Cheltenham 2021 Going Guide

Last Updated: March 5th 2021 Written By: Michael Grahamslaw**

Given the unfortunate situation in the United Kingdom at the moment, we are all resigned to watching the 2021 Cheltenham Festival at home. This means that some of the magic of the festival will be missing but Horse Racing punters around the world will tune in and remain informed regarding the races and performances of horses, trainers and jockeys leading up to the event. However, one element that is equally as important is the going conditions on the day.

When browsing the latest horse racing betting odds, the weather can influence whether a particular horse will perform well. If you're new to horse racing and online betting never fear, we've put together a guide to help you understand the going conditions.

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Cheltenham Racecourse Guide

If you're a new visitor to the Cheltenham Festival, you may be completely unaware the four days of racing which accommodates 28 races are split across two different courses. The first two days of racing are held on The Old Course and the second takes place on the New Course, with the jump to the Cross Country course for one race. Both courses run left-handed, and although they look similar to the naked eye, there are slight differences which punters will need to take into account as they affect the going conditions.

Cheltenham Old Course Guide

Used for the first two days of the Cheltenham Festival, this course focuses on the need for speed, and utilises a shorter run in which only emphasises that fact. It’s this course which plays host to the two-mile races, so it’s all about getting in a good position right from the start of a race to ensure they have the best possible chance coming into the home straight.

Cheltenham New Course Guide

The concluding days of the Cheltenham Festival take place on The New Course. A stiffer test for the runners and riders, this course is built for stamina-based horses with the run-up being that little bit longer, all of the races can change in the closing stages as the horses climb up the infamous Cheltenham Hill.

What is the Going?

For those new to racing the going is simply the condition of the track that the horses will be running on during each race.

The Going at Cheltenham

Taking a look at the going conditions on the day of a race can alter which of the horses on the race card will perform to the best of their ability. Normally the first insight into the going conditions won't be known until six days before a meeting. However, the final conditions won't be confirmed until the day of the race.

British weather can be incredibly unpredictable and with the Festival playing host to many unforeseen downpours, potential flooding and even snow in the past, it can be difficult to judge until the clerk of the course makes his rounds on the day.

What Do the Going Conditions Mean on the day?

There are three potential categories that going conditions can fall into at the Cheltenham Festival, and these will be measured by the course steward with a going stick which ranges from 1-15. In terms of the Cheltenham Festival, the most common readings punters will see will normally be either heavy, soft or good to soft which sit at the bottom of the going stick. So what do they mean:


If the going falls into this category, it can be a real test for horses. Wet and hard ground to run on, it means races will be slower than normal, and due to the energy-sapping conditions, only a few horses enjoy running in these types of conditions.


The most common going conditions found during the National Hunt Season, many horses will only run exclusively on this ground type as although it can be a little harder due to the rain and moisture, it offers a better chance to pick up a win than on heavy ground.

Good To Soft

Another going condition that is found in the winter months or towards the concluding end of the jumps season is Good to Soft. Here the ground still holds a fair bit of water, but it can be easier to run on for many horses.

How is the going determined?

The clerk of the course will determine the going conditions on the day of each race by the amount of moisture that can be found in the ground. While taking a walk around the course, they’ll use a going stick to check the conditions and will make a decision depending on their findings.

What going do Horses prefer? Whatever the weather it’s highly unlikely the Cheltenham Festival won’t take place, but it may change the online betting markets as different horses will prefer a different type of going to one another. Some runners will be specialists on a specific ground type, which means all of the going reports and monitoring of the weather conditions is a vital part of whether a horse will take part in a race.

If they’ve underperformed in a race where the going conditions were heavy, it’s unlikely their trainer will choose to send them to another race where they'll encounter that again. But there are occasions where horses can adapt to the going and still perform effectively.

Where can I view the Going for a race?

Before watching The Cheltenham Festival, punters can check the going conditions for that day by checking out the racecards or by taking a look at our previews. Alternatively, when arriving at the course itself there will be a board showing all the details you’ll need to know so that you can place a bet according to the conditions.

We hope our going guide will help you to make some educated bets at the Cheltenham Festival, but if you’re looking for more insight into the runners at the festival why not peruse our collection of Cheltenham Tips.

View Our Cheltenham Tips 2021

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All odds from the online sportsbook are correct at time of writing.