So the magical Cotswolds Kingdom which is Cheltenham racecourse will soon be hosting the most eagerly anticipated national hunt horse racing meeting of the year, The Cheltenham Festival.
In our 2023 Cheltenham Festival Preview, we’ll be taking a look at the race programme for the week and giving you details on the whole four days of racing, plus a look at the major contenders, both equine and human.
We’ll share some insights into each race, and dive a bit deeper into each of the four championship races, plus we’ll give you the latest info on all the best offers from the top bookmakers.
Last year, our horse racing expert Richard Smith produced his daily tips and full analysis of every festival race and when the week had finished, he had generated a profit of 19.22 points. Below you’ll see links that will take you to a separate full in-depth preview of each day with selections if you are looking for some Free Cheltenham Festival Betting Tips.
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Place a Win or Each Way single bet at odds of 4/1 or more on a bet365 Feature Race. If your first single bet on that race wins, place a bet up to the same stake (up to £50*) on the next bet365 Feature Race. If the bet loses we will refund your stake (up to £50*). If the bet also wins at odds of 4/1 or more, you qualify for a bet on the next bet365 Feature Race. *or currency equivalent Significant Terms and Conditions This offer is only available to new and eligible customers. This offer applies to the FIRST single bet placed by a customer on each bet365 Feature Race. This offer will not apply where a stake has been fully Cashed Out. Where a stake has been partially Cashed Out, any refund amount or subsequent qualifying bet amount will be equal to the remaining active stake. If a qualifying bet is edited using our Edit Bet feature, any refund amount will be equal to the new stake and not the original stake. Where a qualifying bet is changed using Edit Bet, no refund will be given and the offer will no longer apply. Where more than one selection in the same race is placed on the same bet slip, the first selection is deemed to be the one which is highest on the bet slip. Offer applies to bets placed on Win and Each Way Fixed Odds markets (including where a Bet Boost is applied) and Enhanced Place Terms markets only. All other markets, including adjusted place terms (Each Way Extra), Ante-Post bets and Tote/Pari-Mutuel/Colossus (bets and dividends), are excluded from this offer. This offer is available on selected races as specified in the table above. Bets must be placed in the usual way and can be paid for from either your Withdrawable Balance or Bet Credits. Bets placed from your Withdrawable Balance will be refunded to your Withdrawable Balance and bets placed using Bet Credits will be refunded as Bet Credits.
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If you are a fan of Bet365, then their “Feature Race 4/1 Offer” is great for all the championship races and the big handicap during the week.
So let’s see what the schedule looks like for each day of the Cheltenham Festival with a rundown of the races and race times.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL RACECARD – DAY 1 – TUESDAY 14TH MARCH
- 13:30 Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
- 14:10 Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)
- 14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
- 15:30 Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)
- 16:10 Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Registered As The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle) (Grade 1)
- 16:50 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Registered As The Fred Winter) (Grade 3)
- 17:30 National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (GBB Race)
SKY BET SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE
The first race of the day is the two-mile championship for novices and is always a fiercely contested race with top trainers Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson always firing some of their best younger horses at the race. Of course, last year’s winner Constitution Hill goes for the Champion Hurdle this time around.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Supreme Novices Hurdle include:
- Facile Vega – Winner of last season’s Champion Bumper
- Tahmuras – Winner of the Tolworth Hurdle and leading hope of champion trainer Paul Nicholls
- Rare Edition – Unbeaten four-time winner from the Charlie Longsdon yard
SPORTING LIFE ARKLE CHALLENGE TROPHY
The second race of the day is the two-mile chasing championship for novices over the larger obstacles and is always run at a blistering pace, with top trainers Paul Nicholls and Gordon Elliot always sending some of their best novice hurdlers from the previous season to compete. Of course, last year’s winner Edwarstone goes for the Champion Chase this time around.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Arkle Challenge Trophy include:
- Jonbon – Second in last season’s Supreme Novices Hurdle and unbeaten over fences before the festival
- Dysart Dynamo – Leading hope from Ireland trained by Willie Mullins
- Appreciate It – Disappointing in last season’s Champion Hurdle but the winner of first two runs over fences
ULTIMA HANDICAP CHASE
The third race of the day is the first big handicap of the meeting for the chasers and this is a cracking race run over the three-mile and one-furlong trip. Trainers to note in this include David Pipe, Jonjo O’Neill and last year’s winning trainer Lucinda Russell. It is always run at a breakneck pace and you need a thorough stayer to get up the famous Cheltenham Hill.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Ultima Handicap Chase include:
- Remastered – Been in fine form back over fences with a second and then a win at Kempton
- Ain That A Shame – Eyecatching 4th of 28 in the Paddy Power Chase in December.
