The Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching, with four thrilling days of racing that feature 14 Grade 1 contests kicking off on Tuesday, March 13.
As the pre-eminent fixture on the National Hunt calendar, Cheltenham draws in punters who may not typically engage with horse racing betting. To assist you, we’ve crafted a straightforward, step-by-step guide to navigate you through the process.
How to bet on the 2024 Cheltenham Festival: Choosing a betting site
With the Festival still a little while away, the bookies have yet to produce their specific Cheltenham Festival betting offers, so check back closer to the time for the very latest promotions. Below, you can find the bet365 horse racing offer, which is a great place to start.
Alternative Cheltenham Festival betting offers
While bet365 is a great option not only for Cheltenham betting but all your wagering, there are of course alternatives that may be good to sign up to if you do not already have an account with them.
Below are three Cheltenham Festival betting site options that all offer something stand-out and unique.
We have also included their rankings from the 2023 UK Bookmaker Awards and you can find a full explainer on them below.
BoyleSports – Bet £10, get £20 in free bets + bank up to £25 in free bets for your Cheltenham pot
With still a few weeks to go before Cheltenham, BoyleSports is a great option if you are looking to sign up to a new site for the Festival.
The Irish operator is one of the few that allow punters to build up a pot of free bets ready for the four days of racing in the Cotswolds.
Once you sign up and make a qualifying wager of £10, you will get £20 in free bets – then if you wager £25 each week in the lead-up to Cheltenham you will be rewarded with free bets for the Festival.
Beyond the free bet offer, BoyleSports is a great option for Festival betting with all the regular markets, as well as specials not found everywhere, and a non-runner no-bet promotion.
T&Cs: *New UK customers (excluding NI) only. Mobile exclusive. Minimum deposit £10. Minimum stake £10. Minimum odds evens. Free bet applied on first settlement of any qualifying bet. 30 days to qualify. Free bets expire in seven days. Cashed-out/free bets will not apply. Account and payment method restrictions apply. One free bet offer per customer, household and IP address only. 18+. T&Cs apply. **18+. UK & IRE online customers only. Place and settle €/£25 of horse racing multiple (trebles and upwards) bets during the qualifying periods. Minimum odds (1/1) required. Free bets (FB) will be applied every day of the Cheltenham Festival. First FB will be applied on Tuesday March 12, 2024 and last FB on Friday March 15, 2024. FB can be used until Friday March 15, 2024 at 23. 59. FB can be used on any horse racing bet. Earn €/£10 in FBs, week 1, €/£5 in following weeks. Free/void/cashed-out bets will not qualify. Payment and account restrictions apply. T&Cs apply.
Tote – Bet £10, get £30 in free bets + 50 free spins
Tote is a great alternative to the traditional sportsbooks that many will use to bet on Cheltenham.
It works differently as it is pool betting. This means it pools all stakes from bets placed on a race at Cheltenham, with the money then distributed back out, deducting running costs and contributing to UK racing. This system provides customers with a chance for larger payouts on less favoured winners.
Additionally, Tote Betting offers exciting games for all customers, including the Placepot (selecting a horse to place in each of the first six races at a meeting), Jackpot (a win-only version of the same bet), and the popular Saturday TV feature, Scoop 6. All these run through Cheltenham and often with boosted winnings.
Because of the unique nature of Tote it was not included in the UK Bookmaker Awards for 2023 and therefore there is no table below.
T&Cs: New customers online only. £10 minimum stake (if each-way then minimum £10 win + £10 place). Receive £30 Tote credit + 50 free spins on selected games within 48 hours of qualifying bet settlement. Tote credit subject to seven-day expiry. Free spins subject to seven-day expiry. Qualifying bet is the first racing pool bet added to the bet slip. 18+. Full T&Cs apply. begambleaware.org
Betfair – Get £20 in free bets when you bet £5 on horse racing
Betfair is another great option for Cheltenham betting as it is essentially two bookmakers in one.
Signing up means you have access to the traditional sportsbook as well as the industry-leading Betfair Exchange. This means you can either back or lay (bet against) horses against fellow punters rather than the bookie.
Betfair also has a low-access requirement as you only need to deposit and wager £5 to get £20 in free horse racing bets.
T&Cs: 18+. New customer offer. Place a minimum £5 bet on the sportsbook on odds of a minimum 1/2 (1.5), get £20 in free bets. Rewards valid for 30 days. SMS verification required. Only deposits via cards will qualify. T&Cs apply. Please gamble responsibly. begambleaware.org
How we choose the best Cheltenham Festival betting sites
The UK betting market is crowded with operators vying to grab your attention ahead of the Cheltenham Festival and it can be daunting trying to pick whom to bet with.
That is why we have signed up and placed multiple wagers with the sites that we mention here in our quest to find the best betting site for your needs.
How we choose the best Cheltenham Festival betting sites: The UK Bookmaker Awards
We have not simply relied on our own expert knowledge gained from years of experience in the industry, but have also drawn on data from the UK Bookmaker Awards.
They are an annual event where prizes are given in various categories to betting companies based on analysis of regular survey results from data experts.
Below, you will find tables in three categories that are relevant to Cheltenham bettors, along with the top five in each category from the 2023 results.
UK Bookmaker Awards horse racing odds
UK Bookmaker Awards betting experience
UK Bookmaker Awards overall
How to bet on the Cheltenham Festival
Although the specific steps for signing up on each betting site to place a Cheltenham Festival bet may vary, the general process remains quite similar. We have outlined the common steps below. Typically, the entire process should take no more than 10 minutes but it’s advisable to allocate some extra time to proceed at your own pace.
