Cheltenham Festival 2020 betting preview

Cheltenham Festival 2020

The 2020 Cheltenham Festival gets under way next week (March 10th) and we’ve provided you with a preview looking at the biggest races and some information which may help you to make a nice little profit from the four-day event. Take a look below at our guide and get those bets on!

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Champion Hurdle

Benie Des Dieux (5/2) is the market favourite after Willie Mullins has seen Saldier, Klassical Dream and Douvan all pulled from the race due to injury. His superstar mare has tasted defeat once in her nine races, falling at the final hurdle with the race at her mercy last year, and Rich Ricci teased racing fans by admitting the CH was a viable option, “We’ll have to see, but it certainly has to be on the table”. Indeed, Ruby believes she’s Willie’s “best chance of the week”.

Nicky Henderson’s Epatante (10/3) is the second favourite, a convincing win in the Christmas Hurdle where she showed a lethal turn of foot, has just one blip on her CV, a ninth-place finish in the Mares Novices’ last year when she was said to be Nicky’s “best chance of the meeting”. In what isn’t a great renewal and taking into account her 7lb mares allowance she will surely be in with a strong chance come raceday.

Envoi Allen is currently (5/1) and is clearly one of the top Novices’ this season, but it remains to be seen if connections will take a chance and step him up against the older horses. Whichever way Gordon Elliot opts to go with him, this novice has a big chance of becoming a two-time Cheltenham winner.

Irish Champion Hurdle winner, Honeysuckle (4/1), has won eight races in a row and is yet to taste defeat in her career. She has proven Grade 1 form and has beaten the best two-milers Ireland has to offer. Henry De Bromhead does seem to favour the ‘easier’ assignment in the Mares’ where we could be treated to a showdown with BDD, but an open-looking Champion Hurdle could tempt connections and jockey Rachael Blackmore for a shot at glory.

Pentland Hills (9/2) enjoyed a fine debut season over hurdles having won three from three but will have to step up from his seasonal reappearance when 5th in the International Hurdle and then falling to Ballyandy by a nose in the Unibet Hurdle, a recent wind-op may see him improve however.

An outsider who should be considered is Darver Star (16/1), his trainer, Gavin Cromwell, won it last year with Espoir d’Allen and he looks to potentially have another good run this year. The form is very solid, and it looks fantastic value when compared to other horses in the field.

Another good value bet is Silver Streak (25/1), a five-length defeat to Epatante looks some solid form considering he even blundered three-out when travelling well LTO. And considering the field is likely to cut off before raceday, 25s could look very, very big.

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Champion Chase

We have to start with Altior (2/1), who will be looking to make historic back-to-back-to-back Champion Chase titles, but his prep this year has been hampered to say the least. His unbeaten run was ended when stepping up in trip against Paul Nicholls’ Cyrname at Ascot and a spate of entries were left unfulfilled due to injury. He will be a popular horse amongst punters after regaining some form and history awaits should he land a 3rd Champion Chase and 5th Cheltenham victory.

Defi Du Seuil (2/1) is a big big threat to Altior with the Philip Hobbs runner set for a mouth-watering clash against his older rival. Defi has Cheltenham form, having won the Triumph and JLT previously. He’s currently three from three this season, having won the Tingle Creek and Clarence House Chase, beating Un De Sceaux in wonderful fashion in both.

Champion Chase

Chacun Pour Soi (11/4) is likely to run a big race if fit, having beaten Defi Du Seuil at Punchestown last May, and aside from a minor setback in a thriller to A Plus Tard at the Rewards Club Chase at Leopardstown, he bounced back with a four length success over Min in the Dublin Chase. After that victory Willie was bullish over his chances: “His jumping was electric. Jumping those fences down the back he was so slick and so fast. He was getting a length or a length-and-a-half at every fence without any effort.”

Altior vs Defi Du Seuil vs Chacun Pour Soi going head-to-head in the showcase race on day two, what a mouth-watering prospect. Racing fans can rightly get excited by this prospect, and it encapsulates what Cheltenham is all about.

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Stayers’ Hurdle

Last year’s winner Paisley Park (8/11) was one of the great stories of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival for owner Andrew Gemmell and trainer Emma Lavelle. An unbeaten campaign culminated in Aidan Coleman navigating a tricky race and almost blundering the last to land the spoils for popular connections. He’s since added the Long Distance Hurdle and Cleeve Hurdle to his list of wins and put all opposition to the sword, he’s far and away most punters’ NAP of the week.

