Your Guide To Cheltenham Festival 2017
March 13, 2017
Nothing quite suggests Spring time like the Cheltenham Festival. It’s the capital of National Hunt racing and the first meet of 2017 that whets the appetite for people outside of horse racing. With four days of top-class racing, culminating in the Gold Cup on March 17, the Festival is not one to be missed; here is our rundown to all the action.
St Patrick’s Thursday
Thursday March 16
With the Guinness flowing, punters have two major meets to enjoy across the day. Irish music plays out as the Ryanair Steeplechase and the Sun Bet Stayers’ Hurdle take place.
The former is another race Ruby Walsh is defending having rode Vautour last year. Once again he’s favourite on Douvan at 2/1, while Sizing John looks a good bet.
Rode by Robbie Power, the 7-year-old has won both its races this year and could be an interesting punt at 5/1.
The Stayers’ Hurdle odds suggest the J P McManus owned Unowhatimeanharry will line up in the starting gate as favourite while Jezki, another McManus owned horse, has had a good start to 2017 and is a worthwhile punt at 8/1.
Gold Cup Day
Friday March 17
Gold Cup day is all set to be one of the most exciting days of 2017 and will see Djakadam return to try and go one better than the previous two years.
In the pre-Cheltenham races the Willie Mullins trained horse has been on fire and David Casey, Mullins assistant, has written off the horse’s main two rivals Native River and Cue Card.
Cue Card was the early favourite and remains the favourite in the Cheltenham Gold Cup stakes with Titanbet offering 3/1, with Djakadam and Native River both at 7/2. Sizing John could be an outsider at 8/1 with jockey Robbie Power confident in his horse ahead of the race.
Cue Card: 7/2
Age: 11 – Sex: Bay Gelding – Trainer: C L Tizzard – Owner: Mrs Jean R Bishop
Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card has held the favourite position for some time and it’s no surprise with the amount of noise that’s coming out of their camp. The horse fell three fences from the finish last year, but has began 2017 with an impressive win at Ascot.
Age: 8 – Sex: Bay Gelding – Trainer: W P Mullins – Owner: Mrs S Ricci
Joining Cue Card is Djakadam, the horse Willie Mullins has high hopes for. Ridden by Ruby Walsh, the horse finished third in its most recent outing and will be wanting to go one better after finishing runner up in the Gold Cup last year.
Native River: 7/2
Age: 7 – Sex: Chestnut Gelding – Trainer: C L Tizzard – Owner: Brocade Racing
Another at Tizzard’s base, Native River is in fine form and expected to continue that in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup. The seven-year-old finished second in Wetherby in November before winning the Hennessy Gold Cup and the Welsh Grand National with Richard Johnson on its back.
Sizing John: 8/1
Age: 7 – Sex: Bay Gelding – Trainer: Mrs J Harrington – Owner: Ann & Alan Potts Partnership
It’ll be a big step up for Sizing John at Cheltenham but the seven-year-old has passed every test so far. The horse won at Thurles in January over two and a half miles, stepping up again over three miles in the Irish Gold Cup. Robbie Power has got the best out of the horse, and while the extra quarter of a mile may proving testing, Sizing John could be right in the mix.
Age: 9 – Sex: Bay Gelding – Trainer: G Elliott – Owner: Gigginstown House Stud
Outlander hasn’t raced since The Lexus Chase back in December and with Bryan Cooper riding could be a sure fire going up the Cheltenham hill. The nine-year-old has won nine of it’s last 20 races and of course is being backed heavily by fans of the popular TV series of the same name.
The Rest of the field:
More of That: 12/1
Empire of Dirt: 16/1
Champagne West: 16/1
Minella Rocco: 20/1
Bristol De Mai: 20/1
Smad Place: 40/1
Fancy A Flutter?
Tuesday March 14
The start of the Cheltenham Festival gets off to a great start with Champion Day, which features one of the most important races of the jump season: the Stan James Champion Hurdle.
The Grade 1 race takes in the Old Course at Cheltenham and has been won by horses rode by Ruby Walsh for the past two years.
The rider is 1/2 to be top jockey this year – riding Willie Mullins’ favourites, including Vroum Vroum Mag priced at 8/1 for the Champion Hurdle with William Hill.
Mark Walsh will ride the favourite – Yanworth – in place of Barry Geraghty, who misses out through injury. The favourite is unbeaten in three starts this season and pips Vroum Vroum Mag, Buveur D’Air and Petit Mouchoir to the favourite tag.
Wednesday March 15
As the sun comes out (hopefully) on Ladies Day, the Cheltenham Festival moves on to the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.
While off the course all the focus will be on the Best Dressed Ladies Competition, on it punters will be focused on the Champion Chase odds.
Douvan is far and away the favourite at 1/4, again rode by Ruby Walsh. The horse has form at the Cheltenham Festival having won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle two years ago, it will also be worth keeping an eye on Uxizandre, who famously gave AP McCoy a Festival win back in 2015.