March is always a big month for horse racing enthusiasts and punters as the Cheltenham Festival takes centre stage over four consecutive days of highly competitive action. More than a quarter of a million people will visit the Gloucestershire racecourse, where the prize money up for grabs across 28 races is second only to Royal Ascot.
The only time the Festival has been cancelled other than World War II was due to the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001.
Who’s hot to trot?
Stats and trends are one of the most popular ways of picking winners throughout the week’s racing and it can pay to follow trainers who have enjoyed recent success at the Festival. This year, Nicky Henderson arrives with a strong team of runners and the Champion Trainer has several leading chances, with the likes of Altior, Buveur D’air and Might Bite at the head of their respective ante-post markets in the Championship races.
The Seven Barrows trainer is one of the most successful trainers in the Festival’s history with 58 winners already and he looks sure to add to his tally this year.
There will be a new name on the Gold Cup this year after the withdrawal of Sizing John on Thursday afternoon. The eight-year-old was bidding to become only the second horse to win consecutive renewals of the race since L’Escargot in 1971.
Last year’s Cheltenham winner Might Bite has shortened in the betting as a result while Native River will be many people’s idea of an each-way bet in the race. It’s a wide-open renewal of National Hunt racing’s Blue Ribband event that promises to be one of the highlights of the week.
How big is the Cheltenham Festival?
The Prestbury Cup often captures the wider public’s imagination and Irish-trained runners have dominated the last couple of renewals of this unique competition. This year looks set to be competitive with many Irish runners fancied for the handicaps, but British runners are dominating the betting markets in Championship races. The Prestbury Cup is often more of interest to the casual punter but there can still be value found in the market throughout Festival week.
Why is the festival so important to ICS-digital?
ICS-digital will also be helping our sister company ICS-sport with their Cheltenham Radio production. Rupert Bell and Niall Hannity will be trackside for every minute of the action, while another Racing UK pundit will be in the studio offering analysis. It runs throughout each day and has previews, interviews with the trainers/jockeys/owners, commentary from all seven races each day and a review show, as well as keeping listeners up to date with traffic and travel updates.
It goes out on local FM radio, online and at the racetrack itself where headsets are widely available to purchase.
beforetheoff.com will be providing all of their usual services throughout the Festival, such as their stats, ratings and racecard subscription service, combined with in-depth previews for all 28 races of the Festival, available online 24 hours before each race. It’s where all the latest news and results can be found, and they will be keeping their followers updated with all the action on their social media channels.
The festival kicks off on Tuesday, March 13.