The Cheltenham Festival is the biggest UK horse racing event of the year and the top jumps meeting in the world. If you are planning to attend, here is a quick guide to getting the best out of what is always an incredible occasion. Good planning is the key to getting it right and here you will find the information you need to do just that!
Cheltenham Racecourse has three main enclosures. The Club Enclosure is for those who prize exclusivity. Those allowed into the Club Enclosure are free to visit any other part of the racecourse.
The Tattersalls provides excellent grandstand views, plenty of bars/restaurants and access to the the Parade Ring. The Best Mate Enclosure is your cheapest option. You will get a perfectly-good view of the action from here and there are plenty of places to eat and drink.
If you are on a tight budget, then you can still have a great time, by buying a Best Mate ticket. The Best Mate Enclosure is opposite the main grandstand. There are lots of decent bars and plenty of places to buy food. Facilities are modern and comfortable.
Here are the general admission ticket prices, per person. Tickets can be bought from the Cheltenham Racecourse official website.
- Club £85.00
- Tattersalls £55.00
- Best Mate £40.00
Where To Stay
Many spectators like to see more than just one day of racing, so hotels in the area will be fully-booked months in advance. However, there may be cancellations and you should contact any of the following establishments if you are looking for somewhere to stay. Expect to pay a premium, during the Festival, as it will be their busiest time of the year. If the hotel has a bar, it will almost certainly be busy and the atmosphere may be a little raucous!
- Ellenborough Park
- Hotel du Vin
- Cheltenham Chase Hotel
- Greenway Hotel
- The Mercure Gloucester
- Hallmark Hotel Gloucester
- Hilton Puckrup Hall
- Hatherley Manor
- Tewkesbury Park Hotel
- Cheltenham Thistle
- Mercure Queen’s Hotel
- Cheltenham Park Hotel
- Cheltenham Holiday Inn Express
Almost everybody that is staying at these venues will be there for the Festival, so you will be in good company. If an exhaustive search fails to turn up any available rooms, you might find that some local people are offering their own homes to rent on a nightly basis (check on websites like AirBnB.com).
What To Wear
The trick is to look like you have made an effort, without trying too hard!. This isn’t Royal Ascot and there could well be snow on the ground. Brown and dark-green clothing will stand you in good stead, as will greys and black. You will feel very much at home in tweed and just about anything a farmer might wear to a big country show. If you don’t own any clothes that are remotely like that, nobody is going to get upset if you just turn-up wearing a smart pair of jeans with a plain dark coat.
Ladies won’t regret choosing boots over shoes! It’s guaranteed to be cold, so hats, gloves and scarves will stand you in good stead. Take an umbrella with you and spare socks in case feet get wet. It pays to be practical, at Cheltenham!
How To Get There
Many spectators will choose to take the train and you will always find a lively atmosphere on any Cheltenham-bound carriage, during the Festival. The journey from Birmingham or Bristol takes just over half an hour. A taxi will take you from Cheltenham Railway Station to the racecourse, in around ten minutes, but it is best to allow for a little more time than this due to potential traffic issues.
If you are arriving by air, Birmingham or Bristol both have major airports. Those planning to arrive by private plane can use Gloucestershire Airport. A helipad is available at the racecourse. Contact the course directly, if you would like to make use of this facility – or simply get your butler to make the call!
You can drive from London to Cheltenham in an hour and a half. Leave the M5 at Junction 11 and then follow the signs. If you are driving from the North, then you can leave at Junction 10. You will see temporary signposts, as soon as you leave the motorway. You won’t really need them though as the roads will be packed with Landrovers full of people wearing wax jackets. Follow them!
Parking at Cheltenham is usually free, although there is a small charge when the Festival is running. Expect to pay a few pounds only and to be given a berth that is in easy walking-distance to the course. This is the point you will probably realise it was a good decision to wear a sturdy pair of shoes or boots!
Food & Drink
Every visitor to the Festival has a huge range of options, when it comes to food and drink. There will be scores of mobile operators selling hot dogs, fish and chips, hog roasts, sandwiches, doughnuts, coffee/tea and much more. Prices are around what you would expect to pay at any country show. You will never find yourself more than a few yards away from a draught-tap, should you get thirsty!
For those of you who want to push the boat out a little more, Cheltenham has many restaurants where you can sit down and order a good meal. The Golden Miller Champagne Bar is popular among the well-heeled, as it is for those who just fancy a bit of a big-day treat.
Watching The Races
Every part of the racecourse is likely to be busy, so think about where you want to watch the next race at least 10 minutes before the off-time. Newcomers often prefer to get as close to the track as possible, but this won’t be easy unless you secure a spot well in advance. While you’ll be close to the action, the horses will flash by and you might not even be able to spot the horse you have bet on!
