Preview & Predictions For Cheltenham Races

On March 11, the 2014 Cheltenham Festival will begin in the UK, marking one of the first marquee horse racing events of the year. Cheltenham doesn’t quite have the big name on an international basis of some of the world’s other high-profile races like the Melbourne Cup and Belmont Stakes. However, it’s an outstanding four-day event with some of the most exciting racing and jumping in the world.

Each day at Cheltenham is packed with races, but there’s essentially a main event every day. It’s these four main events that will be remembered from the festival, so with a focus on these particular races, here are four predictions for the 2014 Cheltenham Festival.

HorseJump_1Stan James Champion Hurdle

The signature event of the festival’s opening “Champion Day,” the Stan James Champion Hurdle is an eight-hurdle race run over a distance just more than two miles for horses aged 4 and up. This year’s favorite is The New One, which is a fitting name given that the horse is looking to snatch the title from defending champion Hurricane Fly, who won in both 2011 and 2013. The odds on either of these two horses coming in first are quite strong, and the prediction here is that Hurricane Fly defends the title against The New One. If this prediction holds true, it makes the current 7/2 odds on Hurricane Fly quite appealing for anyone interested in placing bets!

Queen Mother Champion Chase

The highlight of “Ladies Day,” the Champion Chase is another two-mile race, run for horses aged 5 and older, with 12 fences to be jumped. This has quickly turned into the most dramatic race of the Cheltenham, with the Betfair sports betting site reporting that popular favorite and defending champion Sprinter Sacre has been pulled from competition. Sprinter Sacre missed time recently due to an irregular heartbeat, and while trainer Nicky Henderson assures fans that the horse’s heart is fine, he also deemed his prized champion unfit to compete. The prediction here is that new favorite Sire de Grugy will not win the race; it’s just too great an opportunity for a lesser known horse to pass up.

Ladbrokes World Hurdle

A three-mile, 12-hurdle race for horses aged 4 and up, the World Hurdle is the main event of St. Patrick’s Day at Cheltenham. The betting favorite is local legend Big Buck’s, who was expected to win last year as well before pulling out of the competition. Big Buck’s’ odds are not overwhelming, with challenger Annie Power sitting at a close second. Course Specialist notes a number of contenders and possible surprise winners, but it’s foolish to bet against Big Buck’s. The prediction here is that he regains his title.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

A 22-fence, three-mile race for horses aged 5 and up, this is the final big event of the Cheltenham Festival, and could be the most closely contested. Bobs Worth, last year’s champion by a hair, is listed as the favorite, but is by no means a lock to win. In fact, many are tabbing second favorite Silviniaco Conti as an extremely tough challenger, despite 3/1 odds (as compared to 2/1 for Bobs Worth). The prediction here is that Bobs Worth manages to defend, however. Trainer Nicky Henderson has to be devastated at having to pull Sprinter Sacre out of Cheltenham, and it seems only fitting he’ll have Bobs Worth winning the Gold Cup to salvage the event.

Author bio: Nick Morris is a freelance writer, blog contributor, and sports fanatic. He primarily enjoys profession tennis, but follows most international sports.