When we bet on the Cheltenham Festival we are all looking to back the winner, whether that be the favourite or an outsider. The question is to know when to back the shorter odds favourites and when you might find value looking for a longer odds horse to win or place.
This is what this page is here to help with. We list the average winner odds for all Cheltenham Festival races along with the odds of the previous winner to help you find the right races to back outsiders or favourites in. These averages are calculated from the year 2000 (or from when the race first began), rather than going back to when all the races started – this is to try to give a more accurate reflection of the average odds in the modern races, which in many cases are now very different to those run 50 or 100 years ago.
Pretty much all of the horses that run at the Cheltenham Festival have been a favourite at some point, to even take part in these prestigious jump races you have to be a very good runner. Of course that doesn’t mean all horses are equal and when it comes to an event like the Festival it does sort the out the the best of the best from the rest. That doesn’t mean you still can’t find value, favourites only win around 30% of races, meaning that they don’t win in around 7/10 races. In fact, you can read about the average percentage of favourites that win Cheltenham races on a dedicated page.
The odds data on this page is shown in decimal to allow for easy comparison. You can easily convert decimal to fraction by subtracting 1 from the decimal, e.g decimal odds of 4.0 would be 3/1. As shown in the chart above the overall average odds for winners at the Cheltenham Festival is 11.82, for 2021 only it was 12.39 – indicating last year was within the norm.
Highest Average Winner Odds Races
|Race||Average Odds (Decimal)||Last Winner (Decimal)|
|Juvenile Novices' Hurdle||23.88||81.0|
|Plate Handicap Chase||20.27||3.25|
|County Handicap Hurdle||17.14||34.0|
|Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle||16.69||13.0|
|Foxhunter Challenge Cup||16.38||17.0|
|Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase||16.05||15.0|
|Spa Novices' Hurdle||15.57||15.0|
|Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup||15.02||4.0|
|Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle||14.35||9.0|
|National Hunt Chase||14.06||4.5|
|Festival Trophy Handicap Chase||14||29.0|
|Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle||11.36||6.0|
As you might expect it is the larger field handicaps that tend to produce the highest average odds winners. This is thanks largely to the big fields of runners that these races attract, meaning the average odds of each runner, including the favourites, tend to be higher.
Most of the races with the highest average priced winner tend to be between 2-3 miles, i.e. they are not the longest races or the ones with the most fences. Eight out of ten of the races in the top ten are between 2-3 miles long and six out of ten are hurdle races.
The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Novices’ Hurdle on Champion Day is the current highest odds race, it produced an 80/1 winner in 2021 in Jeff Kidder. It is a grade 3 race open to novices’ (so no horse will win a race more than once) that takes place over just over 2 miles with 8 hurdles to be jumped. It was a new race added to the Festival when a fourth day was added in 2005.
This is followed by the Plate Handicap Chase on St Patrick’s Day (grade 3, 2m 4f 127y, 17 fences), the Coral Cup on Ladies Day (grade 3, 2m 5f, 10 fences) and County Handicap Hurdle on Gold Cup Day (grade 3, 2m 179y, 8 fences) – demonstrating the races that tend to attract winners with higher odds are spread around throughout the meeting.
Interestingly all of the top five races are Grade 3 races.
Lowest Average Winner Odds Races
|Race||Average Odds (Decimal)||Last Winner (Decimal)|
|Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase||3.25||3.25|
|Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle||5.59||12.0|
|Queen Mother Champion Chase||5.67||9.5|
|The Cheltenham Gold Cup||6.59||10.0|
|Arkle Challenge Trophy||6.97||1.44|
|Ballymore Novices' Hurdle||7.24||2.5|
|Marsh Novices' Chase||7.44||10.0|
|Cross Country Chase||7.48||5.5|
|The Champion Hurdle||8.75||2.1|
|The Stayers' Hurdle||8.89||13.0|
|Brown Advisory Novices' Chase||9.13||1.25|
|Supreme Novices' Hurdle||10.6||1.36|
|JCB Triumph Hurdle||10.67||3.0|
It is worth ignoring the top entry for now as the Mrs Paddy Power chase only started in 2021 and so the data is only represented by one data point so far.
What is immediately obvious is that all of the Championship races are in this table (Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase, Stayer’s Hurdle and Gold Cup), along with the 5th biggest race of the week the Ryanair Chase. Suggesting that the biggest races do indeed attract the lowest odds winners, on average. It is worth considering, though, that field size is more limited in these races, which will impact the average starting price to begin with.
The race with the lowest average odds, excluding the Mrs Paddy Power Chase, is the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (David Nicholson) on Champion Day. This race is a fairly new Grade 1 race (first run in 2008) over just under two and a half miles with 10 hurdles to be jumped.
There have been many favourites win the David Nicholson over the years, including the record holder Quevega who won no less than 6 races in a row between 2009 and 2014. Ruby Walsh alone rode 8 of the first 14 winners for the race, all with Willie Mullins who won 9 of the first 11 races. Therefore, it is worth taking that into account with this race and it may be good to look for a Mullins horse in this race, although note that he hasn’t won the race since 2018.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase has the lowest average odds of the big five races, followed by the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup, in succession. Excluding the Mrs Paddy Power Chase again nine out of the next ten races in the list are all Grade 1 races.
The only one in the top ten that isn’t a graded race is the Cross Country Chase and that is a surprise given this is the longest and most gruelling race of the week, held on the cross country course over 3 and three quarter miles with 32 fences. Being a cross country race you may expect this race to be a bit like the Grand National, although generally the favourites do well – thanks in large part to Tiger Roll’s three wins in a row between 2018 and 2021 (no race 2020).
Consider Other Variables
Averages are a good benchmark when looking for races to back favourites or outsiders but it is only one way of looking at the data. Some averages will be skewed by anomalous events. As a hypothetical example, you could have a race with 9 winners at 5/1 and one winner at 100/1, over ten years that would give an average of 15.5 decimal (or 29/2) when in reality that is all caused by one anomalous winner.
Therefore before picking your horses take a look at our page on the average number of favourites that win races, this will give you an idea of the variance in the odds. If the average odds are high and the average percentage favourites that win is low then generally the race is won by higher odds winners more often. If the average odds are high but the average percentage favourites that win is also high it is more likely that the high average price is caused by a few high priced winners, but most of the time the race is won by horses with shorter odds.
You would also do well to consider the average age of the winners for the various races, this could help you narrow down your bets rather than simply picking based on odds alone. It can also be worth looking at the number of mares’ that win races open to both sexes, as mare’s tend to be priced higher but in some races they do particularly well.
Finally always have a look at the record winners for each race, both trainers and jockeys. It is common for jockeys and trainers to favour particular races (such as Willie Mullins) and if that trainer or jockey has won the majority of recent races you can assume they will be entering runners that they think will win the next year.