- Corach Rambler – Winner of this race last year and coming to the boil nicely with two solid runs this season
UNIBET CHAMPION HURDLE
The feature race of the day is the two-mile hurdling championship where we will be hoping to see the match-up between Constitution Hill and the wonder mare Honeysuckle who would be going for her third win in the race. It is typical renewal with Henderson and Mullins going head to head this time around.
The main contenders for the 2023 Champion Hurdle include:
- Constitution Hill – Winner of the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle. Strong favourite
- Honeysuckle – Dual Champion Hurdle heroine, but not yet certain to take her place.
- State Man – Has won his last five races including The Matheson Hurdle off a mark of 164
If all three of these top-class horses turn up for the race, then we are in for a real treat. Constitution Hill is a heavy favourite and it remains to be seen if Honeysuckle will be back to defend her crown after losing her unbeaten tag last time out.
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Available on Betfred.com and the Betfred App. Minimum Free Bet refund is 50p and Maximum Free Bet refund is £10 per customer per race. Offer applies to win singles & win part of E/W bets only. Offer applies if your selection finishes 2nd in the 19:20 & 20:20 Kempton on 06/07/2022. Official results will be determined from www.sportinglife.com/racing/results. Offer is fulfilled in Free Bets. CashedOut bets do not count. Bets placed on specials markets or boosts will not count. In the event of a dead heat second, half of the stake will be refunded as a free bet on both selections, up to a maximum of £5 free bet per customer. In the event of dead heat first, offer does not apply Does not apply to Antepost bets. Does not apply to bets placed on unnamed favourites/unnamed 2nd favourites. Five or more runners must start the race for the offer to qualify. Free Bets credited within 24 hours of qualifying bets being settled. Bets using existing Free Bet funds do not count. Free Bets awarded from this promotion will be valid for 7 days, any Free Bet funds that are unused after 7 days will be removed. Betfred reserve the right to exclude certain customers from this offer at our discretion due to internal risk policies and/or account staking restrictions. Usual Betfred.com rules apply, see website for details.
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5/2 Waterport Place, Gibraltar,
Throw in the mix State Man from the Willie Mullins yard, plus his stablemate Vuaban, and recent Sandown scorer Love Envoi, and we have a fascinating race in store after all the above five won at last year’s Cheltenham Festival.
State Man & Vauban
It really is going to be a fascinating race, and make sure to check out our full Cheltenham Festival Preview and free tips from our racing expert Richard Smith for Day 1 on Sunday before the race.
CLOSE BROTHERS MARES HURDLE
The Mares Hurdle is the two-mile championship for mares only and it is going to be fascinating to see if Honeysuckle takes her place in this line-up or goes for the historical treble in the previous Champion Hurdle. We also have Love Envoi who is in a similar position and being rated 147, that may be the case.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Mares Hurdle include:
- Love Envoi – Winner of last season’s Mares Novices Hurdle and ultra-impressive winner at Sandown recently
- Maries’s Rock – Who is the current 5/2 favourite heading into February
- Epatante – former Champion Hurdle winner and twice runner-up behind Constitution Hill this season.
