Between 11th and 14th March 2014, over 200,000 people are expected to head to Prestbury Park for this year’s Cheltenham Festival. The Cheltenham Festival is the UK’s second biggest horse racing event – only the Grand National is bigger – with 27 high quality races over the four days.
Visitors to the Festival consume 220,000 pints of Guinness, 20,000 bottles of champagne and 10,000 gallons of tea and coffee over the four days. And, every year, race goers eat sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs that would stretch three miles if laid end to end.
Our guide tells you everything you need to know about this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
£600 million staked on the Festival
This year’s Cheltenham Festival features 27 high quality races including feature events such as the Arkle, the Champion Hurdle, the World Hurdle and the famous Gold Cup. And, as well as being one of the big weeks in the UK’s sporting calendar, it is also one of the UK’s biggest betting events.
At least £1 million changes hands on each race in the betting ring at Prestbury Park while the four day festival accounts for around one in every ten pounds spent annually on the Tote’s on-course pool betting.
And, it’s not just visitors to the Festival that like flutter on the event. Over half a billion pounds is staked on the Festival each year and a bad meeting for bookmakers can have a significant impact on their annual profits.
So, whether you are planning to head to Cheltenham this year or you want to place a bet at your local bookie, online or on your mobile phone, it’s never been easier.
What you’ll see at this year’s Festival
The Cheltenham Festival is held over four days, from Tuesday 11th to Friday 14th March 2014:
The event begins on Tuesday 11th March 2014 with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and ends on Friday afternoon with the Grand Annual Chase. Horses to watch out for include the brilliant Quevega, bidding to win the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle for an unprecedented sixth consecutive year. Big Buck’s is trying to win his fifth World Hurdle, Hurricane Fly is the favourite to retain his Champion Hurdle crown and Irish Arkle winner Trifolium is an interesting pick in Tuesday’s Arkle.
This year’s Gold Cup should also be a great race with a handful of horses boasting genuine chances. 2013 winner Bobs Worth is the favourite from Silviniaco Conti who was running well last year when he fell three fences out. Last Instalment also has chances as do First Lieutenant and 2011 winner Long Run.
The last of the major Grand Nationals sees the Scottish version take centre stage this weekend. Twenty-seven obstacles need jumping over a trip of four miles, plus some change. The recent inclement weather in Scotland means soft, and maybe even heavy terrain will be encountered so finding a mud lover, with strong staying prowess is the order of the day.
With 40 runners in each year’s Grand National finding the winner is as much to do with luck as skill. So many runners mean luck in running is going to be at a premium and that’s before you factor in the unique test the Liverpool course has to offer. 30 fences in total must be jumped, some, like Becher’s Brook which is a real test for a horse.
With 40 runners in each year’s Grand National finding the winner is as much to do with luck as skill. So many runners mean luck in running is going to be at a premium and that’s before you factor in the unique test the Liverpool course has to offer. 30 fences in total must be jumped, some, like Becher’s Brook which are a real test for a horse. So many runners over such a demanding course makes finding the winner of the Grand National a tough task but there’re some key stats and trends which will narrow down the 40 big field.
2.00 Aintree – Rose Appeal Supports Alder Hey Top Novices´ Hurdle
Only five go to post and it’s all about My Tent Or Yours who is your short odds-on favourite. His form and sheer quality is above anything in this field and he’ll prove tough to beat.
We move into the final day of the four day meeting and with heavy rain forecast I think we’ll need plenty of luck in finding a winner or two. A heavy down pour(s) could force a going change so you may have to adjust your bets throughout the day in the hope of getting ahead. We have two of the most competitive handicaps of the year on this card so don’t be surprised if you draw a blank, just like yesterday.
Run on Gold Cup day on the New Course, the Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle is a severe test of stamina for a young horse. Any kinks in staying power will be found out so finding a horse that stays is key. Given previous winners like Weapons Amnesty (2009), Wichita Lineman (2007) and Bobs Worth (2011) went on to prove their worth over fences looking for a horse of stature should help in terms of indicating staying power.
1.30 Cheltenham – Jewson Novices´ Chase
A race that revolves around David Pipe’s classy grey, Dynaste. One of the festival big talking horses, there was much debate about where he was to run. He ditched the RSA to run here and it was the right call for me.
With the defection of the three time champion Big Bucks due to injury, we have the most open looking World Hurdle in years. In fact, you’d have to go back to 2006 when Alan King’s My Way De Solzen scored to get any resemblance of an open looking Stayer’s Hurdle. This year’s race is shaping up to be the most competitive renewal in a decade.
The Ryanair Chase was added to the festival back in 2005 and the race has been a welcome addition for me. The intermediate trip of two miles five furlongs gives top class chasers, who find two miles too sharp and three miles plus too taxing, an out in a quality event.