With the line-ups slowly becoming clearer, Festival frenzy is beginning to build at Prestbury Park.
Exciting contests, promising talents, renowned superstars and future prospects are just a part of what makes the Cheltenham Festival the greatest show on turf.
But there are just a few contenders each year that cannot be missed in their pursuit of pride, glory and even written into folklore.
Here is a runner for each day of the Festival that just simply have to watch.
Tuesday: Honeysuckle – Champion Hurdle (5/2)
After a phenomenal performance at the Dublin Racing Festival, Honeysuckle has only one race on her agenda – the Champion Hurdle.
The seven-year-old extended her unbeaten record to ten races on Saturday, seeing off serious competition in Abacadabras, Sharjah and Saint Roi by 10+ lengths in the Irish Champion Hurdle.
Henry De Bromhead’s hurdling talent already has one Festival win to her name, as she overcame fans’ favourite Benie Des Dieux by half a length in the Mares’ Hurdle last season.
With a face-off with Nicky Henderson’s Epatante inevitable, there could be a new supermare crowned on the opening day of the Festival.
Wednesday: Tiger Roll – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase (7/1)
The second day could see an emotional last hurrah from Tiger Roll, as his connections have confirmed they will retire the 11-year-old if he fails to land a result in his next race.
The dual Grand National champion is entered into the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, with the aim of landing his fifth success at the Cheltenham Festival and his third victory in this contest.
Gordon Elliott’s star produced a lacklustre performance in the November edition of this race with Robbie Power eventually pulling him up after the 20th fence, raising questions on whether the gelding’s age has caught up with him.
With last year’s winner Easysland and 2019 Welsh Grand National victor Potters Corner set to feature, Tiger Roll will need to return to his fighting best we all know he is capable of.
Otherwise, it could well be the parting song for the much-loved National Hunt legend.
Thursday: Thyme Hill – Stayers’ Hurdle – (4/1)
St Patrick’s Thursday will see the climax of a newfound rivalry in the staying hurdle division, as new kid on the block Thyme Hill will clash with timber superstar Paisley Park in the conclusion of this season’s trilogy.
With Phillip Hobbs’ promising talent taking the Long Distance Hurdle, Emma Lavelle’s star got revenge in the Long Walk Hurdle, overturning the previous result to win by a neck.
Thyme Hill, who was unfortunate to finish fourth in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle last season, has been majorly impressive in his second season over the smaller obstacles and has shown the potential to dismount Paisley Park as the poster boy of the division.
With a winner-takes-all meeting at the legendary Prestbury Park, the stage is set for an almighty clash in the Stayers’ Hurdle.
Friday: Al Boum Photo – Gold Cup – (10/3)
A moment of history could be made in the feature race of the Festival with Al Boum Photo looking to join the likes of Best Mate, Arkle and Golden Miller by winning a third consecutive Gold Cup.
The nine-year-old was seemingly the third string for the Willie Mullins yard in this contest when he ended the Closutton trainer’s Gold Cup hoodoo In 2019, and he followed that up with another success a year later at Prestbury Park.
The gelding’s preparations has been the exact same as last season, with a single run in the New Year’s Day Chase at Tramore sufficient enough for the three-time Grade 1 winner.
It’s not very often that we see back-to-back winners in this contest, so you can be sure not to miss the rarity of a possible hat-trick for Al Boum Photo.
Weekend Cheltenham Clues: Elimay now clear favourite for the Mares’ Chase
JP McManus owned Elimay a cosy winner of Saturday’s Opera Hat at Naas
A weekend which saw several key meeting abandoned due to the weather, punters were left with three jumps cards across England and Ireland to engage with over the two days.
Elimay produced an impressive performance at Naas on Saturday, as she landed the hotly-contested Opera Hat Mares Chase.
The seven-year-old made strong headway three out, took the lead from Gordon Elliott’s Shattered Love before the last and went clear in the run-in to win easily by 5 ½ lengths.
Willie Mullins’ mare has seen her price for the Mares’ Chase cut even further, as the current favourite was trimmed from 4/1 to 5/2.
Shady Operator got Sunday’s action underway, as the eight-year old landed the P.P Hogan Memorial Cross Country Chase at Punchestown.
