All in Cheltenham Festival
The final Grade 1 in the novice hurdle division is the three mile staying race. This race nearly always sees an upset caused, with the average starting price of the winner throughout the last ten years being 16/1. Horses tend to fair better that have had plenty of hurdles experience, second season hurdlers included. Horses towards the top of the market who are more high profile and inexperienced constantly get beat out of sight, for example Black Hercules in 2015.
If the Ballymore is the best graded novice hurdle race of the week then this is undoubtedly the best graded novice chase. At the top of the market you have three horses you could easily see competing in next year’s Gold Cup.
This race in my opinion is the standout novice hurdle race of The Festival, you have some exceptional talents towards the top of the market. And the top of the market tends to be where you will find the winner, the last five winners of this have had starting prices of 8/11, 14/1, 3/1. 9/2 and 6/4.
The second novice event of The Festival is The Arkle. This race normally throws up a really good horse but I cannot see a potential superstar in this race. To give you an idea in recent winners of this race include Sprinter Sacre, Un De Sceaux, Douvan and Altior but I will be staggered if a horse emerges of that quality. However, what this race lacks in quality it certainly makes up for in betting propositions.
The feature event of the week, the Gold Cup certainly is a competitive renewal this year. I suppose the logical place to start is with the favourite Presenting Percy, a horse who has won twice at The Festival but comes here with a win over hurdles and a racecourse schooling session at Galway recently.
This race is now the most valuable on Thursday and by default has become the feature race of the day. Again, this is a race that has huge potential to cut up with horses towards the top of the market more than likely to be engaged elsewhere and in the case of Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently, unlikely to run at all and wait for Aintree.
This race has the potential to cut up greatly. Supasundae could potentially run in the Champion Hurdle, Presenting Percy will go for the Gold Cup and Samcro is unlikely to run. Apple’s Jade is going to the Champion Hurdle and Top Notch will most likely run in the Ryanair.
One of the loudest cheers from the crowd throughout the week will come if Altior defends his Champion Chase crown. Unbeaten over hurdles and fences beating top quality animals throughout his career, he is impossible to oppose here.
This race for many, myself included will be the most anticipated race of the entire festival. The main reason for this is how the complexion of the market and the horses opposing dual winner Buveur D’Air has changed throughout the course of the season. Six months is a long time in horse racing and at the start of the National Hunt season Gordon Elliott confirmed his star novice from last season Samcro, would be targeted at the Champion Hurdle.