If you have a ticket for the stands then it is best to take a seat. The stands have been purposely-built to give spectators the best view of the action and there will be no shortage of excitement around you. This is Cheltenham and every race matters!
Betting On The Races
For many people, a first wager at Cheltenham will be the only bet they have made that wasn’t on the Aintree Grand National. The National has a special place in the hearts of all sports fans, but it is at Cheltenham that you will get to see the very best jumpers running while at the peak of their abilities. If you are planning to have a flutter this year, read on to find out what your options are.
Don’t forget that there are likely to be long queues at all of the bookmaker stands, within Cheltenham Racecourse. There will not be any promotional offers and the bookies will all have their work cut out, trying to deal with the thousands of punters who are desperate to get their money on in time – some of whom may be a little worse for wear!
Online Ante-Post Betting
For those of you who want to make an early bet on any of the major fixtures at Cheltenham, the RaceBets ante-post section is where you will find odds for hundreds of potential runners. Our ante-post section is constantly being updated, with new horses being added on a daily basis and prices changing to reflect recent results and betting activity.
If you are new to ante-post betting, it is better to familiarise yourself with how it all works before jumping in with both feet. When you make a Cheltenham ante-post bet, you will be doing so before your horse has been officially entered into the race. Because of this, ante-post prices are likely to be much more generous than odds that are offered on the day of the races.
Normally, if you make an ante-post bet, your wager will not be refunded if your runner ends up not being entered into the race. This includes instances where your horse could not possibly take part, as it has picked up an injury. However, RaceBets is currently offering ‘Non-Runner No Bet’, on all 28 Cheltenham races! If you have never made an ante-post bet before then now is the time, as you can take advantage of the higher ante-post prices without risk of losing your money because the horse is a non-runner.
Smart ante-post bettors are constantly keeping abreast of how all potential-runners are performing and also listening-out for any comments made in interviews by jockeys, trainers and owners.
Day Of Race Online Fixed Odds Betting
Most punters will wait until the day of the race to make their Cheltenham Festival bets, or at least until the runners have been officially declared and fixed-odds betting is on offer.
Fixed-odds betting means that you are able to take the price on any horse and be guaranteed to be paid out at that price, if your horse wins the race. Should plenty of other bettors agree with your choice of winner, the betting-odds are likely to decrease. This is why the majority of bettors will always look to take the fixed-odds that are available.
Best Odds Guaranteed
At RaceBets, there is an even bigger incentive. We offer ‘Best Odds Guaranteed‘ on all 2018 Cheltenham Festival races, as well as all other races that will take place this year in the UK and Ireland.
‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ is a very simple concept, but hugely significant in terms of the value that you can get with your bets. It means that you do not need to worry about the price drifting out after you have made your fixed-odds wager. Should this occur, you will be paid out at the higher price and not the price that you accepted when you made your bets.
Sometimes the odds on a horse can lengthen dramatically, in the hours that lead up to the race. This is particularly true when a significant number of heavy-hitting punters all try to land a gamble on one runner. This will inevitably lead to the odds on that horse shortening and the odds on other horses getting pushed out. However, horses that have drifted in the market still win plenty of races. With Racebets’ ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ promise, you can really cash-in when your horse becomes friendless in the market but still goes on to win the fixture. ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ does not apply to ante-post bets.
Many of the races at Cheltenham are highly-competitive and will be contested by a large number of horses. This means that races are often won by horses that go off at long-odds and many will choose to make each-way wagers, rather than win-only bets.
When you make an each-way bet, you are essentially making two separate wagers of equal stakes. One bet is for the horse to win, while the other is for the horse to place. Each-way betting is significantly more-popular on the big handicap races, where even the favourite is likely to start at relatively long odds. Backing a very short-priced favourite each-way, does not make a great deal of sense.
Even if you think that a horse simply cannot be beat, only bet an amount of money that you can afford to lose. There are likely to be many surprise winners at this years Festival, as there are every year and you only need to bet a small amount to make any race interesting.
If you do plan to make your bets on the course, it makes sense to get them on before spending time in the bars! Placing bets after drinking is a recipe for disaster. Avoid chasing your losses by increasing your stake size, should your first bets fail to win. Make a plan and stick with it. Don’t let your enjoyment of this year’s Festival be ruined by reckless decisions made, after a Guinness or two!
Read about RaceBets’ Responsible Gambling Policy
Good luck and let’s hope that the 2018 Cheltenham Festival is as spectacular as it promises to be!