The 2023 Cheltenham Festival is just weeks away now, and this year’s meeting is set to be another huge week for bookmakers, particularly Gold Cup Day, which is the biggest of the four days at Prestbury Park.
Here is a look at what makes this week so special, and why this year could be one of the best renewals of the Festival in recent years.
28 Races – 14 Grade Ones – 4 Championship contests
There are a total of 28 races across the week at the Cheltenham Festival. Cheltenham online bets are already being placed on these, including on the opening contest of the week, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle where Facile Vega is the 5/2 favourite to prevail.
The Blue Riband event is the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the Friday. For those betting on Gold Cup Antepost, the Willie Mullins-trained Galopin Des Champs is at the top of the market at 6/4. The Irish Gold Cup winner is bidding to complete an impressive double in the 3m2½f contest following his success at the Dublin Racing Festival.
Every jockey, trainer and owner will be desperate to win at least one of the 28 races across the four days at the Cheltenham Festival. If they can choose any, it would be one of the Championship races which consist of the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup. The latter was won last year by Rachel Blackmore on board A Plus Tard.
Paddy Power is offering Non Runner Money Back in all 28 races at the meeting, meaning if you place a bet now, and your horse does not line up in that race, you will receive your stake back.
Although it is the four big races that attract the most interest across the week, there are several competitive handicaps that the bookmakers enjoy. There have been some big prize winners of these races in recent years. In 2022, Chambard won the Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase at 40/1, while a year earlier, Jeff Kidder landed the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at huge odds of 80/1.
The handicap races at the Festival often feature the maximum number of entries, which ensures they remain competitive, unlike many of the leading novice races where trainers have lots of options for their horses.
As an extra incentive, bookmakers offer additional place terms in some of those handicap races at the meeting. For example, in the Ultima Handicap Chase on day one, Paddy Power are offering five places, instead of the standard four places you find in 16-runner handicap fields.
ITV Racing are set to cover the majority of the 28 races at the Cheltenham Festival this year. They will broadcast the opening five races each day. Their coverage also includes a daily episode of ‘The Opening Show’ each morning where they will preview the action that day.
Racing TV are also broadcasting at the meeting this year. They will screen all 28 races, including those which do not appear on ITV Racing.
The 2023 Cheltenham Festival starts on the 14th of March and concludes on the 17th. Over 250,000 are expected to visit the racecourse across those four days this year.