Cheltenham Races

The Cheltenham Festival 2020

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Dubbed the 'greatest show on turf', the Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest betting events in sport, and takes place across four days in mid-March each year. The Festival is one of the very few horse racing events which truly breaks into the sporting mainstream, and is perhaps only second to the Grand National at Aintree a month later in terms of prestige. 

The Festival holds 28 National Hunt races across four days, traditionally between Tuesday and Friday, with no less than 14 Grade 1 contests during that time, and usually ties in with the St Patrick's Day celebrations in Ireland. It is one of the biggest betting events of the entire sporting year, with most of the biggest betting races of the year being held at Cheltenham, and you can view the latest Cheltenham odds here. 

Each of the four days of the Cheltenham Festival is headlined by either one or two Championship races, which consist of the Champion Hurdle (Tuesday), the Queen Mother Champion Chase (Wednesday), the Stayers' Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase (Thursday), before culminating in the headline race of the entire week, Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The races at the Festival are so valuable and prestigious that plans are hatched months and even years in advance of certain races, and owners have been known to purchase horses with the specific aim of achieving a winner at the Cheltenham Festival. 

The Cheltenham Festival is so popular that it was extended to four days in 2005, with several races added to the line-up, and the change has been so popular that there have been plenty of calls to extend they event further, by creating a fifth day on the Saturday - which in theory could be headlined by one of the two Championship races on the Thursday - either the Stayers' Hurdle or the Ryanair Chase. 

What happened at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival started, as it has done so often before, with a winner for Ruby Walsh and Willie Mullins, who struck in the curtain-raiser, the Grade 1 Supreme Novices' Hurdle, with Klassical Dream. It proved to be a mixed day for punters, though, as the well-supported pair of Buveur d'Air and Apple's Jade failed to fire in the Champion Hurdle, with Espoir D'allen causing a 16/1 shock, while the Rich Ricci-owned, Willie Mullins-trained and Ruby Walsh-ridden 11/10-on shot Benie Des Dieux fell at the last in the Mares' Hurdle when the race was at her mercy - in remarkably similar fashion to stablemate Annie Power four years before her. 

Wednesday is headlined by the Queen Mother Champion Chase, which was won for the second year running by the all-powerful Altior, who remarkably finished the season unbeaten in his 19 starts over obstacles. He was made to work for this success, though, being pushed all the way to the line by Politologue and Sceau Royal

On Thursday, the feature races are the Stayers' Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase, and Paisley Park landed a gamble in the former, being sent off the well-supported 11/8 favourite and asserting himself as the standout star in the division in the process. Meanwhile, the Paul Nicholls-trained Frodon showed all of his trademark guts and heart with a classic from-the-front performance, under regular partner Bryony Frost - who became the first woman to win a Grade 1 event at the Cheltenham Festival. 

The headline of all of the 28 Cheltenham Festival races, though, is undoubtedly Friday's Cheltenham Gold Cup, which saw Willie Mullins break his hoodoo, by winning the race for the first time with Al Boum Photo - having had the runner-up on six occasions previously. Sent off as a 12/1 shot, Al Boum Photo wasn't without his backers, and he picked up the lead from two out to defeat Anibale Fly by two and a half lengths. 

Picking a Cheltenham Festival Winner 

Although all 28 races at the Cheltenham Festival are tremendous spectacles in their own right, it's always nice to back the winner to boot, and punters up and down the country enjoy a flutter on the racing during Cheltenham week. Of course, picking a winner is easier said than done, but previous form can play a strong part in finding the right horse to put a bet on at Cheltenham, particularly when it comes to the five Championship races.

For instance, there are several races which serve as key indicators for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, including the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, the Betfair Chase at Haydock, the King George VI Chase at Kempton, and the Denman Chase at Newbury to name just a few. Horses who tend to perform well in these races go on to perform well in the Gold Cup, and scrutinising the form book is essential. 

However, there are plenty of other factors to consider, and Cheltenham's gruelling climb to the line means that some horses are suited to the course better than others. This rings particularly true for the Paul Nicholls trained Frodon, who won three of his four starts at Cheltenham during the 2018/19 season under regular partner Bryony Frost - including the 2019 Ryanair Chase. We'll be previewing the Cheltenham Festival in-depth on HorseRacing.net, so make sure you keep your eyes peeled on the site for the latest Cheltenham Tips.

2020 Cheltenham Festival Horses to watch out for

The beauty of National Hunt racing is that the stars of the show have longer careers than those who run on the Flat, meaning that they return to the Cheltenham Festival over several seasons, and build a real rapport with those who follow the sport. 

As such, it will be worth keeping an eye on some of the Grade 1 winners from 2019, including the Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner Klassical Dream, who has the luxury of either becoming a key Champion Hurdle contender by staying over timber, or he could go novice chasing - and would almost certainly be one to follow with the Arkle Trophy in mind. 

Although the Champion Hurdle winner Espoir D'allen sadly died soon after due to an accident on the gallops, the remaining four winners of the Championship races, the Champion Chase (Altior), the Stayers' Hurdle (Paisley Park), the Ryanair Chase (Frodon) and the Cheltenham Gold Cup (Al Boum Photo), will almost certainly be back for more. Meanwhile, four-time Cheltenham Festival winner Tiger Roll looks likely to warm up for a record-breaking third straight Grand National success in the 2020 Cross Country Chase, a race he won in both 2018 and 2019. You can find the latest Cheltenham runners and racecards here. 

Compare Cheltenham Festival betting offers

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest betting events of the entire year, so it is no surprise that bookmakers will pull out all the stops to attract punters to them with enticing sign up offers. Firms will offer extra on the more competitive races at the Festival to punters, such as the notoriously tricky Coral Cup, while some of the shorter-priced runners are usually available at enhanced prices, particularly in the Championship races. It's difficult to keep up with all of the Cheltenham free bets & offers at the best of times, so keep your eyes peeled on our dedicated hub on HorseRacing.net, where we will host all of the latest and best free bet offers and enhancements. 

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