The famed Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner, and 2023’s renewal is shaping up to be a blockbuster with a number of competitive fields and generational talents expected to line up across the four-day meet.
The Cheltenham Festival’s four feature races are no exception, and with that in mind, read on as we dissect the entries for the Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Stayers’ Hurdle.
In what is expected to be a tight contest, the meeting’s main race the Gold Cup has all the hallmarks of a classic. You have a favourite in Galopin Des Champs who has won six of his last seven, three of which include victories by 22, 18 and 13 lengths respectively.
While the nine-year-old’s dominance over the past two years is not to be dismissed, there are plenty of thoroughbreds whose experience and success could cause the Willie Mullins-trained horse some problems up the straight.
For those following the Cheltenham tips, Noble Yeats and A Plus Tard are the second and third favourites at 7/1 and 8/1 respectively. The former put forth a disappointing performance last time out, finishing third in the Cotswold Chase behind that of winner Ahoy Senior and the second-placed Sounds Russian.
However, write off Noble Yeats at your peril, whose run in the Grand National last year was nothing short of superb. Couple that with A Plus Tard’s win in the Gold Cup last year, and a Galopin Des Champs triumph is far from a forgone conclusion.
While the aforementioned Gold Cup is far from a forgone conclusion, if you’re going off form, it appears as though this year’s Champion Hurdle is. Constitution Hill has been incredibly impressive in his two starts this season, reigning supreme in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle by 12 and 17 lengths respectively – without breaking a sweat.
While racing fans were excited for the Constitution Hill and Honeysuckle battle that was inevitably next – the anticipation surrounding that match-up has diminished somewhat after it was confirmed that the great mare would line up in the Mares’ Hurdle instead after being beaten in her last two outings at Fairyhouse and Leopardstown.
Don’t count out State Man or Vauban for the Champion Hurdle however, with the former winning his last five, while the latter has finished first past the post in three of his last four outings.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
The odds for this racehad a spanner thrown in the works not even a month ago, with Editeur Du Gite upsetting the Queen Mother Champion favouritesEnergumene and Edwardstonein the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Cheltenham.
As a result of the boil over, Energumene is no longer as short a favourite, with Edwardstoneclosing in onthe Mullins-trained horse in the betting lines heading into the one-mile and seven-furlong affair.
Naturally, Editeur Du Gite has firmed in the markets and currently sits as the fourth favourite at 5/1 – and if the nine-year-old can display the crisp jumping and strong finishing speed he showed at the Cheltenham Festival trials recently – the French-bred horse is in with a shot of upsetting the applecart in the Champion Chase once again.
In what is arguably the biggest pick em’ type contest of the four Cheltenham Festival features races, the Stayers’ Hurdle has multiple entries who look promising. The 5/2 favouriteTeahupoo is coming off consecutive wins at Fairyhouse and Gowran Park, the most recent of which was by a comfortable 15 lengths.
Similarly, second favourite Home By The Lee is on a two-race winning streak, experiencing successes at Navan and Leopardstown, the former of which came in a triumph over the highly respected Bob Olinger.
That’s without mentioning the third favourite Blazing Khal, who’s in a purple patch that includes four straight wins, the two most recent of which came at Cheltenham. Therefore, at 7/2 and 6/1 apiece, Home By The Lee and Blazing Khal are worth looking at when placing at bet.