Thursday, 10 August 2017

Cheltenham Festival 1997 – A Look Back

Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, commonly known as A.P. McCoy, may have won the jump jockeys’ championship for 20 years in a row, but was leading jockey at the Cheltenham Festival just twice, in 1997 and 1998. On the first occasion, McCoy rode just three winners, but they included Make A Stand, who made all to win the Champion Hurdle by 5 lengths, unchallenged, and Mr Mulligan, who was always prominent and went clear three out to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup by 9 lengths. McCoy also won the Arkle Chase on Or Royal, although his task was made considerably easier by the departure of the hot favourite, Mulligan, at the fourth last fence.

Other notable winners at the Cheltenham Festival that year included Martha’s Son, trained by the late Captain Tim Forster and ridden by Rodney Farrant, in the Queen Mother Champion Chase and Florida Pearl, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Richard Dunwoody, in the Champion Bumper. And, of course, there was 5-year-old Istabraq, who was all out to win the Royal & Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle by a length from Mighty Moss, but would return to the Festival to win the Champion Hurdle for the next three years running for Aidan O’Brien and Charlie Swan.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

2017 Cheltenham Festival Moments

It's been a good four months now since the 2017 Cheltenham Festival, but it was certainly a memorable feast of racing action. There's understandably very little news of the 2018 festival out there at this time though, so I figured it's as good a time as any to cover some of the memorable moments from this years festival - from key races such as the Gold cup and Champion Hurdle, to notable achievements by jockeys and trainers, and general facts about the festival!So without further adue, let's get started!

2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup

First held in 1819, The Gold Cup is a 3 miles 2½ furlongs Grade One race. The 22 fence steeplechase event is one of, if not the most highly anticipated Cheltenham Festival race each year. With total prize money of over £500,000 it attracts the best of the best and is must watch TV for most racing fans, both casual and professional. Taking place on March 17th, this year's race was the 89th annual Gold Cup race. With 13 runners, the 2017 winner was Sizing John (7/1) in 6m 36.30s, ridden by Robbie Power and trained by Jessica Harrington. The 18/1 outsider Minella Rocco was second and Native river 3rd at 7/2. 3-1 favourite Djakadam finished in fourth place.

2017 Champion Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle is another Cheltenham race that draws the crowds in. It's an 8 hurdle Grade One race of 2 miles 87 yards in distance . To many it's considered a jewel in the rown of National Hunt racing and as such is a real feather in the cap to win whether you're a jockey, trainer or owner. In 2017, 11 horses ran in the Champions Hurdle, held on the 14th March. 2/1 Favourite Yanworth, riden by Mark Walsh, was a complete flop on the day finishing way back in 7th. Interestingly 3 or the top 4 placed horses were bred in France. The winner was Buveur D'Air, riden by Noel Fehily (and trained by Nicky Henderson) at 5/1.

Top Jockey of Cheltenham 2017 (most wins) - Ruby Walsh with 4 wins, continuing his impressive run of wins over many years.

Top Trainer of Cheltenham 2017 (most wins) - Gordon Elliott with 6 wins (toppling Willie Mullins, who was top trainer for the previous four years in a row).

The Numbers

The amount bet on the Cheltenham Festival each year - 150 million

The number of staff at the Festival - 6000

Impact on the local economy - £100,000,000

Total Prize Money on offer in 2017 - £4.3 million

Number of punters attending the festival in 2017 - 260,000

Monday, 26 June 2017

Cheltenham Showcase Meeting Tips and Facts

The Showcase Meeting is the very first race that opens the National Hunt season at the Cheltenham Festival racecourse. It will begin the 27th and 28th of October 2017 and will continue all the way till 2018 before the season ends.

The meeting is one of the most popular in the season with tickets on sale as early as June of 2017. The pot last season was at target of £296,000 spread across 14 races, with two £50,000 handicap chases on the climax of the event during the Saturday. This is a race loved by traditional punters and handicappers that wish to see who the new stars of the season will be and what names to keep track on for the big events throughout the season.

This meeting is usually considered a warm up of future champs aiming to major events, especially for the followings month BetVictor Gold Cup.

As a piece of data to keep in mind: The Outback Way (1999), Shooting Light (2001) and Johns Spirit (2013) were all horses that won both races. So keep your eyes open for a promising champ, be it a selection for BetVictor race or the Meeting.

This is the perfect opportunity to spot a rising star at the very first race of the season.

The season will come to an end in March 2018 with the climax of all races during the Cheltenham Festival. The Festival ranks second in prize pot money just to the Grand National, an event were the best of British and Irish trained horses compete against each other. The meeting coincides with St. Patrick’s Day and is very popular with the Irish fans.

Bet on the Cheltenham Showcase Meeting
Cheltenham stands as one of the most popular racecourses to bet on, horse race betting online is more easier than it ever was. By placing a simple bet online bettors can benefit from huge bonus offers and free bets.

