Everything you need to know about the Cheltenham Festival
Open a racing paper or log on to a website and all the talk will be of the Cheltenham Festival. It might still be a month away, but even the intervening races are being viewed with an eye on what they tell us about the form for Cheltenham.
So what is the Cheltenham Festival all about, when does it get started and how can you get involved? Most important of all, which horses should you be watching if you want to place a wager or two? Here are all the answers.
About the Festival
The Cheltenham Festival takes place over four days, from 13 to 17 March, at the historic Prestbury Park racecourse, just outside the ancient and picturesque spa town of Cheltenham. Each day has its own theme, and will feature seven races. The fourth race of each day will be a grade one showcase event, and it all culminates with the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
There are two subtly different courses. The races of days one and two are held on the Old Course, and on days three and four, the action shifts to the longer New Course, with the arduous final gallop up Cheltenham Hill to the finish line.
How to back the favourites?
With 28 races to choose from, there is a lot of information to absorb. As if that wasn’t enough, the odds also tend to shift every day, so it is important to stay abreast of every twist and turn. Twitter tipster site Racing Tips will tweet winning tips every day up to and during the festival, and not just about which horses are in the best form. They will also be offering advice about the different bookmakers’ offers, to help you get the very best out of your betting.
Any early tips?
Nicky Henderson is a legendary trainer who has had unparalleled Cheltenham success over the past 40 years, so any horse that he is associated with is worth a second look. He has trained Buveur D’Air, Altior and Might Bite, the bookmakers’ favourites in the Champions Hurdle, Queen Mother Champions Chase and the Gold Cup, three of the showcase races.
Can he make it four out of four? The other showcase race is the Stayers Hurdle on Thursday, and the tipsters and bookmakers are finding it a tough one to call. The favourites are Sam Spinner and Supasundae, neither of which are Henderson trained. However, his Lami Serge is certain to be in the thick of the action, and could be worth a punt.
How to watch
The Cheltenham Festival will be televised extensively, and there will also be opportunities to watch online. However, nothing compares to actually being there, and you can buy tickets on the official Festival site. If you want to be there for Gold Cup day, it definitely makes sense to purchase your tickets in advance, as it is likely to be a sell out. For the other three days, it is usually possible to turn up and buy tickets on the gate.