The Cheltenham festival last year was held in terrible conditions and if you can recall, it was as a result of this that Native River’s victory attracted much applause from the crowd. The horse memorably ploughed his way through the muddy racecourse and up the hill catching up with Might Bite and beating him although with a small margin. Things are expected to be quite different this year although most of the horses that took part in last year’s Gold Cup competition are also in the race this year. To begin with, the winter in Gloucester has so far been dry but things are expected to change on Tuesday, the first day of the event. The ground will become softer as a result of the12mm of rain expected to fall for the better part of the day. Moreover, it is expected that Wednesday will bring with it winds with speeds of up to 80 km per hour but the course clerk has asked everyone to put aside their fears and brace themselves for an entertaining show.
To all the pundits out there, for the horse Malaya, it is wise that you look for sites with the offer “No Runner No Bet”. This is because it has not yet been confirmed on whether the horse is going to compete in the Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle. Nevertheless, the chances of the horse taking part in the race are greater than the vice versa especially given her performance at the Matchbook Imperial Cup Handicap Hurdle on Saturday at Sandown. According to her trainer, Paul Nichols, she has improved a lot since her run at Ascot where she, unfortunately, fell twice. If her performance at Sandown is anything to go by, the horse doesn't necessarily need a lot of work in preparation. Nicholls praised the horse as tough enough for the £100,000 Cheltenham race but the decision has not been made yet.
If you are looking for some betting advice as well, you are in the right place at the right time! The Gold Cup is the most important race of the event and because of that, almost all bookies out there are offering Cheltenham free bets in addition to irresistible odds. For Presenting Percy you can place a 7/2 odd bet with Bet365, Paddy Power, William Hill, Tote Sport or even Bet Victor. As for Native River, 4 is the best odd being offered and some of the bookies with this include 888 Sport, Boyle Sports, and Bet Fred. Clan Des Obeaux is the third favorite in this market and you can find the best odds of 9/2 at William Hill and 888 sport. All the bookies mentioned above have the free bet offer in this race except Bet 365. 888 Sport are giving free bets of up to £100, Boyle Sports up to £50, Bet Fred and William Hill up to £40, Tote Sport up to £35 and Paddy Power up to £20.
Across the 4 days of the event, more than 250,000 people are expected to attend the event with even more watching from home or following the results from different places throughout the world. The tickets to the event are still on sale but if you can’t make it to Prestbury Park, ITV and Virgin Media One have promised to broadcast the event between half-past one and half-past four every day. This means that you will only miss 2 races each day but if that is too much loss for you, you should consider following the activities through the live blog of the Irish Times.
An impressive run there and punters will again begin to believe Footpad could be the one to unseat It’s hard to believe the Cheltenham Festival (12th-15th March) is around 50 days away. Indeed, many top horses will likely not be seen between now and then, with connections perhaps happy with what they saw over the packed Christmas schedule.
For others, however, there were a few disappointments over the winter, with some big names really looking out of sorts. That has rattled the ante-post markets, especially in the Gold Cup, but it also leaves a chance for punters to get some value by taking a risk on horses who could – as many have done in the past – bounce back on the biggest stage of all.
Might Bite has time to recover
Top of that list has to be Might Bite, who has tumbled down to 20/1 with Betfair in the Cheltenham betting odds for the 2019 Gold Cup. He had a poor winter and has undergone a breathing operation, but Nicky Henderson has stated there will be plenty of time to get Might Bite. Indeed, Might Bite had a similar operation in 2016, and we all know that turned out pretty okay for the former King George VI Chase winner.
Footpad didn’t have a terrible winter, yet he failed to win in either of his two outings. The first, a fall at Naas, could be put down to bad luck, but Willie Mullins will have a bit more concern after Footpad’s narrow defeat to Simply Ned at Leopardstown just after Christmas. He is now 9/1 (Unibet) to upset the impeccable Altior (4/9) in the Champion Chase. It’ll be worth keep an eye on Footpad if, as expected, he contests the Dublin Chase on 2nd FebruaryAltior as the world’s best chaser.
