How To Approach Cheltenham Trading

The festival is awesome! But where do you start? It's certainly not like trading all the other races throughout the year.

Generally it means two things; massive profits, or massive losses...

By the end of this post you'll have a 'heads up' on what to expect, what to focus on and what to avoid.

What to expect

There are several main difference to trading Cheltenham when compared to your average racing market. However, they all centre around one thing - Increased Betting. Lots of it.

With the added betting from the general public, shrewd operators, trainers and owners it makes for an exciting proposition as a trader. All the additional turnover is welcome! It will create some different behaviour within the markets though. If you haven't traded a Cheltenham Festival just yet it's best to start off slowly and work into things as the week goes on!

What to Focus on

Everybody has a different approach to the markets. In my opinion Cheltenham is most favourable for those that like to scalp the prices for a couple of ticks, it stands to reason with the added betting volume.

Price action tends to be a little smoother and slower, although that doesn't mean gambles will unfold. As a generalisation though, prices are a little more static with the added chance of turning over more and larger stakes. On the down-side there is a lot more unmatched money within the market, meaning you may have to wait a long time to get your bets matched at one point or another.

For anyone that's giving it a go for the first time around I'd suggest building up some good positions in the market and remaining patient. It might not return the enhanced results you crave although there is the opportunity to massively limit any potential downside in comparison to a standard racing market. Once confidence and profits grow (possibly after the first couple of days) it'll be a better position to start increasing stakes and activity. One of the big positives to doing this aswell is the Friday's card is often the best, the Gold Cup is always a dream to trade as long as you don't become too over-excited!

What to Avoid

The biggest concern is, as always; getting over-excited or not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to make bigger results. Cheltenham is great for larger results although if the market moves against you there is very little chance of it returning, getting caught with an over-sized stake in relation to your trading can be quite painful.

Something else to bear in mind is the races at lower grade tracks in-between. Every year (I've done this too) traders tend to settle into a trading rhythm for Cheltenham and then attempt to trade a poor quality race at Southwell on similar sized stakes, point-blank; don't do it. The markets can't take the same level of activity and staking so easily, more often than not it will end up in a bad result undoing all the hard work produced from the Cheltenham card.


Overall it's a great learning experience, make the most of it by recording and learning as much as possible. If you can get a free trial with screen-recording software the Cheltenham markets often make for good viewing after.

The best way to get a good result is to remain patient and behave methodically. Getting caught up in the madness and excitement is the easiest way to miss activity elsewhere within the market. If you miss a gamble elsewhere it can be quite painful. It's also a good idea to pay a little extra attention to the trainers that are linked with previous Cheltenham success, should they have a couple of early winners the media tends to over-hype following entrants.

Whatever happens it's bound to be a memorable experience. The Gold Cup on Friday is my favourite race of the year, win or lose it's great to be involved with and watch the madness unfold within the market. The race isn't too bad on the eye either!!

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