Enda Boldger’s gelding, who is now 14/1 for the Glenfarclas Cross County Chase, went clear at the last before staying on to win by 2 ½ lengths from Peter Maher’s Blast Of Koeman.
Thedeviliscoachman recorded his second victory in 16 days, as the gelding claimed the I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle.
The five-year-old kept on well and fought off a late challenge from the progressing French Light to take his third win over hurdles in four starts.
Noel Meade’s runner is a 16/1 shot for the County Hurdle, while he also remains at 20/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Competing in handicap company for the first time over fences, The Big Dog landed a maiden victory over the larger obstacles as he took the €80,000 Punchestown Grand National Trial.
Peter Fahey’s runner travelled well throughout the contest and looked to be cruising when he kicked clear on the home turn.
However, Screaming Colours made up ground late on and produced a late challenge, but The Big Dog kept on well and battled back to win by half a length.
The eight-year old now holds a price of 20/1 for the National Hunt Chase and the Kim Muir Challenge Cup at the Festival in March.
Meanwhile across the Irish Sea, Wilde About Oscar returned to winning ways after a strong performance in the Bet At racingtv.com Listed Novices’ Hurdle at Exeter.
The six-year-old, who is 20/1 for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, travelled well throughout and saw off favourite The Glancing Queen in the run-in by 7 ½ lengths.
Three value-priced Irish runners to consider over the weekend
The three Irish runners you need to side with this weekend
With the weather wiping out all but one National Hunt meeting in Great Britain, jumps fans turn to the Irish cards in search for some value selections.
Here are three runners that could hint some value in the meeting across the Irish sea.
UTHRED (2.00 PUNCHESTOWN, SUNDAY) – 9/2 (William Hill)
A bright prospect from Joseph O’Brien’s yard, Uthred makes the step up with a tough assignment on his hands. The six-year-old hasn’t been seen since December 2019, but he has shown his ability on his three starts under rules. A strong second in a maiden hurdle at Cork, he quickened up well on his final outing to win by 4 ½ lengths in a Listed bumper. If Uhtred can continue to show promise, he could easily be in the mix here and take on the likes of Power Of Pause and Thedevilscoachman.
ALL ABOUT JACK (4.00 NAAS, SATURDAY) – 12/1 (bet365)
Colm Murphy’s six-year old may not have caught the eye in his first year over hurdles, but he could take his first rules win here at Naas. He was unlucky not to win at Punchestown after being beaten by a neck and he can be forgiven for being pulled up on his last outing after being found to be suffering from heat stress. However, the gelding could have more to come if his bloodlines are anything to go by. His sire has produced Stayers’ Hurdle winners Paisley Park and Lisnagar Oscar, as well as Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby and dual Aintree Hurdle victor Oscar Whisky. At a predicted price of 12/1, there could be some each-way value if the six-year-old lives up to his potential.
MONBEG NOTORIOUS (4.30 PUNCHESTOWN, SUNDAY) – 40/1 (Paddy Power + Betfair)
A part of the six-strong Gordon Elliott force in the Irish Grand National Trial, Monbeg Notorious could well be a surprise contender for the County Meade trainer. A winner of Thyestes Handicap Chase off a mark of 137 three years ago, the ten-year-old has struggled this season after being pulled up on both starts. But he is now back at an interesting mark and is a strong runner on heavy ground. With further rain predicted in County Kildare, this could be a huge opportunity for Monbeg Notorious to roll back the year and at 40/1, there is some clear each-way value if the place terms are right.
Cheltenham Festival – Antepost Specials to consider for this year’s meeting
Doubles, trebles or outright left field selections of the betting sort, here’s some value prices to take advantage of before this year’s Cheltenham Festival
Antepost betting usually revolves around the win and each-way selections for the Festival, but bookmakers have come up with even more ways to bet on the National Hunt showpiece.
With specials markets now including owners, stables, place markets and even next year’s meeting, there is plenty of value to be found if you know where to look.
Here are some specials to consider for this year’s Cheltenham Festival and beyond.
Cheveley Park Stud to have 5+ placed horses at the Cheltenham Festival – 4/1 (Sky Bet)
Renowned for the talent they have produced on the flat, Cheveley Park Stud have stepped up their game in the National Hunt discipline in recent years and look ready to launch an attack on this year’s Festival. Envoi Allen (Marsh Novices’ Chase) and Allaho (Ryanair Chase) are favourites for their respected contests, while talented youngsters Quilixios (Triumph Hurdle) and Sir Gerhard hold second favouritism in their maiden bows at Prestbury Park. A Plus Tard (Gold Cup) and Ballyadam (Supreme/Ballymore) complete the six-strong squadron and all look destined to perform well. Five of these competitors to place in their selected contests looks achievable.