It is difficult to see too much competition to Paisley, but Summerville Boy (7/1) could be a danger, he was beaten just over a length (by Paisley Park) when contesting the Cleeve Hurdle earlier this year. He’s now been aimed at this after a difficult time over fences, but Tom George’s 8yo has won at Cheltenham before (Supreme Novices’ 2018) and knows what it takes to get up that hill.

Emitom (10/1) is highly regarded by connections and a wonderful display in the Rendlesham enhanced the 6yo’s glowing reputation. Owner Warren Greatrex says he has the “world at his feet” – Greatrex famously won the Stayers’ with Cole Harden in 2015. Jockey Gavin Sheehan has since stated “he’s the one in the race who could really put it up to Paisley Park.”

It has been mooted that 2017 Mares’ Hurdle winner Apple’s Jade (14/1) could head to the race after her win at Leopardstown over 3 miles, beating the likes of Unowhatimeanharry, Penhill and Bacardys. But after being pulled up in the Galmoy Hurdle, Gordon Elliott suggested this race could be her swansong.

Martin Brassil, trainer of City Island (12/1), has described this year’s renewal as “very open if you take out the favourite”. His horse is yet to run further that 2m5f but Brassil is “confident” he will stay 3m – he has Cheltenham form as well, beating Champ in last year’s Ballymore.

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Ryanair

The race that has created some unforgettable moments. Think Vautour, Cue Card, Uxizandre and Un De Sceux just to name a few. Frodon (6/1) who won this race last year, will be hoping to repeat the feat, A win in the Silviniaco Conti Chase over Top Notch gave connections a much-needed boost ahead of the big day.

Min (3/1), who has been beaten by Altior in each of his last three races at the Festival, seems to be best suited to 2m4f nowadays racking up three wins from four when running over the distance, he may finally break his Cheltenham duck for Willie Mullins should he be entered here. Mullins will also run Duc Des Genievres (25/1) in the race, the winner of last year’s Arkle has since raced five times and hasn’t entered the Winners Enclosure.

A Plus Tard (9/4) was sensational when beating Chacun Pour Soi in December and looks one of the main players here. He still has entries for this race and the Champion Chase, but a red-hot Champion Chase may persuade Henry De Bromhead to target here for the Chevley Park Stud stayer.

Rider Onthe Storm (7/1) rather fortuitously accounted for Cyrname in an incident-packed Betfair Chase, it wasn’t the greatest of victories given that Traffic Fluide seemed to be closing before sadly falling. Nigel Twiston-Davies has done a wonderful job with him, however, he joined the stable on a mark of 140 and now sits on 162, it remains to be seen how much that effort will have taken out of him come race day.

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Gold Cup

So, the big one, the showpiece event of the whole festival, a grueling three-mile two-furlong slog with the winner sure to be etched into the racing history books whilst capturing all the glory that comes with it. It is the one they all want to win!

Willie Mullins landed his first-ever Gold Cup last year with Al Boum Photo (7/2), who made a wonderful reappearance at Tramore on New Year’s Day winning the same race the year before his Cheltenham success, with all roads now leading to Cheltenham again, according to the Irish trainer. No horse has won the Gold Cup two years on the spin since the legendary Best Mate 17 years ago and Mullins thinks he has a “fantastic chance” this year.

Nicky Henderson hasn’t won the Gold Cup since 2013, his hopes this year rest on Santini (7/2), the horse that splits racing fans. After coming second to Topofthegame in last year’s RSA he’s yet to win at the Festival in two attempts. Wind surgery last November followed by a much better victory over Bristol De Mai in the Cotswold Chase has seen him installed as the joint-favourite for Seven Barrows with Henderson stating “he’s in terrific form” and “crazy fresh”.

Kemboy (7/1) showed the greatest level of form at the end of last season but unseated jockey David Mullins in the race last year. An enforced break from racing has also hampered preparation, coming 4th at Leopardstown at Christmas followed by a close-fought second to Delta Work at the Irish Gold Cup.

Delta Work (9/2) is Gordon Elliott’s main hope and was very impressive when winning the Savills Chase following that up by landing the Irish Gold Cup so impressively LTO. He was immediately shortened significantly in the betting and looks the real form horse.

Colin Tizzard sadly had to scratch Native River from the betting, who he had talked up so much in the past few weeks. He now has Lostintranslation (6/1) who was pulled in the King George on Boxing Day, a stiffer test in the Gold Cup may suit after impressing so much when accounting for Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase.

