Guaranteed Profit
Actual Profit

Sky Bet Cheltenham Offer – Money Back if You Lose

Posted by Matt (administrator) Matt
Start Time: 15/03/2016 13:30

The Cheltenham Festival 2016 gets underway on Tuesday and Sky Bet are running a First Race Special every single day! Simply place a bet on the 1.30 at Cheltenham each day and if it loses, Sky Bet will refund our stake as a free bet up to a maximum of £25.00. Translated into matched betting terms, this gives us a guaranteed minimum profit of around £64.00 and here’s how…

Qualifying Bets:

If you’re unsure about how to place qualifying bets, check out my Qualifying Bet Strategy page for a walk-through guide on how it should be done.

This offer is available on the following races…

Race Time Date
Supreme Novices' Hurdle 13:30 Tuesday 15th March 2016
Neptune Novices Hurdle 13:30 Wednesday 16th March 2016
JLT Novices Chase 13:30 Thursday 17th March 2016
Triumph Hurdle 13:30 Friday 18th March 2016

I’ll update this post each day with an example for the respective eligible race…

Day 4: Triumph Hurdle (13:30 Friday 18th March 2016)

As we get a free bet refund if our qualifying bet loses, this is effectively a risk-free offer and so we need to select a horse with long odds. Having looked at the odds available, I’ve opted to place my qualifying bet on Let’s Dance.

I like to place my exchange lay bets with Smarkets as they have great liquidity in the run up to races, the site is really easy to use and they only charge 2% commission in comparison to the 5% charged by other betting exchanges.

We can work out our lay stake by using the ‘Risk-Free Bet’ setting on my matched betting calculator. We can enter £20.00 as our Cashback amount as we would expect to extract 80% of a £25.00 free bet refund as cash

Back Bet (Bookie)


Lay Bet (Betting Exchange)


Min £
Max £
Lay stake required: £
If back (bookie) bet wins
= £
If lay (exchange) bet wins
= £

Total profit: £

Optimal Underlay

Lay stake required: £
Exchange liability: £

If back (bookie) bet wins: £
If lay (exchange) bet wins: £

Optimal Overlay

Lay stake required: £
Exchange liability: £

If back (bookie) bet wins: £
If lay (exchange) bet wins: £

As you can see, the calculator tells us that our lay stake should be £22.22…


Place £25.00 on Let’s Dance @ 15.00 = Potential profit of £350.00

smarkets white

Lay £22.22 on Let’s Dance @ 16.00 = Potential liability of £333.23

Let’s have a look at our potential profit/loss for the possible outcomes…

Let's Dance wins + £350.00 – £333.23 = £16.77 profit
Let's Dance doesn't win - £25.00 + £21.77 + £20.00 (extract 80% from our £25.00 free bet) = £16.77 profit

So, regardless of the result of the race and with some good odds, we should make a guaranteed minimum profit of £16.00 each day. If we apply the same strategy to the first race on all four days of the Cheltenham Festival 2016, we should make an overall guaranteed minimum profit of £64.00 on this Sky Bet Cheltenham offer!

* I actually placed my qualifying bets as follows…

Day Race Selection Back Odds Lay Odds Profit
Tuesday 13:30 Tombstone 15.00 16.50 £16.11
Wednesday 13:30 Thomas Hobson 26.00 27.00 £17.88
Thursday 13:30 L'Ami Serge 10.00 10.50 £16.51
Friday 13:30 Let's Dance 15.00 16.00 £16.77

…As you can see, I made an overall profit of £67.27 on this Sky Bet offer. *


  1. Simon

    Hi Matt,

    Maybe I am not understanding this correctly or my understanding of matched betting is flawed.
    For this offer, isnt it better to put your qualifying bet and not lay it off. For example, £25 on a 5/1, if that wins you’re in the money. If it doesnt, you get a £25 free bet which you can use in the normal fashion and lay off to extract ~80%.

    Am I missing the point here?

    Thanks, Simon

    1. Matt

      If you don’t lay your qualifying bet and your horse loses, you will extract £20.00 from the £25.00 free bet refund, giving you a loss of £5.00. I think there are a few people who do this offer as an effective £5.00 punt at a big profit. If you were to place £25.00 on a 3/1 shot every day without laying, you’d expect to win £75.00 once and lose £5.00 three times, giving you an overall profit of £60.00, so there’s not a lot in. Personally, I prefer to bank the guaranteed profit.

