Here are some early tips for Cheltenham 2021 as the horse racing jump season is just around the corner, and with it comes one of the most iconic events on the British racing calendar, the Cheltenham Festival. Set to take place from Tuesday 16th to Friday 19th March 2021, there are just five months to go before the country’s greatest runners and riders will assemble at the famous Cheltenham Racecourse to battle it out for some of the most prestigious prizes on offer.
Rightly known as The Greatest Show on Turf, the Cheltenham Festival has much to offer seasoned punters and those who like an occasional flutter alike – all four days will be jam-packed with top racing action. As is tradition, betting markets will open in the run-up to the Festival and there’ll be plenty of on-course, online, and high street betting opportunities available.
To whet your appetite, here’s selection of ante-post betting tips for key events including the Stayer’s Hurdle, Ryanair Chase, and the prestigious Magners Gold Cup
Arkle Challenge Trophy – Shishkin
At just under two miles, the Arkle Trophy is a Grade 1 novice chase that often produces future Queen Mother Champion Chase contenders. One of the highlights of Champion Tuesday (the first day of the festival), recent editions of the race have produced notable Arkle/Queen Mother Chase winners like Altior (who scooped the two trophies in 2017 and 2018 respectively).
2021 looks set to be Shishkin’s year to shine. Nicky Henderson’s promising young horse had a great season in the run-up to his Supreme Novice win in this year’s festival, and he’s maintained his position as one of the best novice hurdlers around.
Ryanair Chase – Defi Du Seuil
This Grade 1 Open contest falls on St Patrick’s Day (the third day of the festival) and is often one of the highlight races alongside the Stayers’ Hurdle. At 2 miles and 4.5 furlongs long, it’s a great primer for both the Champion Chase the Cheltenham Gold Cup – Imperial Commander, the winner of the 2009 Chase went on to win the Gold Cup the following year.
P J Hobbs’ Defi Du Seuil may have had a disappointing run at Cheltenham this year, but he’s certain to be back in 2021 on much better form. He may not be Gold Cup championship material, but the Ryanair Chase is definitely within his reach. He’s already a veteran of the festival, with two wins under his belt, and his exceptional season in the run-up to this year’s event proves just what he’s capable of.
Stayer’s Hurdle – Thyme Hill
The second feature race of St Paddy’s Day, the Stayer’s Hurdle has become a favourite with punters in recent years and given us some great moments in modern racing history. Inglis Dreamer romped home with the win three times between 2005 and 2008, only to be bettered the following year by Big Buck, who was the consecutive winner from 2009 to 2013.
Another Cheltenham stayer in Hobbs’ stable, our money’s on Thyme Hill to be resurgent at the 2021 Festival. A horse full of class, he’s set to keep on getting better with each new season. He may have been unlucky this time around in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle, but come 2021 he’s sure to make for a smashing chaser on the track.
Magner’s Gold Cup
The showpiece event of the Cheltenham Festival, the Magners Gold Cup has treated us to some iconic moments of horse racing history since its inception and turned winners into the stuff of legend.
Golden Miller started it all off, when he won a total of five Gold Cups in the 1930s, then the 21st century’s equivalent, Best Mate became the first horse in 40 years to win the race three times in the 00s. More recently, Native River spectacularly romped home as the winner a total of five lengths ahead of the pack in 2018 – even making fans out of poker players in the process – and of course, reigning champion Al Boum Photo scooped the trophy two consecutive years in a row.
Although Mullins’ double winner will be back again next March to contest once more for the Gold Cup crown, it’s Colin Tizzard’s Lostintranslation who’s looking the most attractive. The Betfair Chase winner may not have had the best run in the 2020 Gold Cup, but that was mostly due to the form issues resulting from Tizzard’s disorganised yard. He may have been a big drifter, but Lostintranslation showed excellent form, easily nosing his way to the front of the field on occasions. With a good pre-season and better organisation from Tizzard, you can expect Lostintranslation to be a strong contender for the 2021 Gold Cup win.