BOODLES JUVENILE HANDICAP HURDLE
The next on the card on Day 1 is a cracking handicap for the four-year-old juveniles, and Irish trainers have a great record in this race, having won the last 5 renewals, and the trainers to watch are Gordon Elliot and Joseph O’Brien who have three of the last five winners between them.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle include:
- Tekao – Winner of an 18-runner maiden hurdle on only his third start.
- Comfort Zone – Winner of the big trial for this, The Finale Juvenile Hurdle at Chepstow.
- Zarak The Brave – A fine second in graded race company on only its second start for Willie Mullins
NATIONAL HUNT CHALLENGE CUP
The final race of the day and one of the major stamina tests of the whole meeting run at just short of three and three-quarter miles, and a prize targeted by the Irish trainers with Paul Nicholls usually flying the flag for the home team. It is interesting to note that fifteen of the last twenty winners have been aged 7 or 8 years old, with ten of those being seven.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 National Hunt Challenge Cup include:
- Gaillard Du Mesnil – Third in last year’s Irish Grand National and a complete stayer
- Chemical Energy – Two wins from three runs over fences and a winner at Cheltenham back in October 2022
- Gerri Colombe – Unbeaten six-time winner from the powerful Gordon Elliot team
Make sure to check out our separate full in-depth 2023 Cheltenham Festival Preview for Day 1. Each day of the meeting, our expert Richard Smith will be passing on his Free Cheltenham Festival Betting Tips.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL RACECARD – DAY 2 – WEDNESDAY 15TH MARCH
- 13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Baring Bingham)
- 14:10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Broadway Novices’ Chase)
- 14:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
- 15:30 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1)
- 16:10 Glenfarclas Chase (Cross Country Chase)
- 16:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
- 17:30 Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1)
BALLYMORE NOVICES HURDLE
The first race of the day and one of the major stamina tests for this year’s crop of novice hurdlers is run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs and is always a race targeted by the big yards with horses they feel may turn into Gold Cup contenders maybe a couple of years down the line. It will be interesting to see if the Willie Mullins-trained Gaelic Warrior will go for this or an easier opportunity in one of the big handicaps.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle include:
- Hermes Allen – Three from three for Paul Nicholls and winner of The Challow Hurdle at Newbury
- Champ Kiely – Already a graded winner (Lawlors Of Naas Novice Hurdle) and four from five in all races
- Gaelic Warrior – 2nd of 21 in last year’s Fred Winter at the festival. Possible here or in one of the handicaps
BROWN ADVISORY NOVICES CHASE
The second race on Day 2 is a staying chase for the novices and can often throw up a very talented horse, as it did last year with L’Homme Presse trained by Venetia Williams. The three trainers to watch in this race are undoubtedly Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls, who between them have trained eleven of the last twenty winners of the race.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase include:
- The Real Whacker – Won the first two chase starts (both at Cheltenham) including the Dipper Novices Chase
- Thyme Hill – Top class hurdler is now two wins from three over fences, including a facile win at Kempton
- James Du Berlais – Winner of sole chase start for Willie Mullins and may run at the Dublin racing festival
CORAL CUP HANDICAP HURDLE
The first big handicap on Day 2 is the Coral Cup run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs and is always a tough puzzle to solve. With up to 28 runners, it always provides an exciting spectacle and has been a great race for trainer Nicky Henderson who has saddled the winner in four of the last 12 years (A 33% strike rate)
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle include:
- HMS Seahorse – 4th of 21 in the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle last year
- Saint Sam – 2nd of 22 in the 2021 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, and a recent winner back over hurdles
- Winter Fog – Lightly raced 9-year-old who was fourth in last year’s Pertemps Final here at the festival
BETWAY QUEEN MOTHER CHAMPION CHASE
Race four on Day 2 is the feature race of the day and brings together the best of the best in the two-mile chasing division. We have seen some real champions down the years with horses like Moscow Flyer, Master Minded, Sprinter Sacre and most recently Altior all being dual winners and etching their names in the history books. This year it will be another horse trying to do the same thing, Energumene from the powerful Willie Mullins yard.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase include:
- Energumene – Last year’s champion and is back to defend his crown after defeating Shishkin last year
- Edwardstone – Winner of the Arkle last year and now stepping up after a great win in the Tingle Creek
- Blue Lord – Beat highly fancied stablemate Chacun Pour in the Paddys Rewards Chase over Christmas
If all three of these horses turn up for the race, then we are in for a real treat. After the recent Cheltenham Festival Trials day when Energumene was beaten, it will be interesting to see where we stand on the betting, but he is still the current favourite to defend his crown.
