The National Hunt; Cheltenham 2020 Preview

Published 2020/02/11

The Gloucestershire event sports a respected heritage, and hosts some of the most renowned races of the National Hunt calendar. Held across four days in March, the “Cheltenham roar” can be heard across the old and new course as over 250,000 spectators watch with bated breath. Having been an intrinsic part of the National Hunt for centuries now, and with the countdown to opening day having officially begun, people are wondering what the 2020 event will bring.

The action will begin on the 10th March, with the first of seven races being held from 1:30pm until 5:30pm. All of these Day 1 races will be held on the ‘old course’ at Cheltenham, arguably known by pundits and fans alike as being the more challenging of the two courses.

Out of all the races held on that first day, the Champion Hurdle is the one that generates a lot of hype, with the market and its odds already promising a heated battle to the finish line. This is especially true since Leopardstown, with Saturday’s Irish Champion Hurdle having highlighted horses, such as Supasundea, as being ready to go directly to the Grade 1 hurdles at Cheltenham.

As for Day 2 of the Festival, largely known as Ladies Day, there’s few events that stand out more than the Champion Chase. Some would even argue that it’s the main event of Cheltenham. This is why the Cheltenham Day 2 tips are even more heated than those of any other race, with the odds on who will win changing with every new piece of racing news. Currently, Defi Du Seuil is still one of the favourites, alongside A Plus Tard and Altior.

Moving into the penultimate day of the Festival, all eyes are upon the outcome of The Stayers’ Hurdle, held at 3:30pm. Held upon the ‘new course’, eight horses will go head to head across the three mile stretch in an attempt to win a hefty prize of £325,000. Out of all the horses aged four and over, the market currently has Paisley Park and Benie Des Dieux as the two main contenders. Given the success that both of the horses have experienced already this year, particularly Paisley Park at the Cleeve Hurdle in January, spectators are sure to watch a close match between these two.

When the Festival moves into the final day, fans are still treated to an intense display of racing, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup being one of the main attractions. Across the three-mile track, those competing will have to jump a total of 22 hurdles to claim that illustrious prize money and Gold Cup title. Said to be the most prominent award of the entire National Hunt season, it’s fair to say that this race is where history is made.

A lot of the odds right now have Santini as the favourite to take the title, with trainer, Nicky Henderson, commenting on the gelding as being in terrific form. However, there are some who believe Kemboy is the horse to beat. However, after being beaten at the Irish Gold Cup, the Willie Mullins trained gelding may not be ready for the Festival as previously believed.

March may seem a long way off, but with February well on the way, it won’t be long before Cheltenham fever truly grips the racing nation once more.