A beginner’s guide to Cheltenham: Everything you need to know
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Cheltenham is coming.
Even if you've never placed a bet on a horse, you've probably heard of the Cheltenham Festival. It's the biggest week in racing and it's almost impossible to avoid.
So what do you need to know ahead of the action in the Cotswolds? Here's a quick summary of what to expect and everything you need to bluff your way through a Cheltenham conversation.
When is Cheltenham on?
This year's festival starts on Tuesday, 13 March, and it runs until Friday, 16 March. Tuesday is Champions Day and the highlight of the day is the Champions' Hurdle. Wednesday is Ladies' Day and the Queen Mother Hurdle Chase is the big one to watch.
Thursday is always St Patrick's Thursday, regardless of how close it is to the actual St Patrick's Day, and the big races are the Stayers' Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase. On Friday, it's time for the main event and the Cheltenham Gold Cup will dominate everyone's conversations.
Why is Cheltenham such a big deal?
The Cheltenham Festival is the home of jump racing. This is National Hunt racing at its best and it's hard to beat it for sheer excitement and drama.
There will be 28 races over the course of the festival, with 13 Grade 1 races taking place. It's expected that crowds of 20,000 punters will descend on the course over the week.
Simply put, it's a chance to catch racing's elite compete on a massive stage. It features the world's best jockeys riding world class horses from the biggest stables. The event has been going since 1861 and it's only getting bigger.
What horses should I keep an eye out for?
One of last year's champs that will be a popular betting option is Buveur D'Air in the second Champions' Hurdle.
Expect a big showing from Samcro in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle while Apple's Jade is another Irish-trained horse that is expected to extend her winning run.
What people do I need to watch?
Ruby Walsh has been Cheltenham's top jockey nines times in the last decade. He's set to come back from injury for this year's festival for trainer Willie Mullins.
Barry Geraghty will be riding for JP McManus again this year. He'll also be hoping to challenge for the top jockey's award and he'll be riding the fancied Buveur D'Air in the Champions' Hurdle.
What race should I bet on if I know nothing about horses?
The Gold Cup is the highpoint of the festival. With 22 fences, this steeplechase provides a dramatic end to the festival and features some incredible racing talent. Just like the Grand National, it's one of those races that appeals to racing fans and casual observers alike. If you only bet on one race, this should be the one.
There'll be plenty of tips floating about on the week of Cheltenham. The trick is getting good ones! If you want to avoid risk but potentially win big, SportsJOE have a suggested a sneaky accumulator that could potentially earn you a few Euro.
How exactly do I bet on horses?
The simplest bet is a single. So if you bet €1 on a horse with odds of 4/1, you'll win €4 plus your original stake. An each way bet gives you more of a safety net but it costs more.
So if you bet €1 each way on a 4/1 horse, you're betting on it to win and betting on it to "place." Depending on the race, a place can be paid out up to fifth place. You'll get a fraction of the 4/1 odds if it places so this is a handy option if you fancy an outsider with high odds. Plus if it wins, you'll be paid for a win and a place. The only downside is you'll need to pay €2 for a €1 stake.
If you fancy having a bet on this year's Cheltenham Festival, skybet are giving new customers a free €40 bet when you stake €10 with skybet.
Brought to you by skybet.