficult to make a good living out of racehorses and so most owners do it for the lifestyle it brings or for bragging rights. Many owners are also syndicates, hoping they will find the next Red Rum and make a mint. How much money do owners actually make and how much does it cost to be the owner of a racing horse?
Most people with even a passing interest in horse racing could name one or two trainers these days, some have become celebrities of the sport, the likes of Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot. How much does a trainer actually earn though? Not just the top level trainers either, how much can a middle-of-the-road trainer expect to earn from a yard in a month? It may not be as much as you would have thought.
To the uninitiated the amount of different race types run at Cheltenham and in National Hunt racing in general can be very confusing. There are differences in fences (hurdle, chase, cross-country), horses (novice, juvenile, mares', etc.), jockeys (e.g. amateur, conditions of the race (e.g. handicap), there are also different classifications depending on what the race is for (cup, trial, trophy, championship, etc.). To help you understand different types of races we have separated all the races at Cheltenham into their individual classifications with details on each.
The Spa town of Cheltenham situated against the picture perfect English Cotswolds in the background is a popular place for people to visit at any time of year, but during the Cheltenham Festival the 270,000 racegoers over the week massively outnumber the 115,000 population. This can make finding a good place to stay difficult, epecially as prices ramp up. Our hotels page shows you where to stay in Cheltenham to suit a range of budgets and needs.
Trainers are arguably the most critical factor in horse racing, you can have the best horse in the world on paper but that doesn't matter if you can't get the best out of them on raceday. Any trainer who wins at the Cheltenham Festival deserves accolade but there are a small group of trainers that have not just won at Cheltenham but have done so year after year after year. On our page we celebrate these elite trainers and their achievements.
Riding a winner at the Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest things a jockey can do in horse racing and anyone that manages it should be given huge applause. There are, however, a number of jockeys over the years that have ridden not just one winner but have won all the big races, lots of times. On our top 5 festival jockeys page we give special mention to this elite group of horsemen who set the benchmark for future hopefuls.
Drawing up a top ten list of horses to have run at The Cheltenham Festival is no easy task when you consider it is the pinnacle of jump racing and virtually every horse involved is an elite winner. Within that though there are some stand out examples such as Arkle and Golden Miller, who are so revered they have statues at the course and races named after them. The other 8 on the list are also deserving of statues, but then if Cheltenham built one for every horse on our list they wouldn't have much space for spectators.
Being a jockey can be a tough life with a hell of a lot of travelling and rides needed to earn a living. While some elite jockeys can earn millions the fact is most riders need to participate in hundreds of rides to get a decent wage. On our page about jockey earnings we look at how much jockeys get in fees vs prize money and sponsorship and what an average jockey can reasonably expect to take home in a year.
Jockeys are not usually known as being rich sportspeople in the same way we think of footballers, golf or tennis players. Many jockeys spend decades grafting for a living and often need to take other jobs on retirement, there are however a number of jockeys over the years that have earned a very tidy amount from riding horses around a track. In our article we look at the richest jockeys in the history of the sport.
Cheltenham is arguably the biggest jump race meeting in the world attracting around 70,000 spectators each day during the festival. Cheltenham, however, isn't the biggest town in the world and travelling can be difficult, especially if you leave it late. Whether you want to drive, fly, take a helicopter or limousine then we've got you covered. Read our travel guide for the best transport options.
Most true racing fans would say there is no contest here, Cheltenham is bigger than the Nation as it is an entire 4 day meeting full of the worlds best grade 1 jump races. That being said you can't ignore the fact that more people watch and bet on the National compared to any other horse race in the world, so which is bigger?
What is it about Cheltenham and its racecourse that made it what it is today, how did racing get started there, how did it come to hold the biggest jump racing festival in the world? It wasn't always smooth racing either, with disruption that even lead to the cancellation of horse races at the course in the early days.
We take it for granted that the Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious jump race meeting in the world, yes other individual races are perhaps bigger, but no meeting has the sheer amount of quality races as Cheltenham does. No other meeting generates as much money either, for both the local economy and for the bookies - so why, of all the festivals has Cheltenham grown to be the pinnacle of them all?
Prestbury Park has seen racing in and around the site from the early 19th century, if not before, however serious races were not held at Cheltenham until the 20th century. Therefore, how did we go from sporadic racing in the area to the worlds biggest jump racing festival in the course of a few decades?
The Prestbury Cup is an annual competition at the Cheltenham Festival and is awarded to the nation that trains the most winners. In reality this is a battle between Britain and Ireland, given only one horse with a trainer of a different nationality has won a race since the cup was established in 2014. Initially the Brits dominated, as they had done for most of the history of the Festival, but in recent times it is the Irish that have come out on top the most often.
If you think you know how many pints of Guinness are drunk at the festival or when the event first started then why not try our 50 question quiz on the worlds greatest jump racing meeting.
One of the best things in the world you can win as a trainer of jump racing horses is a Cheltenham Festival race, to win more than one is a serious feat to be proud of and to win more races than anyone else is the pinnacle of it all. Here we look at the top trainers at the Festival in the past. In recent times the title has been dominated by Irish trainers, thanks largely to Willie Mullins, who has won top trainer no less than nine times since 2011.
The life of a racing jockey can be tough, moving around constantly with little recognition of quite how important they are. There are exceptions to this though and one of the biggest ones is the Champion jockey title at the Cheltenham Festival each year. Here we look at the history of the Cheltenham top jockeys, previous winners, recent trends and famous winners.
Cheltenham racecourse is one of the oldest and best race venues in the world, hosting some of the most elite jump races and steeped in history. The racecourse has however played other important roles in its time such as when it was used as a voluntary aid hospital for returning soldiers in WWI and as a training barracks in WWII.
National Hunt jump racing distances are longer than for flat races, usually between two and four and a half miles in length. Within this there is a big range, with national hunt flat races (bumpers) being the shortest, hurdles tending to be intermediate with the longest races being steeple chases. Older horses tend to run longer races (stayers) as these have more stamina.
If you have not had much experience reading race cards before then at first glance the array of letters, numbers and terms can look indecipherable. Luckily race cards really are not that complicated and once you've understood the basics you will be able to digest a lot of information about a race, horse, jockey or trainer from a quick glance.
Horse racing has many handicapping rules that define how the age of a horse, the combined weight of animal and jockey and the sex are accounted for. Depending on the type of race, time of year, and even the experience of the jockey, handicapper add weight to try to balance a field as equally as possible.
Why is jump racing referred to as National Hunt racing? Why are there so many different grades, classes, distances, conditions and names when it comes to the sport? Our guide will help you understand where National hunt hump racing came from, the various classifications as well as the difference with flat racing.
The only problem with watching and betting on horse racing is there are a lot of terms and phrases used that could stump even knowledgeable punters. This is due to the long history around racing alongside those in the know wanting to keep it that way by preserving the language. Check out our A-Z glossary for the meaning of various horse racing terms.
Horse racing is the oldest formal sport in Britain, unfortunately this long history has resulted in a myriad of grades and classes when it comes to jump racing. It is not always easy to tell from the name of a race what level to expect. Fear not we explain everything you need to know about National Hunt racing grades and classifications.
Old Cheltenham Races
Races come and go to keep things fresh and although the Cheltenham schedules are fairly fixed there are still races that get discontinued to allow new races to come in.
On this page you will find races we have covered in the past that have run at Cheltenham racecourse at the Festival or other meetings that have since either moved or been scrapped entirely.