Category Archives: Racing

Grade 1 Winner Game On Dude Nominated to National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

Game On Dude at Old Friends (Photo: Rick Capone)

GEORGETOWN, KY – MARCH 2, 2020 — The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame announced its nominees for induction in the class of 2020. Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY, is proud to announce multiple-graded-stakes winner and racing superstar Game On Dude was among the equine nominees.

The 13-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again – Worldly Pleasure by Devil His Due retired to Old Friends in 2014 following one of the most prestigious campaigns in racing history, and has been a star attraction on the farm, which is open to the public daily.

Game On Dude is turned out with 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike in what the farm often refers to as the $10 million paddock.

Campaigned by trainer Bob Baffert and owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude holds the distinction of being the only horse to ever capture three runnings of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. In his final Big ‘Cap victory, in 2014, he covered the 1-1/4 mile distance in stakes record time of 1:58.17.

In addition, Game On Dude is only the second horse in history to sweep California’s three Grade 1 handicaps — the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and the Pacific Classic — in the same year.

In his 34 career starts Game On Dude captured 16 wins, eight of them Grade 1 stakes and 14 graded stakes in all. His career earnings are just under $6.5 million.

“Everyone at Old Friends is thrilled by this well-deserved honor bestowed on the irresistible Dude,” said Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen. “We think he’s a worthy Hall of Famer and has earned the distinction. Thanks to the Hall of Fame nominating committee for appreciating all that Game On Dude has done for our great sport.”

The 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. on Friday, August 7, at 10:30 am. The event is free and open to the public (seating is limited).

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

What Is the Biggest National Hunt Meet in the UK?

With the upcoming Cheltenham Festival in March, and the Grand National in April, there’s so much for racing fans to be excited. Various punters and bookies are already making their Cheltenham tips as well as those for the Grand National. Of course, you can always expect those big shock wins — but jockeys, trainers, fans, and horses are all getting prepared for what who they think will place well this season. It’s a fantastic time of year for everyone involved with a rich historical legacy.

Both the Cheltenham Festival and the National Hunt are the most impressive, and largest, national hunt meetings in the UK. But which one is the biggest? And what audiences do they appeal to?

Here’s everything you need to know.

What they’re all about

There are, of course, some stark differences between the two events. The Cheltenham Festival, which takes place across four days at Prestbury Park, involves 28 different races. The Cheltenham Festival has its top race — the highlight being the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a steeplechase covering 3 miles 2 ½ furlongs and 22 fences. But the other races, including the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Coral Cup, and Stayers’ Hurdle, all have their prestigious elements too.

The Grand National at Aintree is one big race — at the end of a three-day mini-festival on Merseyside. Watched by over 600 million people in 140 countries, the Grand National is run over 4 miles 3 ½ furlongs with 30 fences. It’s a thrilling extravaganza with an intimidating 30 fences for both horse and jockey to get through.

Both the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival have hosted an exhaustive history of riders and runners, as well as some historic races that have captivated fans from all around the world.

The one for the racing experts

The main event of the Grand National, the only Grade 3 race during the festival, is definitely the highlight. It does have eleven Grade 1 races throughout the course of the event, but they’re definitely not the first that come to mind when you think of the Grand National. The Cheltenham Festival on the other hand, has six Grade 3 races, fourteen Grade 1 races, and two Grade 2 races — meaning racing enthusiasts get to experience top tier race after top tier race, throughout the course of the four days.

It’s not just the racing enthusiasts that prefer Cheltenham. Many jockeys consider winning the Gold Cup at the Cheltenham Festival a more prestigious opportunity than the Grand National. Former Irish race horsing jockey Tony McCoy confirmed this in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, saying: “It is the public who prefer the Grand National and that’s what makes it so big every year.” He described the Gold Cup as the pinnacle of the sport. Of course, it’s all a matter of opinion, but safe to say that racing experts definitely lean towards Cheltenham Festival when it comes to the two famous national hunt meets.

