Tag Archives: Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham’s Greatest Moments

The Cheltenham Festival is the most important meeting in the entire National Hunt calendar, and it has delivered countless exhilarating races during its 160-year history. However, a handful of key moments stand out as the greatest of all time.

A Hat-Trick for Best Mate

Prestbury Park was rocking when the legendary Best Mate clinched a third consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cup triumph in 2004. Henrietta Knight’s superstar battled to a narrow victory ahead of Commanche in 2002 and then finished 17 lengths clear of the chasing pack the following year. He went off as the 8/11 favourite in 2004, but he was nine years old by that point and some commentators wrote off his chances of success.

Best Mate looked in trouble with a few fences to go, but he hit the front approaching the final fence and then charged up the hill in front of his screaming fans. Sir Rembrandt and Harbour Pilot both gave chase and it led to a pulsating finish, but Best Mate held them off and completed his hat-trick. He joined Golden Miller, Cottage Rake, and Arkle in achieving the feat, but few thought it would be possible in the modern era. Best Mate made a mockery of such projections. “Just listen to them!” said Knight as the crowd roared. “I thought we were beat coming to the last, but he’s tough, too. He was brilliantly ridden.”

Norton’s Coin Stuns the World

The Gold Cup is the biggest race of the year and it serves as the main event on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. All the leading lights from across the UK, Ireland, and further afield gather to compete for the ultimate glory, and it often boils down to a thrilling battle between some of the famous, short-priced superstars. In 1990, the legendary Desert Orchid was the biggest icon in the business. He had won the race the previous year, and he was the odds-on favourite to defend his crown, although some experts though Bonanza Bay and Toby Tobias could give him a run for his money.

To say Norton’s Coin flew under the radar in the build-up to the race would be an understatement. He was in dreadful form, and owner Sirrell described him as an “ugly, plain chestnut”. He only took part in the Gold Cup due to a mix-up. Griffiths wanted him to run in the Carthcart instead, only to realise he was ineligible. His owner reluctantly sent him into battle and prayed he would finish in the top six so he could recoup the £1,000 entry fee, but most viewers thought he was simply making up the numbers.

He went off as the 100/1 underdog, and he was expected to flop. Yet Norton’s Coin left his poor form in the rear-view mirror. He was sitting comfortably in fourth at the third last, behind Desert Orchid, Ten of Spades, and Toby. He drew gasps as he soared past Desert Orchid at the penultimate fence. Ten of Spades fell, leaving Norton’s Coin locked in a thrilling battle with Toby Tobias. He pulled up alongside the frontrunner at the final fence and then won the prolonged struggle to finish three-quarters of a length clear of his rival, with the fastest winning time in 47 years.

Paisley Park Lands Stayers’ Hurdle

There was barely a dry eye in the house when the unlikely duo of Paisley Park and owner Andrew Gemmell earned a fairy-tale success in the Stayers’ Hurdle in 2019. Gemmell was born blind, but he spent many years listening to horseraces on the radio and developed a love of National Hunt racing. He then began building up his own stable of runners. His success was modest and he never expected to secure a winner at Cheltenham, but Paisley Park began to gather strong momentum throughout 2019.

He ended up going off as the heavily backed 11/8 favourite to win the Stayers’ Hurdle and the scenes were incredible as he outpaced his rivals to win the race. “I can’t believe it’s happened,” said an emotional Gemmell after the race. “It’s fantastic. I’m in tears. Wow. I couldn’t see the race, but that roar is incredible.”

Kauto Star Regains the Gold Cup

Kauto Star cemented his status as a titan of the National Hunt scene when he surged to victory in the 2007 Gold Cup. He was the 10/11 favourite to defend his crown the following year, but he ended up finishing second, seven lengths behind talented stablemate Denman. The excitement was palpable when the duo lined up alongside one another for the 2009 renewal of jumps racing’s blue riband event.

Many expected a ferociously tight battle, but in the end Kauto Star produced one of the greatest performances ever seen. He finished an astonishing 13 lengths clear of Denman and became the first horse to ever regain the Gold Cup. Trainer Paul Nicholls almost secured a 1-2-3, but Tony McCoy on Exotic Dancer finished third instead. Yet there were no complaints from the Ditcheat maestro. “What an unbelievable horse Kauto Star is,” he said.

Nicky Henderson’s Wonderful Wednesday

Henderson has always loomed large over the Cheltenham Festival, but his finest moment came in 2012. Sprinting Sacre helped him get off to a flying start when he won the Arkle at 8/11 on the Tuesday. Then Henderson saddled an astonishing four winners on the Wednesday: Simonsig (2/1), Bobs Worth (9/2), Finian’s Rainbow (4/1), and Riverside Theatre (7/2). A stable lad at his operation placed a five-fold accumulator on all of them and won £1 million.

