Cheltenham 2017 Festival Line-Up
Cheltenham 2017, 14th March – 18th March
Horse racing is a sport that shows its face almost as often as football in the UK, and there are several festivals that capture the attention of the nation throughout the year. On Tuesday the 14th March, the horse racing calendar sees the largest and possibly the most anticipated event take place – the Cheltenham Festival. Bookmakers consider it to be one of the best sporting events for capturing new customers, offering their improved free bets in a week that is considered to be as lively as the World Cup or the Euros for betting action.
The Festival takes place over four days, with several featured and novice races each day. Each day has its own unique specialities that relate to the schedule, the crowd it attracts and the horses, jockeys and trainers in attendance. The week kicks off with Champion Day, followed by ‘Ladies Day’, St Patrick’s Thursday and concluded on the Friday afternoon with the Gold Cup.
The Cheltenham 2017 Champion Day sees the SkyBet Supreme Novice’s Hurdle take centre stage at the top of the schedule, with the Champion Hurdle being labelled as the feature race. Previous entrants Faugheen and Annie Power had been tipped for success in the Ante post betting markets, although it has recently come to light that Annie Power will not be racing due to an injury sustained in early January. Faugheen had success at Cheltenham 2015, narrowly winning ahead of an emerging talent, Artic Fire, who has been recommended for the win this year given the generous odds available (25/1 each way at the time of writing).
The second day of the Cheltenham 2017 festival will see the Champion Chase take place on the Old Course at Cheltenham. The course is around two miles long and was won by aging talent Sprinter Sacre in 2016, who has recently retired. The course has twelve fences to jump at a rapid pace, with perfect jumps being the key to success in this race. 28 horses will enter the race, with odds on favourite Douvan looking set to steal the limelight as one-of-many Willie Mullin’s trained horses racing at this year’s festival.
The Thursday is often considered a bit flat in terms of racing action, despite the four races. That won’t damped spirits at the racecourse, though, with the Irish being known to arrive for the two final days of the week. The World Hurdle takes place on day three, with Willie Mullins potentially having four horses taking part, including defending champion Annie Power. Mullins is known for placing his big horses in races that they stand a great chance of winning, although it is thought that only two may feature depending on his decisions in the week before the festival. Yanworth is a well fancied outsider at 8/1 in the ante post markets to take victory on the Thursday.
The final day of the festival is eagerly anticipated. Many accumulators are settled on the Friday as people like to bet on several of the big races throughout the week, with the Gold Cup usually being the concluding selection on the bet slip.
The Gold Cup itself is the feature race of the festival, and probably one of the most prestigious events in the jump racing calendar. There are twenty-two fences that need jumping over a 3 mile, 2 ½ furlong course. In recent years, eight of the last ten winning horses had won their previous start. Ten of the last thirteen horses had either won a race or finished second at Cheltenham before. All eyes are looking towards Thistlecrack this year, whose form in the run up to Cheltenham has been sensational, with a win in the King George on Boxing Day. Currently at evens for the win, it does seem a little short given that his jumping has been a little undesirable at times. Stable-mate Native River has also been instrumental lately, with good showings in the Hennessy and Welsh National. At 6/1 odds he seems like a potential pick for an each way bet. A recommended outsider would be Bristol De Mai, with odds shortening from 66/1 down to 20/1 at the time of writing. The shortened odds are a result of the excellent performance that Bristol De Mai had at the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock.