This year’s Cheltenham Festival promises to be one of the most competitive in history, as the 27 races that make up the four day event are battled out by over 500 horses, all competing to claim a share of the record £3.4 million in prize money. With only the Grand National able to compete with such figures in the jump racing calendar, it provides trainers with the perfect opportunity to gain exposure if they can pull of an upset on such a high profile stage. Also looking to get in on the act will be the general public, with both the hundreds of thousands at the event itself, and the millions watching at home, all frantically scanning the form guides and odds to find a good return on their investments. So which are the horses to keep an eye out for when they gather in the West Country in just a matter of weeks?
With historic races such as the Champion Hurdle, World Hurdle and of course the Gold Cup taking centre stage throughout the event, there is certainly ample opportunity to acquire big returns on bets this year. Whilst Barters Hill is currently seen as the 5/2 strong favourite by bookmaker Coral for the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, the rest of the field definitely provide some potential outsiders to back. The likes of Shantou Village and Yorkhill at 6/1 and 8/1 respectively, certainly look like being worth a punt, in what is building up to be a highly unpredictable race. For those of you who are unable to attend the circuit itself, betting on Cheltenham online instead can prove to be just as lucrative.
With Faugheen being ruled out for the rest of the season and subsequently missing this year’s Champion Hurdle, Annie Power is now the new favourite for the prestigious race. However, the absence of last year’s winner has certainly opened up the field and increased the likelihood of an outsider claiming victory this time around. Sempre Medici looks likely to be the main protagonist with odds of 16/1 to pull off a dramatic upset, with trainer Willie Mullins confident of a good performance from the six year old.
With the Gold Cup attracting the most money throughout the Festival, many are looking to win big by backing a rank outsider for the historic race. Despite the likelihood of a horse coming from the back of the field and winning seeming unlikely, there are still many options for those looking away from the usual suspects. Sausalito Sunrise recently impressed by claiming victory at Ascot, and along with Champagne West, are certainly worth an each-way bet as they come into the race in good form.
So with the Cheltenham Festival now just around the corner, it is time to get your thinking cap on and place your bets while odds are still competitive. With over 250,000 visitors expected to attend this year’s event, the magnitude of this occasion is certainly not lost on the racing community, and despite being behind the Grand National in prize money, is still considered by many as the pinnacle in the racing calendar.