Cheltenham Festival 2018: ‘Non-runner no bet’ on five races including Gold Cup

Native River on his way to winning the Betfair Denman Chase

Native River bids to improve on last year’s third-place in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. (Pic: Courtesy of Jockey Club Racecourses).

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Punters will get their money back if selections are non-runners in five of the feature races at the Cheltenham Festival after news that three major bookmakers have taken the unusual step of going non-runner no bet from early January.

Paddy Power, Betfair Sportsbook and bet365 are all now offering ‘non-runner, no bet’ for the feature race on each day of the Festival – the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Champion Chase and Stayers Hurdle. The trio additionally offer the same terms for the Ryanair Chase on the penultimate card of the four-day extravaganza.

The initiative follows a string of shock results over the Christmas period that included reigning Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Sizing John finishing well back at Leopardstown, where star hurdler Faugheen was pulled up after jumping just three fences after being backed as if unbeatable at 2-11.

The series of reverses and consequent lack of clarity in the potential targets for leading contenders in the biggest races at the Festival has led these bookmakers to break from the norm of offering money back only on the days immediately preceding the meeting, which this year takes place from March 13 -16.

Paddy Power offer money back on bets placed on these races from 11am on January 2, 2018. Their spokesman Paul Binfield said: “We’ve never known a fixture like Leopardstown’s Christmas Meeting to throw up so many more questions than answers.

“So the New Year seemed like a good time to give ante post punters a helping hand and at least they’ll get their hard earned back in these races if their fancies don’t actually line up.”

Betting for the Cheltenham Gold Cup (Paddy Power) is headed by King George VI Chase winner Might Bite at 3-1. Others near the head off the betting are Sizing John (5-1), Coney Island (7-1), Native River (7-1), Road to Respect (8-1), Our Duke (8-1) and Thistlecrack (10-1).

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