Cheltenham Festival 2020 Betting Preview

Ultimate Cheltenham Festival 2020 Preview

The biggest National Hunt meeting of the year takes place this week and excitement has reached a fever pitch among millions of punters. The world’s leading runners, jockeys and trainers will put their reputations on the line as they battle for glory. The rampaging coronavirus threatened to put a dent in proceedings, but the show will go on, and there are some exciting races to look forward to.

The action takes place over four days at Prestbury Park, and it boasts an impressive 14 Grade 1 contests. It features the most prestigious events in the National Hunt season, and there is a huge prize pool up for grabs. Punters will wager hundreds of millions of pounds on the action, and the atmosphere inside the racecourse is sure to be electric.

We have covered all four days, highlighting each day’s showcase race and the various Cheltenham spread betting markets and Cheltenham Festival odds for you to choose from. Make sure you check out the final section for a rundown of all the exciting specials betting markets on offer too, from the leading jockey to the outcome of the Prestbury Cup.

Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day 1

The action begins on Tuesday and visitors from more than 50 different countries are expected to walk through the Cheltenham Festival gates. Punters can look forward to seven exciting races, starting with the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1.30pm. Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin is the 5/2 favourite in the Cheltenham Festival odds, while Willie Mullin’s Asterion Forlonge is priced at 11/4.

Another famous Grade 1 race, The Arkle, takes place at 2.15pm. This is the leading minimum distance chase for novices in the National Hunt season, named after the legendary Arkle and boasting a £175,000 prize purse. Notebook is the favourite to win the race, ahead of Fakir D’Oudaries and Brewin’upastorm. The third race of the day is the 3m 1f Ultima Handicap Chase, a Grade 3 contest won by Nicky Henderson’s Beware The Bear last year.

Then it is the big race of the day: the £450,000 Champion Hurdle, which is covered in more depth below. Afterwards, punters can enjoy the final Grade 1 race of the day, the Mares’ Hurdle, which is open to mares aged four or over. There was much speculation over whether 2018 victor Benie Des Dieux would compete, and we have now learned that this is her destination, setting up an epic duel with Honeysuckle. Benie Des Dieux is now the odds-on favourite to win the race, while the impressive Honeysuckle is priced at 12/5.

The penultimate race of the day is the Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase, a Listed race run over 2 miles and 4½ furlongs. The field looks wide open, with Imperial Aura leading the betting at 9/2, followed by Galvin at 11/2 and Hold The Note at 7/1. Day one finishes at 5.30pm with the 4 mile National Hunt Challenge Cup, a Grade 2 race that takes in 24 fences. Mullins’ hope Carefully Selected leads the betting for that one.

Champion Hurdle Preview

The Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdle event in the National Hunt season. The prize purse has climbed to £450,000 and it attracts the finest hurdlers in the business. They do battle over 2 miles, taking in eight hurdles. The famous Buveur D’Air from the Henderson stable won it in 2017 and 2018, but he fell last year and Espoir D’Allen romped to victory ahead of Melon and Silver Streak.

This time around, Epatante is the favourite. Henderson’s six-year-old finished a disappointing ninth in the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle last year, but she has been on a massive upward curve since then. She made a winning return in a listed handicap at Newbury in November, and then vanquished a very strong field – including Silver Streak – in the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

Henderson spooked the markets last week when he revealed that she had developed a cough, but he has now revealed that she is over it and in fine form. “She coughed for two days and as soon as I said something, she never coughed again,” said Henderson. Epatante is the 3/1 favourite to win the big race, with stablemate Pentland Hills the second favourite. Pentland Hills won the JCB Triumph Hurdle at last year’s festival. Cilaos Emery, Supasundae, Darver Star and Sharjah also line up in a very strong field, so it promises to be a cracker.

Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day 2

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day at the Cheltenham Festival, and that means the famous racecourse will turn into a colourful sea of stilettos, fabulous hats and glasses of bubbly. There are seven races to look forward to, and they take place at the same times each day. The first card at 1.30pm and the last at 5.30pm, with 40-minute intervals between each race.

The Grade 1 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle gets things underway on day two. It is always an interesting battle between the stars of the future, and the likes of Faugheen, First Lieutenant and Galileo have won it in recent years. Gordon Elliott kept everyone guessing in the build-up to the festival, but he has finally announced that Envoi Allen – the unbeaten novice earning rave reviews in Ireland – will go for glory in this race. He is the 5/4 favourite to win it, but he faces stern competition from Sporting John and The Big Breakaway.