During the course of the festival, Henderson secured seven winners. That saw him overtake Fukle Walwyn as the most successful trainer in Cheltenham Festival history, with 46 wins, and it was all thanks to that wonderful Wednesday. A young whippersnapper by the name of Willie Mullins has since overtaken Henderson by securing 65 Cheltenham wins, but Henderson is now just one back on 64. The Cheltenham odds, which you can check out here, show that both men have a number of heavily fancied runners in 2020, so it will be exciting to see who holds the record when all is said and done.

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.

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.

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.

Cheltenham 2019: Three to Watch as We Approach the Festival

It’s now fewer than three weeks until the 2019 Cheltenham Festival (12th-15th March). For some of Britain and Ireland’s top trainers, the date can’t come quickly enough. For others, one would think, an extra few weeks of preparation would be most welcome. The equine flu outbreak hasn’t really hampered preparations in the way it was first feared, but other more familiar issues, like form and injury, have blighted some trainers.

In light of that, we take a look at some horses who will be worth keeping an eye on at the Festival, including those who might need to dig very deep to tackle a challenge of a lifetime.

Min

Let’s give this a little bit of context: If everything went to plan, Altior, the 2018 Champion Chase winner and seemingly unbeatable superstar, would be lining up against Footpad, the young pretender and 2018 Arkle Chase winner. That still may be the case, but Footpad has not yet found the form we all hoped he would this season. It now seems like Min, who has finished runner-up to Altior twice before at Cheltenham, will have another crack at the champion. Will it be third time lucky? The form book says no: Altior is odds-on at 4/11 with Bet365, whereas Min can be found at 8/1 with Betfair. However, Min is a gutsy, wonderful horse in his own right, who has it in him to pull one out of the bag when it matters. Consensus says no, but consensus is often wrong in horse racing.

Clan Des Obeaux

The Gold Cup is really open this year, so check out Cheltenham betting offers, such as free bets and matched offers, before you part with any money, because there are at least 10 candidates with really reasonable claims on Cheltenham’s most prestigious prize. However, one horse who seems to have juggernaut-like momentum is Clan Des Obeaux. Before Christmas, he wasn’t even being talked about as any sort of contender. Yet his win in the King George VI Chase, coupled with a brilliant run at Ascot last week, has pushed his star higher and higher. Clan Des Obeaux has odds of 9/2 from Sportingbet for the Gold Cup, just trailing Presenting Percy who is on 11/4. There is a real sense that those positions will be reversed by race day.

Laurina

How many times have we seen the focus go on the wrong horses down the years in racing? Everyone is talking about the potential scrap for the Champion Hurdle between Buveur D’Air and Apple’s Jade. The pair is locked as co-favourites at 2/1 with Betfair, although the majority of sportsbooks prefer the older gelding and two-time winner, Buveur D’Air. In truth, it’s a thrilling match-up, with Buveur’s experience being offset by the weight allowance given to mares like Apple’s Jade.

However, Laurina, a younger mare, is sitting stubbornly behind them in the betting markets, best-priced at 9/2. The thing is, most thought the conventional wisdom would be to send Laurina to the Mares’ Hurdle, then perhaps have a crack at this next year, when she is older and more experienced. Willie Mullins thinks otherwise, and as a man who has won this race with a mare before, you would be inclined to have faith in him. Anyone who has doubted the most successful trainer at the Festival in the past has looked foolish, so take note.

Cheltenham Festival: New Rules Will Restrict Horses to Just a Single Appearance in 2019

Photo source: Racing Post via Twitter.

The BHA have made a number of small tweaks ahead of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival with horses now being limited to just one appearance at Prestbury Park. It is a decision which has not been unanimously welcomed by trainers, but it does appear to be a sensible move from the authorities. It is rare to see a competitor doubling up during the four-day festival; however, this new governance is designed to provide greater clarity for horse-racing punters.

Announced at the beginning of February, the new ruling is one of a number of alterations which have been introduced ahead of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. A small reshuffle in the race order will see the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap bring the curtain down on another four days of high-octane action in Gloucestershire, with the Grand Annual now taking place on the Thursday. The National Hunt Chase and the Close Brothers Novice’s Handicap Chase will also swap places on Tuesday’s card. The second-last fence on the old course will also be moved in order to give competitors a greater run-up to the obstacle.

