Happy Christmas Cheltenham Eve – the Greatest Show on Turf is almost upon us, the best four days of the racing calendar is about to take place. This is the biggest time of year for most UK and Irish punters.
Below is a brief overview of the key races over the four days:
· 1:20 – Supreme Novices
o A subdued start to the Festival given just eight runners but the overwhelming favourite is Appreciate It, the Willie Mullins horse looks the cream of this year’s crop with the UK’s best hope being Metier.
· 1:55 – Arkle
o Shishkin is probably the UK’s best chance of the Festival and now Energumene has been pulled out this looks a sure-fire chance to get the UK off the mark for Nicky Henderson.
· 3:05 – Champion Hurdle
o The showpiece of the first day and what a cracker it looks: Goshen vs Honeysuckle vs Epatante. This looks like the race of the week, the two mares (Honeysuckle and Epatante) have Cheltenham form whereas Goshen has the opposite after his fateful fall at the last in the Triumph last year. Whatever happens this looks mouth-wateringly good.
· 1:20 – Ballymore
o This looks a cracking renewal with the top three in the market all looking rock solid, take your pick from Bob Olinger, Gaillard Du Mesnil and Bravemansgame
· 1:55 – Brown Advisory
o Many people’s NAP of the Festival, Monkfish, will look to get favourite backers off to a flyer on day two.
· 3:05 – Champion Chase
o Will the Irish scoop the lot on day two?! They have Chacun Pour Soi here who has looked sensational so far this season, fingers crossed he gets there in one piece and we don’t see him pulled out like last year, sadly we won’t see Altior after he was pulled this morning.
· 3:40 – Cross Country
o This looks like it may be the only French winner of the week, Easysland was imperious last year and should take all the beating here. We would all love to see Tiger Roll win one last time though, wouldn’t we!
o 1:20 – Marsh Novices’
o This only needs two words to describe – Envoi. Allen. The NAP of the Festival for most, and barring mistakes should take all the beating here.
o 2:30 – Ryanair
o A real mix-up given declarations are still to be announced, but Willie Mullins holds most of the aces with Allaho, Min and Melon. The UK challenge looks to be coming from Imperial Aura.
o 3:05 – Stayers’ Hurdle
o This was looking like a race of the festival until Thyme Hill was pulled out, surely opening it up for Paisley Park. Sire Du Berlais will give him a lot to think about but Paisley looks to have a superb chance.
o 1:20 – Triumph Hurdle
o A quieter Friday than usual opens with a great match-up between Zanahiyr – Tritonic – Quilixios. Tritonic flies the flag for the UK and looked sensational last time out, the other two Irish runners look ominous which should make it a great race.
o 3:05 – Gold Cup
o The showpiece of the entire Festival, Al Boum Photo goes for three back-to-back wins. Champ will be positive for JP McManus, Royal Pagaille has the Rich Ricci colours. Throw in A Plus Tard, Minella Indo, Santini, Native River and Frodon and the biggest race of the Festival looks superbly set.
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