Cheltenham Festival Preview Guide 2020
Day 1 – Champion Day
One of the highlight’s of the Jump season with an atmosphere that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The Cheltenham roar being one of my favourite moments of the season as they gallop off in the Supreme Novices. SkyBet are all NRNB on all races, a lot of other bookies have offers on but check the small print to confirm if your horse doesn’t run you get your dough back and not free bets or even worse nothing! As always the handicaps are difficult to calculate based on so many entries, but if you can pick them you can easily find few 25/1+ winners at this time of year.
1.30 – The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 2m abt ½f
Shishkin – Check odds here!
The biggest test of their careers to date the Supreme is not for the faint hearted. I have been impressed via Shiskin in his last 2 runs. He possesses the agility, speed, turn of foot and stamina needed to win this race. Nicky is clearly very keen on him, given the amount of young talent in the yard that says a lot in itself. The owners also have Asterion Forlonge who appears to be coming here as well, they could easily end up with a 1 – 2. Whatever the result as always the Cheltenham roar will raise the roof and the glory of the festival will commence.
2.10 – The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase abt 2m
Notebook – Check odds here!
The top 3 in the market are Irish and it’s a race Willie Mullins has dominated in recent years with 4 of the last 5 winners including un De Sceaux in 2015 and Douvan in 2016. Willie’s got 2 entries in Cash Back and Bapaume. Cash Back looks the strongest of the two for this and could make it 5 from 6 in the race for Willie. However the horse that has been the most impressive in this division this season is Notebook. 4 from 4 this season over fences he has already beaten Cash Back, Fakir D’oudairies and Melon. I’m struggling to pick any holes in his form over fences and will be backing here. In my mind Fakir D’oudairies looks suited by further but will still be a threat if conditions are testing.
2.50 – The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase 3m abt 1f
Kildisart – Check odds here!
The handicaps, where big profit is often made at the Festival for punters. It’s often a minefield until the declarations are made. Rule number 1 is unless your sure on a horses destination or want to take a bigger price and don’t mind potentially losing that money without seeing your horse run then go NRNB. Kildisart looks to have a great chance here. He beat current market favourite Vinndication in the JLT last season and has stayed on very well in recent runs. The only concern is he often throws in a few mistakes, but he has won at the track before and catches my eye here at a very backable EW price.
3.30 – The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy 2m abt ½f
Sharjah – Check odds here!
A really wide open race in which I like the look of Sharjah. Brought down in this early on last season via Buveur D’Air. He I feel is heavily underrated and has shown real class in his past beating Faugheen, Supasundae, Melon, Samcro and Petit Mouchoir amongst others. Wasn’t on form last time out when well beaten via Honeysuckle who is a major danger here again. But if returning to form he has a live chance at a good price. Also of interest is Benie Des Dieux but with her destiny is unclear I can’t get behind her based on that. Pentland Hills I think will make the frame and Darver Star is another for last years winning yard that makes appeal at a bigger price.
4.10 – The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle 2m abt 4f
Benie Des Dieux – Check odds here!
It’s very tough to call where Benie Des Dieux will run at the Festival. She could go here, the champion hurdle or the stayers hurdle and could quite foreseeably win any of those races. However I think she will go to the mares. I feel she has unfinished business here after ending up on the deck at the last when in command of the race last year. She did win the race in 2018 at 9/2 when expected to follow home Apple’s Jade. People may ask questions if she goes in the mares. But there’s no shame in dominating this race just look at Quevega who won this 6 times in a row from 2009 to 2014. Wherever she ends up she will be a delight to watch and a force in the market.
4.50 – The Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase 2m abt 4f ½f
Galvin – Check odds here!
Probably the toughest race to currently unpick for day 1 in my opinion. One who looks to be targeting the race is Galvin. Started his career in blistering fashion with 5 wins from his first 5 runs. Hasn’t quite shown the same spark over fences yet but second last time out to Salsaretta and given a useful mark of 142 here. Hold The Note is another who looks potentially unexposed in the colours of the winning owners from 2019 Mister Whitaker.
5.30 – The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup 3m abt 6f
Ravenhill – Check odds here!
My original tip Champagne Classic is now a NR. Another with an interesting profile from the same yard is Ravenhill. Second in the Kerry National to Poker Party and just lost out by a head. Carefully Selected is one with a great chance here but is quite short in the market at 5/2. Copperhead looks more likely to head down the RSA route but would be very interesting I coming here. Hugo n Taz should stay the distance and could place at a big price.
