Chestenham Festival Betting Preview 2021
The Festival that all racing fans have been looking forward to gets underway on the 16th March, as the Cheltenham Festival finally kicks off with an action-packed day of races set to set the pace for a blockbuster four-days of action. You can expect fourteen Grade One races over four days as the top horses go head to head.
Cheltenham Day One
Day one at Cheltenham starts with a bang giving us four grade one cards providing some guaranteed action. The biggest race being the 15:05 Grade 1 Champion Hurdle and we have more about that below. See more about the most interesting races across day 1 and get our thoughts on the horses to watch out for.
15:05 – Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
The featured race on the opening day of the Festival will be the Champion Hurdle, and it looks set to be one of the most competitive renewals in recent years. The Grade 1 is competed on the Old Course, and covers a distance of two miles and half a furlong. It is the pinnacle for hurdlers and has been won in the past by famous names such as Persian War, Lanzarote and National Spirit.
There are three solid contenders for the Champion Hurdle this season, and each have solid claims. Honeysuckle is the pick for the race though, as the mare has consistently improved with every showing. The seven-year-old was nothing short of phenomenal at the Dublin Racing Festival, as he won by ten lengths, and has previous success at the Festival, having won the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle 12 months ago.
Goshen’s return to form at Wincanton last weekend only ups the ante more, as the Grade 1 winner was excellent as he won by 22 lengths from Song For Someone. Epatante is the defending champion coming into this, but his form has been more unpredictable.
13:20 – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
The Festival kicks off with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, as runners look to emulate the success that has been achieved by Altior, Douvan and Summerville Boy in recent years.
Willie Mullins has trained the winner in this race on six previous occasions, with his last victory coming in the form of Klassical Dream in 2019. His leading chance in this year’s race is Appreciate It (NAP). The seven-year-old has been in excellent form since disappointing at Cheltenham 12 months ago, as he has won three from three over two miles. He has already beaten Ballyadam this season, and those bolds extremely well for his chances in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Metier is the one genuine contender for the crown, as the Harry Fry-trained horse has won three from three since a wind op. However, this will be a big step up.
13:55 – Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase
The Grade 1 action only continues on day one of the Festival, as the attention swiftly turns to the Arkle after the Supreme Novices’ Chase. This race is run over two miles, and runners need to navigate 13 fences. Previous winners include Altior, Footpad and Put The Kettle On.
The leading middle-distance horses will all be in contention for the grand prize in this race. Shiskin for trainer Nicky Henderson has been excellent on his last seven starts, as he has won all races. That includes a success at the Festival last year in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He looks to be the one to beat again in this one.
Mullins has an exceptional record in this race, as he has won four of the previous six instalments. Energumene has all the ability to add a sixth straight victory judging by his win at Leopardstown in early February, but he hasn’t run at Cheltenham to date. Allmankind also deserves a second look, as the Dan Skelton-trained horse has won three from four this season. He could be a decent bet to place.
Cheltenham Day Two
Some of the biggest stars in training will be in action during the second day of the Cheltenham Festival, with Tiger Roll and Altior both among the favourites to win their respective races. But, will the legendary horses be able to claim a final day in the sun at the home of jump’s racing?
15:05 – The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase
The featured race on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Chase. The runners will race over two miles and will need to navigate thirteen fences over the Old Course circuit. Sprinter Sacre, Special Tiara and Sire de Grugy are famous past winners of the Champion Chase.
There will be two previous winners of the race involved in this year’s instalment, including defending champion Politologue. However, all the attention will be on whether two-time winner Altior will be able to create history and win a record-equalling third title.
The Nicky Henderson-trained horse also holds an entry for the Ryanair, but the Champion Chase looks the most likely route that he will take. The eleven-year-old had been one of the most feared horses in training throughout his career, but two defeats from three starts mean that questions are now being asked. He finished second behind Nube Negra on his first run of the season, and there is a very clear favourite to win this race this year.
There is no denying that Altior will be a leader in the betting for this race, but Chacun Pour Soi is the horse to beat, judging by what he has shown in Ireland this season. The Willie Mullins-trained horse was exceptional at the Dublin Racing Festival in early February, as he won by eight lengths from Fakir D’oudairies to win a fourth straight race. Despite this being his first run at Cheltenham, he is the clear horse to beat.
