Horse racing betting terms explained for Cheltenham and the Gold Cup

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The 2023 Cheltenham Festival is in full swing, with eyes turning towards the biggest race of the week, the Gold Cup, on Friday.

The Gold Cup is the most prestigious jumps race in British horse racing, with the likes of Arkle, Best Mate, Denman and Kauto Star among the star-studded list of previous winners.

It’s such a famous race that it draws interest from people who may not normally pay horse racing a second thought.

If racing – and the betting that comes with it – is relatively new to you, here are the terms you need to understand before you have a flutter.

Horse racing betting glossary

Accumulator – a bet involving multiple selections, with the winnings from each bet rolling into the next race. You must win all your selections to take home any money.

Back – betting on a horse to win or place.

Cash out – collecting reduced winnings before the bet has concluded.

Double – betting on two selections with the same stake, with boosted odds. Both must win for a return.

Each way (EW) – a bet in which half the stake is placed on the horse to win, and the other half is placed on it to place. For example, for a £5 EW bet you will stake £10.

Evens – odds of 1-1, which means your winnings are equal to your stake. A winning £10 bet will return £20 (£10 in winnings plus your £10 stake back).

Favourite – the horse with the shortest odds to win a race.

Form – how a horse has performed in recent races.

Fourfold – betting on four selections with the same stake, with boosted odds. All four must win for a return.

Lay – betting against a horse; the opposite to backing.

Lucky 15 – 15 bets involving four selections in separate events; four singles, six doubles, four trebles, and one fourfold. They do not all have to win for a return.

Nap – a tipster’s best bet of the day.

Odds – the chance of a horse winning, as chosen by bookmakers. Written in the format X-X, where the first number is the potential winnings and the second number is the stack. For example, if you bet £10 on a horse at 4-1 you would win £40, plus your £10 stake back.

Odds-on – a price that is shorter than evens, meaning the winnings are less than the stake. For example, if you bet £20 of a horse at 1-2 you would win £10, plus your £20 stake back.

Place – betting on a horse to finish in the top places. How many places are paid out depends on how many horses are in the race, and what the bookmaker decides. Typically, three places are paid for races with eight or more horses, and four places for 16 or more.

Return – how much money you get back if you win a bet.

Single – a single bet.

Stake – the amount you bet.

Starting price (SP) – the final odds on a horse at the time a race starts. These will be the odds your bet is subject to, unless you locked in a fixed price when you laid down your stake.

Treble – betting on three selections with the same stake, with boosted odds. All three must win for a return.

Cheltenham Gold Cup day schedule

Friday 17 March

  • 1.30pm: The JCB Triumph Hurdle
  • 2.10pm: The McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle Race
  • 2.50pm: The Albert Bartlett  Novices’ Hurdle Race
  • 3.30pm: The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase
  • 4.10pm: The St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase
  • 4.50pm: The Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Steeple Chase
  • 5.30pm: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

How to watch Cheltenham Festival 2023

The four-day Festival will be shown live on ITV and Racing TV. The opening five races of each day will be broadcast on ITV, with Racing TV – available through Sky and Virgin Media – providing full coverage.

Gold Cup 2023 tips

Ahead of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, i sat down with ITV Racing commentator Richard Hoiles to get his insight on how to pick a winner and his tips for the week.

Here’s what he said about the Gold Cup:

“The Gold Cup is one of those races where Galopin des Champs is a little bit like the up-and-coming horse, but he has a lot more to prove yet to my mind.

“If you want to tip against a horse, you really want to try and do is look at what conditions he would least be suited by and work out which others in the field would therefore be suited by those conditions.

“If he’s not going to stay, it would be because it’s turned into an absolute mudbath come Friday and if that’s the case, there’s a horse called Stattler who won the National Hunt Chase last year at the Festival. Yes, it was a lower grade, slower race. But if it turns really really attritional, then it would suit him.

“There’s another horse in the same race at a big, big price called Royal Pagaille, trained by Venetia Williams, who also is a little bit underestimated under those conditions.

“I would reserve how much I staked on those horses until I got an accurate Cheltenham weather forecast midway through the week, and the muddier it got, the more interested I’d be.”

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