It’s that time of year where all horse racing fans get very excited as the Cheltenham Festival once again gets set to show the world what UK racing is all about. This is the focal point of National Hunt calendar and you can always expect to see the very best UK and Irish jump racing spread over four days in March.
In 2019 the Cheltenham Festival will take place from 12 to 15 March. Whilst you can always stay at home and watch the action on ITV1, for a true taste of what the Cheltenham Festival is all about, there’s nothing like joining the thousands of racing fans who flock to the event to join in the carnival atmosphere. Last year saw record attendance figures with a whopping 262,637 people turning up over four days, plus there was a massive 70,684 attendees for the festival’s highlight – Gold Cup Day.
Such is the success of the Cheltenham Festival that it attracts plenty of people who just turn up for fun events like Ladies Day and the other entertainments. So, whether you want to place a horse racing bet, or just want to join in the fun, here are a few things to look out for at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival.
The 2019 Cheltenham Festival racing calendar highlights
Each of the four days of the Cheltenham Festival are packed with plenty of top-class racing entertainment. However, there are a handful of races that tend to get a little more attention than others, and these races are the ones where the bookies will be keen to try and out-do each other with evermore competitive odds.
Tuesday will see the Champion Hurdle race take place, and this is always one of the highlights of the racing calendar. Last year saw the racehorse, Buveur d’Air, pick up his second successive Champions Hurdle win, and he is looking good to repeat his winning ways in 2019.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase takes place on Ladies Day on the Wednesday, and this was won in dramatic fashion by Altior last year. In 2019, this will feature a £400,000 prize and it’s expected that Altior could once again lead the field.
Thursday features two excellent races, the Ryanair Chase and the Stayers Hurdle, that always manage to attract plenty of intrigue amongst the hardcore betting fans. Don’t forget that the third day is St Patrick’s Thursday at the Cheltenham Festival, and this is where you can expect to see a large and very vocal Irish contingent within the crowd.
But it’s Friday’s Gold Cup race that always gets top billing at the Cheltenham Festival. This Grade 1 race will feature a massive £625,000 in prize winnings, and hopes will be high that the Irish-bred Native River racehorse will repeat his dramatic 2018 Gold Cup winning performance.
Betting on the Cheltenham Festival
Whil watching the races at the Cheltenham Festival is always hugely entertaining, we can all agree that things get a little more exciting when you back a winner. But it’s always best to treat betting on horses as entertainment, rather than being a way to make money, as that would mean that you don’t mind too much if luck doesn’t run your way.
So who are the bookies backing to make history at the 2019 Cheltenham Festival? For the actual Gold Cup race, it seems that most bookmakers think that Presenting Percy could be in with an excellent chance. This Irish racehorse has made many hugely impressive appearances recently including an excellent outing at Gowran Park in January. But the Gold Cup race is notoriously unpredictable, and with other top contenders like Kemboy, Thistlecrack, Clan Des Obeaux and last year’s winner, Native River, in the running, it’s going to be tough to call.
If you want to wager on the Champion Hurdle, then be sure to keep an eye on the price for Buveur D’air. This French-bred racehorse performed excellently at Sandown in early February, and if he can make a decent start against the hotly tipped Apples Jade, then it could be yet another classic display of horse racing.
For the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the bookies seem to think that Altior could once again win this race. But if you fancy a better price on your Champion Chase bets, keep an eye on the odds for other runners like Min, Footpad, Un De Sceaux or Fox Norton who should be fit after an extended period of injury.
Both Min and Footpad are also set to compete in the Ryanair Chase, and these runners could easily help you win your bet, although we think that Waiting Patiently could also be in with a good chance. But for a great value bet, keep an eye on Apples Jade in the Stayers Hurdle, who is sat back in the odds behind the likes of Paisley Park, Penhill, Supasundae and Faugheen, and we think that this hotly tipped racehorse could easily prove the bookies wrong.
Why bet on the Cheltenham Festival 2019?
Many newcomers to horse racing will probably think that the Grand National is the main event, but the Cheltenham Festival also provides plenty of top-class entertainment. We think that the 2019 Cheltenham Festival could be the best yet, as the Gold Cup race in particular is looking wide open and there’s plenty of room for taking advantage of an upset.
But whether you are trying your luck on Faugheen in the Stayer’s Hurdle, or are backing Belshill for the Gold Cup, it’s clear that the Cheltenham Festival offers something for everyone. Don’t forget that the Cheltenham Festival also provides an excellent insight into the Grand National which takes place just a few weeks later on 6 April. Already, Elegant Escape is being talked about as a real contender for both the Gold Cup and Grand National, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how things will pan out. But regardless of what happens, it’s evident that the Cheltenham Festival is a real highlight in the racing calendar.