2018 Racing Post Arkle Challeng Trophy Novies' Chase - Footpad - Racing TV - YouTube
That first weekend in February is going to be a big one for Willie Mullins, as he will hope to use the Dublin Festival to get some big race experience for some of his promising novices. Annamix is possibly the most interesting of the bunch. The French import was the ante-post favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for most of the year, but those odds went from around 10/1 to 25/1 (Ladbrokes). An impressive performance next weekend and those odds will go back the other way in what looks like a tough-to-call Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Intriguing trio lead Arkle odds
The Arkle looks pretty open this year, with the likes of Kalashnikov, Lalor and Dynamite Dollars trading wins. Of the trio, Amy Murphy’s Kalashnikov really looks like he could go from being a very good horse to a great horse. The 5-year-old hasn’t been perfect this season, but Kalashnikov can raise his game for the Arkle. 7/1 is a standout price from Bet365 for a potential superstar.
For fans, certainly the legions of Irish fans who will make the trip to Cheltenham, the horse they would like to see bounce back the most at Cheltenham is arguably Faugheen. The great hurdler has had a frustrating couple of years, but always seems to do enough to warrant the benefit of the doubt one last time. The fantasy is that he can take the Stayers’ Hurdle, with the longer trip seemingly no problem when he won the Irish version last year. An iffy winter has seen him go from about 6/1 to 12/1 (William Hill), but some punters will find it hard to shake the image of Faugheen trashing the favourite, Penhill (5/1), just last April. Can “The Machine” give us one last great run?
Horse racing fans attention will be focused on Kempton on Boxing Day for the Christmas racing highlight, the King George VI Chase. The race named after The Queen’s father is steeped in history and can count national hunt racing legends such as Kauto Star, Desert Orchid, Best Mate and See More Business as previous winners.
The King George VI Chase is often seen as the mid season race for the season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup hopefuls, and this year is no different. With four of the first five in the betting for the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup set to take their place in the line up, we are in for a top class renewal.
Although the King George is run over 3 miles, it is popular belief that the race doesn’t require much stamina to win. This is due to Kempton being a very flat track compared to the likes of Cheltenham which is undulating and takes plenty of getting. However, this said, the race is run differently to other staying chases as they often go a very hard gallop from the outset and kick for home a long way out. This increases the emphasis on stamina, and while it may not be the war of attrition that the Cheltenham Gold Cup represents, recent running’s have shown that you still have to be able to stay the 3 mile trip. Indeed, the stats back this up as 14 of the last 16 winners had previously won over 3 miles before winning the King George.
Our friends at Betopin.com have created this infographic with the history of the race, and what this years race looks like.
King George VI Chase Betting
Might Bite – 3/1
Waiting Patiently – 5/1
Politologue – 6/1
Native River – 7/1
Thistlecrack – 7/1
Bristol De Mai – 7/1
2018 King George VI Chase Preview
The 2018 renewal of the King George VI Chase looks full of class. All of the top staying chasers in the UK are entered and expected to take their place in the line up, this includes the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup first and second, Might Bite and Native River.
Might Bite – Last years winner and a gallant runner up in the 2018 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Might Bite disappointed on his seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase, he jumped well but when Nico De Boinville asked him for his effort there was very little in the tank. Nicky Henderson has said that there was no excuse for this but that he expects him to come on for the run and all roads lead to the King George. If returning to form his is the one to beat, however, you have to put a line through his last run to do that and it is hard to ignore how quickly he stopped that day.
Native River – Colin Tizzard’s likeable front runner out stayed Might Bite to win last seasons Cheltenham Gold Cup and he made a solid reappearance behind Bristol De Mai in the Betfair Chase. He is the solid option having never been out of the first three in any of his chase starts. The one glitch may be that he has only had one run at Kempton Park when he was beaten in the Feltham at 6/4 favourite. He may prefer an undulating staying track.
Thistlecrack – The 2016 winner of this race has been significantly held back by injury in the past two years and has only had three runs since January 2017. His comeback also came in the Betfair Chase and in our opinion he ran a stormer to finish third. He got slightly outpaced and was nursed into the race by his regular pilot Tom Scudamore, once over the last he ran on under a second wind to be beaten 5 lengths and only 1 length behind Native River. If he can come on for that run then we think he’ll be bang there on Boxing Day.
Bristol de Mai – The winner of the last two renewals of the Betfair Chase at his beloved Haydock Park, Nigel Twiston-Davies’s grey has yet to produce that form at other courses. His only run at Kempton was in last season’s King George VI Chase in which he was soundly beaten by Might Bite. Haydock obviously suits him and although he beat most of these rivals that day we would be surprised if he could turn the form around.
