ONLY ONE MONTH TO THE CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL

The annual Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious jump-race meet in Great Britain and its feature, the Gold Cup, is its crown jewel.  The Festival is a staple on the British social calendar and offers racegoers music, food, and shopping in addition to four days of racing, which is why it attracts blue-ribbon corporate sponsors. 

Cheltenham Racecourse, about 95 miles from London (toward Oxford) and only minutes away from the Cotswold countryside, is one of 14 racetracks owned by the British Jockey Club. Cheltenham describes itself as follows:

“The Festival epitomises and encompasses everything that is great about Jump racing, whilst delivering an unbelievable occasion as the finest horses, jockeys, owners, and trainers battle it out for the highest racing honours.”

Following tradition, the 2020 Cheltenham Festival features four days of racing, on March 10-14.  Seven races are carded every day and the feature races on each card are all Group 1 events:

The Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, March 10, is open to horses 4-years-old and up.  The race is contested at a distance of 2 miles and ½ furlongs and the purse is £450,000.  The current 4/1 favorite is Epante.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday is run at 1 mile and 199 yards.  Its purse is £400,000.  The 11/5 favorite is Defi Du Seuil.

The Rynair Chase is for horses 5-years-old and up.  It is run at 2 miles 4 furlongs and 127 yards and offers a purse of £350,000.  The 6/1 favorite is Faugheen.

The Gold Cup on closing day, Friday, is a coveted win for owners and trainers, the most exalted race of the National Hunt season.  Its inaugural running was in 1819, when it began as a race on the flat.  In 1924, the Gold Cup was changed to a jump event and it quickly became prominent.

Cheltenham Festival 2020 tips provides the latest news about the Festival, betting information, and a guide on where to access live streaming.

The course for the Gold Cup covers 22 jumps spread out over 3 miles and 2 ½ furlongs.  Horses must be at least five years old to be entered.  The purse is £625,000 or approximately 808,000 U. S. dollars. In the 21st century, just two horses have managed to win the Gold Cup twice—Best Mate and Kauto Star.  In 2020, this feat could very well be repeated, as the 2019 winner, Al Boum, is returning to defend his title and is the current favorite at 9/2 odds. 

Al Boum is especially formidable in that his trainer is W. P. “Willie” Mullins, who has won 65 races at Cheltenham, the most of any trainer in the storied history of the racecourse.  In 2015, the Ireland-based Mullins had eight winners at Cheltenham, an all-time record that he now shares with Gordon Elliott, who also trained eight winners in 2018.  Elliott’s 2020 Gold Cup entry is Delta Work, the current third choice at 6/1.

Other live contenders for the Gold Cup include Santini at 5/1, Lost in Translation at 7/1, and Clan Des Obeoux and Kemboy, both at 8/1.  Kemboy is a second Mullins’-trained horse in the race and gives him a powerful one-two punch.

An enticing element for bettors in almost all of the races at the Cheltenham Festival is that the odds are usually generous even for the favorites.  Jump races are more challenging than flat races for two reasons:  the former are generally much longer in terms of distances and much harder to navigate because of the obstacles the jumps pose.  A favorite in a large field can quickly become a non-factor if he or she falters at a jump.

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