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Day 2 – Ladies Day
We move into day 2 of my Cheltenham Festival guide. The feature of the day is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. A unique test with the winner needing immense speed, technique and jumping capability over 12 fences. 1 mistake and it could be all over. Altior vs Defi Du Seuil vs Chacun Pour Soi is the battle everyone will want to see. With so many other stars on show as well including Tiger Roll, Envoi Allen, Champ, Easysland and Dynamite Dollars for me this looks one of the best days of the week.
1.30 – The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle 2m abt 5f
Envoi Allen – Check odds here!
7 races and 7 wins tells you all you need to know about Envoi Allen. He is some talent and its going to take a mistake via him or something very good to beat him. There is still some doubt about his preferred race however Gordon Elliott said last week he will only run in the Supreme if it comes up as very soft ground on Day One of the Cheltenham Festival. I think he’s coming here and will win if he does. Thyme Hill is a decent EW price at 12/1 and could take advantage if Envoi Allen goes elsewhere or has an off day. That’s if Thyme Hill comes here the Albert Bartlett looks the more likely option for him. There’s also a horse close to my heart called Glynn who had looked like he may come here. I have a very small share in him and he’s definitely one for the future. He won on his UK debut over hurdles at Doncaster in beautiful fashion. It’s now confirmed he’s not going to Cheltenham but keep an eye out for him over fences next season.
2.10 – The RSA Steeple Chase 3m abt ½f
Allaho – Check odds here!
A decent third in the Albert Bartlett last season he has continued his education and took a first victory over fences last time out at Fairyhouse. Stamina is the only question in my mind for Allaho. Willie has said he’s been galloping and jumping well at home and I’m willing to take a risk here he will stay. If he takes this it could be a quickfire double for Cheveley Park. Champ, Minella Indo, Copperhead and Battleoverdoyen all warrant respect as well in a very open looking race.
2.50 – The Coral Cup Hurdle 2m abt 5f
Palmers Hill – Check odds here!
Really caught the eye on return at Kempton in the Betway handicap hurdle when second. Downtown Getway who won that day is as short as 12/1 in places for this race. Palmers Hill was only just chinned on that occasion and should come on nicely for that run and be primed for a big run at Cheltenham. Won over the course and distance in a weaker contest in 2018 but course form is always an important factor especially here given the unique undulating nature of the course. Could end up here or the Martin Pipe so make sure to take NRNB. Champagne Well is worth of a mention as well and Fergal O’Brien has said he’s his best chance of a Festival winner. Protektorat, Bachasson, Canardier, Coko Beach and Sempo are 5 others that catch my eye here in the market.
3.30 – The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase Abt 2m
Defi Du Seuil – Check odds here!
Without doubt the race most are looking forward to the most at the Festival. Hopefully all the superstars make it here fit. Altior is looking to win this for the third year on the trot and at a fifth festival in a row, he’s an almighty horse and deserves a lot more respect than he gets. This test looks arguably his toughest to date at the festival with Defi Du Seuil a dual festival winner and 6 time Cheltenham winner his main rival on paper. Its going to be a real cracker between the two. I think Defi Du Seuil should have the better turn of foot coming up the hill and given he is 3 years younger than Altior in my mind he wins this. Ireland’s main contender here is Chacun Pour Soi but I think he gets blown away by the two British superstars in the division.
4.10 – The Glenfarcles Cross Country Steeple Chase 3m 6f
Easysland – Check odds here!
I must be mad opposing Tiger Roll here! But Easysland looks the real deal and massively impressed me here in December. He also clearly impressed JP McManus who quickly snapped him up. He has had one run since then over in France and again won impressively. Does he have the engine to match Tiger Roll? We will find out, but at Evens I think Tiger Roll is too short and would prefer to back the young pretender here. Tiger Rolls campaign could be more focused on winning a third National over winning a third Cross Country.
4.50 – The Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 2m abt ½f
Mick Pastor – Check odds here!
Far too keen here on his British debut in November when well beaten. But settled much better at Ludlow when back to winning ways. Providing he progresses from that run and settles similar here should be in with a good chance. Its still unclear however if on a mark of 140 if he will be aimed at this or the Triumph. Band Of Outlaws won this off 139 last year so a mark of 140 isn’t unfeasible. Tronador is the other in the race I like the look of and looks like he may have been targeted for the race. A few reports have said Gordon Elliot is keen on his chances here.
5.30 – The Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m abt 1/2f
Forged In Fire – Check odds here!
Ran very well when beating odds on favourite Ferny Hollow at Leopardstown. Those 2 were 17 lengths clear of the pack and Ferny Hollow franked that form when winning at Fairyhouse next time out very easily. Farouk D’alene is another that catches the eye at 14/1. Jamie Codd stated after his in December at Down Royal that his work at home has been “incredible” and he won again in a tougher content at Naas in February, Appreciate It is the clear market leader and could prove different class but at 7/4 doesn’t represent good value in my mind.