What the punters prefer

McCoy probably got it right when he described how much the public love the Grand National. It’s been held in high regard by punters since the days of Red Rum — the famous horse who brought public interest back to the Grand National in the 1970s. It’s one of the most bet on events in the country, and the most wagered on horse race in the UK — with many people who wouldn’t otherwise bet on a horse race taking their chances at the Grand National. Either way, both the Grand National and Cheltenham Festival have been massively popular events and continue to be exciting for everyone involved.

Stormy Liberal, Two-time Breeders’ Cup Champion, Retired to Old Friends

GEORGETOWN, KY – FEBRUARY 11, 2020 – Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility based in Georgetown, KY, announced the arrival of multiple Graded Stakes winner and two-time Breeders’ Cup Champion Stormy Liberal.

Stormy Liberal will spend a few days undergoing a brief veterinary exam at Park Equine Hospital at Woodford before joining the retirees at Old Friends’ flagship farm in Georgetown.

The son of Stormy Atlantic, out of the Royal Academy mare Vassar, Stormy Liberal was taken from the claiming ranks in 2016 for $40,000 by trainer Peter Miller and owner Rockingham Ranch. He went on to capture multiple stakes for his new connections, including back-to-back scores in the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in 2017 and 2018.

Closing the year with four consecutive victories, among them the Grade 3 Eddie D Stakes, Stormy Liberal earned the 2018 Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Male. With the win, he became the first sprinter to earn an Eclipse in the male turf horse division.

Current owner David Bernsen invested in Stormy Liberal in 2017, and in 2019 bought out Rockingham Ranch’s interest in the horse. This past December, following a thorough veterinary evaluation, Bernsen made the decision to retire the 8-year-old gelding from racing.

Stormy Liberal, who has been enjoying some down time in Florida under the care of trainer David Scanlon, retires with 12 wins from 37 starts and just over $2.2 million in purses.

“Stormy Liberal was a once-in-a-lifetime horse,” said owner Bernsen. “He literally took us around the world from Hong Kong to Dubai, and no matter where he lined up to run, he outran his odds, which was a testament of his will to win.

“After sending Stormy to David Scanlon last December for a two-stage medical examination, it was determined that Stormy had a pre-existing injury that would require 6-8 months rest,” said Bernsen. “After consulting with David, I immediately picked up the phone to call Old Friends’ Michael Blowen and let him know I had retired Stormy.

“I am acutely aware that the industry is under fire on a lot of fronts, specifically the safety and well-being of our athletes,” Bernsen continued. “I have been fortunate enough to spend a lot of time and resources understanding some of the core factors, and, in my opinion, the predominant cause is not identifying pre-existing conditions. I would urge other owners, especially those who have been able to enjoy success at the highest level, to take a more active role in finding and supporting a solution.

“Gary Hartunian and I of Rockingham Ranch are immensely grateful to have been able to race such a magnificent horse,” said Bernsen, “and we hope his retirement to Old Friends will benefit all retired horses.”

“We’re so thrilled to have Stormy Liberal join Old Friends,” said Old Friends founder and President Blowen. “We’re grateful to everyone connected with this great athlete, especially David. They did everything to assure that he would have a dignified retirement.”

Blowen added that the farm will soon host a special ‘Welcome’ day for friends and fans of Stormy Liberal and another new Old Friends retiree, Patch, most likely in early April. Dates and times will be announced soon.

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Cheltenham Festival 2020 National Hunt Racing

The 2020 Cheltenham Festival gets under way on March 10, 2020. Here is all the information you need ahead of the four-day spectacular.  The race prize money is second only to the Grand National and you also have several Grade I races, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and Stayers’ Hurdle, held over four days. The meeting usually coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day, and is particularly popular with Irish visitors.

Large amounts of money are gambled during Cheltenham Festival week, with hundreds of millions of pounds being bet over the week.  To assist you, go to the best Cheltenham festival betting offers for 2020.

