The Cheltenham Festival starts on Tuesday 13th March with one of THE Championship events taking part that day in the Champion Hurdle.
The Champion hurdle is the race that decides which horse is the best hurdler in the United Kingdom and is raced on the old course over 2 miles and 110 yards (3,319 metres). And online bookmakers are offering odds on many of the possible runners now.
In total there are eight flights of hurdles to be jumped in the Champion hurdle at Cheltenham, and the race is targeted by owners, trainers and jockeys all season long as it is undoubtedly the most prestigious hurdling event in the National Hunt calendar, and has been won by some of the equine greats.
The first Champion Hurdle was run in 1927, yet it was in the post-war years that the race elevated to the level it is at now. Hatton's Grace, who was trained in Ireland by Vincent O'Brien became the first horse to win three Champion hurdles, while Sir Ken recorded three successive victories in the 1950s. Then came Persian War who also won the race three times, completing the hat trick in 1970.
In 1984, Dawn Run won it to become the first mare (female horse) ever to win the race – two years later she became the only racehorse to win the Champion hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup. In the eighties the Nicky Henderson trained See You Then won three back to back Champion hurdles – a feat repeated in 2000 when Istabraq won his third Champion hurdle.
Betting on the event with online bookmakers is hugely popular with a market being formed almost immediately following the previous year’s race.
Online bookmakers offer odds on the winner and the placed horses in an attempt to get money into their book, but the bets are placed by customers without them or the bookmakers actually knowing whether the selections will start the race twelve months hence.
This is called ante post betting and as the name implies it’s betting on a race in advance of post time – it can be a day before or it might be twelve months before the race is due to run.
Online bookmakers may also free bets on the Champion hurdle. The free bets may revolve around getting a free bet on another race on the day to the same value on the bet you have on the Champion hurdle. Or it may be in the form of a free bet being given to you should your selection fail to complete the Champion hurdle or even he/she were to finish last in the race.
Other promotions that online bookmakers may offer involve 10% or 20% bonus to a correct forecast. These bets centre around the customer correctly forecasting the correct 1,2 in the race. An industry dividend is declared and then the online bookmaker will give its customer a 10% or 20% bonus.
Finally a bookmaker may also offer a free bet if the customer’s selection loses by less than ½ length, neck, short head, head and/or a nose. There is also betting available now on who will win this season’s Champion hurdle.