15:40 – The Glenfarcas Cross Country Steeple Chase
The Cross Country Chase is one of the newest races at the Festival, but it immediately became one of the most engaging. Runners compete over three miles and six furlongs and need to jump 32 obstacles.
All the attention will be on two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll, should he head to Cheltenham after pulling out of the Grand National. He hasn’t looked himself over recent appearances and struggled in the recent Boyne Hurdle. It will be a huge race not just in terms of a Festival winner, but also to see whether the Tiger will be heading for the National for a crack at history.
It’s always horrible to bet against the legendary horse, but his performances this season have pointed to his best form being behind him. Last year’s winner Easysland leads the betting, but we would be most interested in each-way chances Potters Corner and Step Back. Potters Corner finished a place ahead of Easysland at the Cross Country at Cheltenham in November, while Step Back has won two from three starts this season, and stayed when finishing sixth at Cheltenham back in December.
13:55 – Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase
The first Grade 1 of the second day comes in the form of the Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase. It is a race for novice chasers, and is run over three miles. Past winners of this race have gone on to challenge for the Gold Cup. One of the most recent examples to achieve victories in both was Lord Windermere, while Champ won this race last year, and will be looking for Gold Cup glory this year.
For many experts, the NAP of the whole Festival is running in this race, as Monkfish is expected to continue his excellent form for trainer Willie Mullins. Mullins will be looking for a record fifth success in this race. Monkfish is certainly good value to give him that record, as the seven-year-old has been dominant, and comes into this having won his last six.
In early February, his victory at Leopardstown was one of the standout wins of the season, as he won by eleven lengths from Latest Exhibition, who will be his main contender in this race. Royale Pagaille also holds an entry, but he will likely head to a different race at the Festival.
Cheltenham Day Three
The third day of the Cheltenham Festival will be all about the magical hour of racing starting with the Ryanair Chase, and concluding with the Stayers’ Hurdle. But, which horses could win those two races along with the other three Graded races on the penultimate day of the Festival?
14:40 – The Ryanair Steeple Chase
The Ryanair Chase is one of the races during the Festival that fans look forward to the most, as the talented field runs over the two miles and four and a half furlong distance on the New Course. Standout moments during the Festival have come in this race, including Bryony Frost’s emotional victory onboard Frodon back in 2019.
This year’s race promises to be no different, with a talented field of horses likely to target this race. Allaho will lead the betting for trainer Willie Mullins, and the seven-year-old will come into this in good form after a win at Thurles at the end of January. However, defeat at Punchestown over the distance in the Ryanair may see gamblers look elsewhere for value.
Imperial Aura is the most proven over this trip, having won three from four. The Kim Bailey-trained horse also has experience of winning at the Cheltenham Festival, having won the Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap 12 months ago. However, the eight-year-old will need to improve after unseating his rider in the Ladbrokes Silviniaco Conti Chase at Kempton back in January.
Min would be a popular winner, as the Mullins-trained horse looks to become only the second horse to successfully regain its title. After back-to-back wins at Cheltenham and Punchestown, he was pulled up on his most recent star at Leopardstown. Dashel Drasher also has an entry for the Ryanair, and could be an interesting selection should he declare after winning his last three.
15:05 – Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle
The race of the entire Festival could come in the form of the Stayers’ Hurdle. This Grade 1 is run over two miles and seven furlongs, and the field will need to navigate 12 hurdles. The leading long-distance hurdle of the season has been won by Big Buck’s, Thistlecrack, and Penhill over the last ten years.
Last year’s shock winner was 50/1 chance Lisnagar Oscar, but 2019 champion Paisley Park will be looking to reclaim his title for trainer Emma Lavelle. The nine-year-old will be one of the most welcome winners of the week, as the story of owner Andrew Gemmell has touched everyone in the sport. The most interesting component of this race will be the battle between Paisley Park, and new-kid-on-the-block Thyme Hill.
The two have already locked horns on two separate occasions this season, with both horses winning once. Paisley Park won the rematch between the two at Ascot in December, while Thyme Hill won the first meeting of the season at Newbury. There really is very little between the two, as they have both recorded wins at Cheltenham, and are proven stayers over this distance. However, the slight preference is for Paisley Park to build on the narrow win he achieved in December.
