Sign in to your account
Forgot / Reset Password? Click here
Not registered with The Irish Field? Register now to read 5 Field+ articles for FREE
Just one final step...
You must confirm your email address by clicking on the link we’ve sent to your email address.
You are only one short step away from reading 5 free Field+ articles.
Why you should bet on the Cheltenham Festival handicaps
Register now to read five Field + articles
for free per month.
Only takes a second!
Already registered with The Irish Field? Sign in
By registering an account you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.
Why you should bet on the Cheltenham Festival handicaps
on 02 October 2018
A look at the handicaps on offer at the Cheltenham Festival and how best to tackle them

As we build up to Cheltenham 2019, many of you will likely be eager to tackle the handicap races at the meeting. Let's look at how best to have a flutter on them.


Just how many handicap races are there across the Cheltenham Festival though? Well, here’s a quick run down of the races across the four days.

  • Day One, Champion Day: On the opening day of the Festival there are two handicap races for you to bet on, The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase and The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.
  • Day Two, Ladies Day: On the second day from the Cheltenham course we have another two handicap races, The Coral Cup Hurdle (Handicap) and The Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race.
  • Day Three, St. Patrick’s Thursday: On the penultimate day we have three handicaps you can have a punt on which are The Pertemps Network Final (Handicap hurdle), The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Handicap Steeple Chase) and The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase.
  • Day Four, Gold Cup Day: We end the Cheltenham Festival handicap races with another three, The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Race, The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Race and The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup.

    The best bit of information you can have if you are about to bet on handicap races is this, the knowledge that, the BHA (British Horseracing Authority) can take up to 45 minutes to decide on the handicap of a horse prior to the declarations.

    If that is the level that they are operating at, you must do likewise.

    So, how do you pick the right horse? It is key to look for alternatives to the favourite first and foremost. But how? Well, you have to put the work in, studying the past performances of all the runners - either using an online database or video archive. There are plenty of options online.

  • Winning mark – Which mark did the horse last win at? Perhaps ‘Horse A’ has never won when rated above 120, but, for this race is running off a mark of 125 and represents a bad choice. ‘Horse B’ is also racing off a mark of 120, but he has won off a higher mark in the past, so could be worth a punt.
  • Form – Regardless of winning or not, how has the horse been running? Has it been running well in handicaps or not?
  • Class – What class has the horse been running in of late? Has it jumped up in class for this, or, has it dropped down a level?
  • When placing a bet, it’s just about picking the right horse that will help you maximise winnings - picking the right bookmaker is also crucial.

    Does your bookmaker offer the best odds and the most generous promotions? What are the best sites for live streaming? What betting apps are the most convenient to bet on the go?

    Luckily, there are sites which compare and review bookies across the board on their sites and apps and this will help you pick and utilise the right bookmaker for you and your betting on the handicap races.

    Always remember that you can utilise more than one bookie during the Cheltenham Festival, and, more specifically you can then make the most of the numerous wonderful new sign-up promotions they will offer you!

    One of the review sites that caught our eye offers a selection of sign up offers and Cheltenham promotions from all top online bookies.

    Check them out at Cheltenham Betting Guide.


    To sum up, handicaps are definitely an area you should be looking at leading up to the Cheltenham Festival. If you put the right time and research into it, it can represent your best chance to win big money on the horses over the four-day event.

    Why? Because favourites win a much lower percentage of these races than you will be accustomed too in different race types and that means there will be winners at big odds. In other words, it’s a return to that golden rule of betting – always look for the value selection!

    Related tags
    Get full unlimited access to our content and archive.
    Subscribe to The Irish Field
    Unlimited access to The Irish Field via your computer, mobile device, tablet or newspaper delivered to your door.
    Already a subscriber? Sign in