The Cheltenham Festival remains one of the biggest sporting events of the entire year.
Over the four days from Tuesday 14th to Friday 17th March, some 275,000 people will visit Prestbury Park with a strong contingent from Ireland assured; Ryanair alone have put on over 8,000 more seats for their flights than for a usual week. And there’s also the small matter of authorising some 400 private helicopter racecourse landings!
The festival has become so popular and so vast that the Jockey Club, owners of Cheltenham Festival, has commissioned over 42,000sqm of temporary buildings, work on which started at the back of 2022, and the racecourse’s PR team have had to deal with in excess of 1,000 people seeking media accreditation for the meeting.
Betting on Cheltenham Festival
The regulated betting industry employs 118,000 people and pours £4.4bn into the UK economy in annual tax contributions.
And the Cheltenham Festival is by far the biggest racing event of the year for the industry.
Here at Kindred, mostly – but not entirely – through our Unibet brand, we have spent many months preparing for those all-important four days. It is estimated that under current legislation and regulation, an industry amount of £500 million will be bet on just the 28 races that make up the festival (4 days, 7 races each day), while 25 of those Cheltenham Festival events are usually in the top 40 of the highest turnover races of the year. An estimated 4 million bets alone were placed across the industry on the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Our marketing and product teams have been working for months putting forward campaigns that will be delivered to existing, lapsed and hopefully many new customers from the Saturday before the festival starts and then each day until the final Friday. Television adverts, social media plans, print adverts and online digital banners across multiple platforms have all been designed, developed and delivered to highlight our Unibet brand, offers, promotions and odds for the most important racing week of the year. We will also be heavily promoting the fact we are now the two times winner of the EGR Horserace Betting Operator of the year (2021 & now again in 2022).
Unibet is proud to sponsor the Unibet Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. It's the second biggest race of the week behind the Gold Cup, and the 2023 contest will be the sixth consecutive Unibet-sponsored renewal, with former Kindred Group brand Stan James sponsoring from 2011. That will mean 13 years that a Kindred company has sponsored the race.
Unibet ambassador Nicky Henderson, who has won the Unibet Champion hurdle more times than any other trainer in its 95-year history (8 wins), saddles the shortest-priced favourite of the entire week in the race, Constitution Hill.
The unbeaten Constitution Hill is 1/3 with Unibet to win the Unibet Champion hurdle and having already won over course and distance by taking the Supreme hurdle twelve months ago and having won all his races by a minimum of 12 lengths (and at most 22 lengths), he will be very difficult to beat.
The Cheltenham Festival remains an important shop window for the sport, enabling us to communicate to a captivated ITV1 recreational audience. The Grand National is huge, but it is a one-off, once-a-year event, and many people who bet on that ace won’t be betting until the following year. Those who place a bet at the Cheltenham Festival are usually more engaged with the sport and enjoy a bet on several other televised high-end sports events such as football, rugby and cricket – while they also may like to play online casino in some format.
In my 30 years of working in the industry, the Cheltenham Festival offers betting companies something different. Back in the day, it was a chance to acquire new customers and to make profits, and although both are obviously hoped-for objectives now as they were back then, there is more of a commercial reality that with time has come competition and with competition has come squeezed margins as companies offer promotions to get targeted audience to use their site rather than a competitor. So, the Cheltenham Festival now offers operators the opportunity for brand recognition and to communicate with their existing and lapsed customers.
All eyes will be on Cheltenham from Tuesday 14th to Friday 17th March…..whether you’re a punter or bookmaker…or a Kindred employee…while each of those groups will also be watching for the pure aesthetic beauty of the best racehorses from Ireland and Great Britain taking each other on in the pursuit to find out who will be crowned champions of the sport for 2023.