      1. Sy

        You could also underlay to make it either risk free or turn a small profit if it loses leaving you a bigger prize if it happens to win the race but a consolation prize if it doesn’t. I can’t help myself but to bank the easy guaranteed profit here though. It certainly adds up over the 4 days.

      2. Tom

        But if your bet doesn’t win then you get the free bet which you can then lay? Surely you should only lay after you’ve lost a bet, otherwise you can keep letting the wins roll in until you need to use your free bet?

        1. Matt

          We can underlay any risk-free bet offer to guarantee a profit on any outcome.

  2. Harvey Preston

    I guess it is possible £80 return if you decided to hope your selection did not win the race, for those who follow horse racing they might try and pick 4 10/1 shots they think got no chance, not decided yet how to play this, yanworth looks bombproof on wednesday but friday race is wide open

  3. Scott

    Just read the terms for the offer. Do all our qualifying bets for the four days need to be placed before 13:30 on Tuesday?

    1. Matt

      That’s just the terms for Tuesday’s race Scott. If you have a look at the other eligible races, you’ll see that the terms are specific to each race.

  4. Joe

    I’m slightly confused with this one, how are you earning if the bookie bet wins? Arn’t you just moving your exchange cash and taking a small loss?

    1. Matt

      It’s explained in the workings Joe. The calculated lay stake is actually an underlay which means if your horse wins, you win more at Sky Bet than you lose at Smarkets.

  5. number1stevoj

    I was thinking the same as Scott. My damn job gets in the way for two of these days! Matt thanks for all the tips!

    1. Matt

      You’re welcome mate!

  6. Rich

    Why are you doing it this way as opposed to saying ‘aim to lose no more than x pounds on the qualifying bet? i.e. lose £1 to get a free £25 bet??

    1. Matt

      If we did it that way and our horse wins, we’d make a small loss, so it’s a better strategy to bank the guaranteed £16.00 by doing it this way.

      1. Rich

        Thanks Matt

  7. Bav

    How do you work out the calculations (I’m trying to add it to my spreadsheet) can’t figure out how it’s working

  8. Jo

    Are we ok to place these the day before or even now?
    Cheers 🙂

    1. Matt

      I would recommend waiting until the day of the races. You’ll no doubt find better odds closer to the races and the less organised we look, the better.

      1. Jo

        🙂 thanks

  9. King razvan

    Can we use the qualifying bet method back and lay then extract the profit i don’t really understand the risk free oneone

    1. Matt

      Yes you can use that method mate but if your horse wins, you’ll have made a small loss instead of £16.00 profit.

  10. will

    Why would you expect to extract 80% of a £25.00 free bet refund as cash? Slightly confused by this

  11. tim

    so the idea is that we qualify for the free bet each day, and then use your free bet strategy (https://matchedbettingblog.com/free-bet-strategy) to extract profit from it? what do you recommend placing the free bet on? more horses?

    1. Matt

      It doesn’t matter what the outcome of the race is. If our selection wins, we won’t receive a free bet. We’ll already have made our profit from the back and underlay. Using our free bets on the horses would probably be the best idea but if not, you can use them on any sports market, so football would be a good alternative.

      1. tim

        ah yes okay. i’ll probably go for football, something i actually know about. thanks buddy

  12. rui

    Hello this works on 10bet? i cannot use smarkets

    1. Matt

      10Bet is a bookmaker Rui. You need to lay bets at an exchange like Betfair or Smarkets.

      1. rui

        thanks, in my country (portugal) those betting sites are closed.
        you can give me a list of another sites to bet and that this promo works?
        what is the different between bookmarkers and the sites like betfair and smarkets?

        1. Matt

          You would have to check the terms of each bookmaker promotion to see if it is open to customers residing in Portugal. Please see my betting exchange guide for more info on betting exchanges.

  13. J P

    When do we have place bets for weds, thurs and fri? Before 1.30 tomorrow for all 4 days??