Next is the 3 mile 1/2 furlong RSA Chase, another Grade 1 contest that is open to novices and carries a £175,000 prize purse. Last year Paul Nicholls' Topofthegame soared to victory in this race. This time around, Henry De Bromhead’s Minella Indo is the joint 3/1 favourite along with Henderson’s Champ who our brand ambassador Barry Geraghty rides. The third race of the day is the Coral Cup, a Group 3 hurdles race that takes place over 2 miles and 5 furlongs. This looks to be one of the most open races at the Festival with no heavy favourite in this one, with Birchdale, Protektorat, Sempo, Alfa Mix, Easywork and Dame De Compagnie all clustered between 15/2 and 10/1 in the Cheltenham Festival odds.

Next up is the Champion Chase, followed by the eagerly anticipated Cross Country Chase. It will see the legendary Tiger Roll bid to win the epic 3m 7f race for the third year running. It is an important stepping stone for Elliott’s scrappy chaser before he heads to Aintree next month with the aim of becoming the first horse to win three Grand Nationals in a row. Tiger Roll is the 10/11 favourite to win the Cross Country Chase. The Grade 3 Fred Winter Junior Novices Hurdle is the penultimate race of the day, and it finishes strong with the Grade 1 Champion Bumper, the most prestigious flat race in the National Hunt calendar.

Champion Chase Preview

The Grade 1 Queen Mother is the leading minimum-distance chase in the National Hunt calendar. It has a £400,000 prize purse and it will be one of the most keenly anticipated races of the year. Henderson dropped a bombshell just three days before the race: Altior is lame and at great risk of missing the Champion Chase. He won it in 2018 and 2019, and punters were excited to see if he could make it a hat-trick this time around. He struggled when stepping up in trip earlier this season, as his long winning streak came to an end, but he was the clear antepost favourite for the Champion Chase after Henderson decided to revert to 2 miles.

“We’ve still got a chance,” said a dejected Henderson. “We’re using cold water on the leg, ice packs, the whole thing. Odds compilers reacted swiftly, and Altior is no longer the favourite to win the race. That honour goes to Defi Du Seuil, who is now priced at 5/4. Philip Hobbs’ seven-year-old won the Grade 1 JLT Novices’ Chase ahead of Lostintranslation at last year’s festival, and he has won all three races this season, including the Grade 1 Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown in December and the Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot in January.

The dangerous Chacun Pour Soi is now the 13/8 second favourite for the Champion Chase, and Altior is priced at 5/2. You also find 7/1 on A Plus Tard and 10/1 on Dynamite Dollars.

Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day 3

Day three is known as St Patrick’s Thursday and the festival becomes a swaying sea of green. The Guinness always flows freely, and thousands of punters typically head over the Irish Sea to attend. It will be interesting to see if coronavirus fears impact upon the size of the Irish crowd, but many hardy punters are sure to make the journey.

The Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase, a 2 mile and 4 furlong contest taking in 17 fences, kicks off the action. Defi Du Seuil won it last year, when it was called the JLT Novices’ Chase, but JLT has since merged with Marsh. Allaho is the 3/1 favourite to win it, ahead of 4/1 shot Itchy Feet and then three horses – Fakir Doudairies, Faugheen and Mister Fisher – priced at 6/1, with Samcro at 13/2.

Next up is a Listed handicap, the Pertemps Final, which was won by Elliott’s Sire Du Berlais last year. The Grade 1 Ryanair Chase is at 2.50pm. This was introduced in 2005 when the Cheltenham Festival expanded from three days to four. It is the richest race of the day, with prize money of £350,000. A Plus Tard is the 2/1 favourite after winning a Grade 1 chase at Leopardstown over the Christmas period, but famous names like Min and Frodon will provide strong competition.

The fourth race of the day is the Stayers’ Hurdle, the main event of St Patrick’s Thursday. Next up is the Brown Advisoty and Merriebelle Stable Plate, a Grade 3 handicap run over a distance of about 2 miles 4½ furlongs. Minella Melody is the 9/4 favourite for the penultimate race of the day, the Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle. Day three ends with the Grade 2 Kim Muir Challenge Cup, a 3 mile and 1½ furlong chase for amateur riders.

Stayers’ Hurdle Preview

This is the leading long distance hurdle in the National Hunt calendar and it carries prize money of £325,000. It takes place over 3 miles and there are 12 hurdles to be jumped during the running. The Stayers’ Hurdle first ran in 1912, and over the years it has seen many famous winners, including Big Buck’s, Inglis Drever and Baracouda. However, there were none more popular than Paisley Park.

Last year, he brought tears to the eyes of many viewers when he stormed to victory in this famous old race. His owner, Andrew Gemmell, was born blind and developed a passion for racing by listening to it on the radio. He became a racehorse owner of modest repute, but then Paisley Park came out of nowhere and catapulted him to superstardom. The horse almost died of a bad illness a couple of years earlier, so it really was a heroic underdog tale.

