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Cheltenham Festival Trials Day 2020 | A Reflection

Often regarded as the perfect preparation for The Festival two months later, Trials Day is a one-day fixture held on the final Saturday of January every season.

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Trials Day

Festival Trials Day is the final meeting at Cheltenham Racecourse before the big one.

Often regarded as the perfect preparation for The Festival two months later, Trials Day is a one-day fixture held on the final Saturday of January every season.

Sadly, there will not be 20,414 racegoers roaring their fancies up the hill in 2021 due to the ongoing pandemic.

However, we are still highly anticipating a superb day of National Hunt ahead before we bid farewell to Prestbury Park for just over seven weeks.

And what better way to whet the appetite than reflect on last year’s end-of-January highlight?

Review the 2020 heroes and how they went onto perform in March…

Galahad Quest landed the 2020 Trials Day opener, the JCB Triumph Trial Juvenile Hurdle, under Harry Cobden at odds of 6-1.

Having finished second at Taunton earlier in the month, the American Post gelding went one better in Gloucestershire in the Grade 2 curtain raiser.

He saw off Night Edition by a length that day, but it was to be David Pipe’s representative who would fare better in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle.

Both deemed more in their comfort zone in the Grade 3 as opposed to Friday’s JCB Triumph Hurdle itself, January’s second would pick up the silver medal once again over course and distance.

Beaten only by Gordon Elliot’s Aramax, he pulled miles clear of his conqueror earlier in the year, Nick Williams’ runner could only finish 14th.

In the Timeform Novices’ Handicap Chase, there would be two Festival successors who finished 1-2 in the first steeplechase of the day.

The subsequent Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate winner, 11/2 shot Simply The Betts held off the future Northern Trust Company hero Imperial Aura.

Harry Whittington’s stable-star had to give 4lbs to the runner-up after three chase wins earlier in the season.

Kim Bailey’s 5/1 favourite, meanwhile, had ran well at the track a month before over three miles but seemed to excel over the shorter trip.

The form was also to be franked by the third placed On The Slopes, who won twice at Kempton in the aftermath following his fairly isolated eleven-length third.

In fact, four other runners in the race have won since, proving this edition to be a solid running of the contest.

In open company, the third race of the day went the way of the brave top-weighted Cepage who scored in the Paddy Power 45 Sleeps To Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase.

After a series of solid efforts at the track, this would be his first victory at the Home of Jumps Racing for Venetia Williams.

An 8-1 shot, he made virtually every yard despite carrying 11st 12lbs and battled gamely to hold off the Dan Skelton trained Spiritofthegames.

At the Festival, up 1lbs in the weights and seven furlongs in trip, he would finish a very creditable seventh in a field of 23 in the Ultima Handicap Chase.

And despite pulling up in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup here on his reappearance in December, he has won at Chepstow since the turn of the New Year.

In the first renewal of the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase of the decade, a titanic battle saw 13/8 market principal Santini bravely pull clear of his 9/4 counterpart Bristol De Mai when in receipt of 2lbs from the grey.

Holding previously solid course form, including third in the Albert Bartlett as a novice hurdler before finishing second in the Festival Novices’ Chase, Nicky Henderson’s quirky charge went one better on 2020 Trials Day.

Having won in the 2018 edition on what was only his second career start, it has proved to be a fruitful occasion for the son of Milan.

On the new course last year, the pair pulled hugely clear of the rest of the field of six as they aimed to lay down their Gold Cup credentials.

And the Cotswold winner would go onto finish as close in the Festival’s feature to any winner of the race before him, beaten a neck by Al Boum Photo.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’s gelding, however, finished a fair way down the order despite his promising third in the race the year before.

Mister Whitaker, the former Northern Trust Company Novices’ winner, clearly was not in his comfort zone upped in trip and class, pulling up on the flat.

But he ran with far more credit at the Festival back in distance, finishing third behind Simply The Betts in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate.

Back over timber for the fifth race of the day, the late Colin Tizzard trained Harry Senior powered home up the hill to win the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, also known as the Classic, under Robbie Power.

At odds of 4-1, he beat Harry Fry’s well-backed King Rowland and the likeable course-and-distance winner Protektorat in what proved to be a strong renewal of the Grade 2 contest.

This would prove to be his second win in a row following his success at Chepstow the month prior.

Sadly, the Festival Trials Day winner did not go as well as anticipated in the Albert Bartlett next time out, not appearing to ever really travel sweetly enough and pulling up.

Fourth-placed on the day, House Island outran odds of 66-1 at the Festival in the same race and has tasted success over fences since.

The banker of the day for many, Paisley Park expectedly won the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle for the second campaign running as a 4/6 favourite.

King of the staying hurdlers in 2019, Emma Lavelle’s charge landed his third win over track-and-trip to see off 2018 Supreme winner, Summerville Boy.

This race would produce the Stayers’ Hurdle winner, but not the one most punters would have expected.

