What to Expect From the 2020 Cheltenham Festival

Richards guarded on Simply Ned's Cheltenham chances

We’re just seven weeks out from the latest Cheltenham Festival and judging by the way the ante post markets are panning out for the biggest four days on the National Hunt calendar, we look set to witness another truly outstanding week of top-class racing.

Cheltenham Festival to Boost the Local Economy Once Again

Beginning on Tuesday March 10th and lasting for four days, the 2020 Cheltenham Festival is being greatly anticipated not just by those within the racing fraternity but also those whose livelihoods in and around Cheltenham partly depend on what the festival brings.

Around 70,000 spectators per day, 280,000 across the week, attend at Prestbury Park to see some of horse racing’s biggest names in action and this is backed up by millions more watching the live terrestrial television coverage at home.

While the Cotswolds still remain areas of such natural beauty that tourism thrives right throughout the year, the Cheltenham Festival undoubtedly provides a big boost to local visitor numbers with thousands arriving from Ireland as well as from all across Britain, staying in the region to enjoy the atmosphere with or without race day tickets.

Who to Watch Out for at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival

Both casual and hardened punters alike often need to be reminded of who and what to look out for as the year’s biggest week of jumps action approaches us and in the very first race of the meeting when the famous Cheltenham Roar goes up, we could see a huge battle between two of the best that Britain and Ireland have to offer.

Both Gordon Elliott’s Abacadabras and Nicky Henderson’s Shishkin have been impressive this season and lead the way in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle betting while in the chasing equivalent, The Arkle Trophy, it would be no surprise to see Joseph O’Brien’s young star Fakir D’Oudairies make his mark.

Tuesday’s feature race is of course the Champion Hurdle and with no Buveur D’Air this time the market has been wide open.  The dual champion’s owner and trainer, JP McManus and Nicky Henderson, have found the ideal substitute however so look out for some strong money coming for their mare Epatante.

The big race on Wednesday is the two-mile Queen Mother Champion Chase and this has turned into a fascinating event.

With two-time champ Altior looking to shine again at the festival but not being guaranteed to run over this distance, the new favourite for the race is Philip Hobbs’ Defi Du Seuil who recently took the Clarence House Chase in fine style at Ascot.

It’s interesting to note however that the seven-year-old appeared to relish the stamina test that was provided by an extra furlong and very heavy ground meaning good going may well be against him on the big day, so the weather might play a crucial role again at Cheltenham as trainers and jockeys look to finalise their tactics.

Undoubtedly the best race of last year was won by the tough Frodon who battled all the way to the line to land the Ryanair Chase, so given that Bryony Frost’s usual mount has shown himself to be as good as ever it’s unusual to see him quoted as big as 10/1 for a repeat on Thursday.

If it’s tough for Frodon, it may be less so for Stayers’ Hurdle favourite Paisley Park who is clearly the best horse in his division and will be hard to beat, another win possibly building up punters’ betting banks for Gold Cup day on Friday when we should see the likes of Al Boum Photo, Kemboy, Lostintranslation, Clan Des Obeaux and Presenting Percy all in action.

Who wins the Gold Cup this year is frankly anyone’s guess at this stage, but it should be a race to end all races if they all turn up fit.

Biggest Betting Week of the Year

There are plenty of Cheltenham betting sites that see a big boost in casual betting during the time of the event of course but prices will change based on professional gambles, so be on the lookout for odds tumbling in the last few minutes before the tapes go up.

Bookmakers relish this festival as it provides the biggest betting week of the year in terms of turnover, surpassing even the Grand National meeting in that regard.

Some huge public gambles have been landed in the past such as those won by Son Of Flicka in the 2012 Coral Cup and Xenophon in the same race back in ’03, but they aren’t all successful.  Everybody remembers Annie Power’s crushing fall at the last hurdle when a win would have meant the layers paying out millions, something we hope not to see repeated.


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