13:20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase
The Grade 1 action on the third day of the Festival will get underway with the Marsh Novices’ Chase. This race will be run over two miles and around four furlongs, and has been won by horses such as Yorkhill, Samcro, and Defi du Seuil in the past.
Envoi Allen currently leads the betting. Should the seven-year-old head to the Festival, then he would be very difficult to beat in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. He has won all 12 races throughout his career to date. His most recent win came at Punchestown, as he won by a big margin from Fils D’oudairies.
Should Envoi Allen miss the Festival, then Energumene would be the standout contender should he opt for this race over the Arkle. The Mullins-trained horse has won six from seven, and looks good value for a win at Cheltenham this year regardless of the race he targets.
Cheltenham Day Four
The Cheltenham Festival will be sadly brought to a close on the 19th March, but there will be no shortage of huge races for gamblers to look forward to. The biggest race of the National Hunt season will take place on the final day, with the Gold Cup.
15:05 – The WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Blue Riband event of the jumps season will be the featured race on the final day of the Festival, as the field run over a distance of three miles and two and a half furlongs. The race will be run by the most talented horses in training that are aged five and older, and there will be 22 fences to be jumped. Iconic horses such as Kauto Star, Arkle, Denman, Golden Miller and Best Mate have all won the Gold Cup in the past.
Al Boum Photo for trainer Willie Mullins will head the betting once again this year, as the nine-year-old will be looking to become a three-time champion. A win for Al Boum Photo would see him join elite company for wins in this race, and his credentials are unquestionable. Mullins has gone with the same tried-and-tested formula that worked 12 months ago, as he has had just one prep run ahead of Cheltenham, which resulted in victory at Tranmere on New Year’s Day. It’s honestly hard to look elsewhere.
Champ returned to the track at Newbury in February, and impressed finishing second over nearly three miles, and could be a leading contender. There would be something romantic about a win for Frodon in this race, as the relationship between Bryony Frost and the nine-year-old is something that is truly special. Frodon gave Frost a first Grade 1 at the Festival back in 2019 in the Ryanair Chase, and will be a leading contender should she set the pace in the race.
A Plus Tard was impressive in the Savills Chase at Leopardstown in December, while Kemboy’s return to form at the same track in February also adds greater intrigue. Former Gold Cup winner Native River also recently won the Cotswold Chase, and could wind back the years with a strong run at Cheltenham.
Royale Pagaille could be the most intriguing horse in the field if the Venetia Williams-trained horse opts for the Gold Cup. His performances at Kempton and Haydock this season have been among the best of the season.
13:20 – JCB Triumph Hurdle
The JCB Triumph Hurdle will get things underway on the final day of the Festival, as runners will race over two miles and a furlong. Impressive juveniles to win this race during their career include Defi du Seuil, Pentland Hills and two-time Grand National winner Tiger Roll.
This could be one of the most competitive races on the final day of the Festival, as the top horses in the market all have a credible chance of winning. Zanahiyr and Quilixios both are excellent chances. The latter, trained by Henry De Bromhead, has won on all three starts this season, and was exceptional when picking up Grade 1 success in the Tattersalls Ireland Spring Juvenile Hurdle.
However, the pick in this race is Tritonic, who has been smashed down in price after a dominant performance at Kempton in late February. The four-year-old travelled strongly throughout with the stamina and speed to run clear of the chasing pack two from the finish.
14:30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
One of the most difficult races to come on the final day of the Festival will be the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. This Grade 1 will be run over a distance of around three miles, and the field must navigate 12 hurdles. Since being introduced in 2015, the race has been won by horses such as Monkfish, Minella Indo and Penhill.
Sattler will be the standout Willie Mullins horse in the field, as the Irish trainer looks for a third win in five years. The six-year-old won in late 2020 at Leopardstown, before finishing third at the same track in February. There are two horses in this race worth closer attention.
Barbados Buck’s has been very impressive throughout the season for trainer Paul Nicholls, as he has won on all three starts. The most recent of those came at Kempton in early January.
However, those looking for some each-way value could look at Farouk Dalene. The six-year-old was impressive when winning at Limerick in December, as he won the race in Ireland that put Penhill and Martello Tower on their path to success in this race.