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Throw into the mix the Cheltenham Festival trials day winner Editeur Du Gite and we have an absolute cracker in store for this race.
It really is going to be a fascinating race, and make sure to check out our full Cheltenham Festival Preview and free tips from our racing expert Richard Smith for Day 2 on the Monday before the race.
GLENFARCLAS CROSS COUNTRY CHASE
The Cross Country has been a fixture of the Festival for some time now and the Gordon Elliot-trained Delta Work will be aiming to become another dual winner of the race. Run over the unique inside course at Cheltenham, it is a race that needs the utmost concentration from jockeys to make sure they do not take the wrong course.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Glenfarclas Chase include:
- Delta Work – Last year’s winner who beat stable companion Tiger Roll in last year’s renewal.
- Galvin – Fourth in last year’s Gold Cup, but not at that level of form since, and may drop in class for this
- Minella Times – Grand National winner in 2021 and another who has been out of form, but a classy horse
JOHNNY HENDERSON GRAND ANNUAL HANDICAP CHASE
The sixth race of the day is the race named in honour of Johnny Henderson, the late father of current trainer Nicky Henderson. This is a handicap chase and is always a highly competitive affair. It is also the oldest race to be run at the meeting, with the first running taking place in 1834.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase include:
- Boothill – Now three from four and won the Grade 2 Wayward Lad Novices Chase at Kempton in December
- Couer Sublime – High-class hurdler/chaser who was fourth in Grade 1 company behind Blue Lord in December
- Editeur Du Gite – Twice a winner at Cheltenham and stepped forward to win from a mark of 153 at Kempton
WEATHERBYS CHAMPION BUMPER
The final race of the day is the Champion Bumper and usually a benefit to the Irish-trained horses. With plenty of firepower from the Gordon Elliot, and most notably the Willie Mullins yard, it will be a surprise if the prize is not heading back over the Irish Sean once again. Those two trainers are responsible for the last six winners of this race.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Weatherbys Champion Bumper include:
- Its For Me – Recent debut winner for the Mullins team, winning effortlessly by ten lengths
- Queens Gamble – Two back-to-back wins at Cheltenham and a strong fancy from the Oliver Sherwood yard
- Better Days Ahead – Second time out winner from the powerful Gordon Elliot team
Make sure to check out our separate full in-depth 2023 Cheltenham Festival Preview for Day 2. Each day of the meeting, our expert Richard Smith will be passing on his Free Cheltenham Festival Betting Tips.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL RACECARD – DAY 3 – THURSDAY 16TH MARCH
- 13:30 Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (Registered As The Golden Miller)
- 14:10 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
- 14:50 Ryanair Chase (Registered As The Festival Trophy) (Grade 1)
- 15:30 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)
- 16:10 Craft Irish Whiskey Co. Plate Handicap Chase (Grade 3)
- 16:50 Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (Registered As The Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle)
- 17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase (Sponsored By The JRL Group)
TURNERS NOVICES CHASE
Day 3 kicks off with another novice chase, and of course, this race produced one of the biggest talking points of last year’s meeting when Galopin Des Champs (the current Gold Cup favourite) jumped and slithered on landing, handing the race to the Henry De Bromhead runner Bob Olinger. Mullins once again has a very strong team for this race, so it will be interesting which of his big guns will show up on the day.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Turners Novices’ Chase include:
- Mighty Potter – Won the Drinmore Novices Chase at Fairyhouse over Christmas and is now 2 from 2 over fences
- Appreciate It – Two wins from two runs over fences after his poor effort in last season’s Champion Hurdle
- Sir Gerhard – Has always looked a chaser in the making but is still to run this season. Should be out at the Dublin racing festival in early February
PERTEMPS NETWORK FINAL HANDICAP HURDLE
The second race of the day and one of the major stamina tests for the staying hurdlers with the race being run at just short of three miles. It’s another tricky handicap and one that needs some studying, especially if you are still hoping to be in the Tote Placepot heading to leg three. A great betting race and one where you are likely to see bookmakers going 8/1 the field.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Pertemps Network Final Handicap Hurdle include:
- Shoot First – Won over this course and distance in October and the handicap mark has been preserved
- Jungle Prose – Not disgraced in a Grade 2 at Limerick and interesting to see what mark he gets from the handicapper
- Botox Has – Well held in The Relkeel Hurdle last time, but plenty of solid form at Cheltenham and should run well if taking this option.