Lisnigar Oscar only managed third in the trial but went two better to reverse the form with the defending champion two months later in an extraordinary training performance by Rebecca Curtis.

The Oscar gelding had only managed fifth in the Albert Bartlett as a novice before a forgetful career as a chaser, but he returned to the smaller obstacles with a bang.

Probably not given much of a chance after his early exit at Warwick just two weeks before, he collected bronze in the Cleeve before being crowned the best in the division on day three of the Festival.

But he’s now got a few questions to answer on his consistency after disappointing efforts at Wetherby and Newbury since.

Meanwhile, there are signs that Paisley’s March flop were down to issues out of his control and he has put to bed any concerns this season with gallant outings at Newbury and Ascot.

The new kid on the block, Thyme Hill, now appears to be the main danger in preventing him from regaining his throne in Gloucestershire following two clashes in Berkshire – with the pair even at one-a-piece.

Coral Hurdle winner If The Cap Fits endured a tough time up the hill but has since gone onto win over fences, as has the now Sam Thomas-trained William Henry who finished at the tail of the field.

The Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle, won by Back On The Lash, did not subsequently produce a March runner back at Prestbury Park in its wake.

Three winners, two seconds and a third.

All in all, a fairly telling fixture in the National Hunt calendar ahead of the Jumps’ Olympics in March.

Will the 2021 produce a Festival winner?

All will be revealed on Saturday 30th January

Betting

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

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Elimay and Mark Walsh win at the Punchestown Festival 2019 at Punchestown Racecourse, Ireland

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.

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Betting

Three value-priced Irish runners to consider over the weekend

The three Irish runners you need to side with this weekend

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Irish runners race at the 2010 Punchestown Festival at Punchestown Racecourse

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.

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Betting

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

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Envoi Allen and Davy Russell jump the last hurdle in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse

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.

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Cheltenham Races TEst

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.

The Cheltenham Festival offers world-class hospitality available to suit a wide range of budgets, so, if you wish, you could step up the quality of your experience to ensure you make the absolute best of this fascinating horseracing occasion.

Besides the racing, you can visit the shopping village featuring approximately 70 bespoke, carefully selected vendors for a mixture of essentials and luxuries. You can also indulge yourself at the bars and listen to live music all throughout the Cheltenham racing calendar.

Betting Tips

If you’re looking for the most diligently researched professional betting tips for the Cheltenham Festival 2021 races, our team of competent, experienced tipsters will provide all the fruitful information you need to make the most lucrative betting decisions possible.

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.

Tickets

Whether you have attended this enthralling event before and you’re looking for your annual fix, or you’ve been intrigued by the captivating aura that surrounds these races inducing the desire to make your Festival debut, you can find all the information you need on Cheltenham tickets right here.

Standard entry tickets are very affordable and there is a range of package options to suit your exact needs, so whatever your budget, The Cheltenham Festival 2021 will be the place to be this March.

Festival Guide

Any information you’re looking for on the festival including dates for the diary, the racecourse, the horse trainers, the jockeys, festival history, where to eat, where to stay and how to get there can be found right here at cheltenham.co.uk.

Race Calendar

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.

Hospitality

The beauty of the Cheltenham races is the sheer quantity of options when it comes to how you want to experience it.

If you head down to The Festival simply to view the races and absorb the exciting atmosphere you don’t need to break the bank. If you’ve set a higher budget for this pulsating occasion, you can get plenty for the money you want to spend.

You can choose from any of the 11 onsite restaurants for your evening meal, with a variety of restaurant types from The Horse & Groom Pub to the Champions Walk restaurant, you can choose the atmosphere that’s served alongside your meal.

Those with a higher budget and more cash to splash will be delighted by the range of luxury experience options, including viewing boxes with private bars, Room With a View packages complete with Bentley and helicopter transfers, and the luxurious Orchard Pods suitable for up to 20 guests with a private balcony.

Free bets

Free bets are a fantastic opportunity to step up the thrill of the races with a chance to recoup some of your festival expenditures, increase your spending money, or even strike it lucky and walk away from your exhilarating day with a smug smile.

Free bets work just like real bets except there is no risk involved. You can place a stake on your favourite horse and if it wins, so do you. Real cash.

The Cheltenham Festival is amongst the busiest periods of the year for bookmakers and betting sites, so they always come up with some incredibly tempting sign-up offers and free bets to lure you in. The high competition between the bookies is good news for you, as they compete to offer the most generous free bet deals.

We scour the web for all the best betting deals – including free bets – and provide you with a one-stop-shop to accumulate your free bet funds, meaning less time searching and more time sitting and sipping.

Odds

It’s thanks to the high competition between bookmakers that you can get such fantastic prices on the horses. Odds are competitive, so very high profits are possible.

We’ll make sure you have access to all the best odds from all the best betting sites, so you can experience how profitable the Cheltenham races can truly be.

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.