It is almost that time of the year again, the iconic Cheltenham Festival is now just a short time away. This famous racing festival is set to take place over four days between Tuesday 10th March and Friday 13th March.
Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest events in the horse racing calendar behind the Grand National. The action-packed series of events are hosted at the racecourse in Prestbury Park, Gloucestershire, and attract impressive crowds of up to 70,000 people per day.
In total there are 28 races across the entire festival, with each day having a featured event. The opening day, known as Champions Day, is host to the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy; second is Ladies Day featuring the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase; followed by the Stayers’ Hurdle on St Patrick’s Day and ending with the highly anticipated Gold Cup Steeple Chase at the Festival’s finale.
Those that bet on the races are already looking ahead at who will be participating in the events, and along with the latest Cheltenham Festival tips, will be making their predictions of who will most likely to take the race. While some horses and their jockeys are seasoned professionals with many titles to their name, this doesn’t guarantee them a win at Cheltenham Festival. Over the years, many novices and surprise contenders have beat the odds.
Take a look at who we think may have a strong chance at taking home the top prizes for each of the four featured races:
Champion Hurdle Challenge – Saldier
The opening day features the the Unibet Champion Hurdle, a Grade One jump race open to horses aged at least four years old. The race is run on Cheltenham’s Old Course and is the last leg of the Triple Crown of Hurdling.
The runners must jump eight different hurdles over a distance of two and a half miles, with £450,000 up for grabs in prize money.
Last year’s winner was Espoir D’Allen who followed on from two-time winner Buveur D’Air, both of who are owned by Irish businessman John Patrick McManus.
This year it is predicted that a horse named Saldier could be the underdog. Although Saldier took a nasty fall at Naas and suffered a broken nose, he was head-to-head with Espoir, he has also since upstaged fan favourite Klassical Dream by taking first place on the Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown Festival last year.
Now aged five, the horse is reaching his prime time and stands a good chance at taking the top prize.
Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase – Defi Du Seuil
Taking place on Ladies Day, the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase is a two-mile race open to horses aged at least five years old. The race was named after the Queen Mother in 1980 on her birthday as recognition for her love of jump racing.
While jockey Nico de Bionville has won the last two years riding the Irish bred horse Altior, this year Defi Du Seuil could surprise spectators by taking the top spot. Defi Du Seuil is a strong and speedy horse and has previously thrived in the Shloer Chase and Tingle Creek.
Stayers’ Hurdle – Benie Des Dieux
The Stayers’ Hurdle is a Grade One jump race for horses aged four years an older and takes place on the third day of the festival. Last year’s winner was Paisley Park
This year, French bred Benie Des Dieux is tipped to be Paisley Park’s rival. Although Paisley Park is the bookies favourite, Benie Des Dieux went into season with an impressive start reading of six wins from seven starts.
Last year at Cheltenham Festival she fell at the Mares Hurdle, three lengths clear and nearing the finish line, but without that fall she certainly would have gone away with the top prize.
An interesting point to note is that a seven-year-old horse has won each of the last three outings. While Benie Des Dieux is a year older than this, the horse has unfinished business after last year’s disappointing defeat. Benie is definitely one to watch!
Gold Cup Steeple Chase – Kemboy
The Gold Cup Steeple Chase is the most prestigious and highly anticipated event in the Cheltenham Festival. With a total prize fund of around £625,000, the race is the most valuable non-handicap Steeple Chase in the UK and takes place over a three-mile course.
The Steeple Chase is a significant challenge with its 22 jumps and attracts some of the country’s best horses and jockeys.
Taking place this year at 3:30pm, the top three horses predicted to win are Al Boum Photo, Santini and Delta Work. However, punters looking to take a little more risk in favour of a larger reward should consider betting on Kemboy.
Kemboy is an outside favourite, at the age of 12 he is no spring chicken; however the horse is a top class chaser with a history of surprise wins.