The third race of the day does not hold championship status, but in recent years has attracted some of the very best staying chasers on both sides of the Irish Sea, and this year we should see Allaho try and make it three wins in three years. His domination the last two years has been a joy to watch with his front-running “catch me if you can” tactics and exhilarating jumping a joy to watch.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Ryanair Chase include:
- Allaho – Duel winner of this race but not seen since last April. Tough to beat if coming here with a prep run under his belt.
- Shishkin – Pulled up in last year’s Champion Chase, but a fascinating contender over this intermediate 2-mile and 5 furlong trip (Also entered in the Gold Cup)
- Fakir D’oudairies – As good as ever at Thurles in January and this eight year old will be sure to put up a solid effort
PADDY POWER STAYERS HURDLE
The feature on Day 3 is the championship for the staying hurdlers and the last two years have seen another front runner dominate this race. Gavin Cromwell’s Flooring Porter who has been expertly ridden by Danny Mullins will be going for a third straight win, but it remains to be seen if he will make this years race after being give just a 50/50 chance by his trainer in late January. We will still have a fine race with some new kids on the block trying to take the crown this year.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle include:
- Home By The Lee – Has been a revelation this season, winning a Grade 2 before going one better and winning the Jack De Bromhead Christmas Hurdle on his last start.
- Blazing Khal – Not seen for more than a year, but two from two at Cheltenham and trainer Charles Byrnes is a master at readying a horse after a layoff.
- Paisley Park – 11-year-old veteran keeps defying father time and will bring the roof off if able to regain the title he first won in 2019
If all three of these top-staying hurdlers turn up, then we are in for a real humdinger of a race. Home By The Lee is a worthy favourite, and Paisley Park, who was beaten at the recent Cheltenham Festival trials day is sure to be at the top of a lot of punter’s lists.
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Throw in the mix Gold Tweet from France who caused a bit of an upset on the trial for this race on Cheltenham festival trials day at the end of January, and we have a highly competitive race in store.
Home By The Lee
It really is going to be a fascinating race, and make sure to check out our full Cheltenham Festival Preview and free tips from our racing expert Richard Smith for Day 3 on the Tuesday before the race.