Clan Des Obeaux (7/1) showed his class to win back-to-back King George’s, but it remains to be seen if Cheltenham suits, having never won at the track and finishing 5th in last year’s renewal. Presenting Percy (11/1), hasn’t shown anything to suggest he can win since victory in the 2018 RSA, although he hasn’t been disgraced in three outings this season so there is value in an each-way bet.

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Supreme

The opener of the Festival, the race that begins with the now famous roar from the thousands in attendance, and one that Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh used to dominate. With Ruby now retired, Mullins has Asterion Forlange (7/2), a relentless galloper who won the Chanelle Pharmer.

Shishkin (5/2) heads the market without Envoi Allen (who likely won’t go this route) and the Nicky Henderson charge looks a future Grade 1 type. The only concern being that his final prep run was at Huntingdon where horses are 0/128 when running there, Nicky has stated though “he’s got to be one of the best chances”. The Seven Barrows stable also have Chantry House (7/1), another exciting prospect who has been so impressive over hurdles who should be there or thereabouts.

Gordon Elliot looks set to unleash Abacadbras (9/2), another future Grade 1 horse that has the notorious form of Envoi Allen in his notebook. Beaten only half length from his superstar stable mate he looks one of the main players in a hotly contested race. He’s ran four times over hurdles, only succumbing to the mighty Envoi, he’s a speedy operator who will be hoping there isn’t too much give in the ground.

Fiddlerontheroof (6/1) has some of the strongest novice form in the race this year. He’s on a mark of 154 with the previous five winners of the race all winning off marks of 154 (Klassical Dream), 150 (Summerville Boy), 144 (Labaik), 155 (Altior) and (Douvan) 155, so ratings wise he’s right in the mix.

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Ballymore

The opening race of day two could end up being the most exciting. Envoi Allen (11/8), the unbeaten Chevley Park Stud star is unbeaten in all seven races he has contended. The winner of last year’s Champion Bumper is still prominent in the betting for three races at the Festival.

As like Paisley Park in the Stayers’, opposition is difficult to predict with most wanting to avoid Envoi, however, Sporting John (6/1) is one of the most interesting runners. Phillip Hobbs’ unbeaten charge has looked imperious in his four runs – most recently beating Master Debonair by 12 lengths at Ascot and with Barry Geraghty on board, he could push Envoi as close as he ever has.

Willie Mullins’ The Big Getaway (6/1), got a win over Fiddlerontheroof last year and a 17 length success on Boxing Day puts him in the mix for the Ballymore, which Willie admitted is his likely route. He’s another where if the ground has some ease in it (which it likely will have) will be right in the mix.

Thyme Hill (15/2) is unbeaten this season and has beaten some nice types along the way including The Cashel Man, Fiddlerontheroof and Champagne Well – he may lack the star quality to win a Ballymore but he digs in and gets the job done.

Envoi Allen vs Sporting John vs The Big Getaway….we love Chelteham!

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Quick glance at other races

Tiger Roll (10/11) is one of the main attractions of the Festival in the Cross Country, arguably the most likeable horse in racing and will be looking to win at Prestbury Park for a fifth time and land a third Cross Country Chase.

The Mares’ could turn out to be one of the races of the week, if Benie Des Dieux (8/11) and Honeysuckle (6/4) both turn up then get ready to witness something special. The two best mares’ in training going head-to-head is exactly what the Festival is about.

The Triumph Hurdle pits a few interesting horses together with Solo (3/1), Goshen (7/2) and Allmankind (9/2) the three likely to be going stride-by-stride as they approach the winning post. Three horses that love to make the running in their races, they’ve won by a combined 124 lengths in their seven races between them this season and rightly head the market.

The main players for the RSA Chase this year seem to be Champ (3/1), Allaho (4/1), Minella Indo (4/1) and Copperhead (7/1). All of which have won convincingly this season – interestingly, eight of the last 10 winners of this race have been seven year olds, with Minella Indo being the only one of those four listed who is seven.

Faugheen (9/2) needs no introduction. Has won the Ballymore and Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham and will likely head to the Marsh Novices’ (previously the JLT) – after winning an incredible 11th Grade one at Leopardstown in February. The Machine winning on the grandest stage of them all, in what could be his farewell race, will be a sight to behold and something every racing fan would love to see.

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*please also note, all odds stated are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change*

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