However, it is the declaration change which has caused the biggest stir amongst the training fraternity and this new rule appears to have thoroughly divided opinion. Many handlers believed that Cheltenham did not need to act and that they should be solely responsible for their horses’ welfare. Trainers will now be prohibited from entering their horse into multiple events, with many of the top yards having the tendency to declare their stable stars for two or three different races. This had allowed them to make a decision on the day itself; however, it also resulted in several non-runners throughout the festival.

Many National Hunt stars are hardy competitors and the possibility of a quick turnaround is perfectly plausible, but the new ruling will no longer allow this to happen. In 2004, Our Armageddon pulled up in the Arkle, but made his re-appearance just days later in the Cathcart Chase and easily saw off the threat of Iris Rose to land the spoils for trainer Richard Guest.

Source: Racing Post via Twitter

Several horses were declared for multiple races in 2018, with Richard Hobson’s Shantou Flyer running in the Ultima Handicap on the opening day before subsequently entering the reckoning for Friday’s Gold Cup. The nine-year old was eventually aimed at the Randox Health Grand National instead, but connections believed that he would have more than held his own in the hugely competitive final-day contest. Hobson’s charge is in the betting for this year’s Foxhunters Chase and is currently priced at 14/1. This race will be held on the new course and is one of many contests which will be comprehensively analysed by betting.betfair’s Cheltenham tips ahead of this year’s extravaganza, which gets underway on March 12th.

With savvy punters finalising their ante-post bets months in advance, this new rule should help avoid confusion and the markets are likely to look far less congested as a result. Trainers may be disgruntled by these latest alterations, but it does appear to be a step in the right direction will undoubtedly make things much simpler for punters.

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival is set to be another fantastic spectacle and the four-day exhibition will once again showcase the classiest hurdlers and the most powerful chasers. The new rule change may have divided trainers, but it definitely won’t detract from yet another sensational showdown in Gloucestershire.

Next Staying Star? 3 Candidates for National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham Festival

Nicky Henderson has the National Hunt Chase ante post favourite in his stable this season” (CC BY 2.0) by danheap77.

While the RSA Chase has considerable claims for being the classiest race for up-and-coming stayers over fences, its supremacy at the Cheltenham Festival has come under threat in recent years.

This is because horses that have won or placed in the National Hunt Chase – also for novices – during the last three years went on to land some of the most valuable stayers’ races in 2018.

What’s the difference between the two Festival events? The RSA is over three miles and holds Grade 1 status, but the National Hunt Chase is a four-mile Grade 2 contest for amateur riders only.

Despite that, the likes of Native River (Cheltenham Gold Cup), Sizing Tennessee (Ladbokes Trophy), and Tiger Roll (Grand National) have all run well in the inferior race, but then gone on to even greater things.

Who could be the next staying star of jumps racing? Here are three candidates for the 2019 National Hunt Chase.

OK Corral

One of the few races reigning British champion trainer Nicky Henderson hasn’t won is this one. In OK Corral, he has a hugely talented Mahler gelding who is lightly-raced for a nine-year-old and unbeaten in two starts over fences.

As OK Corral represents leading Irish owner J. P. McManus, who since 1995 has had more winners of the National Hunt Chase than anybody, he’s a serious prospect. Crack amateur jockey Derek O’Connor partnered the horse to his second chase victory over the stiff fences of Warwick at Listed level – strongly suggesting this race is the plan.

Bookmakers were quick to make OK Corral ante post favourite off the back of that victory, and he is now 100/30 with Betfair in the latest Cheltenham betting. If getting the trip, and he has a stamina laden pedigree being out of a Flemensfirth mare, then the Henderson hoodoo in the National Hunt Chase could well end.

Ballyward

Willie Mullins holds the rare feat of riding and training two winners of this race. The Closutton master handler saddled Rathvinden to the spoils 12 months ago and impressive Naas Grade 3 winner Ballyward is the sole representative from his yard in the early closing entries.

Mullins’ son Patrick is one of the top amateur riders in Ireland and Emerald Isle raiders have won four of the last eight renewals of the National Hunt Chase. Ballyward was sired by Flemensfirth and placed fourth in both staying novice hurdles at the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals last season.

Connections didn’t mess about over the smaller obstacles, giving the seven-year-old just four starts, but he’s taken his form to a new level now sent chasing. While Ballyward may seem young to be taking on a four-mile marathon, he fits the age profile of most winners since 2005; so, at a general 6/1 with bookies, he is respected for an Irish stable that targets the Cheltenham Festival.

Impulsive Star

As the National Hunt Chase is over an extreme distance, there are very few obvious trials for it. One horse who has acquitted himself admirably in a real stamina test is last year’s fourth Impulsive Star, who retained novice status for this season.

