After Tuesday and Wednesday’s questions are answered at the Cheltenham Festival 2021, how great to remember that we’ll only be half way through?
8 Grade 1 races completed. 6 more to go – including the blue ribbon event.
Can Al Boum Photo win a third successive Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup on the concluding day of the Festival once again?
He would become the first horse since the great Best Mate to complete the hat-trick.
We’ve gathered the leading favourites for the final sextet of elite level races across day three and four of National Hunt’s key stage.
Here’s the market principals who lead your current ante-post betting for this year’s renewal.
Thursday 18th March 2021
Marsh Novices’ Chase | 2m 3f 168y | 1:30pm
Envoi Allen (10/11) returns to Cheltenham seeking a third straight win in the Festival, this time over fences in the Marsh Novices’ Chase. The seven-year-old is yet to be beaten and is aiming for a sixth Grade 1 success. With three chase wins out of a possible three, Shan Blue (12/1) has impressed with his staying ability and fluent jumping this season and could well challenge Gordon Elliott’s superstar. Hitman (14/1) won by a incredible 30 lengths on his chase debut and could be a worthy contender, should Paul Nicholls decide to send the four-year-old to the Festival this season. Allart (16/1) claimed an impressive victory on his chasing debut for Nicky Henderson and could well be in the mix with further improvement.
Ryanair Chase | 2m 4f 127y | 2:50pm
An absolute cracker lies in wait in this year’s edition of the Ryanair Chase. Last season’s winner Min (6/1) is attempting to land back-to-back victories in the contest for Willie Mullins, but faces stern competition from talented stablemates Allaho (10/1), who has placed in the last two Festivals, and Melon (12/1), who has finished second in every Festival contest he has ever raced in. Rising star Imperial Aura (7/1) will be looking for his second win at Prestbury Park for Kim Bailey and could well land his first Grade 1 here.
Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle | 2m 7f 213y | 3:30pm
The newfound rivalry of Emma Lavelle’s star stayer Paisley Park (10/3) and Phillip Hobbs’ exciting prospect Thyme Hill (4/1) makes its way onto the Cheltenham stage in the form of the Stayers’ Hurdle. Both have beaten each other this season and have established themselves as the clear contenders for this year’s renewal. Dual Pertemps Final winner Sire Du Berlais (9/1) could well be of interest for Gordon Elliott, while Gavin Cromwell’s Flooring Porter (16/1) will want to follow up his maiden Grade 1 success with a first victory at the Festival.
Friday 19th March 2021
JCB Triumph Hurdle | 2m 179y | 1:30pm
Gold Cup Day opens up with a race full of exciting future prospects in the Triumph Hurdle. Since switching to Gordon Elliott’s yard, Zanahiyr (11/4) has established himself as the one to beat after landed three wins in three races over obstacles, two of which were in Graded company. Stablemate Quilixios (12/1) is also unbeaten over hurdles, while French Aseel (7/1) joined Willie Mullins in January after an eye-catching victory on his hurdles debut at Leopardstown and could well make his stable debut at Cheltenham. Adagio (9/1) gave David Pipe his first Grade 1 success in six years in the Finale Juvenile Hurdle and is also in the mix.
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle | 2m 7f 213y | 2:50pm
A mix of interesting runners make up the field in the Albert Bartlett. Willie Mullins’ Stattler (12/1) impressed on his last showing at Leopardstown and could well improve further. Barbados Buck’s (14/1) has high expectations on him already, as his dam is a half-sister to Stayers Hurdle’ legend Big Buck’s. Champagnesuperover (16/1) has put himself back in contention after returning to winning ways at Ayr for Olly Murphy, while Admirel (20/1) remains undefeated over hurdles for Tom Lacey.
Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup | 3m 2f 70y | 3:30pm
Al Boum Photo (7/2) has the chance to become the first horse to win three consecutive Gold Cups since Best Mate back in 2003, but it could be a big ask with an array of talented chasers coming up against him. Santini (10/1), who was beaten by a neck by Willie Mullins’ star last year, could challenge once again if Nicky Henderson decides to continue with blinkers while stablemate Champ (12/1) landed a memorable RSA Chase victory in the final stages. Minella Indo (10/1) has put in some impressive chase performances so far this season for Henry De Bromhead and could well be another threat, while A Plus Tard (10/1) has emerged as a contender after an impressive late surge to land the Savills Chase.
*Odds courtesy of bet365 and are subject to change.