  14. jamie

    T&Cs say you can’t place the bet on the 1st/2nd unnamed favourite, so basically we cannot place it on the two shortest odd horses?

    1. Matt

      We can Jamie. When you select the ‘unnamed favourite’, that means you’ve bet on whoever starts the race as favourite.

  15. Jack

    Hi there. This may seem like a really dim question, but I am a bit confused as to why we have to lay less if we have included the 80% cash back? What is the reason why we cant just ignore the cash back and lay as we normally would? For example I’ve used a different calculator for the upcoming race:

    Back Stake
    Back Odds

    Lay Odds
    Lay Commission 2%

    At odds of 3.35 you could lay £26.28
    Liability will be £61.76

    Whereas using your calculator it is saying to lay £17.86

    1. Matt

      Hi Jack. Feel free to back and lay as normal, but be aware that if your horse wins, you’ll make a small overall loss. By using the ‘Risk-Free Bet’ setting on my calculator, we can calculate the correct underlay stake that maximizes our guaranteed profit regardless of the outcome.

      1. Jack

        Okay I get you now, thanks. Just placed my bet on Yorkhill for the next race, only profiting £9.77 but profit is profit!

  16. Aftab

    Matt sounds like your a smart lad… Just found this site recently and everything you explain is very clear.. Didn’t realise the amount of potential money that could be made from existing offers!! Thanks for daily blogs ??

    1. Matt

      You’re welcome mate!

  17. theRealKarlos

    I made a mistake when using the calculator for my free bet and used it as a qualifier rather than a free bet and extracting £20 from it. Could I deposit £25 into my Sky account and treat it as a free bet to minimise the error of using my free bet as a qualifier? Effectively swapping the 2 bets around.

    1. Matt

      You could just place a back bet on the same Smarkets market to effectively cash out your lay bet. This might cost you a quid or two but you can then place your lay bet correctly.

  18. Dan the Man

    Just gone to check out my selection for tomorrow (worth pointing out I read and re-read the t&c’s yesterday) and noticed the section in the T&C’s about the first bet being refunded only.. How confident are you guys this is on a day by day basis?


    1. Matt

      This offer is available every day, it just means that it’s only your first bet on the first race that qualifies.

  19. daz333

    Just going off what Jack has just posted above, my way of playing this bet would be to use it as a qualifier (normal) bet and then to take a small loss in the hope that the horse doesn’t win – and then to extract as much as possible from the free bet.

    Why would we place this as a risk free when it’s our own £25 that we had to stake – in order to get the potential ‘free’ £25 bet?

    Sorry if I’ve missed a trick here but I worked it that if this was played as a normal qualifier bet, the loss would have been smaller. By placing a bet at odds of say, 8 and laying at 9, we would make a loss of around £6 as opposed to just £3 by playing it as a normal qualifier.

    Surely if the bet requires us to stake £25 to begin with, before, we obtain the free bet, wouldn’t we want to choose a horse with slightly shorter odds?

    1. Matt

      You’re welcome to do this offer whichever way you choose mate but this method is my preference. By doing it normally, you might stand to win £2.00-£3.00 more if your horse loses, but if it wins, you will have made a small loss. These offers are so generous that I don’t want to risk making a loss. I’d much rather bank the £16.00 profit every time.

  20. Cdaf

    Does this work with place only bets? There are much better odds for those markets.

    1. Matt

      “Only bets placed on the main race market count. Bets placed on additional markets such as Price Boosts, Derived Markets (e.g Place Only Betting and Match Bets) will not qualify.”

  21. Brendan

    Hi Matt. I’m wondering why you suggest backing a horse at longer odds? Does that not usually lead to a bigger differential usually between the back and lay sides and also mean that you need to have a lot of money in your exchange account to cover the lay?

    1. Matt

      You need to have more cash in your exchange account but if you have a play with the numbers on the calculator, you’ll see that backing and laying at lower odds doesn’t guarantee the same level of profit, unless you find a ridiculously good match like a horse with back odds higher than the lay odds.

      1. Brendan

        Yep, you’re right! Thanks

        1. Matt

          No problem mate.

  22. Stan

    Sky ,ad a two year run they are on it stopped offers ,no notice/ take while u can / sup it while its fizzy/

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