Punters should know that when picking a Cheltenham Festival winner, 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. Results in these races act as a good base to predict the outcome for those looking to bet on the Cheltenham races themselves. Horses who tend to perform well in these races go on to perform well in the Gold Cup, so be sure you study the form book.

Owners have been known to purchase horses with the specific aim of achieving a winner at the festival.  Cheltenham Gold Cup finish has an exhausting climb to the line.  Some horses are suited to the course better than others.

The festival also includes one of the two biggest Hunter Chases of the season, the Foxhunters’, which is run on the Friday over the same course as the Gold Cup.

The course based in the outskirts of Cheltenham in the village of Prestbury is the home of national hunt racing and has three left hand tracks, the Old Course, the New Course, and the Cross Country Steeplechase course.

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 festival over several seasons, and build a real rapport with those who follow the sport.

The number and type of races at the Cheltenham Festival has changed dramatically over the years of its existence. In particular, it has grown from a two-day meeting to a four-day meeting. In 2019, there were 28 races.

The top jockey for the festival is the jockey who wins the most races over the four days, and the leading trainer for the festival is the trainer who trains the most winners in the races over the four days.

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), and the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase (Thursday), before culminating in the headline race of the entire week, Friday’s Cheltenham Gold Cup, which saw Willie Mullins break his 6 runners-up with a win by 2 ½ lengths.

Tuesday, the Champion Day, is the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival and is packed with top quality horses and starts with a bang with the best young hurdlers.

Wednesday, Ladies’ Day, is headlined by the Queen Mother Champion Chase, consisting of a fine blend of speed and stamina for a two mile run. The Cross Country Chase gets better by the year, with dual hero Tiger Roll famously going on to claim Grand National glory at Aintree on both occasions.

The St Patrick’s Thursday crowd has every reason to celebrate with a couple of strong Grade One contests in the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase. Then you’ll have the Marsh Novices’ Chase (formerly the JLT) while the Pertemps Network Final provides a huge field scrap for hurdling over three miles.

On Friday, one of the most sought-after titles in racing is decided on the final day of the Festival. The Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup is a race associated with the elite of the sport and nothing can rival the Cheltenham roar as the horses charge up the famous hill.  The JCB Triumph Hurdle and Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle also produce top-class talent. The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle is the 28th and final race of the Festival.

Horse Racing Is Breaking New Records in 2020 with the Saudi Cup

Photo by Mathew Schwartz.

Are you ready for the richest horse race in the world? Taking place on February 29th, the Saudi Cup is set to be the richest horse race to have ever taken place. When you consider some of the other prestigious races that take place around the world, it is certainly exciting that there is another new player in town! If you want to find out more about this exciting event and the feature race, which is set to make some owners very rich, then continue reading….

The Saudi Cup: A Nine-Furlong Race on the Dirt Track at King Abdulaziz Racetrack

King Abdulaziz Racetrack has both dirt and a turf track, and the main event is going to take place over the dirt track. It is going to be run over nine furlongs, which is the same distance of the Pegasus World Cup, which takes place in Florida at the end of the month.

This is significant, as the winner of the Pegasus World Cup is going to be invited to run in the race, even if the horse has not been entered. So it is possible that we could see a horse take home two monumental prizes within the space of a month.

This is also significant when you consider the fact that the prize pool for the Pegasus World Cup was reduced considerably in order to make way for a new race on their card. Owners don’t need to worry, though, as nine-furlong specialists now have the opportunity to make an even greater sum of money.

Plus, when you think about some of the previous winners of the Pegasus World Cup, such as Gun Runner and Arrogate, there is certainly a lot to be excited about when it comes to the calibre of horses that we can expect to line-up for the 2020 Saudi Cup.

What Horses Are Rumored to Be Lining Up in This Exciting Event?

Well, there has been a lot of talk already about who is likely to take home the crown of the winner of the first Saudi Cup. There were 32 entries for this race in particular, with only 14 horses set to line-up on the day, so we’re yet to see who has made the shortlist for the main event. It is also worth pointing out that there are a few ways for horses to get involved.

