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There are few – if any – sporting events so widely anticipated as the magnificent Cheltenham Festival. For four days in March each year, the eyes of the sporting and betting world are firmly focused on the Prestbury Park venue, in readiness for one of the most thrilling and dramatic shows that horse racing has to offer.

Whilst the event takes place in early March, the Cheltenham Festival will have occupied the thoughts of fans and punters alike long before that date. Almost from the moment the National Hunt season proper gets underway in the previous Autumn in fact. Not only do fans like to think about Cheltenham from an early stage; they also like to get those bets on nice and early too. That’s where Cheltenham Festival ante post betting comes in.

Here we provide an introduction to ante post betting in horse racing, specifically in relation to the Cheltenham Festival.

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What’s It All About?

First things first. What is ante-post betting? Time for a quick explanation of the meaning of ante post. In its simplest terms, a bet placed ante post in horse racing is simply any bet placed on an event some time in advance of the day on which that event takes place. In horse racing the final fields for a race are only confirmed two days before the race for flat racing, or the day before the race for most jump racing. Any bet prior to this declaration stage is deemed an ante post bet.

One of the main benefits of betting on a horse before it is a confirmed runner is that you are likely to obtain better odds. This is really a logical conclusion as clearly a horse that we know is declared to run in a race is more likely to win than a horse who only might be declared to run.

When it comes to major racing events such as the Cheltenham Festival, the ante post betting markets open well in advance of the Festival. It is not unusual for example to see prices quoted for next years Gold Cup almost as soon as the runners have crossed the line in the current edition of the race.

It’s not all rosy when it comes to Ante Post betting though. There has to be a downside to the ability to back a horse at odds which may be vastly superior to the starting price on the day.  That one downside comes with how this type of betting treats non runners.

In a standard bet on a horse placed on the day of the race – or in some cases the night before – your stake will be returned to you should your horse be a non runner. With an ante post bet all non runners are settled as losers and so the stake is lost.

Best Bookies to place an Ante-Post bet

So now we know what ante post betting is, what next?
Should we decide that we would like to place a Cheltenham ante post bet or two, there are no shortage of sports books willing to cater to our needs. Not all are created equally though, with the following being – for us – the best in the business.


Founded by Joe Kagarlitski – or Joe Coral for short – back in 1926, Coral are one of the most well established, trusted and respected names both on the high street and online. The oldest betting firm on our list, Coral have few – if any – equals in terms of experience when it comes to betting on horse racing and should be one of your first ports of call for Cheltenham 2019 ante post betting.

Coral Ante Post Betting: Coral are invariably one of the first firms to go non runner no bet on the Cheltenham Festival.

With live streaming on all UK and Irish racing you won’t miss a trick at the Cheltenham Festival

Coral currently have an excellent matched betting offer available to new customers. Place an initial bet at odds of 1/2 or greater and the firm will match your stake with a free bet, between a minimum of £5 and a maximum of £50.

Paddy Power

With 30 years’ experience in the game and now being one half of the betting behemoth that is Paddy Power Betfair, you will do well to find a more safe, secure and respected betting operator. Covering almost every sport you can think of, it’s hard to fault their horse racing offering.

As you might expect from one of the biggest names in the game, Paddy Power offer live streaming on the Cheltenham Festival and all other UK and Irish horse racing.

Paddy Power ante post betting: Another of the early movers on the ante post non runner no bet scene, keep an eye on Paddy Power’s Cheltenham Festival ante post markets from around the turn of the year for the magic NRNB sign.

Paddy Power’s welcome offer is well worth snapping up. Should your first bet lose the company will refund your stake in cash. Not only that but you will also receive a free £5 same game multiple bet. Read more about Paddy Power Cheltenham offers on our site.


