CHELTENHAM 2020 RACES

For reputations, racing honors and more than $5.9 million in prize money, the Cheltenham Festival will once again bring together most of the biggest names in European jump racing.  Set to take place from March 10-13, 2020, the event is already creating headlines as has been its tradition since 1860. Bettors are warming up for what could turn out to be the best moments of their lives and bookmakers are on the other side, ready to profit from the former’s losses.

For those who can make their way to the Cheltenham Festival to bear witness first hand, advance tickets are selling from $52 and up (until 10:59 a.m. on January 31).  Advance group tickets are also available and are priced from $49.  Last-minute gate tickets will retail from around $65.

Gates to the event will open at 10:30 a.m on March 10th to allow fans to settle in for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race, which will kick-off the Festival. The race goes off at 1:30 p.m. and Abacadacras appears to be the favorite with odds of 4/1 at Betfair.  Fiddlerontheroof is another choice for the race having 8/1 odds at William Hill. 

Last year’s event saw some new races included in the program.  This year, there has been an addition of “The Park,” where continuous live music and entertainment will be provided each race day.  The fan-friendly venue will contain an assortment of bars showing the races live, and at 4:30 p.m. patrons can listen to a DJ set for 90 minutes.

Bettors trying to beat the bookies at their game, may be attracted to informative links like https://www.freebets.co.uk/cheltenham-festival-free-bets/.  Some of the latest offers in the market include free bets of up to $33 for every $13 placed at Boylesports.  With Bet365, a bettor can claim up to $131 by wagering on Cheltenham.  

With the excitement that the Cheltenham Festival brings, one would expect fans to applaud the possible expansion to a fifth day of racing.  However, this idea was not popular when the Festival’s new chairman discussed the idea on ITV.  A poll conducted on Twitter yielded lower than 20% votes of those in favor of adding a fifth day.  The main fear expressed was that the intensity of the Festival would be diluted as champions compete with inferior opponents brought in to fill races.

Over the years, there have been more odds-on favorites as a result of increasing the number of days of competition.  Fans’ concerns are therefore not misplaced as they can be backed by statistics.  For instance, in 60 races held in 2002 thru 2004, there were no odds-on favorites in 2002 and 2003 and only three in 2004, or 5% of all races.  By contrast, the last three years have produced 11 odds-on favorites over 84 races, a rate of about 13%.  

This tends to reduce the appeal of the Festival. The only way the negative effects of an additional day can be compensated for is by finding more talented and competitive horses. The opposition of the idea is thus not just resistance to change.

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