Aside from making an official entry, as mentioned, the Pegasus World Cup winner will automatically have a spot in the race should they wish to take it up. Not only this, but there is going to be a race run in Saudi Arabia on February 7th to give an Arabian horse the opportunity to line up in the Saudi Cup, so it remains to be seen who will win this qualifier. Aside from this, there are a number of other horses that are being spoken about when it comes to their chances of taking home the prize. At the moment, the majority of the talk is about Maximum Security, a horse that crossed the line first in the Kentucky Derby last year but was later disqualified.

Other horses that have been mentioned include Mckinzie, Midnight Bisou, Tacitus, and Bravazo.

Are There Going to Be Other Races on the Card?

Of course, you can expect a full day’s racing of the highest standard at this event. There are going to be horses run on both the dirt and turf track, with several prize pots in excess of $1,000,000, and so there is certainly a lot of money to be won in these races as well.

Anyone attending this exciting event is assured to see a card packed with some of the world’s best horses and most exciting races. Gronkowski, named after the former tight end of the New England Patriots, is another exciting potential runner in the race for trainer Chad Brown. He was runner up in last year’s Dubai World Cup.

So there you have it: everything you need to know about how horse racing is breaking new records with the Saudi Cup. We are certainly excited to see which horses line up in the race, and, of course, we are even more excited to see who is going to be crowned the winner of this prestigious event.

Will it be one of the legends of the sport? Or will we see a new horse emerge as one of the greatest in history? We certainly cannot wait to find out.

“Watchem Smokey” Is Second Design on the Block in Old Friends “Hats Off to the Horses” Auction

Photo: Connie Bush/Tiger Eye Photography.

GEORGETOWN, KY – FEBRUARY 4, 2020 –  The annual “Hats Off to the Horses: The Road to the Derby” online fashion auction continues this week with a beautiful Derby-style chapeau going on the virtual block to raise money for Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement Facility in Georgetown, KY.

This is the 11th consecutive year that Old Friends has joined with acclaimed milliner Sally Faith Steinmann of the Massachusetts-based Maggie Mae Designs® to auction off four handcrafted Derby hats between January and April, each inspired by one of the non-profit organization’s 200-plus retired racehorses. To date, this online fundraiser has garnered over $38,000 for Old Friends.

This new hat was inspired by Watchem Smokey, a resident at Old Friends at Cabin Creek in Greenfield Center, NY, and it is showcased here by Gulfstream Park racing analyst Acacia Courtney.

The hat will be up for bid for 10 days only from 8 pm (EST) February 1st through 8 pm (EST) on February 11th. Interested bidders can go to the Old Friends website at www.oldfriendsequine.org and follow the link, or CLICK HERE to visit our eBay page.

To read more and to view additional images of the hat, CLICK HERE.

About the Horse

The second hat up for bid in our 2020 honors Watchem Smokey, the Oklahoma-bred son of another Old Friends retiree, Alphabet Soup. Starting out as a claimer, Smokey went on to become a graded stakes winner with trainer Bobby Frankel. In 2009, Smokey was injured in what would be his final race at Oklahoma’s Remington Park. Thanks to the efforts of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program, Watchem Smokey recovered from his injury and was retired to Old Friends in 2010.

About the Hat

To honor this Old Friends retiree, the distinctive red, white, and blue racing silks of owner Edmund Gann provided the primary color inspiration. A foundation was created using a base layer of red dupioni silk in a wide-brim style.  A red dupioni silk under brim creates a bold, elegant effect when the wearer’s face is upturned.  To further showcase Gann’s stable colors, a large red rose curl created with alternating layers of dupioni silk and silk organza adorns the front of the hat. This sumptuous rose curl centerpiece is nestled into a medley of bold blue silk organza leaves.