CRAFT IRISH WHISKEY CO PLATE HANDICAP CHASE
The fifth race of the day is the Plate Handicap Chase, this year sponsored by Craft Irish Whiskey. Run over an extended two and a half miles, this is always run at a helter-skelter pace and from a punting point of view, you need a horse that stays further than two and a half miles. For betting purposes, it is always good to look for horses that have run well not just at Cheltenham, but ideally in another festival race in the past.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Craft Irish Whiskey Co. Plate Handicap Chase include:
- So Scottish – On the upgrade for Grand National winning trainer Emmet Mullins and still looks nicely handicapped
- Adamantly Chosen – Two wins from four runs over fences and not disgraced when second behind the unbeaten Gerri Colombe at Limerick in December
- Balco Coastal – Sluiced home at Kempton over Christmas on only its second chase start for the Henderson/De Boinville combination
RYANAIR MARES NOVICE HURDLE
A relatively new race at the festival and it has been a welcome addition to have a mares-only novice event. It gives the girls the opportunity to compete at the top level, and of course, in recent seasons we have seen mares go on to win the following year’s two-mile championship, The Champion Hurdle.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle include:
- Luccia – Three-time winner for Nicky Henderson, including the Mares EBF final at Sandown last year and on a highly promising hurdling debut at Newbury when a 5 1/2 length winner
- Ashroe Diamond – Very impressive winner of the Goffs Mares hurdle at Aintree in 2022 and was only beaten 9 lengths by the favourite for the Supreme Novices Hurdle last time out. Strong chance.
- Night And Day – Another from the powerful Willie Mullins yard, but will need to step up on her maiden win to trouble her stable companion. Is open to serious improvement.
FULKE WALWYN KIM MUIR CHALLENGE CUP HANDICAP CHASE
Affectionately known as the Fulke Walwyn or Kim Muir in seasons past. The final race on Day 3 now has the names of both legends as a commemoration of their service to the sport of national hunt racing and serving their country in the military.
The race is for amateur jockeys only and is sometimes referred to as the amateurs Gold Cup.
Leading modern-day amateur Jamie Codd is the winning most jockey with four victories to his name. He is always one to watch in the amateur races and is well known to be thought of as good enough to have been a professional jockey.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys’ Handicap Chase include:
- Mahler Mission – Lightly raced seven-year-old is progressing well, and certainly deserves to be near the head of the betting
- Indigo Breeze – Ran very well in last year’s Coral Cup when in with a solid chance until a bad mistake three from home. Has since run well back at Cheltenham over the bigger obstacles
- Minella Crooner – Genuine Class 1 performer both over hurdles and fences and won on the second start over the larger obstacles at Fairyhouse back in December
Make sure to check out our separate full in-depth 2023 Cheltenham Festival Preview for Day 3. Each day of the meeting, our expert Richard Smith will be passing on his Free Cheltenham Festival Betting Tips.
CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL RACECARD – DAY 4 – FRIDAY 17th MARCH
- 13:30 Jcb Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)
- 14:10 McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)
- 14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices’ Hurdle)
- 15:30 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)
- 16:10 St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
- 16:50 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase (Registered As The Liberthine Mares’ Chase) (Grade 2)
- 17:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
JCB TRIUMPH HURDLE
The first race on the final day is the main hurdle event for the juveniles and the four-year-olds do battle for the Triumph Hurdle, a race that many trainers use as a stepping stone for the following year’s Champion Hurdle. Last year’s winner Vauban is one such horse who will be competing in the big event this year.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 JCB Triumph Hurdle include:
- Lossiemouth – Unbeaten in three starts (one in France and two in Ireland) and won the Grade 2 Knight Frank Juvenile Hurdle in taking fashion over Christmas at Leopardstown
- Blood Destiny – Powerful second string for the Mullins team who is two from two since coming from France
- Comfort Zone – 86 rated on the flat and has taken well to hurdling, winning the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow in December
MCCOY CONTRACTORS COUNTY HANDICAP HURDLE
