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How to get the best possible start to the Cheltenham Festival this year

(Photo: Cheltenham racecourse under CC 2.0)

One of the most significant horseracing events in history will soon be here – the Cheltenham Festival 2020. For those who observed last year’s event, there were some sensational highlights, including the many wins that Willie Mullins achieved with Klassical Dream. Not to mention the other triumphs such as Nico de Boinville being crowned top jockey, and Willie Mullins being crowned top trainer with four wins in total.

However, it’s not just the horse racing that makes up this world-renowned event. There are lots of other reasons to attend Cheltenham this year. Including the champagne, fantastic catering, children’s entertainment, or perhaps even the sense of pride in dressing up for the occasion.

For those considering visiting Cheltenham for the first time or thinking of placing a bet, this can be nerve-wracking and surrounded by uncertainty. Take a look at the Cheltenham Champion day betting tips to gather hints and tips in choosing the very best horses taking part in this year’s festival.

Day one schedule for this year

Here are the races happening this year at Cheltenham, along with what time they kick-off, how long they will last, and what they’re worth.

  • 1.30 pm Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y £125,000
  • 2.10 pm Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) 1m 7f 199y £175,000
  • 2.50 pm Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 1f £110,000
  • 3.30 pm Unibet Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 87y £450,000
  • 4.10 pm David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 3f 200y £120,000
  • 4.50 pm Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed) 2m 4f 44y £70,000
  • 5.30 pm National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase) (Grade 2) 3m 7f 147y £125,000

Horses to follow

Rowland Ward, 5th, in the JCB Triumph Juvenile Hurdle. Although not entirely living up to levels achieved on the flat, this horse which was bred to win classics always puts in the effort, particularly at Kempton on the second start.

Imperial Aura, 2nd, in the Timeform Novices Handicap Chase. One to focus on this year, Imperial Aura has gone up in effort which slowly built from March. Based on the Irish rivals to be faced this year, this capable horse has every chance of succeeding against them.

Garde la Victoire in the Paddy Power 45 Sleeps to Cheltenham Trophy Handicap Chase. With a fantastic finish at Cheltenham previously, Garde la Victoire is itching to get started. A previous grade one winner, this horse could eventually be involved in the Grand Annual or Gold Cup, although it’s stamina does need working on.

De Rasher Counter in the Paddy Power Cotswold Chase. Although yet to achieve gold, this horse has thrived recently despite the unfavourable circumstances during races. Although it may have dropped in the ratings, it could well reach the Nationals if Tiger Roll performs well.

Harry Sailor in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle. This long-term handicap project could do well this season, and with experience and course form behind it, this six-year-old horse has excellent prospects. It has overcome barriers and should do well if it has a chance through Albert Bartlett. Only the best horses will beat Harry Sailor this time around.

If the Cap Fits in the Cleeve Hurdle. Will probably retain its crown in the Paddy Powers Stayers Hurdle but worth keeping an eye on to see how it does in the next six weeks. Despite past troubles and a slightly exaggerated betting reaction, hold tight to see how it performs at Aintree in April.

Lust for Glory in the Steel Plate And Sections Handicap Hurdle. Did well back in 2014, plus the hat trick achieved at Aintree during the grade one race the month after. Has made a great start this season and remains in top form. Not greatly handicapped but performs well on suitable ground — one to look out for at the first Cheltenham meeting this April.

What you need to know before heading to Cheltenham this year

We probably don’t need to tell you that the Cheltenham Festival is one of the most significant events in horse racing around the globe. As well as enjoying some much-favoured traditions year in year out, every year appears to bring something new and exciting. For those new to the event, be sure to experience the thrill of placing a bet on a favourite horse. We know it can be challenging to work out which horse to consider, so have a look at the above guide to boosting chances of success. This year kicks off with the 1.30 pm Sky Sports Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle (Grade 1), but there will be other races available on the day, so make sure not to miss out.

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