Buy Your Ticket
For those planning on attending the event tickets are ready for purchase on the official sales stations and online. Secure your preferred spot on this event that lacks the popularity of the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot, but not less fun and far more comfortable for traditional fans of horseracing.

Seats and Packages Available

The Best Mate Enclosure
Ticket Prices: £9 - £19 - Friday and Saturday

It has a great view of the race track from the opposite side of the finish line, so attendees get to witness the final sprint and decisive jumps. The atmosphere is like nothing that you have witnesses before. Includes nearby betting shops, close to the track stands and live band entertainment.

Tattersalls Enclosure

Ticket Prices: £22 - £42 - Friday and Saturday
Be in a more secluded and high point area with extensive viewing steps, a betting hall and access to bars and buffets. The enclosure also has access to the Centaur, paddock and unsaddling enclosure. If you wish to have a full dining experience the location has direct access to the Gold Cup Restaurant.

The hall betting ring includes enough betting shops to place bets.

Restaurant Packages
Ticket Prices: £90 to £190 - Friday and Saturday

Enjoy of a more VIP and private seating location inside the luxurious restaurant overseeing the Cheltenham winning post directly from your dining table. Restaurant packages come on groups and attendees can select their location. The race can also be enjoyed through live televion broadcasts and table bookies will take care of your personal bet selections.

Experience the best dining you will ever have with Albert Roux in 'Chez Roux' at the Cheltenham racecourse.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Gold Cup Memory Lane

It's certainly a good while until the 2018 Cheltenham Festival, but it's such a rich event there is often something to talk about, either with reference to future events or write ups on the rich history of the event. That's a view echoed by many others I'd say, as I've just now been reading a year by year summary of the Gold Cup on the Cheltenham Focus Blog.

It really does bring back countless memories to think back to some of the classic Cheltenham Gold Cup races and wins over the years. It's no doubt the combination of the best of the best, in terms of horses, jockeys and trainers all competing for this prestigious prize that makes it unmissable for many racing fans.

Let us not forget how rooted in history this race is - the first Gold Cup was held way back in July 1819. Highlights of this grade one steeplechase for me over the years include the amazing 'triple' that was Best Mate's wins in 2002, 2003 and 2004, while being ridden by Jim Culloty and the impressive 2015 win by novice Coneygree - the first time in over four decades that a novice had won the race. Let's hope the 2018 race is one of the classics too, time will tell!

Monday, 8 May 2017

You win some, you lose some!

Of course with every Cheltenham Festival there are talking points, and 2017 is no different. One story that stood out for me this year was that of a big money punter with topsy turvy fortunes.  The anonymous gentlemen got off to a stellar start when his bet on Altior in the Arkle Chase on the first day of Cheltenham bagged him a cool £100,000. So far so good right? Well yes, but let's not forget he had to wage an eye watering £400,000 at 1-4 to win that sum.

This guy clearly doesn't like the quiet life and unfortunately lumping big money on odds-ons proved to be his undoing on the second day of the festival. The cash rich punter placed a £375,000 bet on the favourite Douvan in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at stingy odds of 2-9.  What was expected to be an easy two mile win, turned into anything but for Douvan as he struggled, eventually finishing seventh. The loss was actually bigger than the prize money for the race.

Ben Keith, the shrewd and/or brave bookmaker who took the bet through his Star Sports firm will no doubt have been raising a glass as Douvan limped home.

I think I'll be sticking to fun bets!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Cheltenham Festival 2017 - Day Four Results

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle - Defi Du Seuil (5/2 fav), 2nd Mega Fortune (D N Russell) 7-1, Bapaume (R Walsh) 10-1.

2.10pm County Hurdle - Arctic Fire (20/1), 2nd L'Ami Serge (D A Jacob) 25-1, 3rd Ozzie The Oscar (T J O'Brien) 50-1, 4th Air Horse One (N D Fehily) 10-1.

2.50pm Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle - Penhill (16/1), 2nd Monalee (D J Mullins) 8-1, 3rd Wholestone (D A Jacob) 13-2

3.30pm Cheltenham Gold Cup - Sizing John (7/1), 2nd Minella Rocco (N D Fehily) 18-1, 3rd Native River (R Johnson) 7-2

4.10pm Foxhunter Chase - Pacha Du Polder (14/1), 2nd Wonderful Charm (Ms K Walsh) 7-2, 3rd Barel Of Laughs (Mr Alex Edwards) 100-1

4.50pm Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle - Champagne Classic (12/1), 2nd Verni (T Cheesman) 25-1, 3rd Runfordave (D Meyler) 9-1

5.30pm Johnny Henderson Grand Annual - Rock The World (R M Power) 10-1, 2nd Gardefort (D A Jacob) 20-1, 3rd Theinval (J McGrath) 9-1 4th Dandridge (D N Russell) 13-2