We are back to the big handicap hurdles for race two on Day 4 and it is the speed test for two-mile handicap hurdlers. Again we’ll see a field of up to 28 runners go to post and it’s another race where dreams of landing a big Tote Placepot payout hinge. In the last eight years, it has been won four times by Irish trainer Willie Mullins and three times by young British trainer Dan Skelton. It’s always worth keeping an eye out for entries from those stables.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle include:
- Gaelic Warrior – Was 13/8 fav for the Boodles Juvenile Handicap last year when finishing 2nd of 21, but has since stepped up to win his next two and will certainly be favourite if taking this option
- I Like To Move It – Well held in the Grade 2 Relkeel back in January but has some smart form, and certainly not one to take lightly for trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies
- Pied Piper – Well beaten in the Matheson Hurdle back in December, but looks one for handicaps and has plenty of flat speed and a touch of class
ALBERT BARTLETT NOVICES HURDLE
Race 3 on the final day is the staying hurdling test for the novices and is always a severe test of stamina. Horses in this race are likely being primed as potential Gold Cup stars of the future. The race has been run eighteen times since it was introduced in 2005, and it is key to note that 6 and 7-year-olds have been responsible for 15 of those wins.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle include:
- Embassy Gardens – Five runs for Willie Mullins and nothing special in the first four, but took a huge step forward on the first try at 3 miles, running out a 35-length winner at Thurles
- Corbetts Cross – Won his final start in bumpers but has taken a big step forward since facing hurdles with a win off a mark of 130 last time being the best yet. Plenty more to come from the Emmet Mullins runner
- American Mike – Was announced as the “third coming” early last year after a bloodless bumper win but was held by Facile Vega at last year’s festival. Looks sure to appreciate this stamina test
BOODLES CHELTENHAM GOLD CUP
It’s the big one and the race everybody has been waiting for, and this year we have what looks to be one of the most exciting races for some time. This year sees the hype horse Galopin Des Champs try to win the Blue Riband for Willie Mullins, but a host of horses stand in his way, with the likes of A Plus Tard, Protektorat, Bravemanasgame, Minella Indo and last year’s Grand National winner Noble Yeats all looking to throw down stern challenges to the favourite.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase include:
- Gallopin Des Champs – A very unlucky loser at last year’s festival when falling at the last in the Turner’s Novices Chase. Already a taking winner this year in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown
- Protektorat – Last year’s Gold Cup third has had one run this season when winning the Betfair Chase and is planned to run in the Cotswold Chase on Cheltenham Festival Trials Day at the end of January.
- A Plus Tard – Last year’s Gold Cup winner but has to overcome a very poor run in the Betfair Chase
- Bravemansgame – Top novice chaser for Paul Nicholls who took his form to a new level when winning the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day
- Minella Indo – Recent graded winner in Ireland and runner-up in last year’s Gold Cup
If all five of these top-class horses turn up for the race, and it looks like they will, then we are in for a really exciting race. Gallopin Des Champs is a short-price favourite and it remains to be seen if A Plus Tard will be back to defend his crown after losing the first time out in the Betfair Chase behind Protektorat.
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The top five all clearly hold strong chances, but following the Cotswold Chase at the end of January, we now have to look at Ahoy Senor and Noble Yeats as horses with a very solid each-way chance in the big race of the week.
Gallopin Des Champs
Protektorat & A Plus Tard
It really is going to be a fascinating race, and make sure to check out our full Cheltenham Festival Preview and free tips from our racing expert Richard Smith for Day 4 on the Wednesday before the race.
ST JAMES PLACE FESTIVAL CHALLENGE CUP HUNTERS CHASE
The action keeps coming thick and fast on the final day and the hunters chase, which is run over the same distance as the Gold Cup is a chance for the amateur jockeys to write their names on the historic roll of honour this race holds. Old favourite and last year’s winner Billlaway will be trying to follow up last year’s dramatic last-gasp victory, but he has some younger rivals to deal with this time around. This race is always run at a very sharp pace and you need a horse that really stays at least three and a half miles.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase include:
- Vaucelet – Has won six from ten races, including his last two from a mark of 130. Needs to improve, but a solid EW chance
- Winged Leader – Caught on the line last year by Billaway and has every chance of turning that form around. Has been kept fresh for this years race.
