Cheltenham Festival - The Fate of Favourites

Updated: 2710 Horse Racing

Many punters think that most short-priced favourites are good things and a lot of odds-on shots are near certainties at the Cheltenham Festival, we dig deeper to find out the truth!

Cheltenham Festival - The Fate of Favourites
In this article: Fate of Favourites
Andy Powell Content Editor

Horse Racing stats man, Andy has contributed to OLBG for 18 years - An Ipswich fan and F1 fanatic, he also contributes EFL football and Motor Sport opinion.

The Fate of Favourites

Many punters think that most short-priced favourites are good things and a lot of odds-ons are near certainties.

Every punter has a different view on short-priced favourites and some rarely back short-priced favourites on their own but occasionally do them in doubles and/or trebles.

For many, it means they can find a better-priced horse that they think can pay the same odds for a place.

Looking back at the results from the Cheltenham Festival since 2015, the list below shows us how every short-priced favourite faired in their particular race.

When we talk about "Shorties" we are talking about those who were sent off as the outright favourite with an SP at under 2/1.

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The Overall Numbers

Looking back over the past ten festivals, the outright favourites have a strike rate of 31.40% with 81 winners out of 258 runners.

When looking at the 'shorties' priced under 2/1, that number increases to 50.52% with 49 winners from 97 runners.

Going one step further and looking at the odds-on favourites, the win rate doesn't go up much further, only to 54.35% (25-46) which isn't great.

2024 Favourite Results

Outright favourites had a 31% strike rate in 2024, from 26 races we saw a total of 8 of the favourites going to win.

It was a bumper year for odds-on shots, we saw 7 of them with 6 of those from the Willie Mullins yard, 5 of his went on to win, the only one defeated was another odds-on shot defeat in the Champion Chase.

Champion Hurdle
State Man (FR)
1/8 (1.4)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Mares Hurdle
Lossiemouth (FR)
1/11 (1.62)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Gallagher Novices Hurdle
Ballyburn (IRE)
1/7 (1.5)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Brown Advisory Novices Chase
Fact To File (FR)
1/6 (1.62)
Mullins, W P
Walsh, M P
Champion Chase
El Fabiolo (FR)
PU/6 (1.22)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Mares Novices Hurdle
Brighterdaysahead (FR)
2/8 (1.83)
Elliott, Gordon
Kennedy, J W
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Galopin Des Champs (FR)
1/11 (1.91)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
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2023 Favourite Results

Two of the three odds-on favourites won in 2023 with both Gaillard Du Mesnil and Constitution Hill winning at odd-on however, Might Potter was a beaten favourite in the Turners' Novices Chase only finishing third.

Overall at the 2023 festival, the outright favourites won 7 of the 25 races in which there was an outright favourite, a strike rate of 28% and an LSP of -10.57.

Turners Novices ChaseMighty Potter (FR)
3/7 (1.67)
Elliott, Gordon
Russell, D N
National Hunt Challenge CupGaillard Du Mesnil (FR)
1/10 (1.91)
Mullins, W P
Mullins, Mr P W
Champion HurdleConstitution Hill
1/7 (1.36)
Henderson, N J
Boinville, Nico
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2022 Favourite Results

Not the best of times in 2022 for the odds-on favourites with only three of the five being successful, both Galopin Des Champs and Shishkin failed to finish their races.

There were a total of 25 races which had an outright favourite, from those 11 (44%) went on to win their races for an LSP of +6.04.

Ryanair ChaseAllaho (FR)
1/7 (1.57)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Turners Novices ChaseGalopin Des Champs (FR)
F/4 (1.83)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Champion ChaseShishkin (IRE)
PU/7 (1.83)
Henderson, N J
Boinville, Nico
Ballymore Novices HurdleSir Gerhard (IRE)
1/9 (1.73)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Champion HurdleHoneysuckle
1/10 (1.73)
Bromhead, Henry De
Blackmore, Rachael
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2021 Favourite Results

Plenty of odds-on shots in 2021, however, it wasn't a good year for them with more losing than winning! Envoi Allen, Kilcruit, Chacun Pour Soi & Concertista were all sent off at odds-on and all failed to win their races.