Waiting Patiently – The dark horse is Waiting Patiently. Ruth Jefferson’s 7 year old is unbeaten over fences and slammed Cue Card on his last start in a Grade 1 at Ascot. That race was over 2m 5f and that is the furthest distance he has raced over, which would be a concern, even though he showed no sign of stopping that day. He has an official rating of 170 which would put him right up there with the best staying chasers in the country and if he’s fit enough first time out then he could cause some surprises.
If all of the intended runners line up then we are in for a treat on Boxing Day! All of the contenders mentioned have great chances of winning this race, bet we loved the way Thistlecrack ran in the Betfair Chase on his reappearance. He looked to blow up and then run on again after the last. If he can come on for that run he has a great chance of winning this race for a second time.
The highlight of the flat season takes place again this year between 31st July and 4th August, where there will no shortage of drama and excitement to be had by all.
The highlight of the week takes place on the Saturday where the battle for the Steward's Cup takes center stage, but there is no lack of big races in the days leading up to it. The opening day is always a big one where the anticipation is fever pitch. Ladies day takes place on the Thursday with £1 million Qatar Sussex Stakes taking place on the Wednesday.
Goodwood's biggest occasion pits the finest horses, jockeys, owners and trainers battle it out for the highest honours and over £4.5 million worth of prize money.
Averagely over 260,000 people attend the four day festival with most race goers having mixed results on the day.
There are many choices for race-goers when thinking of going to the festival, ranging from all price ranges. The Lennox enclosure is the cheapest option and best for those just wanting to experience the day. While the Gordon and Richmond enclosures have a better view of the race course. While, for those who want the best money can buy experience, they should look no further than the hospitality packages with all of them offering you the chance to live like a king for a day.
Legends that have competed over the course are always kept in the hearts of us race goers. Lester Piggot won an incredible 4,493 races, including nine Derby victories. His Goodwood performances are always remembered as he won 117 races at one festival alone and 197 winners overall.
His career spanned over four decades before he retired just two months short of his 60th birthday in 1995.
Another past champion is the incredible Double Trigger; race goers will remember this horse with all the greatness that it deserves as it is a three time Goodwood cup winner, with his maiden victory coming in 1995 which was especially memorable as he had to beat his own brother to do so. The other two victories came in 1997 and 1998.
So, who should the punters have their eyes on this year? Look no further, we have selected out a couple of horses that you may get a handsome return off.
All festivals are massive days for gambling with Glorious Goodwood being no exception. Here we will look at a few tips and good picks for the upcoming days.
D'Bai (Lennox Stakes- Currently 10/1 with Betway)
The early market leader for this event was Expert Eye but since then it has been moved into the Sussex Stakes; meaning this race is now wide open. Charlie Appleby's D'Bai would be the best pick in this race.
D'Bai came up just short by half-a-length behind The Tin Man in its first run here in Britain but has since been stepped up to seven furlongs. The race at Haydock saw D'Bai narrowly come out on top against Group Two winner, Larchmont Lad.
He has been unable to make the step up to Group One just yet with competition too tough but has held its own with Group Two company and has every chance in this one.
Billesdon Brook (Nassau- Currently 14/1 with Betway)
Close runner up in last year’s fixture Hydrangea has still not been declared for this race but if he is, he will have an almighty chance. Elsewhere, Billesdon Brook will be a good value bet.
Richard Hannon's filly shocked the racing world in the 1000 Guineas when it came out victorious despite claiming a 66/1 price tag. Since then, some questionable tactics in races has let it down but should still be considered a good bet.
Some hold-up tactics at Royal Ascot didn’t go to plan as Alpha Centauri squished the opposition with Brook just about able to get fourth. Her breeding does however suggest that she will improve with distance.
Dreamfield (Steward's Cup- currently 8/1 with Betway)
The big race of the week has no shortage of stars in it but Dreamfield will be tough to beat in handicap company.
Since no official announcement has been made yet, it would come as no surprise should John Gosden drop Dreamfield back into the King George and let him have a go at Battaash, especially considering his great run in the July Cup.
After a 600 day absence from the track, Dreamfield returned with a vengeance at Ascot in May beating Silent Echo. He then carried the shortest price for a quarter of a century into the Wokingham before being narrowly beaten by Bacchus.