Royale Pagaille to win any race at the Cheltenham Festival – 4/1 (William Hill)
A horse with clear ability to compete with the very best, Venetia Williams’ seven-year-old sent racing fans into a frenzy last month after easily winning the Grade 2 Peter Marsh Handicap Chase by 16 lengths. The Cheltenham Festival is clearly on the agenda for the gelding, as he possesses entries in the Festival Novices’ Chase, Marsh Novices’ Chase, National Hunt Chase and the Gold Cup. The exciting novice has been tipped to be a major threat to Al Boum Photo should he targeted for the Festival’s feature race, but with connections currently undecided where to send Royal Pagaille, this special seems to be worth some value.
Monkfish to win the Festival Novices’ Chase & The Gold Cup 2022 – 14/1 (Paddy Power + Betfair)
Willie Mullins turned some heads earlier this month when he stated that he had put together his strongest bunch of novice chasers yet. The questions raised by that comments were answered at the Dublin Racing Festival with both Monkfish and Energumene blitzing apart their opponents in emphatic fashion in the Flogas Novice Chase and Irish Arkle. Monkfish has captured the imagination of the racing sphere with his fluent jumping and effortless performance, even though he has only raced over fences three times in his career. The seven-year-old is a real Gold Cup contender in time to come for the Closutton trainer and the gelding shouldn’t have any difficulty in landing the Festival Novices’ Chase this time round. A special to consider if you have the patience.
Abacadabras (Champion Hurdle), Champagne Classic (Any Race), Duffle Coat (Any Race) and Metier (Any Race) all to place – 33/1 (Sky Bet)
It could be considered a high-priced longshot, but this is a seriously interesting price for four talented runners. Abracadabras ran a valiant second in the Irish Champion Hurdle and with last season’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle runner-up being targeted for the Festival’s edition of this race, he could land among the places at Prestbury Park once again. Champagne Classic, who hasn’t been seen since December 2019, is among a wide-open contest in the Cross Country Chase and the former Grade 1 winner could be an interesting contender should he return. Unbeaten novice hurdler Duffle Coat is entered in three races and could be a threat in whichever contest he is aimed at, while Metier caught the eye with his 12 length victory in the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle. All four seem capable to at least finish among the places and 33/1 could be a bit of a steal here.
With the Cheltenham Festival just around the corner, it’s time to get back into the spirit of this grand occasion, and for that, you’ve come to the right place.
With the offset commencing on Tuesday 16th March featuring The Unibet Champion Hurdle, you could be right there experiencing it all up until the final few races trickle through following The Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday 19th March.
Cheltenham Racecourse hosts the most anticipated event of the racing calendar where punters and racing enthusiasts can experience this exciting event from a number of perspectives, whatever the weather.
Four days of extraordinary racing offers a prize pool of over £4.5 million to the hopeful participants, with passion and emotion tantalising the senses of all in attendance.
Kissing the beautiful Cotswold countryside, Cheltenham Racecourse was voted the greatest racecourse in the world by The Racing Post in 2019. Each of the three magnificent Cheltenham Racecourse enclosures gives you a stunning view of the alluring surroundings.
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The in-depth information we offer on favourites, horses to look out for, trainers, jockeys and more can mean it won’t just be the horses, trainers and jockeys getting Cheltenham results.
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The Cheltenham Festival 2021 features a variety of 28 breathtaking races, with 7 per day over the course of the four-day festival. Our race calendar makes it very easy to keep track of exactly what is going on and when.
The highlight of day one will be the Unibet Champion Hurdle with a prize pool of £450,000. Day two sees the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase take place where records continue to be broken.
Day three presents The Ryanair Chase and The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle race, both in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Then Finally, Friday hosts the grand finale in the form of The Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The full Cheltenham race schedule is available right here, from the Tuesday 10:30 gate opening to the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle final race at 5:30 pm on Friday.
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Track all the odds as the Festival approaches ever closer so you know exactly who to look out for and back when the big week finally arrives.