- Ferns Lock – The young pretender is two from two in hunter chases and beat last year’s Cheltenham hero Billaway 20 lengths on the second of those runs
MRS PADDY POWER MARES CHASE
The penultimate race on the final day is the Paddy Power Mares Chase. Like the mares hurdle, this is a relatively new addition to the festival and has only been run twice so far, with both races going to horses trained by Willie Mullins. Both of those winners were aged 8 years old, and although it’s not a stat that you can take first-hand, it has to be worth checking if Mullins has a horse in this year’s event with a similar profile.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase include:
- Allegorie De Vassy – Unbeaten in four starts since coming from France, but tended to jump markedly right last time. Has the class but jumping could be an issue
- Scarlet And Dove – Was third of eight in last year’s running of this race and has already notched two wins from three runs since then. Sure to give a good account
- Dinoblue – Looks like an interesting contender. Finished fourth in the mares novice championship at Fairyhouse last season, but won on chase debut and is sure to improve when tackling further over fences
MARTIN PIPE CONDITIONAL JOCKEYS HANDICAP HURDLE
We finish up this 2023 Cheltenham Festival Preview with the final race on Day 4 which is the competitive conditional jockeys handicap hurdle named after the legendary trainer Martin Pipe. No doubt his son, and current trainer David Pipe will be well represented. Always a very competitive race, and one in which has seen 9 of the 14 runnings won by a horse carrying 11st 7lbs or higher, an interesting stat.
Some of the main contenders for the 2023 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle include:
- Langer Dan – Was the 7/2 favourite for this race last year, but was bought down at the first. Went on to win a competitive handicap at Aintree, but remains to be seen if he can win off his current handicap mark
- Three Card Brag – Won a novice hurdle at Fairyhouse at the end of January off a provisional rating of 133 and could turn out to be very nicely handicapped for master trainer Gordon Elliot
- Grey Dawning – Stablemate of Langer Dan and is now five wins from six starts. Won a Grade 2 at Warwick in January and is another that could be well treated if taking up this entry
Make sure to check out our separate full in-depth 2023 Cheltenham Festival Preview for Day 4. Each day of the meeting, our expert Richard Smith will be passing on his Free Cheltenham Festival Betting Tips.
FAQ – 2023 CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL GUIDE
How many grandstands and enclosures are available at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival?
There are three main enclosures during the Cheltenham Festival and these are Club, Tattersalls and the Best Mate enclosure
How much do tickets costs for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival?
This very much depends on which day you intend to go to the festival. The Best Mate enclosure has tickets from £45, while a ticket for Tattersalls starts at £67 and if you wish to go to the Club enclosure then you will look to pay from £98 upwards.
It is important to note that Club tickets get sold out very early, so booking a few months in advance is advised
What is the dress code at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival?
Cheltenham is not a stuffy course when it comes to dress code, but smart casual attire suited to winter weather is recommended. For full details of the Cheltenham dress code, you can click here.
How can I place bets at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival
On the track, you will have betting shop facilities and you can also place bets at the various Tote windows. There are many bookmakers in each of the enclosures, and that is the easiest way to place your bets if betting in cash.
Alternatively, you can bet or set up an account on your mobile phone with one of the top online bookmakers like Bet365, Betfred, William Hill or Boylesports.
How much does food and drink cost at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival?
For full details on all the options for food and drink, you can check out the details here
What is the weather like at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival?
As the event takes place in mid-March, the weather can still be on the cool side as we are not quite into Spring just yet. Temperatures can range from 0 – 15 degrees celsius. It’s always wise to check the forecast in advance and dress accordingly.
Are there any 2023 Cheltenham Festival Preview nights scheduled in my local area?
In the weeks leading up to the festival, you will find lots of preview nights advertised on Racing TV and also by checking the Racing Post newspaper.
Is Cheltenham Racecourse easy to get to?
Well if you are travelling by Helicopter then you’ll have no problems, but for many racegoers, the easiest way to travel is by train to Cheltenham Spa main station. It is relatively easy to get to from most major cities and is just a couple of miles from the racetrack.
From Cheltenham Spa railway station there are plenty of buses and taxis available to transfer you to the racecourse.