Favourites overall didn't have the best of times in 2021, all 28 races had an outright favourite but only 8 of those went on to win (29%) for an LSP of -7.73.

Marsh Novices ChaseEnvoi Allen (FR)
F/8 (1.44)
Bromhead, Henry De
Kennedy, J W
Champion BumperKilcruit (IRE)
2/14 (1.91)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Champion ChaseChacun Pour Soi (FR)
3/9 (1.62)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Brown Advisory Novices ChaseMonkfish (IRE)
1/6 (1.25)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Mares HurdleConcertista (FR)
2/10 (1.91)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
Arkle ChaseShishkin (IRE)
1/5 (1.44)
Henderson, N J
Boinville, Nico
Supreme Novices HurdleAppreciate It (IRE)
1/8 (1.73)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
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2020 Favourite Results

The 2020 Cheltenham Festival was a year to forget for the odds-on favourites, it was a bookies festival so to speak with five of the six odds-on favourites beaten, the only success came from Envoi Allen.

23 of the 28 races so an outright favourite and 7 of those races were won by that runner, a 30% strike rate for an LSP of +7.23.

Stayers HurdlePaisley Park (IRE)
7/15 (1.67)
Lavelle, Miss E C
Coleman, A
Cross Country ChaseTiger Roll (IRE)
2/14 (1.73)
Elliott, Gordon
Donoghue, K M
Champion ChaseDefi Du Seuil (FR)
4/5 (1.40)
Hobbs, P J / White, J
Geraghty, B J
Ballymore Novices HurdleEnvoi Allen (FR)
1/12 (1.57)
Elliott, Gordon
Russell, D N
National Hunt Challenge CupCarefully Selected (IRE)
UR/14 (1.91)
Mullins, W P
Mullins, Mr P W
Mares HurdleBenie Des Dieux (FR)
2/9 (1.67)
Mullins, W P
Townend, P
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Schedule for Tuesday at the Cheltenham Festival

Prepare for the ROAR of the Cheltenham Festival on the opening day when the tape goes up for the Supreme Novices Hurdle, the feature on Tuesday is the Champion Hurdle.

RaceLast WinnerInfo
13:30 Cheltenham
Supreme Novices Hurdle
Slade Steel (IRE)
6yo - 7/2
Henry De Bromhead
Rachael Blackmore
14:10 Cheltenham
Arkle Challenge Trophy
Gaelic Warrior (GER)
6yo - 2/1
W P Mullins
Paul Townend
14:50 Cheltenham
Ultima Handicap Chase
Chianti Classico (IRE)
7yo - 6/1
Kim Bailey
David Bass
15:30 Cheltenham
Champion Hurdle
State Man (FR)
7yo - 2/5
W P Mullins
Paul Townend
16:10 Cheltenham
Close Brothers Mares Hurdle
Lossiemouth (FR)
5yo - 8/13
W P Mullins
Paul Townend
16:50 Cheltenham
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
Lark In The Mornin (GER)
4yo - 9/1
Joseph Patrick O'Brien
J J Slevin
17:30 Cheltenham
National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup
Corbetts Cross (IRE)
7yo - 15/8
Emmet Mullins
Mr Derek O'Connor

Schedule for Wednesday at the Cheltenham Festival

The dust has settled on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival and now on to day two. The feature on the second day is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. We also have the cross country scheduled on Wednesday, a race like Marmite, some love it and some don't!

