As the countdown to the 2018 edition of the Cheltenham Festival enters its final stretch, the best-trained horses in the UK are gearing up for what promises to be its best edition till date.
Often referred to as the Olympics of Jump Racing, the 4-day event is a haven for both bookies & punters alike. Over £600 million is expected to be wagered over the four days with the Gold Cup contested on the 4th day being a favourite among the punters.
When & Where?
Cheltenham Gold Cup Day is contested on the 4th day of the Cheltenham festival & named after its marquee event – the Gold Cup Chase. The feature event is complemented with six other Grade 1 and 3 races.
Like the other races, all races on Gold Cup day are also contested on the Cheltenham racecourse, Prestbury, Gloucestershire.
Gold Cup Day Schedule – 16th March, Friday
13:30 – Triumph Hurdle
14:10 – County Handicap Hurdle
14:50 – Spa Novices’ Hurdle
15:30 – Cheltenham Gold Cup
16:10 – Foxhunter Chase
16:50 – Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
17:30 – Grand Annual Chase
ITV Racing covers all 4-days of the festival, including Gold Cup day. However, it should be noted that only the first five races each day are covered on Live TV, the remaining races can be followed exclusively on Racing UK – Sky Channel 432.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup
Established in 1924, the Cheltenham Gold Cup offers the biggest purse across all the 28 races. This year a total of 37 runners are expected to line up along with their jockeys to compete for prize money amounting to £625,000.
The Grade 1 race is run over a distance of 3 miles and 2 & half furlongs with a total of 22 fences standing between the horses & the finish line. Sizing John, who had edged out Native River and Minella Rocco in an enthralling finish last year, is set to return to defend its title.
The Jessica Harrington trained horse will face stiff competition this year with Might Bite with odds of 3/1 & Native River with odds of 11/2 being the front runners as of this point of time. Sizing John with odds of 6/1 will become the first horse since 2003 to win two consecutive Gold Cup titles if he is to win.
Triumph Hurdle – Grade 1 Race
As of this moment, Apple’s Shakira, trained by Nicky Henderson with odds of 5/2 currently stands as the favourite. However, only once has the pre-race favourite won this race since 2000.
A good indicator as to who might be the eventual winner is to keep your eyes’ on the Prep Race with 8 out of the last 10 winners having won their respective prep races.
Other favourites include – Redicean (9/2) & Stormy Ireland (7/1)
County Handicap Hurdle – Grade 3 Race
Hunters Call trained by Olly Murphy & Max Dynamite trained by W P Mullins currently stands as the joint favourites with odds of 8/1. W P Mullins though has trained 4 of the last 8 winners and that should give Max Dynamite a slight edge.
Other favourites – Duc des Genievres (12/1) & A Hare Breath (14/1)
Spa Novices’ Hurdle – Grade 1 Race
The 3 mile Grade 1 race has a habit of providing us with a surprise victor, an example being Penhill’s victory last year with pre-race odds of 16/1. Santini trained by N J Henderson current stands’ as the bookies’ favourite with odds of 9/2.
Other Favourites – Next Destination (5/1) & Chef Des Obeaux (7/1)
Contested over the same distance as the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Foxhunter Chase is a showcase for amateur riders with horses 5 years & older permitted. Currently favourites include Burning Ambition with odds of 7/2, Wonderful Charm with odds of 6/1 & Foxrock with odds of 7/1.
Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
Ever since its inception in 2009, the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle, named after former National Hunt trainer Martin Pipe, has been a highly competitive event. Current favourites include Flawless Escape at odds of 7/1 and Diese Des Bieffes with odds of 12/1.
Grand Annual Chase – Grade 3 Race
Run over a distance of 2 miles and 110 yards, the Grand Annual Chase marks the final race of the 4 day festivities. The race usually provides for some exciting action with rarely the pre-race favourite coming up as the winner. Current favourites include Theinval at odds of 9/1 & Patricks Park at Odds of 10/1.
With the full line-ups for all the races’ available only two days before the race, it’s better to back your respective picks with ante-bets. A reputable bookmaker offers some really good odds & is even offering a non-runner insurance, for detailed odds & info go to WilliamHill.
Jason Coote is the founder of many websites and known gambler in Great Britain.