Read our Thurles and Gowran Park race reviews
An interesting weekend of racing sprung up further Cheltenham clues, with several big names throwing their names into the Festival mixer.
With Trials Day abandoned at Prestbury Park, all eyes were focused on Doncaster for Saturday’s racing action.
Shishkin established further dominance in the Arkle Chase market, after the seven-year old cruised to victory in the Lightning Novices’ Chase.
Nicky Henderson’s rising star continued his unbeaten start to life over fences with yet another faultless display, seeing off Colin Tizzard’s Eldorado Allen by 8 ½ lengths.
Last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle winner is now as short at 8/13 to record his second Festival victory in the Arkle.
Doncaster also saw a breakout performance from talented mare Miranda, who took her first graded success in the Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle.
The six-year-old went well throughout the contest before breezing past Floressa in the closing stages and comfortably landing victory by 4 lengths.
Paul Nicholls’ mare is now a joint-favourite 16/1 for the County Hurdle, alongside Ronan McNally’s progressive Dreal Deal and Dan Skelton’s Cadzand.
An action-packed card at Naas saw several Cheltenham contenders in the Winners’ Enclosure on Sunday afternoon, including Billaway, who became the clear favourite for the Foxhunters’ Chase after landing a second successive Naas Hunters Chase for Willie Mullins.
The nine-year-old, who is now as short as 5/2 for the 3m2½f contest, made good headway on the home straight to see off Staker Wallace, who is 10/1 for the same race, and claim victory.
Bachasson produced an impressive performance in the Limestone Lad Hurdle, as the 10-year-old made it four wins in his last four races.
Willie Mullins’ runner, who has won Graded contests over hurdles and fences this season, made all to win by four lengths and is now 14/1 to take the Coral Cup.
Dermot Weld, who trains Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Tarnawa, landed his first Irish jumps winner of the season in the form of Coltor in the Naas Maiden Hurdle.
The four-year old, who is now a 20/1 shot for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, kept on well before fighting off a late challenge from Gordon Elliott’s Showbusiness to take a first victory over obstacles.
Eklat Du Rire maintained his unbeaten record over fences, as the seven-year-old claimed the Naas Racecourse Business Club Novice Chase.
Henry De Bromhead’s exciting prospect, who has been shortened to 14/1 in both the National Hunt Chase and the RSA Chase, kept on well in the closing stages to see off the challenging Escaria Ten and land his first success in Graded company.
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.
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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.
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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.