The 2013 Cheltenham Festival is the jewel in the crown when it comes to the National Hunt season, with Sir Des Champs favourite to claim victory in the Gold Cup
In a few months time, thousands of racegoers will be descending on the Cotswolds for the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, with the bookies having already seen some brisk business on the antepost markets for the main races of the meeting.
Tuesday 12th March - Centenary Day
Day 1 of the Cheltenham Festival, featuring the 2013 Champion Hurdle
It all kicks off on Tuesday 12 March when the Champion Hurdle is run and Hurricane Fly is the 6/1 favourite to bounce back from a disappointing third in last season’s renewal where Ruby Walsh seemed to give the Willie Mullins horse too much to do.
The winner of that race was Rock on Ruby and it will be interesting to see whether she can live up to her potential and retain her hurdling crown, something that is never an easy task.
Simonsig, Grandouet and Spirit Son are priced around the 10/1 mark, while Cinders and Ashes is a 12/1 chance following victoy in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Wednesday 13th March - Ladies Day
Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival, featuring the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase
Sprinter Sacre is reported to be flying ahead of the new season and this horse was the singularly most impressive performer at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival when dotting up in the Arkle.
The Nicky Henderson charge is a best price 5/4 and could easily win the Queen Mother doing handstands, although Finian’s Rainbow is from the same stable and managed to beat Sizing Europe last time out.
Thursday 14th March - St Patrick's Day
Day 3 of the Cheltenham Festival, featuring the 2013 Ladbrokes World Hurdle
We’re unlikely to have seen the end of Big Buck’s dominance in this race and the Paul Nicholls horse is a 6/4 chance to claim a fifth World Hurdle on the bounce.
The greatest staying hurdler in history could be racing against Voler La Vedette, Zarkandar and Peddlers Cross in March, although he has beaten off all rivals to date.
Friday 15th March - 2013 Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup Day
Day 4 of the Cheltenham Festival, featuring the 2013 Gold Cup
Sadly, Synchronised is no longer with us after that tragic fall in the Grand National which left everyone feeling gut-wrenched, although the 2013 Gold Cup does look to be an exciting renewal thanks to the step up in class when it comes to Sir Des Champs and Bobs Worth.
Long Run was favourite in March but was unable to retain his crown and it will be interesting to see whether Hunt Ball can make the step up required to challenge for the Festival’s blue riband event.