RaceLast WinnerInfo
13:30 Cheltenham
Baring Bingham Novices Hurdle
Ballyburn (IRE)
6yo - 1/2
W P Mullins
Paul Townend
14:10 Cheltenham
Brown Advisory Novices Chase
Fact To File (FR)
7yo - 8/13
W P Mullins
Mark Walsh
14:50 Cheltenham
Coral Cup
Langer Dan (IRE)
8yo - 13/2
Dan Skelton
Harry Skelton
15:30 Cheltenham
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Captain Guinness (IRE)
9yo - 17/2
Henry De Bromhead
Rachael Blackmore
16:10 Cheltenham
Cross Country Chase
Delta Work (FR)
10yo - 11/10
Gordon Elliott
Keith Donoghue
16:50 Cheltenham
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual
Unexpected Party (FR)
9yo - 12/1
Dan Skelton
Harry Skelton
17:30 Cheltenham
Champion Bumper
Jasmin De Vaux (FR)
5yo - 9/2
W P Mullins
Mr P W Mullins

Schedule for Thursday at the Cheltenham Festival

Halfway through the festival and onto day three where the Stayers Hurdle is the feature race. A hurdle race to test the stamina and see how can last best up the Cheltenham hill.

RaceLast WinnerInfo
13:30 Cheltenham
Turners Novices Chase
Grey Dawning (IRE)
7yo - 5/2
Dan Skelton
Harry Skelton
14:10 Cheltenham
Pertemps Network Final
Monmiral (FR)
7yo - 25/1
Paul Nicholls
Harry Cobden
14:50 Cheltenham
Ryanair Chase
Protektorat (FR)
9yo - 17/2
Dan Skelton
Harry Skelton
15:30 Cheltenham
Stayers Hurdle
Teahupoo (FR)
7yo - 5/4
Gordon Elliott
Jack Kennedy
16:10 Cheltenham
Festival Plate
Shakem UpArry (IRE)
10yo - 8/1
Ben Pauling
Ben Jones
16:50 Cheltenham
Mares Novices Hurdle
Golden Ace (GB)
6yo - 10/1
Jeremy Scott
Lorcan Williams
17:30 Cheltenham
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup
Inothewayurthinkin (IRE)
6yo - 13/8
Gavin Cromwell
Mr Derek O'Connor

Schedule for Friday at the Cheltenham Festival

The final day of the festival and feature race that we have all been waiting for, the Cheltenham Gold Cup in which the Irish have been fairly dominant in recent years.

RaceLast WinnerInfo
13:30 Cheltenham
Triumph Hurdle
Majborough (FR)
4yo - 6/1
W P Mullins
Mark Walsh
14:10 Cheltenham
County Handicap Hurdle
Absurde (FR)
6yo - 12/1
W P Mullins
Paul Townend
14:50 Cheltenham
Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle
Stellar Story (IRE)
7yo - 33/1
Gordon Elliott
Sam Ewing
15:30 Cheltenham
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Galopin Des Champs (FR)
8yo - 10/11
W P Mullins
Paul Townend
16:10 Cheltenham
Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup
Sine Nomine (GB)
8yo - 8/1
Fiona Needham
Mr John Dawson
16:50 Cheltenham
Mrs Paddy Power Mares Chase
Limerick Lace (IRE)
7yo - 3/1
Gavin Cromwell
Keith Donoghue
17:30 Cheltenham
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
Better Days Ahead (IRE)
6yo - 5/1
Gordon Elliott
Danny Gilligan

Article Contributor Information

We are blessed with an excellent team of specialists and experts at OLBG. Contributing to creating and maintaining this Cheltenham Festival - The Fate of Favourites are at hand, Andy and James. They both work on the Horse racing tips team team looking after the tipsters and managing the tips settlement, whilst also creating and managing all of the horse racing event previews for National Hunt Racing.

James Banting

James Banting

Tipster competition assistant

James Banting, a passionate horse racing enthusiast and aficionado, brings a wealth of experience to OLBG, having attended numerous race meetings over the years. His background working with the Jockey Club provides him with a unique insider's perspective on the industry.
Andy Powell

Andy Powell

Content editor

Andy, a seasoned horse racing expert with over 15 years of experience, possesses a comprehensive understanding of the sport, from delving into complex statistical data for jump racing in the UK and Ireland to crafting insightful national hunt racing blogs for OLBG.

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