The Cheltenham Festival (13th-16th March) has now become the must-see event in national hunt racing in the UK. The four-day spectacular serves up some of the most prestigious and thrilling horse races, such as the Champion Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup, to delight the thousands of racegoers at the Prestbury Park venue.
28 races will take place across the week, which is also one of the biggest betting events to take place in the UK and Ireland. The furiously contested races always throw up their share of falls, shocks, cheers and tears. In fact, there is only one guarantee at Cheltenham – pure drama.
Photo by unknown author licensed by CCBY
The event is regarded as unmissable among the great and the good in British horse racing circles. If you love horses, you really should check it out yourself. Below are five things to look out for at this year’s Festival:
The performance of Faugheen
The health of Faugheen has dominated the run-up to this year’s Festival. The star hurdler, called ‘The Machine’ by Irish punters due to his incredible winning record, has won one, finished second and pulled up in his last three races. The question is – can he really get back to his best? He is currently 7/1 second-favourite behind Buveur D’Air to win the Champion Hurdle. However, keep checking the Cheltenham festival 2018 betting updates because any signals from his trainer Willie Mullins that he is getting better will seriously reduce those odds.
Four times for Cause of Causes
Arkle and Istabraq are among the select few horses to have won more than three races at the Cheltenham Festival. In 2018, Cause of Causes will hope to join the that illustrious group. He is expected to race in the Cross Country Chase (14th March), a race he won last year. He is currently 4/1 favourite, so history could easily be made on Ladies’ Day 2018.
Can Min become a true great?
Min, who is a stablemate of Faugheen, is perhaps one of the most underrated horses competing at the elite end of national hunt racing in modern times. Six wins and two seconds in eight races serves to demonstrate Min’s quality, but can he step up to win a big one in The Queen Mother Champion Chase on 14th March? Odds have been slashed to 3/1 after a superb win in this year’s Dublin Festival. It could be a bargain.
Will Ruby Walsh be fully recovered?
Photo by unknown author licensed by CC-BY-ND
No jockey has had an impact on the Cheltenham Festival in modern times quite like Ruby Walsh. The Irish rider has a record 56 wins at the Festival and has won the award for Top Jockey 11 times. He is, however, in a race against time to get fit for this year’s event after breaking a leg in a fall in November. Still, don’t be shocked to see him win the very first race of the 2018 Festival – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – on 3/1 favourite Getabird.
The Gold Cup Favourites
The Gold Cup (16th March) – the most important race of the Festival – has had its share of overwhelming favourites down the years. This time around it is not so simple. Might Bite (3/1) and Sizing John (6/1) lead the way, but few will be surprised to see a long-odds winner of one of the toughest races of the week. Indeed, a candidate like Definitely Red (20/1) looks exactly the sort that could fit the bill.