Cheltenham Festival 2019 – Betting Tips and Insights
The Cheltenham Festival rocks the South West with the sound of hooves, hollers, and histrionics. It started in 1815, and has since become the go-to event to watch for jump racing, drawing crowds of over 262,000 over four days. Here’s everything you need to know about the Cheltenham Festival to start hedging your bets for the 2019 race-days.
For more information on the timeline of Cheltenham Festival, click here.
Cheltenham Festival began as a drop in the puddle of the racing world, with the first flat-race meeting debuting in 1815; it was a one-day meet, and the winner wasn’t even recorded until three years later, with the first noted Cheltenham Festival winner being Mr. E Jones’ five-year-old mare Miss Tidmarsh. The following year, the festival was increased to span three days, and introduced the now-infamous Cheltenham Gold Cup, a Grade I race which premiered as a three-mile flat race for three-year-old horses. The inaugural winner of that event was Spectre, who took home 100 guineas for his owner Mr. Bodham.
In 1829, the meeting facilities were burned to the ground in protest of the sins of racing, and it wasn’t until Frederick Cathcart took over that the Cheltenham Festival really started to shape itself into the four-day jump-racing spectacle it is today. Frederick Cathcart was a senior partner in Messrs Pratt & Co, who managed a number of race-courses including Prestbury Park, where the Cheltenham Festival took place. He was the one who decided that Cheltenham needed to move away from flat-racing, and instead define itself as the jump-racing event to bet on.
In 1927, the Cheltenham Gold Cup steeplechase was introduced to the Cheltenham Festival: with three miles and two and a half furlongs, over turf, and 22 fences to clear, the Gold Cup steeplechase cemented itself as the crowning glory of the Cheltenham Festival.
Today, the Cheltenham Festival features events beyond the Gold Cup, and the meet lasts for four days, with a combined purse of over four million pounds.
The events are:
- Day One – Champion Day: 3 hurdle races, 4 chase races, with a combined total of 44 miles and 10 ½ furlongs.
- Day Two – Ladies Day: 3 hurdle races, 3 chase races, 1 bumper race, with a combined total of 16 miles and 17 ½ furlongs.
- Day Three – St Patrick’s Thursday: 3 hurdle races, 4 chase races, with a combined total of 17 miles and 17 furlongs.
- Day Four – Gold Cup Day: 4 hurdle races, 3 chase races, with a combined total of 17 miles and 16 furlongs.
Betting prospects are widespread and numerous, and the events themselves have something for everyone from beginner horse racing enthusiasts to tried-and-true experts who know the ins and outs of the business.
Here are our top tips to make your last-moment bet a first-prize winner for Cheltenham 2019.
Cheltenham 2019 is taking place from March 12th to March 15th – that’s 161 days, five hours, and 26 minutes until the starting pistol goes, and the horses either go down in history, or fade into obscurity. We’ve picked one race for each of the four days to start you off with ante-post bets.
Day One – Champions Day – The UniBet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
Our favourite is Samcro, Gordon Elliot’s 6-year-old chestnut gelding who crushed the 2018 Ballymore Festival hurdles. With an 87.5% win rate and over £200 thousand in winnings, we give Samcro 3/1 odds to win the Champion Hurdle.
Neck and neck with Samcro is a Buveur D’Air, a two-time consecutive winner of the Champion Hurdle. Buveur D’Air is a seven-year-old bay gelding with an estimated £855, 737 in winnings and 28 first place wins in a 34 run record, so competition between Samcro and Buveur D’Air is poised to be interesting on the day, with Buveur D’Air rating 7/2 to take first place for the third year running.
Less likely, but a contender that could clinch a surprise victory is Melon, a six-year-old chestnut gelding who came close to stealing the 2018 Champion Hurdle from Buveur D’Air. Melon has only run 24 races compared to Buveur D’Air’s 34, however first-place favourite Samcro has even less experience than Melon with only 16 races run, and is still considered the contender for first place, and at this point it is just a question of training, preparation, and weather conditions to determine who will ultimately take the Champion Hurdle trophy. We give Melon 8/1 to win first place.
Day Two – Ladies Day – The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase
This is the wildcard race of the year, and at this point in time, it could be anyone’s win. Winners of previous years – think Master Minded and Sprinter Sancre, to begin with – have gone on to win the Champion Steeple Chase consecutively, so our first favourite would be 2018 winner Altior, Nicky Henderson’s eight-year-old bay gelding who has won 15 out of 17 runs in his lifetime. Odds for Altior to win are 7/4 for the 2019 Steeple Chase. However, Nicky Henderson could decide to enter Altior for other races; in that case, Min, a seven-year-old bay gelding who has lost to Altior twice in previous years is a close second. Odds for Min are slightly higher, at 12/1 to win.
Day Three – St Patrick’s Thursday – Stayers Hurdle
Irish blood runs hot on St Patrick’s Thursday, and the Stayers Hurdle is no exception. Our favourite for the Stayers Hurdle? Faugheen, a 10-year-old bay gelding with a 14 out of 18 win rate in the jumps. Faugheen has dominated the jumping scene with wins in 2015 at the Champion Hurdles, and back-to-back wins at the Christmas Hurdles (2014-2015). At the 2016 Irish Champion hurdle, Faugheen was rated the best jumper in the 21st century – so this should be a no-brain bet. Our odds are at 5/1 for Faugheen to take home the Stayers Hurdle purse.
On the other hand, Penhill is no slouch either. A seven-year-old bay gelding with 29 races under his belt, Penhill could clinch a last-minute victory at the Stayers Hurdle in 2019; however, only 11 of his 29 races were in jumps, and only 7 of those were first-place wins. Despite that, Penhill won the 2018 Stayers Hurdle, so he’s one to watch until St. Patrick’s Thursday. We give him 7/1 odds to win.
Day Four – Gold Cup Day – The Cheltenham Gold Cup
Last, but definitely the most anticipated, the Cheltenham Gold Cup could go a number of ways; and because the Gold Cup winner depends a lot on the weather conditions of the time, it really is anyone’s race until the day.
Three horses have 6/1 odds to win: Might Bite, Native River, and Presenting Percy. All three have triumphed in different events, but only Native River has won gold in adverse weather conditions; Native River is the 2018 champion of the Gold Cup, hurtling to the finish despite the muddy track.
That said, Presenting Percy could surprise everyone with a first-pace win; he dominated the RSA Chase in March, and could potentially do it again for the Gold Cup. In this case, it really boils down to stats, so we’ll leave you with some numbers:
Native River: 8 years old; 11/21 first place wins, 2/21 second place wins, and 5/21 third place wins in jump races.
Presenting Percy: 7 years old; 9/17 first place wins, 2/17 second place wins, and 1/17 third place wins in jump races.
So there you have it – your comprehensive guide to early predictions for the Cheltenham Festival 2019. If any horse strikes your fancy, use Mr Green keep track on their odds – and don’t forget to place your bets! Horse-racing is an endurance sport, and the winner isn’t picked until the race is won, so play hard and fast and see if you strike it big.