By HRI Foreign Staff — The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most anticipated events on the horse racing calendar, and this year’s event looks set to be another captivating four days of top-class National Hunt action.
Although fans won’t be allowed to attend the event in 2021, racing aficionados will still be able to watch and stream every single one of the 25+ races. The Cheltenham Festival remains one of the most popular betting events of the year, and many online sportsbooks are offering punters the opportunity to take advantage of the numerous Cheltenham betting offers. Festival accumulators are extremely popular and the majority of online bookmakers will also be offering alternative markets across the four days.
The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle kicks thing off and the opener can boast yet another suitably competitive field. This Grade 1 event, which is contested over the 2m 87y is always popular with punters and the ante-post favourite Appreciate It has been well supported in the betting.
Willie Mullins’ seven-year old hasn’t been beaten since finishing second in the Weatherby’s Champion Bumper at last year’s festival and his recent performance in the Grade 1 Chanelle Pharma Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown last month suggests that he will be primed and ready for this contest.
However, the favourite hasn’t won the opener since 2015, although trainer Willie Mullins does have a great record in this race and was victorious in 2019 with Klassical Dream.
The highlight of the opening day is undoubtedly the Champion Hurdle and Honeysuckle is the 5/2 favourite with Bwin. Unlike the Supreme Novice’s Hurdle, favourites do tend to prevail in this event, and trainer Nicky Henderson has dominated this contest in recent years. Previous winners Epatante and Beveur D’Air have been declared for the Seven Barrows trainer, although the latter has raced just twice since taking the Punchestown Champion Hurdle in May 2019 and is yet to follow up that success.
At an each-way price, Silver Streak may be worth keeping an eye. Currently around 25/1 with 22Bet, the Evan Williams-trained runner was last seen winning the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton (a race that regularly produces winners of the Champion Hurdle) and has previous experience around this course.
Races – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Arkle, Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase, Champion Hurdle, Mares’ Hurdle, Boodles, National Hunt Steeple Chase.
Bet of the Day – Silver Streak e/w at 25/1 with 22Bet (Champion Hurdle)
The second day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival begins with the Ballymore Novice’s Hurdle and this race has produced two short-priced favourite winners in the last three years. This year’s renewal looks extremely competitive Bob Olinger and Gaillard du Mesnil tied at the top of the betting.
The Coral Cup looks equally as tricky with the favourite Grand Roi available at 7/1 with Bwin to triumph in the Grade 3 event.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the highlight of day 2 and all eyes will be on Chacun Pour Soi, who is odds-on at 10/11. Willie Mullins’ nine-year old is unbeaten since December 2019 and will take all the beating in this one. With a number of his potential rivals having been diverted elsewhere and Altior having struggled to roll back the years over the last twelve months, it could turn out to be a procession for the favourite. First Flow appears to be better on a right-handed track and despite the money having come in for Sceau Royal, it’s hard to look past the hugely talented Chacun Pour Soi.
Races – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Festival Novices’ Chase, Coral Cup, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase, Grand Annual, Weatherby’s Champion Bumper.
Bet of the Day – Chacun Pour Soi at 10/11 with Bwin (Queen Mother Champion Chase)
Although the Pertemps and the Marsh Novices’ Chase are likely to be entertaining renewals, it’s all eyes on the Ryan Air and Stayer’s Hurdle on the third day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.
The Grade 1 Ryanair, which is contested over 2m 4f 127y, features some familiar names with both Min and Fakir d’Oudairies featuring in the ante-post betting. Ten of the last 11 winners of this race came from the top three in the betting, and although there are some each-way prospects in the field this time around, the favourites tend to prevail in this event.
Imperial Aura is second favourite in the betting with 22Bet and at 11/2, Kim Bailey’s eight-year old looks to be a good fit. He has previous Cheltenham form and was victorious at last year’s festival. Despite unseating his rider last time out, he looks primed for a big run and is rated 163 (11 of the last 12 winners were rated 161 or above).
Thyme Hill and Paisley Park are the two biggest names in this year’s Stayer’s Hurdle. These two met in the Long Walk Hurdle at the end of 2020 and there was just a neck between them. With the Long Distance Hurdle having also seen them separated by under two lengths, there is likely to be much between this pair of talented stayers. The Cleeve Hurdle is race which typically gives us plenty of clues and with Paisley Park having won twice in a row for Emma Lavelle and Aidan Coleman, this bay gelding could be hard to stop.
Races – Marsh Novice’s Chase, Pertemps, Ryanair Chase, Stayer’s Hurdle, Brown Advisory Plate, Daylesford Mares’ Novice Hurdle, Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
Bet(s) of the Day – Imperial Aura at 11/2 with 22Bet (Ryanair)
Paisley Park at 10/3 with Bwin (Stayer’s Hurdle)
The final day of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival begins with the JCB Triumph Hurdle and this could be a fascinating tussle between Tritonic and Zanahiyr. The Albert Bartlett looks hugely competitive once again and with only one favourite having been successful since 2013, it pays to look for each-way options in this particular event. Barbados Buck’s is on a winning streak for Paul Nicholls and could be the one to watch at around 9/1.
The undoubted highlight of the final day (and the entire festival) is the Gold Cup. Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo is aiming for an unprecedented hat-trick in the Blue Riband event and is 11/4 favourite with 22Bet. A Plus Tard was superb in the Savill’s Chase, a race in which the aforementioned Al Boum Photo had been successful prior to landing last year’s Gold Cup. Champ was successful at last year’s festival, however, ten of the last 12 winners of this race had been successful in their previous outing. Having been beaten in the Game Spirit Chase, the Nicky Henderson-trained nine-year old may just fall short. Santini, who was beaten just a neck in last year’s renewal, hasn’t kicked on as expected and has to be overlooked.
Races – JCB Triumph, County Handicap Hurdle, Albert Bartlett, Cheltenham Gold Cup, Challenge Cup, Mares Steeple Chase, Martin Pipe
Bet of the Day – A Plus Tard at 6/1 with 22Bet (Gold Cup)