The Cheltenham Festival may have originated in 1860 and had a permanent home at the Gloucestershire track since 1911 but it is still growing in popularity and stature. Last year the opening day Festival attendance reached 67,934 people - record breaking stuff.
The mid 1960’s and Tom Dreaper’s three time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Arkle, added a new dimension to the annual gathering of National Hunt superstars as his celebrated achievements were the beginning of an Irish invasion which has numerically grown and grown to the point that Irish trained runners cannot match the numerical advantage of the home nation but surpasses it in terms of winners.
Irish Winners Galore
In 2006 Irish horses swept the three most prestigious prizes the Cheltenham Festival: The Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Champion Chase and in 2017 Irish-trained runners took 19 of the Festival’s 28 races.
So it’s good news all round for the Cheltenham Festival and National Hunt racing in general albeit connections of a horse engaged in a mid-week Plumpton seller, where the prize-money may even not cover a month’s stable fees, may differ in opinion!
Bookies Love Cheltenham
Of course attendances at Prestbury Park are not the only good news for the sport. Bookmakers are enamoured with ‘Cheltenham’ which, according to their book-keepers, is like a week full of Grand Nationals rolled into one.
Cheltenham punters are very different to their Grand National counterparts though, they are far more knowledgeable and informed than the average factory worker who chooses their selection according to race-card number or a name coincidence.
Consequently off course bookmakers know they have a insurmountably better chance of showing a profitable balance if keeping their customers betting throughout the 28 race feast. Those shrewd punters who stick to the big Championship races always have an outstanding chance of finishing ahead, but once they get involved in Cheltenham’s notoriously ‘minefield handicaps’ they are always in jeopardy.
Cheltenham Free Bets Bounty
And so, in some genially devised betting promotions Cheltenham free bet offers are simply thrown at online punters like victims of the old-fashioned casino adage of ‘keep ‘em playing and in the end the house will get it all’.
Free bets Cheltenham Festival 2020 is a headline which is sure to feature more prominently than ever during this seasons Festival as the free bet route has proven to be irresistible and popular way and beyond old chestnuts such as ‘enhanced odds’ and ‘money back second’.
But as they are thrown out in increasing numbers without any need for application or criteria - you get them gratis for eventualities such as finishing second to a favourite or being a last fence faller.
Prestbury Cup Betting
But what is the best way of using these accumulated Cheltenham free bets to you advantage? Well, as Cheltenham fields are all large you cannot employ a scattergun approach where you back every runner in a race to ensure a return.
However you can invest any in an old-fashioned two-way Cheltenham bet, namely the ‘Prestbury Cup’ which is the accolade awarded to the country which claims the most Festival winners (Ireland vs UK). Last year it was a 14-14 draw, the Irish won it in 2018 and 2017.
The prudent will invest their free bets to see victory for either country good enough to net a small profit. The gambler in you may go another route and take a punt on one side or the other. For those it has to be pointed out the favourites in the Champion Chase (Altior), Gold Cup (Lostintranslation) and Stayers Hurdle (Paisley Park) are all trained in the UK and the home defence always wins at least half of the handicap races during the four day Festival.
Read more interesting stories in our section on Horse Racing.