Betfair Trading – The Cheltenham Festival

It’s the Cheltenham Festival, the pinnacle of horse racing season for jump racing. This means that next week we will be treated to some quality racing and expected matched betting turnover of somewhere between £100-£120m pre off and £150m or so in total across all betting markets. I’m not expecting much change in those figures for the Cheltenham Festival 2020. Of course these headline numbers I am taking from the Betfair exchange, but Betdaq usually comes in around 20-25% of that total. So generally big numbers all around.

Cheltenham races turnover millions individual, so I can’t wait. For some Betfair traders, trading Cheltenham is a great opportunity to bag some big results. It’s not a meeting that suits all traders though. The large queue sizes mean that it can be a struggle to get matched on Betfair and the price movements are shallower than normal racing markets. But on Betdaq things are a little quieter and this can suit some traders better than Betfair thanks to a higher fill rate.

Whether the prices move a little or a lot there is always a chance to lock in a profit at Cheltenham, but there are also little bits of information that are useful if you are backing, placing a lay bet, or trading. Hopefully, I can give you a few hints in this article. I have put up plenty of statistics about what will and won’t work at Cheltenham and some comparisons to previous years.

You can deploy a whole range of Betfair trading strategies using Betfair trading software. So I’ve made the discussion as broad as possible so that you can choose whatever you wish to do on a betting exchange.

Cheltenham Betfair trading videos

As a Bet Angel customer, you already get access to hundreds of high-quality videos for FREE, but we have now added carefully curated training website at We have listed previous Cheltenham videos here for you to watch and included EXCLUSIVE Betfair videos that you won’t see on YouTube. Whether you are into traditional betting or a full-blown Betfair trader. There should be some content there that will be useful for you. Visit the course directly on this link: –

I’ve been discussing Cheltenham for a few years. So it’s quite funny to look at the production values of some of the older videos! But it is interesting to see the comments and results. My approach hasn’t changed radically over the years but it’s interesting to contrast old comments with new.

We have collated all the videos, added some new content and also uploaded the feature races from last year. In total there are over four hours of videos if you want to go through all of them!

Automate your trading with a Betfair bot

There are now tons of examples of automation on the forum. So if you fancy dipping your toes in or doing something more serious there are plenty of examples to play around with.

The automation shared files area can be found at: –


Automation for pre off trading can be found here: –

Automation for in-running trading can be found here: –

Spreadsheet library

Maybe a spreadsheet is more your thing? You may want to check out the data capture spreadsheet amongst other things in that section of the site. This will allow you to have a deep look at the markets, long after the last horse has crossed the finishing post.

Bet Angel – Betfair Trading Community

Our forum is busier than ever and getting more busier all the time. With a wide range of topics under discussion across all markets and sports. Visit the forum to keep up to date on what is happening at the festival.

“Today’s racing” thread is always a good place to start to see what people are chatting about. The Betfair chart of the day highlights some of the best opportunities and previous years Cheltenham threads can give you a steer on how Cheltenham 2019 traded: –

Cheltenham trading and betting statistics

The book over-round

Competition is fierce nowadays and this means very little money is lost to either side of the book. On a traditional sportsbook the over-round, the theoretical margin paid to the bookmaker, can be large. But on an exchange, this can now be now really tiny. If the over round is 100% then it means that the market was ‘perfect’ and no money was won or lost, before any commission, to either side of the book. The closer to 100% you get the more chance you have of winning in the long term as the knowledge gap to overcome the small margin against you, is just so much smaller.

Over time the number of races that resolve under 100% has been increasing, indicating that the market is getting more and more competitive. In fact, in 2016 19 races were below a 100% book. The exchange is offering amazing value, especially in some of the competitive big field handicaps. 


Finding a big priced winner

As the book percentage is so small it’s worth thinking about ways to exploit this. Rather than backing one runner, why not back a few? Dutching is a neat way of spreading your risk when trying to pick a winner on an exchange. Rather than using level-stakes dutching allows you to spread your risk and profit across more than one runner in the field. When ‘dutching’ you flip traditional betting on its head. With a traditional back bet, you simply choose a stake and place a bet at the best available odds.

