Cheltenham 2024: What Investors can Learn from Horse Racing Betting

by Joe Ellison Last Updated
Cheltenham 2023

Cheltenham 2023 is one of those sporting events that attract a global audience – all of whom are trying to master the betting markets. Most will secure at least one big win at Cheltenham, while many will endure the frustration of losing money in the majority of races.

Lots of punters wager on horses without a thought to strategy, and come undone when they hit a losing streak. But there are ways to avoid being the loser from Cheltenham 2023.

And professional investors are uniquely placed to profit from this horse racing festival.

Investing and Horse Racing Betting

Stock traders, hedge fund managers, investment bankers – basically anyone who deals with financial risk – will likely know about betting. The two are intertwined. Risk and betting require you to take a gamble on an outcome based on your predictions which, while informed, are far-from guaranteed to come off.

An investor may, for example, choose to allocate millions of pounds to a new construction venture in London. A bettor, at a smaller scale, will wager £10,000 on a horse in the expectation that it will come good.

Both the investor and the punter study the likely outcomes of their risk. They look at the industry or form, the market trends or odds, and both examine the rate of return. In the end they make their decision. They do this every day – so much so that it becomes natural to play with risk, knowing they can safely invest or bet within certain parameters.

And this at its heart is why investors become involved in the horse racing industry. They know about risk, know about reward, and know a whole lot about profit.

Cheltenham 2023 betting

Calculating Risk in Horse Racing Betting

It’s this ability to deal with risk that helps professional investors turn big profits at the races.

Take this year’s Ryanair Chase at Cheltenham as an example: 

The Ryanair Chase gets underway at 14:50 on Thursday 16 March. Nicky Henderson’s runner Shishkin is expected to dominate the race and betting sites have placed him at 11/10 favourite to claim victory. That suggests almost a 50/50 chance of victory, yet the Ryanair Chase is no easy race. Would you stake big money on one horse at such low odds, when the rest of the field is priced at 4/1 or above?

Perhaps. But investors won’t just look at Shishkin’s price when placing a wager here. It’s also worth examining the other runners and their odds. Take, for example, the well-rated Pic D’Orhy and Envoi Allen – two horses that aren’t expected to challenge for the win, but should place.

At odds of 12/1 and 14/1 respectively, they’re perhaps a less riskier Each Way wager, compared to banking on a Shishkin outright win. By playing the odds, the shrewd investor makes a smarter decision on a winning bet, and doesn’t just look at the potential profit.

This is a perfect example of risk calculation. Do you wager on the short-odds favourite, or back a long-odds chancer to place? Your Each Way bet carries less profit potential but might still be more worthwhile than an outright bet.

Investors and finance professionals tend to be intrigued by the following factors in horse racing betting:

  • What everyone else is betting on
  • Why the odds are set like they are
  • Where’s the best value on the racecard
  • Is the race even worth betting on?

This last factor is of particular importance for shrewd bettors. Just like an investment proposal that looks dead before it’s even got off the ground, why would you bet on a horse race where you can’t find a clear winner or placer? You might as well keep your funds and wait for the next opportunity or race.

Cheltenham Tips for Investors

So, if you’re new to Cheltenham betting and want some tips on how to use your finance acumen to beat the bookies, here are some tips to get you started:

  • Study the form meticulously – You can study form guides for every horse at sports betting sites, and maximise your knowledge ahead of each race. Knowing the form is a lot like knowing the market trends – you know what works and what doesn’t, and what is likely to be successful next time.
  • Accept losses are part of betting – Just like investing, losses form part of the betting experience. The secret, though, is not to chase your losses and make them worse. Having a system for placing bets and staying within a risk zone is key to a successful day’s betting.
  • Ignore the media hype – Sometimes the media overkill the hype around a certain horse, and then go on to lose a big race. It’s far better to do clinical research on horses, their jockeys and the going, instead of making your choice off the back of TV build-up.
  • Look for big sway factors – There are some easy-to-find sway factors available to punters heading into a big race, including the Official Rating of each horse, their weight, age, form, jockey’s experience and odds. These factors combined will give you a clearer indication of which horses are more likely to be successful on the day.

Cheltenham 2023 Tips

Once you know how to maximise your knowledge of horse racing betting, it’s time to implement these skills. The 2023 Cheltenham Festival is expected to draw millions of horse racing betting fans from around the world – and here are three tips to get you started…

Honeysuckle backed for Champion Hurdle again
Cheltenham is famed for producing horses that dominate specific events – and Honeysuckle currently has a grip on the Champion Hurdle. The Henry De Bromhead-trained nine-year-old won this race in 2021 and 2022, and comes into this year’s festival in fairly strong form.

Honeysuckle had a 100 percent winning record until December, and has placed in two races since. Those results have been enough for bookies to push her price for the Champion Hurdle out to 20/1. Those are very good odds for a horse still competing at the top end of races, and likely to challenge at Cheltenham. It’s a smart first wager on Day One of the festival.

Blue Lord worth E/W in the Champion Chase
Energumene will draw the attention for Thursday’s Champion Chase as he seeks to defend the crown he won last year under Paul Townend. But the bookies have cut Energumene’s odds to 13/8 – so short that he’s barely worth backing. Instead, attention has floated to his stablemate Blue Lord, who finished third in the Arkle last year and who has since strung together some confident wins.

Townend generally rides both horses but Daryl Jacob may be parachuted in to the Blue Lord’s reins here. At 9/1 the bookies make Blue Lord fourth favourite for the win, and he’s rated as a viable top-three contender. If punters were looking at a bet between Energumene and Blue Lord, the latter comes out on top.

Top Gold Cup Tip
Galopin Des Champs fell at the Turners Novices’ Chase last year but returns to Cheltenham as the 13/8 favourite to win the Gold Cup. Horse racing betting fans are piling into the seven-year-old, driving his price down. But they have reason to, with Galopin Des Champs having won his three Grade 1 races since then, all under Paul Townend and all while boasting the favourite tag.

So, is Galopin Des Champs worth betting on for the Gold Cup? In this instance, quite possibly. The favourite has won four of the last 10 Gold Cups, and Galopin Des Champs is showing the form required to conquer this race.

Elsewhere Noble Yeats is a good outside bet at 7/1, while Minella Indo is a perpetual presence that should place, at 20/1. But as investments go, Galopin Des Champs to place is a near-sure wager, while a win here wouldn’t be a surprise.

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About the Author


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Joe is a journalist, editor and copywriter who specialises in sport, politics, film and the gaming industry. He works on Fleet Street for national newspapers and other publicans across the UK and in North America. He is an experienced product reviewer and editor for global brands and gambing companies. He has interviewed everyone from elite sport stars to the next generation of influential business people.
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