A Guide to Cheltenham Festival 2019
There’s nothing quite like the Cheltenham Festival. Four days, 28 races and the best racing that British, Irish, and French teams can muster. It draws around a quarter-million racing fans to Gloucestershire every March and is an absolute haven for punters, equine enthusiasts, and those who simply love the atmosphere the festival creates. We’re here to introduce the Festival to those of you relatively new to the event, but the Cotswolds veterans among you might also pick up a tip or two.
Some of you may recall that we’ve already dedicated an October blog post to Cheltenham Festival 2019, and those of you looking for a deeper dive into the history of the event can read up here. In that article, we also shared some early-bird tips & insights into this year’s event. We’ll be updating those predictions event-by-event with the very latest information to give you a head-start.
Side note: Horse racing enthusiasts can sometimes sound like they’re speaking another language, so for those of you not yet fluent, we’re leaving this link to an extensive glossary of racing terms to help translate the jargon.
Day One: Champions’ Day
3 hurdle races, 4 chase races, with a combined total of 44 miles and 10 ½ furlongs.
The big race of the day is the Champion Hurdle, with the starting pistol to be shot at 3.30pm. Back in October, we hailed Samcro as our favourite, but Buveur D’Air (111-121) was rated as a close second as a 2-time winner of the Champion Hurdle. Unfortunately, it was recently revealed that Samrco was suffering a lung infection over Christmas and has been ruled out of Cheltenham.
That leaves Buveur D’Air as a veteran favourite, however Gordon Elliott’s star mare Apple’s Jade (33-1111) has been in surprisingly outstanding form of late, winning her four starts by a combined distance of 73 lengths, including Irish Champion Hurdle at the beginning of February. Her fine form prompted Elliott to move Apple’s Jade from the Mare’s Hurdle to the Champion Hurdle, and prompts us to favour her ahead of Buveur D’Air. There are those who have said that Beveur D’Air’s victories have been in large part due to weakened competition, but tomorrow we will have our answer.
Honourable X-Factor mention must be given to Willie Mullins’ exciting prospect Laurina (1111-11), who has also been in fine form, however, is extremely inexperienced in comparison to the favourites and most likely does not have the speed to keep up with the top two.
Day Two: Ladies Day
3 hurdle races, 3 chase races, 1 bumper race, with a combined total of 16 miles and 17½ furlongs.
Ladies day features the wildcard race of the year, the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase. Last October, we advised to keep an eye out for previous winners who have gone on to win the Champion Steeple Chase consecutively. Therefore our favourite back in October was Nicky Henderson’s bay gelding, Altior, and not much has changed since then. It is widely anticipated that the nine-year-old will defend his crown and extend his phenomenal 18-win streak that has lasted over three years going back to October 2015.
Willie Mullins’ has 4 of the total entries with Min & Footpad as the headliners, albeit underdogs in comparison. Min came in second last year, but was convincingly beaten by Altior by 7 lengths. Footpad was the winner of last year’s Arkle Novices’ Chase and is definitely one to keep an eye on, but Altior is wholly expected to glide to another victory.
Day Three: St Patrick’s Thursday
3 hurdle races, 4 chase races, with a combined total of 17 miles and 17 furlongs.
The Strayers Hurdle seems to be one of the most open of all races at the Festival in recent years, and this time around is no exception. Last year’s winner Penhill is set to clash with a number of legitimate contenders such as youngster Paisley Park, hurdles legend Faugheen, and Supasundae.
Paisley Park seems the most likely champion, winning 4 times this winter including wins in Graded company at Ascot. The likely decent gallop at Cheltenham will certainly play to his strengths. That being said, Supasundae was the runner-up to Penhill last year and has returned in top form this season. He is not the favourite, but his outstanding consistency makes him a solid each-way option.
Day Four: Gold Cup Day
4 hurdle races, 3 chase races, with a combined total of 17 miles and 16 furlongs.
The Gold Cup is arguably the peak of the Cheltenham Festival, and this year it will be a wide-open race, with multiple horses being hailed as favourites by innumerable pundits. Native River, trained by Colin Tizzard and ridden by champion jockey Richard Johnson, returns to defend his 2018 victory and has shown more-than-decent form of late. He wasn’t at his best when he placed at Haydock and Kempton, but both those performances can be excused due to a lack of a stern enough stamina examination on both occasions.
Presenting Percy is one of the most highly-touted runners, however, since winning the RSA Chase at Cheltenham last year, he’s only had one outing, winning the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park in January. Another potential winner is Clan des Obeaux, who produced four excellent efforts last season, but has taken his form to another level in his last two starts, winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton by one and a half lengths in December. He followed-up by beating Terrefort, a proven Grad 1 winner, by 11 lengths at Ascot.
No matter which way you cut it, Cheltenham Festival 2019 will be an exciting few days of the best horse racing Britain & Ireland have to offer, and there are a number of betting opportunities that shouldn’t be missed. Follow us on Twitter for the latest updates on Cheltenham, along with all the tips & insights a betting gent needs.
We’re also offering an unmissable Mr Green offer for the Festival! Place a bet of £10 or more on the 2nd race (14:10) at Cheltenham, win-only market and you’ll get a £10 FREE BET if your horse finishes 2nd. Every day. Find out more on our site!