Cheltenham is a major sporting event for National Hunt thoroughbreds in the UK and Ireland. You can even expect some horses from France participating in it this year over March 16-19 too.
From the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle which opens the Festival through to the close of the meeting, there is so much action to enjoy. This is our brief guide to Cheltenham in 2021.
High-profile horses to lookout for on the first day include Nicky Henderson pair Shishkin and Epatante. The trainer rode as a jockey in Australia during his early adult years, but has built up his Seven Barrows stable into one of the biggest and best in Britain.
Both Shishkin and Epatante won races on the opening day of the Festival last year, and will look to do so again. They face strong challenges from Ireland, however, in Energumene and Honeysuckle respectively.
Ladies Day has one of the most exciting races on paper at Cheltenham this year in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Three previous winners at the highest level, including Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame are set to face-off in this mouth-watering event for racing fans.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase sees beloved veteran Altior bidding for a fifth Festival win in what has been a glittering career. Again, there’s an Emerald Isle opponent for Henderson to worry about in the form of dual Dublin Chase scorer Chacun Pour Soi and the speedy Spanish-bred Nube Negra.
A popular dynamic to Cheltenham is the best of British battling those coming over from Ireland, and there are plenty of clashes on St Patrick’s Thursday of that nature. While Envoi Allen is a red-hot favourite to get those from the Emerald Isle off to a flying start on that card, other contests later in the day look a lot more competitive. Min and Imperial Aura are among many past Festival winners who could meet in the Ryanair Chase.
While that may steal the show, Paisley Park is out for a shot at redemption and regaining the Stayers’ Hurdle crown he lost last year. Gold Cup day sees Cheltenham reach its crescendo with three valuable and historic hurdle races before the main event.
It could be a good end to the meeting for Irish trainer Gordon Elliott, especially with his smart crop of four-year-olds that have the aim of Triumph Hurdle glory. He also has Grand Paradis, mentioned in the preeviews for the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle – the race named for the man who mentored him.
Willie Mullins always has strength-in-depth for the Festival, and could flex those muscles with strong chances in the County Hurdle, brand new Mares’ Chase and the Gold Cup. Al Boum Photo could well win the big one at Cheltenham for a third year in a row.
From Cross Country events where there are a variety of obstacles to clear to National Hunt Flat races where no jumping is involved at all, the Festival has it all.