Cheltenham Festival 2016 Preview

Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the highlights of the annual jumping calendar, pitting the best of British and Irish horses against each other in the highest prized event outside the Grand National. A fixture of the year every March, the Cheltenham Festival has long been enjoyed by racing fans, as a chance to see the best horses, jockeys and trainers tough it out, against an almost exclusively British-Irish field – a rare occurrence, and one which gives this event its particular character. The 2015 event saw some 27 races across the four days, over varying distances and obstacles. Culminating in the show-stopping Cheltenham Gold Cup race, the event remains one of the few in horse racing to penetrate mainstream consciousness.

The 2016 event sees many of the country’s leading horses return for another year, ready to compete for these hotly contested prizes. But it hasn’t always been the highlight event that it is today.

Cheltenham Festival HistoryCheltenham Gold Cup

The Cheltenham Festival began life as a much smaller affair, and has grown over the years to become the four-day event it is today. The first Cheltenham Festival took place back in 1860, albeit in a slightly different guise. The first race meet was held in Market Harborough as the Grand National Hunt Meeting, before moving to Warwick Racecourse for the early part of the 20th century. By 1911, after floating between venues, the meet settled at Cheltenham, and the Festival as we know it today was born.

With so much history and prestige surrounding Cheltenham, these are no ordinary races. Punters too are drawn to the Cheltenham Festival, hoping to pick out the runners and riders successfully over the four day period, while the lure of some of the biggest prizes in the business ensures this is an occasion for the very best in horse racing to show what their made of.

Highlight RacesCheltenham Race

Queen Mother Champion Chase: Open to horses aged 5 years and over, the Queen Mother Champion Chase is run over 2 miles across 12 fences. Inaugurated in 1959, the current event, sponsored by Betway, offers a purse of over £350,000. Won last year by Paul Nicholls’ Dodging Bullets, ridden by Sam Twiston-Davies, the Queen Mother Champion Chase is the foremost minimum distance chase in the National Hunt programme annually. This event takes place on the Wednesday of the Cheltenham Festival.

The World Hurdle: The feature race of Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival, the World Hurdle is run on the New Course across 3 miles and 12 hurdles. Reserved for horses four years and older, the race sees the best hurdle jumpers compete for a total purse of £275,000. This year’s riders follow in the footsteps of several horses that have made this race their own, including Baracouda, Inglis Drever and of course, the four-time winner, Big Buck’s. Current favourite Thistlecrack looks set for a winning return to Cheltenham this year, but there’s still plenty of time for that to change as we approach the race itself.

The Gold Cup: The highlight event of the Cheltenham race programme, the Gold Cup is a Grade 1 race, chased over 3 miles and 2 furlongs on the final day of the Cheltenham festival. Reserved for five years and older horses, the Gold Cup offers the winner a purse in the region of £330,000. Run on the New Course at Cheltenham since 1959, it remains the main draw for horses and punters alike. Winners of the Gold Cup cement their place in the sport’s hall of fame, recognising the significant achievement in beating this highly competitive field. For the trainers, the lucrative prize fund ensures this is always an important date in the racing calendar.

Cheltenham ThistlecrackTips For Cheltenham 2016

Queen Mother Champion Chase: The last three winners of the Champion Chase also won the Tingle Creek at Sandown earlier in the season. This year’s winner, Sire De Grugy currently sits way behind the front runners for this race, so comes as a good tip for those who can look beyond long-time favourite Un De Sceaux. Dodging Bullets also has form in winning at Cheltenham, so is also worthy of further consideration.

The World Hurdle: Thistlecrack remains the favourite to win the World Hurdle. However, since 1972 only 15 favourites have gone on to win the race, and 8 of the last 9 winners won last time out. This is clearly a field that remains wide open, but taking all factors into account, Thistlecrack still looks to be a good bet going in to the chase.

The Gold Cup: Don Cossack and are vying for favourite in a very close field for this year’s Gold Cup. This is a race where the favourites have won in 6 out of the last 12 meetings, with 11 of the last 12 coming from the front three. Horses who have won races earlier in the season are most likely to place here. Cue Card and Smad Place are also worth further attention, nestling just behind the favourites as the race draws near.

This year’s Cheltenham Festival looks set to be one of the biggest and best ever. With packed race cards and the very best of British and Irish racing on display, these are four days of racing you really don’t want to miss. Always ,make sure to take advantage of the free bets no deposit 2016 offers, to get the best value for your money. Many bookmakers feature specials and exclusive promotions for this event.

The following promotions in our opinion present the one of the best values:

  • First race money back special up to £25 at Ladbrokes is available if the favourite wins along with live streaming
  • Back a 3/1+ winner and receive free bet at Betfair along with no runner refund
  • Get money back at BetVictor if second to Mullins trained horse

Good luck and remember to bet only with money you can afford to lose. All the free bet offer carry terms and conditions with staking requirements and withdrawal conditions (we list them in our review).

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