Now Paisley Park will return to defend his crown. He won at Newbury on his seasonal reappearance in November, and then he landed the Grade 1 Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January. That extended Paisley Park’s winning streak to seven races. He is the 4/6 favourite, but he must see off the likes of Summerville Boy, Emitom, City Island, Penhill and Apple’s Jade.

Cheltenham Festival 2020 Day 4

Gold Cup Day begins with the Grade 1 JCB Triumph Hurdle, run over 2 miles and 1 furlong and contested by novice hurdlers. Defi Du Seuil and Tiger Roll are both former winners. This year, Solo and Goshen are joint 3/1 favourites, followed by Allmankind at 4/1. Next up is the County Hurdle, which has seen a number of long –shot winners in recent years. Dan Skelton has also won the race in three of the past four renewals.

The third race of the day is the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, another prestigious race that was originally launched in 2005. Minella Indo won it last year. Then it is time for the biggest race of the season, as the Gold Cup takes centre stage. However, the action does not end with the Gold Cup, as we move straight onto the Foxhunter Steeple Chase. This is often referred to as “the amateur Gold Cup”, as it takes place over the same distance, but only allows amateur riders.

The penultimate race of the meeting is the Grand Annual Chase which is the oldest chase in the country, dating back to 1834. and then the Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle wraps up proceedings for another year.

Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most important race of the entire National Hunt season. It takes place over 3 miles and 2½ furlongs, and features 22 jumps. Legends such as Arkle, Golden Miller, Best Mate, Kauto Star, Denman, Mill House, Cottage Rake and Desert Orchid are on the illustrious roll call of former winners. Prize money for this Grade 1 contest stands at £625,000, making it the most lucrative race of the festival.

It features all the finest runners in the business, so it is fiercely competitive. That is reflected in the Cheltenham Festival odds: Al Boum Photo and Santini are joint 7/2 favourites, Delta Work is priced at 5/1, Lostintraslation is 6/1, Clan Des Obeaux is 7/1 and Presenting Percy is 10/1. Al Boum Photo went off at 12/1 when he won the race last year, which is the second longest SP since the turn of the century. He could only finish second to stablemate Kemboy at the Punchestown Gold Cup the following month, but he made a winning return to action in a Grade 3 chase at Tramore on New Year’s Day.

Al Boum Photo handed Mullins his first Gold Cup triumph last year, and he has a strong hand this time around, as Kemboy is also very talented. Santini is Henderson’s big hope for the race. He finished second in the RSA Novices’ Chase last year, but he impressed when winning the Grade 2 Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January. That result sent the odds on him plummeting.

Delta Work was third in last year’s RSA Novices’ Chase, behind Santini. However, he has since won a trio of Grade 1 races at Leopardstown, including last month’s Irish Gold Cup over 3 miles. Lostintranslation won the Betfair Chase earlier this season, while Clan Des Obeaux is a dual King George winner, highlighting just how strong the calibre of these runners is. It promises to be a thrilling race.

Cheltenham Festival Specials Markets

Out traders have been busy pricing up a number of exciting Cheltenham spread betting markets ahead of this high-profile meeting. You can find out more about horse racing spread betting here.

Festival Favourites is a popular market. Each favourite that wins is given 25 points, while 10 points are awarded if the horse finishes second and five points are handed out for finishing third. You add them all up at the end to arrive at the result. Our traders have priced the spread at 241-253, allowing you to buy at 253 if you think the favourites will enjoy a strong festival, or sell at 241 if you think they will struggle.

Another popular option is Festival SPs. This is the cumulative sum of the odds on all the winners – 10/1 equals 10, while 7/2 equals 3.5 and so on – and it is priced at 320-330. You can find spreads on the cumulative winning distances for the Cheltenham Festival and for each individual day too. The Biggest Winning Distance spread is priced at 15-16 lengths, while the biggest winning SP is 43.5-45. Ireland are the clear favourites to win the Prestbury Cup, priced at 13-19 over Great Britain.

You will also find Total Winners spreads on all the top trainers, including Mullins, Elliott, Henderson, De Bromhead, Nicholls, Hobbs, Colin Tizzard, Skelton, Joseph O’Brien and Nigel Twiston-Davies, plus all the big name jockeys and owners. There are many more exciting markets, such as Championship Bankers and Championship Favourites.

Take a side at Cheltenham Festival 2020 with Sporting Index’s comprehensive range of Cheltenham Festival betting markets.

Don't miss all our latest Horse Racing markets. Find all of Barry Geraghty's insights here.

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