For a final element in the floral centerpiece, seven chocolate silk organza “feathers” topstitched with black thread were added to reflect Watchem Smokey’s bay coloring.  A chocolate satin sash lined with blue silk organza encircles the crown of the hat and swirling layers of alternating chocolate brown and red tulle, encircle the crown.  For a final trim element, a single black pebble button adorns the sash in the back.

As always, several strands of the horse’s tail hair have been braided and woven into the trim.

Bidding on the “Watchem Smokey” is open now.

For more information about Old Friends, see their website at www.oldfriendsequine.org or call the farm at (502) 863-1775.

Maggie Mae Designs® Custom Millinery offers magnificent hats for all occasions, from glamorous racing events such as the Kentucky Derby and the Royal Ascot to stunning bridal wear and handsome cocktail fashions. Every hat is carefully handcrafted by milliner Sally Faith Steinmann from her home base in South Harwich, MA. Salons of her fashions can be seen on her website at www.maggiemaedesigns.com.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Maggie Mae Designs (508) 430-1626, sally@maggiemae.com

Irad Ortiz Jr. Dominates Pegasus World Cup Invitational

Irad Ortiz Jr. and Mucho Gusto.

Hallandale Beach, Fla. – Jan. 28, 2020 – The 4th annual running of the $3 Million Pegasus World Cup Invitational was highlighted by standout performances from American Equus sponsored jockeys this weekend. Some of the best upcoming thoroughbreds in the sport came out to Gulfstream Park to vie for the Pegasus Cup trophy, and jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. piloted several horses to top finishes, including Mucho Gusto in the highly anticipated Pegasus World Cup Invitational.

Mucho Gusto, owned by Michael Petersen and trained by Bob Baffert, had many eyes on him when race day arrived, with his top contender being Higher Power ridden by Flavien Prat. Mucho Gusto’s odds increased to 9-2 and Higher Power’s increased to 6-1 after the previous favorites, Hall of Fame Jockey Mike Smith’s mount Omaha Beach and Spun to Run, Javier Castellano’s mount, scratched from the race prior to Saturday. With a standout team behind him, Mucho Gusto crossed the finish line in the Grade 1 race clean after establishing an early lead in the field of ten horses with Ortiz Jr. in the irons.

“I had a great trip,” Ortiz Jr. said. “He got a great start and felt good. He relaxed so well and we were able to save ground. At the three-eighths pole I tipped him out and he took off. He was much the best. I think he just took off and opened up easy. He’s a nice horse.”

Mucho Gusto’s Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has a long history of success in the racing world, having won the inaugural Pegasus Cup four years ago with Arrogate and two Triple Crowns with American Pharaoh and Justify. He was thrilled to add another high profile win to his resume with the talented team of Mucho Gusto and Ortiz Jr.

“He looked great in the warm-up,” Baffert explained. “Irad Ortiz did a pretty masterful job – he has a lot of speed but the key was to get a good break and get over right away. And I just left it up to [Irad]; just keep him in the clear. When he was down inside, I thought, ‘I hope he knows what he’s doing,’ but he did. He knows that track really well. It was a great performance by him and the horse.”

Luis Saez finished third in the race on Mr. Freeze, owned by Jim Bakke and Gerald Isbister and trained by Dale Romans.

Earlier in the day, Ortiz Jr. rode Phat Man to the win in the $150k Fred W. Hooper One Mile, the horse’s first graded-stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park.

“The race set up for him,” Ortiz Jr. said about Phat Man. We knew there was going to be a strong pace, we wanted him to be forwardly placed, but at the same time relaxed. He was there when I asked him. He ran a good race.”

In the $1 Million Pegasus World Cup Invitational Turf, Tyler Gaffalione finished in first aboard Zulu Alpha, owned by Michael Hui and Trained by Michael Maker.

“The horse broke well and the speed set up in front of us,” Gaffalione said. “I was able to let my horse settle. They just kept opening up and I didn’t see any reason to go around them, so we just stayed on the fence, and he really exploded down in there and finished the job. He honestly got more competitive down in there.”