Although the Neil Mulholland trained nine-year-old was beaten 24 lengths by Rathvinden and also finished behind gutsy mare Ms Parfois and Sizing Tennessee 12 months ago, and has something to find on Plumpton form with OK Corral, he took a big step forward last time out. Impulsive Star is now rated a 7lb better horse because he’s won a race over fences in the Grade 3 Classic Chase over 3m 5f at Warwick.

Given his victory in a competitive staying handicap like that under the owner’s son and former Cheltenham Gold Cup winning rider Sam Waley-Cohen, an each-way punt looks great value at 14/1 with William Hill and others.

Will Paisley Park Prove to Be the Real Deal?

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner and the trainers and jockeys are busy preparing their horses for what could be the biggest race of their season. For Paisley Park and everyone involved with him, there is a real feeling that he could be the next big horse.

With four wins from four races this season, he is already proving that he has what it takes to go all the way in the sport. Although Paisley Park isn’t running in the main event at the festival, the Gold Cup, he is the current favourite to win the Stayers’ Hurdle on St Patrick’s Thursday, according to Paddy Power.

His trainer Emma Lavelle is confident of victory in the race at Cheltenham and is fearful of just one horse. She said, “How could he not be made favourite?

“I don’t think there is anyone this side of the water who wasn’t in the Cleeve on Saturday, and with last year’s winner Penhill not having run this season he would have to come over in tip-top shape. Then Paisley Park would have a fight on his hands.”

It’s hard to blame her for being so confident given Paisley Park’s incredible start to the season. His first race this season, the Racing UK Handicap Hurdle at Aintree, saw him set off as the joint favourite with Lygon Rock and Byron Flyer. In the final 100 yards of the race he pulled away from Lygon Rock and won the race by 2 ½ lengths.

Race two of the season for the Irish thoroughbred was the Betfair Exchange Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle at Haydock. In the Grade 3 race he was the third favourite behind the favourite First Assignment and second favourite Captain Cattistock. He finished the race strong, defeating 20/1 longshot Shades of Midnight by just ½ a length.

In the Grade 1 JLT Hurdle at Ascot, he had pre-race odds of 8/1, making him the fifth favourite to win the race. Despite starting slowly, Paisley Park steadily gained ground on the leaders and after the last, he drove ahead and maintained pace to finish two lengths clear of second place West Approach.

For the first time this season Paisley Park ran as the favourite. The Grade 2 galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle saw the 100/30 favourite obliterate the rest of the field, taking the lead before the last. Finished impressively and finished ahead of West Approach for the second time in a row, but this time finished an incredible 12 lengths clear.

He is currently the 9/4 favourite to win the Stayers’ Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival, ahead of Gold Cup favourite Presenting Percy. Last year’s winner Penhill is the fourth favourite at 5/1, but having not run so far this season, it is likely to take a monumental effort to defeat the in-form Paisley Park. Jockey Aidan Coleman has ridden him to four victories in four races and if he were to go on to win the Stayers’ Hurdle, then perhaps people will start to see the potential in this horse.

Cheltenham Festival: Most Memorable Gold Cup Wins

The highlight of Cheltenham Festival and by far the world’s most prestigious jump race, the Gold Cup has provided some of the most iconic and memorable moments that racing has ever seen.

The gruelling 3 miles and 2 ½ furlong track is not for the faint-hearted, and only those who have the stamina and willpower will be in with a chance of success.

Here, we take a look back at the most famous Gold Cup wins ahead of the 2019 event – where you’ll find all the latest ante-post prices right here: https://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/horse-racing.

Desert Orchid 1989

Desert Orchid was undoubtedly one of the finest jumpers racing has witnessed, and his success throughout the 1980s was incomparable. ‘Dessie’ won the King George VI Chase at Kempton four times, but the Gold Cup was considered beyond him due to the harder course and longer distance.

In 1989, ‘Dessie’ proved all his doubters wrong when he clinched the Gold Cup in his first ever run, pipping Yahoo by one and a half lengths. Although he was losing ground on Yahoo with the post in sight, ‘Dessie’ called up all of his strength and determination to start gaining on his rival and clinch the coveted prize at the post.

Best Mate 2002-2004

Best Mate wrote himself into Gold Cup folklore when he completed a hat-trick of successive victories, the last being in 2004. It was the first time a trio of consecutive victories was achieved since the legendary Arkle in the 1960s, which further highlights just how good Best Mate was in his prime.

Perhaps it was Best Mate’s second win at Prestbury Park which was the finest win, romping home by ten lengths from Truckers Tavern and Harbour Pilot who filled the places. Although his victories in 2002 and 2004 were much closer, Best Mate’s record in the Gold Cup is imperious.

