Champion Hurdle Betting Guide | Cheltenham Festival Day 1 Tips

Cheltenham Day 1 tips: festival betting guide

If you’re a horse racing fan, then it’s highly likely that you’ve already heard of the Cheltenham Festival! It’s one of the most prestigious meetings in the annual National Hunt calendar, taking place over four days every March.

Hosted at Cheltenham Racecourse, bettors flock to LeoVegas each spring looking for the latest Cheltenham Day 1 tips and odds. The first day of Cheltenham is a significant one for racing fans, and in this guide, we’ll take a look at why and what you need to know about the races and chases set to unfold.

Don’t start looking for Cheltenham Day 1 sports betting markets until you’ve read this guide!

Cheltenham Day 1: a brief history

As the name suggests, Day 1 is the opening event of the Cheltenham Festival. It plays host to seven different races (we’ll explore these in more detail below).

The festival hasn’t always been a four-day affair. In fact, it was a three-day event for several years – meaning that bettors and horse racing fans can now get involved in even more action.

The Cheltenham Festival itself dates all the way back to the National Hunt Chase, which took place at Market Harborough. This classic race started in 1860, but eventually, the action moved to Warwick and later Cheltenham.

Races on Cheltenham Day 1

There are seven races that typically take place as part of Cheltenham Day 1, with several being Grade One events. It’s a great opportunity to celebrate some of the most talented horses and jockeys currently racing in the UK right now.

When you head to the LeoVegas sportsbook to bet on Cheltenham Day 1 markets, you’ll find the following races:

  • The Champion Hurdle
  • The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
  • The Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase
  • The Ultima Handicap Chase
  • The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle
  • The Fred Winter/Boodle Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
  • The National Hunt Chase

Below, we go into each of these races in a little more detail – so keep reading before heading to the horse racing sportsbook!

Cheltenham tips Day 1: what is the Champion Hurdle?

As the name suggests, the Champion Hurdle on Cheltenham Day 1 is probably the most prestigious race of them all. It’s not the opening race of the festival, but it’s the feature race of the whole event – which means that you’re likely to find plenty of markets and odds opening up for it in our sportsbook.

This feature race runs for a total of two miles and 87 yards. The Champion Hurdle also offers eight different jumps for horses to clear, making it a real test for the best runners and riders in the UK.

This race has been at the heart of the Cheltenham Festival since it was first run back in 1927. While it wasn’t part of the very first set of races, it has grown in importance ever since. Believe it or not, the winning runner of that first race, Blaris, claimed a prize of just £365.

Current Race Favourite: State Man Our Champion Hurdle Betting Tip: Irish Point (E/W)

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle: the start of Cheltenham Day 1

The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is the very first race to open the Festival properly. It takes place over two miles and half a furlong, and as the name suggests, it is open to novice runners who are just getting used to jumps and hurdles.

The opening of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is very prestigious. The tapes raising for this race officially open the festival, and it’s often the chance for some of the most successful runners and riders of the future to gain some experience.

The hurdle is open to horses aged four years or older, and there are eight jumps to traverse over two miles and 110 yards. It’s often one of the most popular races to bet on when looking for Cheltenham Day 1 tips.

Current Race Favourite: Tullyhill Our Supreme Novice's Hurdle Tip: Slade Steel

Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase: Cheltenham Tips

The Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase is two miles long and is open to horses aged five years or older – meaning that it’s often the next step up for horses taking part in the previous year’s Novices’ Hurdle.

This chase first opened in the festival back in 1969, and while it might not be the most prestigious of races to unfold on Day 1, it’s still popular with racing fans looking for interesting markets and odds.

The race gets its name from Arkle, the champion horse who took home the Cheltenham Gold Cup three times in a row between 1964 and 1966.

Current Race Favourite: Gaelic Warrior Our Arkle Chase Tip: Found A Fifty (E/W)

Ultima Handicap Chase: Cheltenham Festival Day 1 tips

Next on our list of Cheltenham Festival Day 1 tips is the Ultima Handicap Chase, which is a long distance compared to those that we’ve discussed so far.

This race, also known as the Festival Trophy, stretches for just over three miles and is open to horses aged five years and older.

Several horses have won this race multiple times. In recent history, Corach Rambler took home the spoils in 2022 and 2023.

Current Race Favourite: The Goffer Our Ultima Handicap Chase Tip: Chianti Classico

Cheltenham tips: what is the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle?

Sometimes known as the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle, this race takes place just over a run of two miles and four furlongs. It’s a fairly new addition to the festival, as it was established in 2008. It’s open to fillies and mares aged at least four years old.

The race gets its name from David Nicholson, a much-loved jockey and trainer who passed away in 2006. It was won by the legendary Quevega six times between 2009 and 2014, and Ruby Walsh has ridden the victor of this race on at least eight occasions, guiding Quevega, Vroum Vroum Mag and Benie Des Dieux.

Current Race Favourite: Lossiemouth Our Mares Hurdle Betting Tip: Love Envoi (E/W)

The Fred Winter/Boodles Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle Bettting Tips

This two-mile, half-furlong hurdle race is open to at least four-year-old horses, with prize money of at least £45,000 waiting for the victor of the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

Named after Fred Winter, a trainer and jockey who passed away in 2004, this race first started in 2005 and is one of several handicap races on Cheltenham Day 1. There are eight hurdles to traverse, and it’s open to novice runners.

No horse has won this race more than once, though jockey Mark Walsh rode the winner twice, and trainer Gordon Elliott helped to spur on the winning runner on four occasions to date.

Current Race Favourite: Milan Tino The Fred Winter Betting Tips: Liari (E/W)

National Hunt Chase Betting Tips

Last but not least, we come to the National Hunt Chase. This race is, again, a novice steeplechase that’s a little longer than most at three miles and six furlongs, with an eye-opening 23 hurdles to leap across. Horses aged at least five years old can take part in this race.

It's also known as the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup and is a Grade Two race. This race is the oldest in the whole festival, which means that it has played host to some legendary runners and riders over the years.

Of the champion jockeys to take to this race, Patrick Mullins has claimed four wins between 2013 and 2023. The most successful trainer thus far here is Jonjo O’Neill, who had six wins between 1995 and 2016.

Current Race Favourite: Embassy Gardens National Hunt Chase Betting Tip: Corbetts Cross

Betting and Cheltenham Day 1 tips: what are your options?

At LeoVegas, we understand that Cheltenham Day 1 is one of the most important betting dates on the horse racing calendar. That’s why we strive to round up the most competitive markets and odds for punters to browse before the racing begins.

For example, if you want to keep things straightforward, you can bet on the precise race winner in any of the seven races listed above. This is often the most popular choice among novice and seasoned bettors.

However, if you would like your horse to place in the top four, you can place an each-way bet and effectively halve the odds if they don’t win the race.

There are further markets and overall bets to explore – for example, there will be chances for you to bet on the best-performing jockey in a race or the whole event.

Cheltenham Day 1 betting FAQs

What is the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival?

The opening day of the Cheltenham Festival kicks off four days of horse racing action. It plays host to a handful of novice and handicap races, and it’s here that you can watch the prestigious Champion Hurdle.

What is the feature race on day one of the Cheltenham Festival?

The feature race at Cheltenham Day 1 is the Champion Hurdle – it’s neither the first race nor the oldest in the festival, but it carries large prizes and welcomes some extremely talented horses, jockeys and trainers.

What is the most common bet at the Cheltenham Festival?

Many bettors who follow the Cheltenham Festival choose outright bets on runners and riders they think will win races outright.