Ortiz Jr. and Instilled Regard, owned by Oxo Equine LLC and trained by Chad Brown, finished in third in the turf race, while Jose Ortiz and Sacred Life, trained by Chad Brown and owned by Michael Dubb, Madaket Stables LLC, Wonder Stables and Bethlehem Stables LLC, took fourth.

It was truly a day of domination for American Equus jockeys at Gulfstream Park, with Saez winning the 1 Mile Fillies race on Silver Kitten, the $200k Turf Fillies race on Mean Mary, and taking second in the Three-Year-Old Maiden race with Gimme Some Mo. In the $150k Turf Fillies race, Ortiz Jr. took the victory on Jean Elizabeth, while Jose Ortiz and Girls Know Best finished close behind in second. The $150k Fillies saw Castellano cross the finish first with Atomic Blonde, while Ortiz and Mitchell Road took second and Gaffalione and La Feve took third. Ortiz and Pink Sands were also victorious in the $200k Fillies race.

Emma Miller
em@phelpsmediagroup.com

Historic Racing Will Go On as Racetrack Recovers from Fire

Following the Australian bushfire which happened recently left the East Gippsland Community in shock as the Buchan racetrack was seen to have been burnt up. Recent news emerging claims that the historic Buchan Cup meeting will be holding on February 15 despite being scorched.

The rebuilding for the 133rd edition was given permission by Country Racing Victoria – which proves to be exciting news for the Buchan and Gelantipy Race Club, who has been keen on putting in place a meeting as a means to reignite the community spirit.

The Australian fire, that was reported to start at the beginning of the season back in July 2019, captured most of the East Gippsland and was stated to be the most affected parts of Victoria as the fire got worse during Christmas and New Year period.

Part of the things that didn’t make it through in the racecourse was the winning post, running rail, and callers’ towers, while the home straight was have suffered the worst damage. But every supporter was sure they can very much recover from the outbreak due to the amount of cash being made in each tournament. This is due to betting on the races at the course; if you want to get involved with this, you can by checking out horse racing tips like these ew horse tips from the winners’ enclosure, for example.

Speaking to the media about the meeting, CRV CEO Scott Whiteman said via Racing Post: “We’re thrilled Buchan Cup day is able to go ahead as planned. This is a racing club that has raced for 132 years, and we are delighted that their annual meeting hasn’t been waylaid by the bushfires.

“We’re very grateful for all of the help that the racing fraternity has offered Buchan over the past few weeks. We now ask that as many people as possible turn up at the races on February 15 to show their support at this fantastic community race day.”

The fire outbreak is still very much a problem in Australia as Racing Victoria was recently pushed to desert the racing at Yarra Valley and Caulfied on Wednesday, after Spendthrift Australia Park meeting was given up on following the smoke haze that pulled up last Tuesday.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Puzzle Looks Tough to Solve

The Cheltenham Festival is the centerpiece of national hunt racing in the UK and Ireland. The biggest race of the entire week is without a doubt the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a race that racing fans and punter savior. This Cheltenham horse race attracts excitement and attention, and the 2020 renewal is no different.

The standout feature of the Cheltenham Gold Cup so far is how wide open it looks. By now in most years we have had a strong favorite who has shown ability far superior to those in opposition. However, with holes to pick in most form lines, and horses impressing before disappointing or the other way around, this could be the most open Gold Cup we have seen for years.

That will please punters betting on the race, who will be able to get good value on the selections they fancy. Those with free Cheltenham bets will be able to spend them on this race and get a big price, rather than backing an odds-on favorite like we will have in some other races at the meeting.

Free bets are a great way for punters to bet at the Cheltenham Festival and there will be many betting sites on offer for the upcoming horse racing. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the pinnacle of the national hunt calendar, and a huge betting heat that everyone wants to be involved with.

Who Are the Main Cheltenham Gold Cup Contenders?

