Every year, thousands of horse racing fans make the pilgrimage to Gloucestershire for the Cheltenham Festival, the biggest week of the year in National Hunt racing.
The latest renewal of the meeting is set to throw up some thrilling contests. Here is a look at three horses who can win Championship races and steal the headlines across the four days.
Hewick to Have More Major Success
Irish chaser Hewick established himself as one of the best 3m chasers in the UK and Ireland over the festive period when he won the King George VI Chase at Kempton. He can follow that up with another major triumph at the Cheltenham Festival in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Those looking to place horse racing bets on the Kempton hero can get odds of +1400 for the Blue Riband event of the meeting.
Hewick will be taking on Galopin Des Champs at the Festival and the defending champion is the +100 favorite in the bet on Cheltenham Festival 2024 market. The stiffer test of 3m2½f should favor John Hewick’s runner at Prestbury Park, as his best work often comes in the latter stages of his races, particularly over the distance of 3m and beyond.
The Irish horse will come across many of the runners who finished behind him in the Kempton feature. If he finds further improvement, the chaser which cost just over $1000 at the sales could steal the headlines once again.
Edwardstone Should Not Be a Forgotten Horse
Just two years ago, Edwardstone was one of the stars of the Cheltenham Festival when he landed the Arkle Trophy in impressive style. Since then, it has been a mixed bag for the 2m chaser.
The highlight since his Cheltenham success was a victory in the 2022 Grade One Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown. He also finished second in that race back in December, coming home not far behind Jonbon.
His odds of +2000 suggest Edwardstone is an outsider for this year’s Queen Mother Champion Chase. The course and distance winner is a much better horse than those odds suggest, and if he produces his best again, he is a big player for the top prize.
France to Land Stayers’ Hurdle
It’s not often that French runners travel across to the Cheltenham Festival, however, when they do, they are often very good horses. There could be a new champion from France this year as Theleme looks to be the one to beat in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle.
The seven-year-old is already a 10-time winner over hurdles. Five of his victories have come at the highest level, including last time out at Auteuil where he won the Grade One Prix Serge Landon – Grand Prix d’Autohmne over 3m. He blew his rivals away by 10 lengths in that contest in Paris.
The Stayers’ Hurdle is the most open of the Championship races at the Festival this year and should Theleme travel across for the 3m contest, he can cement his place as the best horse in his division.
Arnaud Chaille-Chaille’s stable star is the +400 joint-favorite for the race alongside Teahupoo. It will be his first visit outside of France, but his trainer would not make the trip if he did not feel his horse was good enough to prevail.
Enjoy all the action at the Cheltenham Festival this year. Let’s hope it is another special week in the sport.