Jump racing enthusiasts will be travelling to Cheltenham on Tuesday 13th March for a festival of racing that seems to get bigger and bigger as each year passes.
The official title of the Cheltenham Festival is actually the National Hunt Meeting and it started back in 1860, when the first race, the National Hunt Chase was run at Market Harborough. This year it starts on Tuesday 13th March and finishes on Friday 16th March.
The Festival has had its home on a permanent basis at Prestbury Park, Cheltenham since 1911.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup, established in 1924, was the original Championship race staged at the Festival, with the Champion Hurdle being introduced in 1927, the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1959, and finally the Stayers Hurdle, which was first run in 1972. Now there are 28 races in total run over four days.
The Cheltenham Festival is the single biggest week of betting on horse racing in the entire year and as such online bookmakers promote the meeting thoroughly. They achieve this through offering betting odds on many of the big races and also by offering promotions and cash backs.
These money back specials can be in the form of giving customers their money back should their selection finish second in a particular race, or even if their selection falls.
Online bookmakers will also offer customers enhanced odds on horses within certain betting odds bands. For example, if you have a bet on a horse and it wins at odds of 20/1 or more, some online bookmakers will give you an extra 5 points for free – so they will return 25/1 for every 20/1 winner.
Online bookmakers will also offer 10% and 20% bonuses to a correct forecast or tricast selection in most of the Cheltenham handicap races. If you select the first two (forecast) or three (tricast) then your return will be boosted by some bookmakers by 10% or 20%.
All of these offers and promotions are for existing customers and they the aim of the bookmakers is to ensure that they bet with them rather than any of their competitors.
But, the Cheltenham Festival is also a key time for online bookmakers to acquire new customers. They achieve this by offering potential customers huge sign on bonuses or free bets.
If you open an account with a bookmaker during Cheltenham you can quite often get a free £25, £50 or even £100 bet. Most of these free bets have a specific mechanic – that is bet £25 and then get £25 – or bet £100 and get £100.