Trading Cheltenham

11/03/2018 | By | Reply More

It’s Cheltenham and that means that next week we will be treated to some quality racing and expected market turnover of £120m. I can’t wait.

In this post, I have put up plenty of statistics about what will and won’t work at Cheltenham and some comparisons to previous years. Hopefully, this will give you a few points. There is also plenty to help you get stuck into this Cheltenham if you are a Bet Angel user.

Cheltenham trading videos 

As a Bet Angel customer, you 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. 

I’ve been discussing Cheltenham for a few years. It’s 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.

Last year I upload a 25-minute video that looks at many things including how huge some of the Cheltenham markets can get. Ever seen £250,000 on side of the book waiting to get matched? Find it on the ‘Big volume markets at Cheltenham trade’ video.

Automation library

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 a 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 – 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.

The 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 previous years have 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 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. Last year the average SP was below 100% for the first time ever. 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. 


The best strategy for backing big priced winners or more than one runner

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. When placing a traditional back bet you simply choose a stake and place a bet at the best available odds. 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.

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.

Where the winners came from

If we rank the runners from favourite to least favourite we can examine where in the field the winners generally came from. Over a quarter of the time, the favourites were declared winners. It’s not until getting past the eighth favourite that the number of winners declines significantly.  But looking in the front eight gets you a winner 80% of the time. You need to be a bit luckier beyond the front eight.

The best strategy for laying the field in-running

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 trading approach

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 are naturally lower. 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 however. So if you are getting stressed out by the price action on the favourite it may be worth moving down the field a little. Volume will be good and the volatility a little calmer.


There are many things that can work quite well at Cheltenham. Hopefully, I’ve given you some clear pointers in this here.

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 can’t wait to hear that Cheltenham roar!

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Category: Horse Racing, Trading strategies

About the Author ()

I left a good job in the consumer technology industry to go a trade on Betfair for a living way back in June 2000. I've been here ever since pushing very boundaries of what's possible on betting exchanges and loved every minute of it.

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