Beginners Mini-Guide to Cheltenham Trading (Getting Prepared)

cheltenham banksy horse racing trading

With Cheltenham just around the corner and a recent post on our community forum, I’ve put together this mini-guide.

I don’t do so many personal blogs anymore as most of the important topics have already been covered, check them out using the blogs search function or categories (side-bar for desktop or below on mobile).

So, on to Ben’s question that prompted this update.

caan berry forum

Looking through past archives, there’s a useful post here called Cheltenham tips. It might be a little much for brand-new traders though, so I’ve done my best to hit up the key dangers and benefits for newbies below…

Cheltenham Trading on Betfair for Beginners:

The 5 key points I responded with on our community forums are the biggest differences new traders will encounter (and possibly struggle with).

They are:

  • Significant Liquidity Changes
  • Unmatched Trading Volumes
  • Filler Races Volatility
  • Cheltenham Race Trading Activity
  • Public Perceptions and Bias

Let’s break them down one-by-one and expand fully…

Significant Liquidity Changes:

Depending on your trading style this can be a godsend or a thorn in your side. Trading volumes throughout Cheltenham week are far different to your usual bread and butter racing.

Those who prefer to scalp are likely to have a smoother ride, whilst swing traders, are likely to feel more frustrated. This is purely down to the market characteristics.

You’ll be able to employ either technique using bigger stakes with less risk than usual as there is more money being matched, which can only be a good thing. However, I prefer to focus on shorter-term positions. In past year’s I’ve found it easier to turnover stakes on either side of the spread in a relatively stable market, absorbing liquidity.

Tip: Look for a sweet spot in the market where there’s an imbalance between trading volumes and unmatched money.

Unmatched Money:

As you can see from the image above, there will be walls of unmatched money. Just be aware that the majority of unmatched money is traders, so it can and will be removed quite quickly on occasion.

Managing your position can become challenging if you’re heavily exposed to unmatched money. To mitigate this risk, ensure you have a sufficient bankroll and strategically placed stakes. However, exercise caution, as it’s common for large bets to appear in the market during the week, especially involving prominent horses.

Risk limitation and managing exposure is the game.

Whilst it can be frustrating when you have a smaller bankroll restricting your trading activity, do your best to remain patient. Let the money come to you and work around the market sentiment, new traders often fall foul of this at Cheltenham with their will to be active.

Filler Races:

The races in between Cheltenham features catch new traders out every year. The inclination is to skip from say Cheltenham to Lingfield, where conditions are different.

You will see some overexposed traders chasing prices all over the shop once they are over-exposed. Be patient and pick off the extremities for some easy profit, but remember the main focus is on the Cheltenham races. It’s all too easy to scalp your way to a big result during a live show at Cheltenham to then burn it in seconds at Lingfield a race later. Expect those ‘filler races’ on the card to be erratic.

This also applies the day after Cheltenham! As explained here: Nasty Market Monsters in March.

Cheltenham Trading Activity:

Aside from the aforementioned points about liquidity and unmatched money, marketplace characteristics are a little different too.

On the whole, prices won’t move quite so fast and the build-up is extended. In most cases, you’ll be able to trade that bit sooner as the TV channels pick up coverage in advance. Typically all the pre-race action is in the last 7 minutes or so. At Cheltenham, things start to get busy 15 minutes or so before post time. Feature races can be a trading opportunity 25 minutes ahead of time.

Tip: If you’ve got a limited bankroll, you’ll want to get in there early before too much unmatched money is piled up.

Public Perception:

Last but not least, you’ll want to keep an eye on the overall public perception. Where is the hype?

Each year at the festival there is a story of a specific trainer racking up lots of winners. The media and betting public love it, as do sharp traders.

Last year Willie Mullins landed four winners in one day which sent the prices of the latter selections into free-fall.

If you’re looking for it, there’s always an edge to be found in acting swiftly on this kind of instance and the hype that surrounds it.

In the past, I’ve tweeted out short-term movers as they’re happening as I did here. Give us a follow on Twitter just in case I do it again.


Remember to enjoy the spectacle. It’ll probably be quite different this year without the crowds and that Cheltenham roar, but it’s a one-time event on the calendar. Don’t get over-excited if it’s your first year trading it. No doubt you’ll have some above-average results, but remember, the market will take it straight back off you if you should act emotionally.

Related: Advanced Video Pack Course (Racing)

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