Long Run 2011

The youthful legs of Long Run proved to be the deciding factor in the 2011 Gold Cup, after he burst past Kauto Star and Denman to take top spot. The race itself was billed to be a classic, with a really strong field present.

Midnight Chase was leading for the majority, but after fading away, it gave Kauto Star, Denman, Imperial Commander, and Long Run the incentive to clinch glory, whereby the last showed his worth to charge through and take first place.

Denman 2008

The 2008 Gold Cup was arguably one of the most entertaining races in the modern era, which saw two of the finest jumpers in the business go head to head. Kauto Star and Denman had built up quite the rivalry prior to the Gold Cup in 2008, with the latter coming out on top.

Kauto Star was having something of an off day, which enabled Denman to win by seven lengths and clinch his one and only Gold Cup. It was unfortunate that Denman couldn’t increase his tally of wins at Prestbury Park but “The Tank” enjoyed a stellar career before retiring in 2011.

Lord Windermere 2014

The longest-priced winner since Cool Dawn in 1998, Lord Windermere wasn’t enjoying his finest form as Cheltenham Festival approached. Defeats in the Hennessy Gold Cup, Lexus Chase, and Irish Gold Cup saw the five-year-old’s price drop to 20/1.

However, on the day of the race, Lord Windermere tore up the form book and beat 16/1 shot On His Own by a short-head. meaning a steward’s enquiry ensued but the Willie Mullins-trained thoroughbred was victorious after a thrilling encounter.

Who Are the Irish Bankers at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival?

Cheltenham Racecourse” (CC BY 2.0) by UAV Filming

Irish raiders were especially dominant at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, with warm favourites Footpad, Samcro, and Tiger Roll among those scoring big victories.

There are certain races at the four-day meeting in mid-March that runners hailing from the Emerald Isle do particularly well in, but where do the banker bets lie this year? Here, we take a look at the main horses from Ireland with the best chances.

Apple’s Jade

Powerful owners Gigginstown House Stud have the world at their feet with tough mare Apple’s Jade, who has taken her form against the geldings to dizzying new heights on her side of the Irish Sea this season. The Gordon Elliott trained seven-year-old has won her three starts this season by increasingly wide margins and holds Cheltenham Festival entries in the Champion Hurdle over 2m, against her own sex in the Mares’ race and the 3m Stayers’ Hurdle.

If the ante-post markets are any indicator, then Cheltenham betting odds 2019 of 11/8 with William Hill suggests a third run in the Mares’ Hurdle is the route Apple’s Jade will take. The Champion Hurdle looks a muddle, however, and she’s running in the Irish equivalent at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown.

Betfair are as big as 16/1 Apple’s Jade is redirected to the 2m championship race at Cheltenham before contesting the Irish Champion Hurdle. As for the Stayers’, she is two from two over three miles and a best-price 10/1 with the same bookmaker about that event.

Davy Russell in the Presenting Percy colours” (CC BY 2.0) by Florian Christoph

Presenting Percy

It’s bold to suggest any horse winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a banker, but Presenting Percy has sat and watched all his rivals throw up more questions than answers en route to the blue riband event of steeplechasing. Pat Kelly’s stable star has done nothing wrong in contrast, and finally made his anticipated return to action when successfully defending the Galmoy Hurdle over 3m at Gowran Park.

That may seem like an unusual preparation for the elite staying chase at the Cheltenham Festival, but Presenting Percy took that en route to landing the RSA at the meeting 12 months ago. The bookies have shortened him up for Gold Cup glory as a result, with betway going a standout 100/30.

Last year’s one-two Native River and Might Bite have doubts hanging over them. Will the former get the soft ground he needs to be shown to best effect? The latter, meanwhile, has flopped in two starts this season and failed to defend his King George VI Chase crown at Kempton over Christmas.

While young improvers like Clan Des Obeaux and Kemboy have staked their claims, they simply don’t have the Festival pedigree of Presenting Percy. He won the ultra-competitive Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle two years ago before tasting RSA Chase success as a novice last season.

Tiger Roll

Grand National hero Tiger Roll is also Gigginstown owned and trained by Elliott, and already boasts three victories at the Cheltenham Festival. This nine-year-old landed the Triumph Hurdle as a juvenile, then proved his stamina with a win in the 4m National Hunt Novices’ Chase two years ago before delivering again in the 3m 6f Cross Country Chase.

Tiger Roll relishes running in the spring and clearly loves Cheltenham. Winning another Grand National is a big ask for him, because only Red Rum in modern times has done it, but the Cross Country is a conditions race and he goes there fresh as a general 5/2 chance with bookmakers to defend his crown.