The Jump season reaches its climax in March with the hotly anticipated Cheltenham Festival.
The very best of British and Irish racing will descend on Gloucestershire to try to create history on the hallowed ground of Prestbury Park, where the best and brightest of jumps racing have crafted legacies from the soil on which they galloped.
A week to be savoured, each day brings fresh excitement, tension, and can catapult an obscure horse into the national consciousness.
2019 is to be no different, and we will preview the event by addressing each day in turn, discussing the races and horses to watch out for so you can decide how to take advantage of some great Cheltenham betting offers.
Tuesday, March 12
The first big race of the Festival will be the Unibet Champion Hurdle, a terrifically exciting Grade One contest run over two miles, and is the finale of the Triple Crown of Hurdling. The deeply impressive Buveur D’Air is defending champion and the current favourite, with bookies giving the Nicky Henderson trained eight-year-old the edge over Gordon Elliott’s Apple’s Jade. Better value can be found backing Verdana Blue, Espoir Dallen, and Supasundae, who could make the switch from the Stayers’ Hurdle after placing second last year.
Elsewhere on day one, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race is a fantastic way to kick off the festivities, and the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase is a great chance to see horses go head-to-head in a blistering 1 mile, 7-furlong contest.
Wednesday, March 13
The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase is the headline of Wednesdays at Cheltenham, and how can you look past Altior? The nine-year-old hasn’t lost a race since 2015, and any result that didn’t see him ascend to the top of the field again in Gloucestershire would be simply stunning. ‘Rivals’ could include such familiar faces as Un De Sceaux, Footpad, and Min.
A pair of novice events kick the day off, with the RSA Insurance Novices’ Steeple Chase succeeding the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race – with both races packing a considerable punch for prize-money.
Thursday, March 14
St Patrick’s Thursday features a pair of absolute corkers, running consecutively on the schedule. Firstly, the Ryanair Chase field is all a bit up in the air as of this moment, but don’t be surprised to see Balko Des Flos make a stern defence of his win a year ago. Depending on what his owners want to do, Un De Sceaux could return to try and gain revenge on the Henry De Bromhead-trained horse.
Secondly, the Stayers’ Hurdle will see Willie Mullins aim for glory again with Penhill, who romped home to victory last year despite having multiple opponents fancied ahead of him. However, it is Paisley Park topping the chalkboards this time around, following a hugely impressive showing at the Cheltenham trials.
Friday, March 15
Friday at Cheltenham means one thing, and one thing only – Gold Cup day. Native River won a memorable race a year ago, and Colin Tizzard’s nine-year-old will try and repeat the feat for the first time since Best Mate was victorious in 2002 and 2003 (he won in 2004 too). Key competitors to note include Presenting Percy, Clan Des Obeaux, Kemboy, and Road to Respect. An outside shot to keep an eye on may be Frodon, the Paul Nicholls charge mounted by Bryony Frost sitting at an attractive price a month out from the Festival.