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Day 3 – St Patrick’s Thursday
Another great day of racing lies ahead on St Patrick’s Thursday. This was a day for the Irish in 2018 and 2017 with them grabbing 6 of the 7 winners on both occasions so they often seem to have a little extra fire in their bellies today!! Paisley Park took the feature race last year confirming himself as the top staying hurdler in the game. He is now unbeaten in his last 7 races and will start favourite here again. Frodon sent the crowd into raptures winning the Ryanair, Bryony and Frodon produced many peoples favourite performance from the 2019 Festival. It was also a day where a legend announced his retirement. Noel Fehily winning aboard 50-1 shot Eglantine Du Seuil in the Mares Novices hurdle. Noel is now running a successful racing syndicate https://noelfehilyracing.com/ As well as the top notch racing the atmosphere is always fantastic with the Guinness Village packed and its guaranteed to be a great craic.
1.30 – The Marsh Novices’ Chase 2m abt 4f
Faugheen – Check odds here!
Do you believe in fairy tales? Imagine the scenes if Faugheen was to win at the Festival again, he’s one of the most popular horses in racing. Its still unclear on if he goes to Cheltenham and if he does if he comes here or the RSA. Looking at the cards I would think this a better choice myself, but then what do I know! He’s taking to fences like a duck to water and is now 3 from 3 over them this season. I hope we get to see him in full flow at Cheltenham once again and I hope he does raise the roof with a victory here
2.10 – The Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle Abt 3m
The Storyteller – Check odds here!
With Davy Russell looking set to ride that’s a big steer in the race given he’s won 3 of the last 4 renewals (and he didn’t have a ride in 2019!) Ridden astutely via Davy in the qualifier at Leopardstown finishing in the final qualifying spot the same as Sire Du Berlais last season. Looks like a plot job to me. Won the Brown plate at the Festival in 2018 and is rated 16 pounds lower over hurdles, clearly has the ability to win this off a cheeky mark if on song.
2.50 – The Ryanair Steeple Chase 2m abt 5f
Riders Onthe Storm – Check odds here!
Has been in blistering form since joining the Twiston-Davies team in Naunton. Proved his class last time out when winning the Betfair in good style in deep conditions. Has learnt to settle better than in his early days and is clearly a really talented jumper. The Twiston-Davies team seem very bullish about him and I think he will take the victory here. A Plus Tard, Min and Frodon are the other obvious contenders here in an interesting looking race. If he comes here as well it would be nice to see Un De Sceaux run a big race, if conditions are testing I wouldn’t put it past him either.
3.30 – The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle Abt 3m
Paisley Park – Check odds here!
Unbeaten in his last 7 runs and looks the banker of the festival for me. Always seems to produce a great turn of foot under pressure especially up the hill and will look to become the first horse to retain the stayers hurdle title since the might Big Bucks who won the race 4 years on the trot. Summerville Boy for me is the decent EW value in the race at 10/1
4.10 – The Brown Advisory & Merribelle Stable Plate Handicap Steeple Chase 2m abt 5f
Spiritofthegames – Check odds here!
If he hadn’t of hit 4 out he would of likely won here in January when beaten half a length by Cepage. He’s only been outside the top 5 at Cheltenham once when not right and pulled up in the BetVictor Gold Cup last November. Just 2 lbs higher than last seasons third he should once again be in the mix here. Simply The Betts, Ben Dundee and Oldgrangewood all also warrant respect.
4.50 – The Festival Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle 2m 1f
Colreevy – Check odds here!
Looks likely to come here. Ran well in the bumper here last year when 7th of 23 and the second best finishing mare in the race behind the winner Relegate. Will need to turn the tables with market favourite Minella Melody who she was second to last time out. But she is a stout stayer who is in with a great chance here.
5.30 – The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Handicap Steeple Chase 3m abt 2f
Bob Mahler – Check odds here!
Stayed very well last time out when winning the Edinburgh National. Warren Greatrex knows a thing or two about winning this race having trained of the 2018 winner Missed Approach. He has confirmed this is the target for Bob Mahler and stated after his win at Musselburgh “Three-miles-two with a stiff finish should be up his street, and he has shown glimpses of real talent.” As always look out for the selections of Jamie Codd and Derek O’Connor.