Dutching works best on a very competitive field where all the betting odds are close together. If you get a shorter price on a race then most of your ‘Dutch’ bet ends up on the favourite so whether it’s the Champion hurdle, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Stayers hurdle or the Queen mother champion chase. A competitive betting heat is a must.

If you back more than one runner when Dutching, instead of putting £10 on something at 16’s, you nominate how much you would like to win then pick a number of selections that you think could win. Once you have made your selections, the dutching tool in Bet Angel will do some clever maths to work out how to achieve your bet and will give you the stake required to achieve your objective. In a ten-runner field, for example, you may want to win £10 by picking any five runners to win. Once you make your selections you just click the ‘place bet’ button and Bet Angel takes care of the rest.

Advanced dutching

You can go a step further on Bet Angel than traditional dutching tools by nominating your profit by runner. So it’s possible to construct a back bet that says something along the lines of, ‘I want to win £50 if the favourite wins, break even on the second favourite, lose £5 if the third comes in and I want to win £20 on the next three’. This gives you huge flexibility on finding a winner and more importantly, on your terms. Given the low over-round available on exchanges, it’s a great way of picking a winner.

The real benefit in dutching comes from finding a big price runner. As long as you don’t go mad then there are some big priced winners to be found in the competitive races. If you dutched runners ranked 7-18 you would have made money in all but one of the last six years. Just blindly the back of the book from runners ranked 10 and upwards wouldn’t have worked, so it’s that middle division that is a good place to look to unlock value at Cheltenham.

The best tactics for ‘lay the field’

Last year at Cheltenham there were 19 races where a runner traded at or under evens in-play and still lost the race.  When laying the field though it’s not about the lowest price reached, but more about how many runners trade below certain levels in running. In 2016 48 runners traded at or below 3.00 and still lost. Over the last six years, we have generally found near 50 runners achieve this feat. In general, the in-running market is far more certain at Cheltenham. When a price moves the market is far more certain on an outcome it seems.

Of course, things can change depending on how the race pans out and if there is an early faller. But for that reason, I suggest you try arming your lay the field target price and await an opportunity during the race. For lay the field in-running to work you ideally really need a competitive race with a close finish where the lead is uncertain in the final part of the race. Up until that point, it’s more about staying in the race.

My approach to trading Cheltenham

I tend to use Tuesday as a day to test out strategies and examine how the market is ‘behaving’. From a trading perspective, you can never be totally sure what you are about to face. As the year passes, you often pick up subtle shifts in the market. So the start of the week is the opportunity to learn, quickly, how the markets are behaving this year. From there it’s about putting your foot down with some confidence.

Because of the amount of money being traded at Cheltenham, volatility by tick prices is naturally lower. It can sometimes feel like you are football trading before the off. In fact, I can give you some exact numbers. It is 33% below what you see in a ‘normal’ market. Obviously, the amount of money at Cheltenham is much higher than a ‘normal’ market and this leads to a slower fill rate on the money offered to the market. Over the years this has got bigger and bigger. In short, it can take an age to get your order filled. That increases your trading risk but the lower volatility offsets that somewhat.

The interesting thing about that volatility is that it is generally getting wider over time. The average traded range on the favourite is growing as time passes. This doesn’t appear to be the case a bit further down the field. So if you are getting stressed out by the price action on the favourite it may be worth moving down the field a little. The volume will be good and the volatility a little calmer.


There are many things that can work quite well at Cheltenham. I’ve given you some clear pointers in this here, they work best if you are using sports exchanges, but they transplant quite well in general.

Don’t forget you can deploy these strategies with ease or even fully automatically using Bet Angel. We have a practice mode so you can test ideas or the many tools inside the software completely risk-free.

So all I have to do now is wish you the best of luck, I hoped these Cheltenham tips have been useful. I can’t wait to hear that Cheltenham racecourse roar!

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