The very home of National Hunt racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is world-famous and is regarded as the pinnacle for all jumps jockeys, trainers and owners.
Uniquely versus flat racing, the track is as famous for its tough and competitive handicaps as it is for its Grade 1 events and so it pays to know more about the track in order to better judge your handicap bets.
Cheltenham Track Details
There are three courses to concentrate on here; the New Course, the Old Course and the rarely-used Cross-Country Course.
Ostensibly, the whole thing is left-handed and undulating with stiff fences and a tough uphill finish, but the two main courses are very different from each other and punters absolutely must keep that in mind when betting, especially in handicaps.
The Old Course is definitely the quicker of the two, allowing you to concentrate a little more on speed figures. There will be less time to recover so as well as a strong travelling type, a good jumper is needed there.
Horses on the Old Course tend to need to run through a gap and/or make a critical mid-race move to get into position, so either way those with some proven pace at their given race distance are favoured.
The New Course is wider and more sweeping and thus plays into the stamina angle a little more. So, if your chosen horse doesn’t have proven form around it then you need to be on the lookout for strong finishes at galloping tracks, ideally with stiff finishes to be sure they can get the job done and don’t run out of fuel.
Cheltenham’s Top Trainers and Jockeys
While the cream really does rise at the Festival in March, it is important to know generally who the better performers are around this unique track. The better trainers in terms of their strike-rate are:
- Harry Whittingdon
- Paul Nicholls
- Gordon Elliott
- Nicky Henderson
- Emma Lavelle
- Dr Richard Newland
The top jocks around Cheltenham are:
- Daryl Jacob
- Barry Geraghty
- Davy Russell
- Gavin Sheehan
- Nico De Boinville
Important Cheltenham Handicaps
As you’d expect, some of Cheltenham’s biggest betting races are weight-for-age contests at the highest level, such as the Gold Cup, the Champion Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Naturally though the track is also home to some of the biggest betting handicap races of the year. Here are the highlights, in order of where they sit in the traditional National Hunt season.
|BetVictor Gold Cup||November Meeting||Grade 3||2 miles, 4 furlongs, 110 yards|
|BetVictor Handicap Chase||November Meeting||Grade 3||3 miles, 3 furlongs, 110 yards|
|Greatwood Hurdle||November Meeting||Grade 3||2 miles, 110 yards|
|December Gold Cup||International Meeting, December||Grade 3||2 miles, 5 furlongs|
|Fairlawne Handicap Chase||New Year’s Day||Grade 3||2 miles, 5 furlongs|
|Festival Trophy Chase||Cheltenham Festival||Grade 3||3 miles, 110 yards|
|Cross Country Handicap Chase||Cheltenham Festival||Class 2||3 miles, 7 furlongs|
|Coral Cup (Hurdle)||Cheltenham Festival||Grade 3||2 miles, 5 furlongs|
|Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle||Cheltenham Festival||Grade 3||2 miles, 110 yards|
|Pertemps Final (Hurdle)||Cheltenham Festival||Grade 3||3 miles|
|County Hurdle||Cheltenham Festival||Grade 3||2 miles, 1 furlong|