Day 4 – Gold Cup Day
Day 4 and The Festival commences with another superb days racing. The feature race of the day and The Festival is The Cheltenham Gold Cup. It’s a race that consists of 22 fences over 3 miles 2 and half furlongs. It’s a stern test of stamina, rhythm, jumping ability and the requires the winner to hold onto sufficient energy to unleash the necessary speed to sprint up the legendary Cheltenham hill and take the title. It has the largest purse of any race at The Festival that being £625,000. Al Boum Photo beat Anibale Fly and Bristol De Mai in 2019. The last horse to win consecutive Gold Cups was Best Mate back in 2002 – 2004 and Kauto Star is the only horse to have won back the crown after winning in 2007, coming second to “The Tank” Denman in 2008 but then turning the tables to beat Denman in 2009. It takes a very, very good and gutsy horse to win multiple Gold Cups. It always produces a day to remember.
1.30 – The JCB Triumph Hurdle 2m abt 1f
Allmankind – Check odds here!
Has impressed me every time over hurdles this season and with a course win in the JCB Triumph Trial under his belt he has that all important course knowledge. Has made all in his 3 victories over hurdles and Goshen will likely push him early on for the lead which could play into their hands and leave the field strung out up the hill. He has always found plenty under pressure thus far and has shown good jumping ability for a novice. Interesting formline in that Allmankind beat Nordano 14 lengths at Cheltenham and Goshen beat Nordano 11 lengths at Ascot. Of the Irish contenders Aspire Tower needs to bounce back after falling at the last when in a duel with Cerberus. Cerberus was left in the lead but idled badly on the run in and A Wave Of The Sea picked up the pieces and finished strongly. He has a lot more experience that most in the race and if the race falls apart should finish strongly so is a danger in my mind.
2.10 – The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle 2m abt 1f
Ciel De Neige – Check odds here!
Dan Skelton and Willie Mullins have harvested this race well taking the last 5 winners between them. The pair currently have 22 of the current 99 entries in the race. Ciel De Neige is the standout currently for me here and clearly punters have realised that as he heads the market. Only raised 4lbs for his impressive second in the Betfair hurdle to Pic D’Orhy. On a mark of 139 putting him in here on a handy mark. Given they are considering Pic D’Orhy for the Champion Hurdle the face value of that race for me looks very good here.
2.50 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle abt 3m
Latest Exhibition – Check odds here!
This race tends to be won via horses that just do enough, are hard as nails and stay all day. For me the stand out is Latest Exhibition who has always stayed on stoutly in every contest he’s been in, he could be even better over further. His only defeat came at the hands of Abacadabras over 2 miles when he didn’t quite have the pace needed but was far from disgraced in second over an inadequate distance for him. Paul Nolan has said he’s 99% likely to come here unless its bottomless in which case he will re-direct to the Ballymore. Thyme Hill if going here has to have a big chance as well.
3.30 – The Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase 3m abt 2 ½f
Santini – Check odds here!
Ran really well when beating Bristol De Mai last time out in conditions that would have suited Bristol De Mai. Reports from the yard state that he’s in terrific form and it’s all systems go here for the Gold Cup. The Irish have a strong hand here with Al Boum Photo, Delta Work and Kemboy all in with solid chances. It takes a very special horse to win the race twice and I don’t put Al Boum Photo quite in the category, winning this takes a lot out of a horse. An EW value bet for me would be Presenting Percy at 10/1, I really fancied him for the race last year but he didn’t produce. He ran well last time out and with a bit of improvement should make the frame here.
4.10 – The St. James’s Place Foxhunter Steeple Chase Challenge Cup 3m abt 2f ½f
Alcala – Check odds here!
A very good handicapper who was rated 152 at his peak. Has looked good joining the hunter chase division. Fell on his first attempt when looking likely to win, won second time out and just pipped on his third run via the useful Bob And Co. Should go well here and can make his presence felt at the finish. I might be a bit biased as he is another one I have a small share in via the Owners Group. If your interested in getting a bit more involved in racing for a small yearly outlay its definitely worth a look Minella Rocco is a high class recruit to this division, he was second to Sizing John in the Gold Cup in 2017 and should go close here
4.50 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase 2m abt ½f
Jan Maat – Check odds here!
Has been pretty impressive in his last 5 runs over fences and looks on a great mark at 142 here. Has followed Wicklow Brave home twice who is unbeaten over fences. Will want decent ground, so hopefully we have no more crazy storms! Brelan D’As also catches my eye here, third in the race last year when too keen, second in the BetVictor Gold Cup in November as well JP loves to win this race and has won this race 4 times and placed on numerous occasions.
5.30 – The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 2m abt 4f ½f
Espoir De Romay – Check odds here!
With 146 runners still in the mix it’s a task in itself picking one that will run in the race! One who has caught my eye is Espoir De Romay. Won well at Warwick beating West Cork in November and won in impressive fashion at Wincanton last time out. Kim Bailey has reported he has been working well at home. Looks in with a live chance here at a big price
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