Published: January 15, 2016
LAST year's Cheltenham Festival was a truly unforgettable event, and the 2016 edition is set to be even more fascinating with a huge number of the top-ranked runners and riders across the country meeting to blow away any cobwebs that may have accumulated over the course of winter at the first major meeting of the new year.
With an excess of £600m expected to change hands during the 27 scheduled races across the course of the weekend, punters will be gambling that this year will be as unpredictable and exciting as last year.
In the Championship race on the first day of the 2015 festival, a real shock came courtesy of Irish Cavalier, ridden by Paul Townend who came home first despite betting odds of 11/1, well ahead of the starting favourite Thomas Crapper.
While few could have predicted such an upset, a similar shock could well lie in wait this year, with an unpredictable field expected to once more round off the first day's action.
Ladies Day was also the scene of a number of surprises last year, with perhaps the biggest shock coming at the 16:40 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle where Qualando, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Nick Scholfield, romped home first in a field of 22 runners at a starting price of 25/1.
Equally amazing was the race run by The Saint James, who came home in third place despite not being fancied by many punters and running at a generous 33/1 – ensuring that plenty of optimistic, each-way betters went home with bulging wallets.
But for many, the highlight of the weekend came courtesy of the A.P. McCoy Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3) where the Tom Scudamore-ridden Next Sensation romped home at 16/1, well ahead of fans' favourite Ned Buntline jockeyed by AP McCoy.
To emphasise the shock factor, not only did McCoy's charge start the race at 4/1, but Eastlake (12/1) and Croco Bay (14/1) also placed higher than the recently-knighted jockey in chasing the Johnny Henderson Challenge Cup.
Racing fans can stay up to speed with all the action from 2016, both in the run-up to the event and during the festival itself, with Coral – and many will be wondering: “can it top last year's interest?”
Regardless of the action from the course, certainly Coral have stepped up to the plate in terms of their coverage and range of betting options this year, with their guaranteed best price meaning that if you back any horse at any meeting at any time, they will pay out at the longest possible price that your selection was offered at, whether that is at the time you place your bet or when the race started.
Similarly, they have a range of offers such as free £10 bets as reward for any winners at 3/1 or bigger at selected all-weather meetings as well as refunds up to £25 should your horse fall at selected jumps meetings.
So, whether this is your first time gambling, or you're a seasoned pro with a number of meetings and wins under your belt, Coral really should be the only place for you go to check the Cheltenham Festival betting odds, place bets and catch up on all the latest news – and if this year's event is anything like the 2015 edition, there'll be plenty of opportunities to make money on some thrilling racing.