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Weekend Preview: Five contests you must watch at Leopardstown and Sandown

The racing eyes of the world turn to Leopardstown and Sandown Park this weekend

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Horses racing at Sandown Park Racecourse in Esher, Surrey, England
With nine Grade 1 races on the cards across the UK and Ireland, there is a high level of jumping talent being put on show this weekend.

With so many races to keep an eye, we have picked out five contests that you simply cannot miss over an action-packed 48 hours at both Leopardstown and Sandown.

1.35 Leopardstown – Dublin Chase

The Champion Chase favourite Chacun Pour Soi takes on the Ryanair Chase favourite Min in a mouth-watering rematch of last year’s contest. Both trained by Willie Mullins, it was Chacun that came out on top last time out, seeing off his stablemate by 3 ½ lengths in an impressive performance. The season didn’t go to plan for the nine-year old after that, as he was ruled out of the Champion Chase late with injury, while Min went on to secure victory in the Ryanair. Both are talented chasers, and with Henry De Bromhead’s rising star Notebook added to the mix, it has the credentials to be a classic.

1.50 Sandown – Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase

The final British Grade 1 event for this division before the Festival, the Scilly Isles should give further insight for the Novice Chase contests at Prestbury Park. Hitman, who has impressed over fences for Paul Nicholls, is closing in on a maiden Graded success after a strong second in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase in December. But he takes on Shan Blue, who will be looking for back-to-back Grade 1 victories after landing the Kauto Star Novices’ Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Dan Skelton’s seven-year-old has shown his stamina and jumping ability since switching to the larger obstacles, winning all three of his starts over fences. Alan King’s Messire Des Obeaux saw off the progressing Protektorat on his last outing, while the Nicky Henderson-trained Dame De Compagnie will want to follow up on her chase debut victory at Ayr last month. A wide open contest at Sandown that could see a first-time Grade 1 winner.

2.20 Sandown – Cotswold Chase

The rearranged Cheltenham Trials Day fixture temporarily relocates to Surrey for the first time, with a string of potential Gold Cup contenders heading to Sandown. Nicky Henderson’s Santini will be looking to land back-to-back successes in this race, and the nine-year-old was victorious in his only run at this track. He has a point to prove after the disappointing run in the King George over Christmas and will be hoping to return to winning ways before heading to the Festival. Betfair Chase winner Bristol De Mai will be looking to go one better after finishing second last year, while 2018 Gold Cup winner Native River and King George fourth Saint Calvados also feature. An interesting renewal of the Cotswold Chase lies in wait that could kick up some Festival clues.

3.15 Leopardstown – Irish Champion Hurdle

The unbeaten Honeysuckle returns to the Dublin Racing Festival to claim a second Irish Champion Hurdle. Henry De Bromhead’s talented mare is on the cusp of making it 10 wins over hurdles, but she faces some stiff competitions from two of Ireland’s biggest yards. Four-time Grade 1 winner Sharjah spearheads the Willie Mullins triple attack, with Saint Roi and Saldier lining up for the Closutton trainer as well. The field is rounded off with a dual threat from Gordon Elliott with Morgiana Hurdle winner Abracadabras and Petit Mouchoir, who was formally trained by De Bromhead, joining the party as well. An absolute cracker lies in wait.

3.40 Leopardstown (Sunday) – Irish Gold Cup

A five-way battle heads Sunday’s action at Leopardstown, with the Dublin Racing Festival’s feature race presenting an eye-catching contest. Minella Indo will want to get his season back on track after falling in the Savills Chase, and will have to overcome the Willie Mullins’ pair of Kemboy and Melon who both placed in that contest. Last season’s winner Delta Work will be aiming to bounce back to winning ways for Gordon Elliott after a disappointing season so far, while stablemate The Storyteller will be looking for his third Graded success of the season. All five horses have the ability of win this when at their best, which makes this a contest that cannot be missed.

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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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Races

Weekend Racing: Five jump races to watch in Great Britain and Ireland

Despite abandonments to Warwick and Newbury’s cards, there is still some top quality jumps racing in Britain and Ireland on Saturday and Sunday

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A racehorse at Exeter Racecourse's Super Sunday meeting in 2018

With Newbury and Warwick both called off due to frost on, all eyes turns to Exeter, Naas and Punchestown for the weekend racing action.

From a hotly-contested Irish Grand National trial to an intriguing Listed Novices’ Hurdle known for its previous winners, there is still plenty of exciting races to sink your teeth into.

Here are five races to tune into over the weekend…

BBA Ireland Limited Opera Hat Mares Chase – Naas, 1.40 Saturday

Currently the 4/1 favourite for the Mares’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Elimay makes her final prep run in the Listed contest at Naas before heading to Prestbury Park. The seven-year-old spearheads the Willie Mullins challenge and is joined by stablemate Yukon Lil, who is aiming to land a first success in Graded company. Veteran mare Shattered Love and 2019 Mares Novices’ Hurdle third Tintangle lead the charge for Gordon Elliott while Waitnsee lines up for John Patrick Ryan.

I.N.H. Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle – Punchestown, 2.00 Sunday

Sunday’s action gets underway with Power Of Pause looking to land his first victory in Listed company. Willie Mullins’ seven-year-old, who came third in the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle last month, can book his ticket to Cheltenham with success at Punchestown. He face a tough challenge in Supreme contender Thedevilscoachman, who was impressive when landing victory at Navan two weeks ago for Noel Meade. Joseph O’Brien holds two entries in the contest, with Uhtred making his second start over hurdles while Fire Attack will need to bounce back after suffering a late fall last time out.

Bet At racingtv.com Novices’ Hurdle – Exeter, 3.10 Sunday

A race renowned for broadcasting future stars, with Gold Cup winner Native River and Champion Chase victor Politologue both landing this contest in recent years. The Glancing Queen, who took third in the Grade 1 Challow Novices’ Hurdle at Newbury over Christmas, makes her last appearance before heading to the Festival for most likely the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. Dan Skelton’s Wilde About Oscar will be aimed to return to winning ways after being pulled up in the same contest, while Johnny Farrelly will be hopeful Breffniboy can land his sixth win in eight races.

Punchestown Grand National Trial Handicap Chase – Punchestown, 4.30 Sunday

Gordon Elliott sends six runners to Punchestown for the Irish Grand National trial, as the County Meade trainer attempts to land this contest for the third successive time. 2019 winner Doukinos and top weight Alpha Des Obeaux line-up for Elliott alongside stablemates Roaring Bull, Out Sam and Monbeg Notorious, while General Prinicple takes second reserve. Race favourite The Big Dog makes his handicap debut for Peter Fahey, while Leopardstown Christmas Festival winner Midnight Maestro will be looking to continue his good run of form.

Join Racing TV Now Mares’ Chase – Exeter – 4.40 Sunday

The final major contest of the weekend sees National Hunt Chase entrant Snow Leopardess attempt to claim her second win over fences for Charlie Longsdon. The Grade 2 winner, who placed in all four of her starts over fences, looks to continue her good form and faces challengers in Rebecca Curtis’ Legends Gold and Alan King’s Midnightreferendum.

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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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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.