Sports betting at 2024 Cheltenham Festival

    The Cheltenham Festival is the pre-eminent National Hunt meeting in Great Britain and is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar.

    The four-day meeting in the middle of March is the culmination of a months-long buildup and it is often viewed as the seasonal end-game for many involved in horse racing.

    The buzz generated by horses being prepared for one of Cheltenham’s major races, or being guided back to defend their crown, sustains National Hunt enthusiasts and bettors throughout the cold, dark winter months.

    In the final days before the festival starts, bettors will be analyzing the reams of data available before making their decisions on what to wager on, as well as what type of wagers to place.

    Ireland has dominated in recent years

    When betting on horse racing, making use of the likes of stats, trends and form lines is vital in giving you the best opportunity to find the winner of a big race. Betting for Cheltenham Festival markets starts months in advance and there can be fluctuations in the favorites and outsiders based on performances in trial races. But one aspect that has not tended to fluctuate in recent years and is a vital piece of information to know when betting on the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, is that Irish horses, trainers and jockeys are the ones to follow.

    Both recent history and the current Cheltenham Festival betting markets showcase how dominant Ireland has become at the meeting, especially over the past decade.

    This is particularly evident in what is called the Prestbury Cup. This is a competition between Irish-trained horses and those from Great Britain, with the winner being awarded the Prestbury Cup. There are 28 races across the four days of the festival and the winner of the Prestbury Cup has to win 15 of those races.

    When it was first launched in 2014, Great Britain won the first two renewals. Since then, Great Britain has not won once, with a tie in 2019 the only thing interrupting Ireland’s dominance. In 2022, Ireland won the competition 23 to 5. As a sign of how dominant Ireland is expected to be this year, a tie is considered more likely to happen by the bookmakers at a general +500 than a Great Britain win at +1000.

    In the markets for most of the major races, Irish-trained horses also lead the betting, with many of those horses odds-on chances. Last year’s Gold Cup winner Galopin Des Champs is an odds-on shot to win again, while the likes of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the Mares’ Hurdle and the Champion Chase all have short-priced favorites.

    Willie Mullins the trainer to beat

    The other factor those favorites have in common is that those horses are all trained by Willie Mullins. A former amateur jockey who won the Cheltenham Bumper at the festival in 1996, Mullins has had an almost iron-clad grip on the meeting in recent years.

    He has trained 94 Cheltenham Festival winners, has been the leading trainer at the meeting 10 times and saddled a record 10 out of 28 winners two years ago. He is a -600 chance to be the leading trainer again.

    His only realistic rivals to be leading trainer this year are fellow Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, who won in 2017 and 2018, and Nicky Henderson, who trains in Great Britain. Henderson is responsible for two short-priced favorites in last year’s Champion Hurdle winner Constitution Hill and Sir Gino in the Triumph Hurdle.

    It is a fair assumption that not all this year’s Cheltenham Festival winners are going to be trained by Mullins, Elliott or Henderson and not all of the winners are going to be short-priced favorites.

    But when it comes to deciding on your bets for the Cheltenham Festival and who you think will win, use recent history to guide you in the right direction.

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