Cheltenham Festival is one of the highlights of the National Hunt racing calendar – and though it’s a month away, ante-post odds are available. Savvy punters can pick up some great prices, but bear in mind that this early, a bit of background knowledge is highly desirable. While a decent rule of thumb is “if Ruby Walsh is riding it, back it”, the ability to answer questions like this is more valuable: Who won three consecutive Arkle Trophy Chases? While Nicky Henderson, having won the last two, looks like the trainer to back, nobody’s managed three in a row since 1949. A little homework could be the key to a win at Cheltenham. 

 

11th March

Horse Racing - Cheltenham Festival - Day Four - Cheltenham RacecourseTickets for the Festival are available now, and the first race is the 1.30 on Tuesday 11th March; the Supreme Novices Hurdle. Champagne Fever won at 5/1 last year, and for 2014 the bookies fancy Vautour at 8/1. Fans of Champagne Fever will have to wait until 2.05; this year’s Arkle Challenge Trophy features the 7-year old as 4/1 favourite, with Nicky Henderson’s Grandouet less popular at 16/1. Dodging Bullets and Trifolium are joint second favourites at 6/1 a month ahead of the action.

 

12th March

Moving on to March 12th, the Queen Mother Champion Chase seems likely to reward Henderson, with Sprinter Sacre a very strong favourite at 4/5. The 8-year old bay gelding has a win rate of over 82%, though he was beaten by Sire de Grugy at Kempton Park in December – who just happens to be second favourite at 11/4. Earlier in the day, things look more open for the RSA Steeple Chase at 2.05. Ballycasey and Carlingford Lough are joint favourites at 8/1, with plenty of contenders at 10/1, and Champagne Fever a possibility at 12/1.

 

13th March

Bobs Worth wins the Hennessy Gold Cup at NewburyThursday at the Festival involves an early St Patrick’s Day celebration, and the St Patrick’s Derby will be run again for charity, having raised over £800,000 in the last three years. The World Hurdle at 3.20 could be a shootout between Big Buck’s and Annie Power, at 9/4 and 3/1 respectively, but don’t discount At Fisher’s Cross or More Of That, both 6/1.

 

Final Day

Finally, onto the climax of the Festival, the Gold Cup. The bookies’ favourite is Bobs Worth, the defending champion and another Nicky Henderson horse. Bobs Worth is 2/1 to repeat his 2013 success, but other runners worth considering are Cue Card at 8/1, trained by Colin Tizzard, as well as Silviniaco Conti, a strong second favourite at 7/2. Discounts are available for Cheltenham Festival ticket purchases made before 22nd February. Good luck!

 

Guest post by Simon Fitzpatrick

(Images courtesy of racingnewsuk.com, racehorsephotos.co.uk, theguardian.com)

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