From relatively humble beginnings in Stoke on Trent, bet365 have grown to be one of the true giants of the global gambling game. Evolving from a high street operator, into one of the biggest and best firms online; quality, safety and service are all assured at bet365.

bet365 ante post betting: Going non runner no bet on all 28 Cheltenham Festival contests as early as 08 January in 2018, there weren’t many firms ahead of bet365 when it came to this offer.
Known to many as the home of live streaming, bet365 covers a multitude of events including all UK and Irish horse racing.

The companies sign up offer is also one of the very best available. The value of all first deposits will be matched 100% with free bet credits, between a minimum deposit of £5 and a maximum of £100. What better way to boost the bankroll ahead of making those Cheltenham ante post betting plans.

William Hill

Another of the traditional giants of the British betting landscape, William Hill was first established way back in 1934. Fully licensed and regulated and trading on the London Stock Exchange, the company have a well-earned reputation as one of the safest and most reliable betting companies in business.

William Hill ante post betting: Also one of the first companies to go non runner no bet last year, William did have the stipulation that stakes would only be returned if your selection didn’t take place in the festival at all. So for example should you back a horse for the Champion Hurdle, only for it to then run in the Stayers Hurdle, you would lose your stake. The prices on offer did largely compensate for this stipulation but keep an eye on those William Hill ante post rules in 2019.

If – like many – you like to watch your selected horse in action, William Hill has you covered with live streaming on all UK and Irish horse racing.

Don’t miss out on William Hill’s excellent sign up offer. Register for a new account and place your first bet of £10 or more at odds of 1/2 or greater to receive 3 x £10 free bets. Excellent value! Apart from it, there is an outstanding selection of William Hill Cheltenham offers available during the Festival.

Cheltenham Festival Ante Post Betting Guide

Having looked firstly at what ante-post betting is, and then gone on to outline a few of the best bookies to offer this type of betting, let’s now highlight a few of the key points to be bear in mind when placing those ante post punts.

Firstly, when can you post a bet?

This will vary from firm to firm, but generally for the big championship races of the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup, you will be able to place a bet up to a year in advance should you wish. The other races are generally priced up a little later, with the handicaps being the last to appear – read our Cheltenham Betting guide to learn more about races. As mentioned above though, a number of firms had ante post betting on all 28 races from as early as January in 2018.

How to choose a horse to bet on

By all means read the tips and expert selections, and check out those previous winners for any apparent trends. As a general guide we would suggest sticking with those towards the head of the market for the championship events, whereas for the handicaps an each way selection is often the way to go. Previous form at the course can be worth its weight in gold, and don’t forgot those Irish trained runners, with Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott being men you want to have on your side.

Take Advantage Of Bookmaker Welcome Offers

Particularly if this is your first time placing an ante-post bet, what better way to do it than with a free bet. There’s plenty of free betting credit to be had out there – including the excellent offers listed in our “Best Bookies” section above. Why not take advantage of the often lucrative odds of an ante post wager using some of this free credit. Minimal risk, potentially maximum reward!

Placing a bet

Placing an ante post at an online sportsbook works just the same way as placing a standard bet. Firstly, navigate to the ante post section in the horse racing menu, then select the Cheltenham Festival race you are looking for, finally add your selection to your bet slip and your good to go. If you have a free bet available which you would like to use, be sure to select this option prior to submitting your bet.

Ante Post Betting: The Early Bird Catches The Worm

Ante Post betting really does offer the opportunity to obtain an excellent price about a runner. Perhaps you spot the potential of an up and coming hurdler early on, and suspect it may be aimed at the Champion Hurdle. If you back it early in the ante post Cheltenham 2019 markets and your hunch turn out to be correct, you are likely to beat the starting price of the horse by a significant margin. To see that horse then go on win can be one of the most satisfying experiences when it comes to betting on the “Sport of Kings”.

Hopefully this article will have not only given you a better understanding of the ante post betting meaning and ante post betting rules, but also have perhaps piqued your interest in an ante post bet or two on the Cheltenham Festival. If so be sure to check out the bookmakers on our list, and don’t miss out on all those excellent offers available.