- Click the “Claim Offer” button next to the offer you wish to claim.
- Click the button to register a new account. This might also say “sign up” or “create account”.
- Fill in any personal details requested by the betting site, including verifying you are over 18 years old.
- Enter your details for your deposit method, making sure you deposit and/or bet the correct amount to trigger the sign-up offer.
- Select a race and then a horse and place your bet on the Cheltenham Festival. Find out more about placing a Cheltenham Festival bet online below.
How to place a bet on the Cheltenham Festival online
After successfully registering and acquiring free bets through a new customer offer for the Cheltenham Festival, you’re all set to start placing your bets. If you require additional assistance in selecting your choices, feel free to explore our guide further below.
Finding the Cheltenham Festival betting page
The first thing to do is to navigate your way to the Cheltenham Festival page on the betting site you have chosen. This is not the same on every site but there are some general steps you can follow.
- In the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival, sites will generally have a link directly to their markets for specific days on their homepages. Click on this to go to the screen where you can make your selections.
- If this is not there, there will be a horizontal or vertical menu where you can either click “Sport” and then horse racing – but horse racing itself may be on the menu to click on.
- Once you’ve navigated to the horse racing section of the site in question, you are likely to see a list of courses that have meetings that day. Cheltenham is the track you want and the race times should all then be listed. This will take you to the Cheltenham Festival betting.
Placing a bet on the Cheltenham Festival online: Adding a selection to your bet slip
Once you have located the page that has all the different Cheltenham Festival markets and have picked the race and horse you want to bet on, you need to then add them directly to your bet slip before placing the bet. This is done as follows:
- Click on the odds next to the horse you want to bet on. It will then be added to your bet slip, which should pop up on your screen.
- Enter the amount you would like to stake on your horse in the appropriate box. If you would like to bet each-way then tick the box on the bet slip marked each-way or EW. You will find more information on the different types of Cheltenham Festival bets below.
- If you already have deposited the money required to place your bet, simply click the button marked “place bet” or something similar to place your bet with the money you have deposited. The bet slip will update to tell you when this is done.
- If you haven’t deposited yet then you will be prompted to do so before you can place your Cheltenham Festival bet or bets.
- If you want to use any free bets you may have earned by signing up on your Cheltenham Festival bet, there should be a button or box to use them on your selection.
Different types of Cheltenham Festival bets you can place online
The most common types of bets people place on the Cheltenham Festival are the following:
The win-only bet is the most used and the simplest option in horse racing as you simply back a horse to win a race. For you to win any money back, the horse you have backed must finish first in their Cheltenham Festival race.
The Cheltenham Festival features races with a big number of runners – often more than 16 – so picking a winner can prove to be difficult, especially if you are not a regular racing punter.
That is why the each-way bets (EW) are very popular at the Cheltenham Festival. This is effectively placing two bets: one on the horse to win and one on the horse to finish within a designated number of places advertised in the each-way terms at the top of the list of runners.
- Example: each-way: 1/5 odds, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th places
The place part of your each-way bet pays out at a fraction of the “to win” odds that are listed. In this case the place part of your each-way bet pays out at 1/5 of the win odds if your horse finishes in the first five places. If your horse wins the race you will also be paid out for the win part of the bet at the full win price listed.
For example, let’s say you place a £5 each-way bet (totalling £10) on a horse at odds of 15/1 with the each-way terms described above. That means you have a £5 bet on odds of 15/1 for the horse to win and a 3/1 bet (one-fifth of the odds) on it to finish in the first five.
If your 15/1 shot ends up being the winner of their Cheltenham Festival race then you will be paid out for both parts of your bet and you will net £100. This consists of your win bet (£5 x15 = £75), your place bet (£5 x3 = £15) and your stake (£10).
If your horse finishes second, third, fourth or fifth then the win part of your each-way Cheltenham Festival bet is unsuccessful and your £5 stake is lost. However, the place part of your bet has won so your returns are £20 (£5 x3 = £15 plus the £5 stake of your each-way bet).
Withdrawing your winnings (if you’re lucky!)
If you’re fortunate enough to earn some winnings with your Cheltenham Festival bets over the coming days, you will want to know how you can withdraw the funds. Once again this will vary slightly from one betting site to another, but will generally be roughly as follows.
- Locate the link to access details related to your account. This is most often in the top left or top right of the screen with a title such as “My Account” or the username you chose when creating the account.
- Once you have clicked on this button you should see a menu, which will include an option such as “Withdraw” or “Banking” or similar.
- Choose your method of withdrawal and how much you want to withdraw and hit the button to process the withdrawal of your winnings. The betting site will then tell you how long the money typically takes to arrive back in your chosen account. This will depend on your withdrawal method.
About the author: Dean Cooke
My enthusiasm for sports betting has transformed into a profession, and my writing portfolio now encompasses a wide array of betting articles, from bookmaker evaluations to punting strategies.
Through my engagement with multiple bookmakers’ platforms, I have amassed a considerable depth of knowledge and expertise in the domain. This has empowered me to offer pertinent and perceptive recommendations, especially in pinpointing the premier horse racing sites in the UK.
As a writer, my foremost objective is to present unbiased and fair content. I strive to present articles that readers can depend on and have confidence in.