You will find many household names in this Cheltenham horse race, with plenty of fan-favorites taking to the track. With many horses coming back year after year to run in this race again, they quickly become adored by the public and this is one of the main reasons why the love for this race is so strong.

Ireland Holds Strong Hand to Win Another Gold Cup

Willie Mullins, who trains in Ireland, holds a strong hand here, with both the winner from last season and one of the most talked about horses from last season both expected to line up. Al Boum Photo won the race last season and he is set to defend his crown after returning with an impressive win at Tramore over the Christmas period.

While his victory in the race last season was a surprise to some, he was foot perfect on the day, relished the stiff finish of the Cheltenham course and demands plenty of respect going back there as the champion.

His stablemate Kemboy also ran in the Gold Cup of 2019, but unseated his rider early in the race which prevented him from getting involved. The rest of his form is top class though, and includes a win against Al Boum Photo after the Cheltenham Gold Cup last year as well as a win at Aintree where he beat King George dual winner Clan Des Obeaux.

He has only been seen once this season and was disappointing when only managing to finish fourth at Leopardstown but he is clearly a high quality horse on his day who could take a lot of beating.

Nicholls and Tizzard Lead British Challenge

We have just mentioned Clan Des Obeaux, and he is another in with a chance this season. The Paul Nicholls trained runner will have landed many winning free bets for punters when landing his two King George titles, but can he win a Gold Cup? He struggled to get home over the distance of 3m2f last year and seems to need a flat three miles to be seen at his very best which is a worry for him.

There is no doubt that this horse is full of class, and if terms of ability he could well be the best horse in the race. However, the test of a Cheltenham Gold Cup over 3m2f and on a stiff track is not what he needs, and for that reason there will be many who think he simply cannot win the big one, no matter how good he is over shorter.

The youngster emerging as a star horse is definitely Lostintranslation, though he has to bounce back from a disappointing run in the King George. He was excellent as a novice last season and backed that up with a win in the Betfair Chase at Haydock in November to show he is the real deal.

However, he was pulled up when running poorly in the King George, and that does leave a question mark over his name. He is the ideal Gold Cup horse, which is a big positive, and unlike Clan Des Obeaux, he needs the stamina test of a Gold Cup to be seen at his best.

He will head straight to the race without a prep run, but if you can forgive him his run in the King George, he is the one horse in this field who could go on to win multiple Gold Cups as he is still only a youngster.

Those with free Cheltenham bets to spend will have their favorite from the field of runners, but so far, the general feeling is that this race is wide open.

Patch, 2017 Kentucky Derby Contender, Arrives at Old Friends

Patch with assistant farm manager Antonio Marin.

GEORGETOWN, KY – JANUARY 20, 2020 – Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement facility based in Georgetown, KY, welcomed 2017 Kentucky Derby contender and graded-stakes-placed Patch.

The son of Union Rags out of the A. P. Indy mare Windyindy, Patch was donated to the non-profit organization by owner Calumet Farm following his three-season racing career. His last start was in the Birdstone Stakes at Saratoga this past August.

A 30-1 long shot in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, Patch became the season’s feel-good story after it was revealed that he had lost his left eye as a two-year-old but overcame his adversity to make it to the Churchill Downs starting gate on the First Saturday in May.

Trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, Patch eventually finished 14th in that race behind winner Always Dreaming.

“Patch is a great horse and he has a great story,” said Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen. “He is beloved by fans, and we are so looking forward to welcoming them this year. Patch has already stolen the hearts of everyone at Park Equine, where he spent a week while we made paddock space available, and everyone here is really excited about him.

“Our gratitude goes out to Calumet for entrusting us with Patch,” Blowen added, “as well as to Park Equine, and to the people at Sallee Horse Vans for transportation.”

Old Friends is planning a “Welcome Home Patch” day at the farm sometime in the near future. Announcements will be made soon with date, time, and details.

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at www.oldfriendsequine.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322, cindy@oldfriendsequine.org; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775, michael@oldfriendsequine.org