The upcoming Cheltenham Festival will once again provide horse racing fans with four days of thrilling equine action during March.
The meeting is firmly established as the highlight of the National Hunt season in the United Kingdom and always attracts the best horses in the business.
Read on as we take a look at some of the steeplechases that will be staged at the event and pick out four horses that we believe are well worth watching.
Shishkin – Arkle Novices’ Chase
Nicky Henderson’s talented chaser is likely to be a short price to win the Arkle Chase with the bookmakers listed on the cheltenhamguide.com website.
Shishkin won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the meeting last year but was always expected to develop into a top-class chaser.
He made a successful chasing debut at Kempton in November, before romping away with the Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase at the same track over the festive period.
Henderson has won the Arkle on six previous occasions, and it would be a major surprise if Shishkin failed to add to his tally this time around.
Monkfish – Festival Novices’ Chase
Monkfish is another horse aiming to win for the second successive year at the meeting, and he has an excellent chance of achieving the feat in the Festival Novices’ Chase.
Willie Mullins’ charge claimed a thrilling renewal of the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle in 2020, defeating Latest Exhibition by a neck.
The pair met again in the Neville Hotels Novice Chase at Leopardstown during December, with Monkfish extending the winning margin to three lengths after a thrilling duel.
That was an excellent performance from a horse having his second run over fences, and the experience should stand him in good stead in the race formerly known as the RSA Chase.
Envoi Allen – Marsh Novices’ Chase
Envoi Allen was an impressive winner of the Champion Bumper in 2019, before claiming victory in three Grade 1 races last season including the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
He has subsequently recorded impressive victories over bigger obstacles at Down Royal and Fairyhouse to race to the head of the betting for the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
Trainer Gordon Elliott has confirmed that Envoi Allen’s next outing will be at Punchestown in January as he prepares the horse for the major spring festivals.
The seven-year-old has been widely tipped as a future Gold Cup winner, and he is fully expected to romp to another success at this year’s Festival.
Benie Des Dieux – Mares’ Chase
Benie Des Dieux won the Mares’ Hurdle in 2018 but has failed to live up to expectations in two subsequent attempts to win the same race.
She fell at the final flight when in the lead the following year, before being given a shocking ride by Paul Townend in last year’s renewal.
He was outridden on the final bend by Rachael Blackmore aboard Honeysuckle and was unable to make up the deficit on the run-in.
Benie Des Dieux is unlikely to attempt to reverse that form, with the new Mares’ Chase presenting a golden opportunity to get a second Festival win on the board.