Cheltenham Festival battles to savour plus 206-1 accumulator

Sire Du Berlais winning the Pertemps under Barry Geraghty at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival

On the eve of this year’s Cheltenham Festival, there are countless intriguing battles that will come to define this year’s four day spectacle. Whether it’s the tussle between the British and Irish, the young pretender vs the proven winner, or a battle of the sexes, I have analysed four key battles in this year’s festival, and their likely winners.

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3.05 Tuesday – Champion Hurdle – Honeysuckle

One of the most intriguing battles of the week comes in the shape of the feature race of Tuesday, the Champion Hurdle. The contest will likely be between the three major players in the market, Honeysuckle and Epatante, the two mares, and Goshen, the maverick.

The seven pounds that Goshen has to give both mares means it would have to be an incredible performance to beat them and I think that leaves it between the two girls. Epatante, last year’s winner, was poor at Kempton last time out whereas Honeysuckle was outstanding in the Irish Champion Hurdle.

Henry De Bromhead’s unbeaten mare made very good horses such as the reopposing Sharjah look ordinary that day, and if she is near that level she should win here. The late rain on Sunday night will only have helped her chances.

1.20 Wednesday – Ballymore – Bravemansgame

In the most interesting of the novice races, two of Ireland’s top youngsters take on a British hopeful in Wednesday’s opening race, the Ballymore. Gallard Du Mesnil and Bob Ollinger, representing the Irish contingent, have good form on heavy ground this winter, but Paul Nicholls’ Bravemansgame could be a different proposition to what they have faced so far.

The Nicholls’ yard have long been bullish about the imposing Bravemansgame, and after the way he took the Challow last time, it is hard not to share their enthusiasm. Only beaten by the Betfair Hurdle winner Soaring Glory this season, Nicholls’ charge has more experience on the likely ground than the Irish contenders and can fly the flag for Britain here.

3.05 Friday – Gold Cup – Al Boum Photo

The showpiece of the Cheltenham Festival, the Gold Cup, has provided some of the great battles in racing history. In this year’s renewal, Al Boum Photo is bidding to join an incredibly select group in winning the race for a third consecutive time.

He faces a strong challenge here from the likes of A Plus Tard and Champ, but Willie Mullins’ charge has all the qualities required for a Gold Cup horse and can make it third time lucky here. With plenty of pace guaranteed up front, the race won’t be run at the sedentary gallop it was last year and that will suit.

3.40 Friday – Foxhunters – Bob and Co

This is an intriguing renewal of the Foxhunters, with last year’s winner It Came to Pass and beaten favourite from that race, Billaway, locking horns again. However, Paul Nicholls’ Bob and Co has the perfect profile for this race and should have the beating of both of them.

Having looked a tricky ride for an amateur throughout his British career, no horse will benefit more from having a professional on his back this year, with Sean Bowen taking over from David Maxwell. He was incredibly impressive last time out and can take this.

Check out the myracing experts’ Cheltenham Festival tips every day of the festival, and don’t forget to check out the latest Cheltenham free bets and offers to get a headstart on your festival punting. 

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