Cheltenham Festival Preview and Key Big Race Tips

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Although the Coronavirus has seen the need for a number of sporting events across the globe to be either cancelled or played behind closed doors over the past week or so, there is better news for those seeking to attend the Cheltenham Festival with the news that the four days of racing will go ahead as planned.

So with that in mind, we have decided to take a closer look at some of the big races being contested across what is always one of the biggest weeks of the horse racing season, with a number of the best races of the national hunt season being contested across the four days of action, which this year runs from March 10th to the 13th.

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Let’s now take a look at some of the big races of Cheltenham Festival Week and give you our top tips for each. As always, it is worth remembering that there may be withdrawals from each race, so for the latest betting and all the news on non-runners and the like, check back with bet365 each day for the latest racecard information and odds.

*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport as of 9.30am on Monday 9th March 2020.

Tuesday 10th March

Racing Post Arkle Challenge (2.10pm)

A fantastic race for novice chasers, this race is run over 2 miles and is always a hotly contested battle. Past winners of the race include the likes of Moscow Flyer, Altior, Douvan and Sprinter Sacre, who have all gone on to be recognised as some of the best horses in the history of national hunt racing.  Barry Geraghty and Ruby Walsh have both picked up four winners in the race as jockeys, while Nicky Henderson’s six wins sees him as the most successful trainer on the race’s history, although Willie Mullins has won the race in four of the last five years.

Who to back this year? – Notebook – 11/4 fav

Champion Hurdle (3.30pm)

A race of just over 2 miles, but one that has a rich history and which has featured some of the most famous hurdlers in history as its winners. Nicky Henderson has enjoyed great success in this race as a trainer netting seven wins, while of the current crop of Jockey’s Ruby Walsh’s four wins in the race leads the way. With the likes of Istabraq, Buveur d’Air, Faugheen, Jezki, Binocular and Hurricane Fly amongst the most recent winners of the race, the winner of this year’s very open race will be joining racehorse royalty, as well as netting a prize of over £240,000 for the owner.

Who to back this year? – Pentland Hills – 5/1.

Wednesday 11th March

Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30pm)

Since being founded in 1959, this race has been the highlight of the second day of action at Cheltenham and has seen some famous winners in the past, including the likes of Moscow Flyer, Viking Flagship, Sprinter Sacre and the winner of the past two races, Altior. However, having reported as lame three days before the race, Altior’s chances of winning a third in a row to match Badsworth Boy (who achieved the feat from 1983 to 1985) are in doubt. Nicky Henderson has five winners out of the last eight runnings of the race, while Barry Geraghty has ridden five winners in the race, although Nico de Boinville has won in three of the past four years (once on Sprinter Sacre and twice on Altior).

Who to back this year? – A Plus Tard – 7/1

Glenfarclas Chase (4.10pm)

One of the more recent additions to the Cheltenham Festival, the Glenfarclas Chase was first contested in 2005 and only three horses have landed two wins in the race, Garde Champetre (2008+2009), Balthazar King (2012 + 2014) and Tiger Roll (2018 and 2019). The latter is back to try and make it three in a row before they potentially try and do likewise in the Grand National at Aintree in April. Gordon Elliott has trained the winner in this race in each of the past three years.

Who to back this year – Tiger Roll – Evens Fav.

Thursday 12th March

Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (2.10pm)

This Grade Three National Hunt race is one of the more intriguing races on Day Three of the festival this year. Raced over 2 miles, 7 furlongs, the race has produced a number of different winners in recent years, with the most recent back to back winner being Buena Vista in 2010 and 2011. Sire Du Berlais was Gordon Elliott’s second winner in this race in a row last year and despite poor form this season, he is back to try and land a rare double in the race.

Who to back this year – Relegate – 7/1

Ryanair Chase (2.50pm)

Paul Nicholls’ Frodon is back to defend the title the horse won last year in the Ryanair Chase. This 2 mile, 4 furlong race is a real test for any five year old and up runner and with £350,000 up for grabs, it is one of the biggest purses of the meet. With a number of horses potentially declaring for this race, rather than the Queen Mother, the qualify of the field will likely improve as we go through the week, so I’d be a bit more cautious with this bet than others.

Who to back this year – Min – 11/4.

Friday 13th March

Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle (2.50pm)

Another modern addition to the festival, first run in 2005, the Grade 1 race is open to four year olds and upwards but has never seen a double winner of the race, with winners typically going on to compete in more prestigious races in following years. Last year’s winner was Minella Indo for Henry de Bromhead, ridden by Rachael Blackmore, while the most famous winner of the race was probably Bobs Worth back in 2011.

Who to back this year – Cobbler’s Way – 12/1.

Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30pm)

This three mile, two furlong steeplechase is the race after which the festival was named and it has produced an incredible array of winners since it was first contested back in 1924. With £625,000 up for grabs in the race with over £350,000 for the winner, it is the richest race at the festival and has seen some of the biggest names in racing win, including Desert Orchid, Best Mate, Kauto Star, Denman and Bobs Worth. This year’s race sees Al Boum Photo going for a second win in a row, but he faces a stern test from a number of in form rivals.

Who to back this year – Clan Des Obeaux – 7/1.

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