The Cheltenham Racecourse is extraordinarily popular with fans, marked with a "certificate of excellence" by TripAdvisor and recognized as one of the most festive venues for a major race. With the Festival lasting for four days, the racecourse hosts numerous attractions off the track,
Here's a brief early preview of which horses to keep an eye on in these four primetime races!
The Champion Hurdle signifies the biggest action of the opening day, and last year's contest was marked by unusual circumstances. As The Guardian recalls, it was the final race for four-time champion Big Buck's, who was run by renowned trainer Paul Nicholls as a final glimpse for fans. But it was More Of That who won the race. The champion will not defend his title in 2015, however. With More Of That absent, it's Faugheen who looks to be the popular favorite, with The New One positioned as the main challenger.
The Champion Chase will likely be Cheltenham's biggest draw in 2015, not because it's necessarily the biggest race—that,ause it's necessarily the biggest race—that honor typically goes to the Champion Hurdle or the Gold Cup, depending on one's perspective—but because it features a dominant former champion jumping back into the competition after a year off. Sprinter Sacre won the Chase in 2013 and skipped his title defense to mend a non-lethal heart condition. But as Cheltenhampro remarks with a few weeks to go before the contest, those surrounding the former champion expect him to be in form for this year's Chase. Dodging Bullets is expected to be the most formidable challenger.
The third day's main event, the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, is shaping up to be possibly the most difficult race to predict. In an analysis on the Betfair Cheltenham tips page in late January, More Of That was named as the favorite, having won convincingly a year ago. However, Saphir Du Rheu was also mentioned as a tough competitor and has since caught up to More Of That in the popular odds. Meanwhile, the same analysis noted Zarkander as a possible contender, as he's a horse capable of outstanding form who may have entered last year's World Hurdle a little bit overworked. All in all, it's beginning to sound like a toss-up, which could make this a very interesting race indeed.
The signature race on the final day of the Festival, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is one of the top prizes on the UK racing calendar. As a result, it draws a great deal of attention year in and year out. But of the four signature races in 2015, the Gold Cup may have the clearest favorite in Silviniaco Conti. That said, surprise 2015 winner Lord Windermere is expected to be running to defend his title, which could keep things interesting!
About The Author: John Hammond is a freelance writer and sports enthusiast. His contributions to numerous websites and blogs include analysis on a range of sporting events, primarily in football and horse racing.