Anticipation is building ahead of the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, with horse racing fans all over the country eagerly perusing the latest Cheltenham odds to try and predict the winners. Normally, there would be a huge clamour to try and get tickets for the Festival, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s meeting will have to take place behind closed doors, and as a result the famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’ will not sound out around the Prestbury Park stands.
But while the crowds will be sorely missed, there is still a fantastic four days of action ahead of us, none more so than Gold Cup Day, which is the fourth and final day of the Festival. Day four is special because it features the Gold Cup itself – the showpiece race of the meeting. Read on, as we look at the biggest races which take place on day four, including the famous Gold Cup.
The first race of day four is the Grade One Triumph Hurdle, a race run over a distance of two miles and one furlong. There have been some epic contests over the years, and last year the Willie Mullins-trained Burning Victory emerged victorious. It kick-started a fantastic Gold Cup Day for Mullins, who would go on to win four races that day.
This year, the early favourite is Zanahiyr, trained by Gordon Elliott. The four-year-old only joined Elliott’s yard in October 2020, but already Zanahiyr has given the Irish trainer three victories on the spin, and heads to Cheltenham in fine fettle. There are plenty of other contenders though, and Zanahiyr is by no means a sure thing. The likes of Quilixios, Adagio and French Aseel are all quality contenders and could take first place for themselves.
Spa Novices’ Hurdle
The third race of Gold Cup Day is the Spa Novices’ Hurdle, run over a distance of three miles. The Festival’s novices’ races are a great way of seeing which talent could become Cheltenham stars in years to come, and the day four race is no different. Last year’s race was a thrilling affair, with Monkfish, Latest Exhibition and Fury Road all neck-and-neck as the finish-line approached, but it was Monkfish who emerged victorious for another Mullins triumph.
This year, the main contenders for the race are Stattler and Fakiera, who are both listed around 7/1 to win the race. Stattler is trained by Mullins, who will be hoping to make it two wins on the spin in the race, but Elliott will be doing everything he can to ensure Fakiera takes top spot when push comes to shove. Other contenders include Torygraph, Barbados Bucks and Farouk Dalene.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Standing as the showpiece event of the entire Festival, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the race that everyone wants to win, and the one that everyone agonises over in the Cheltenham ante post betting tips. Last year, Mullins enjoyed a second Gold Cup triumph in a row with Al Boum Photo, and this year the nine-year-old will be gunning for the hat-trick.
Yes, Al Boum Photo is the hot favourite in the betting, but there are plenty of talented horses that will give him a tough run. Among these are A Plus Tard, Royal Pagaille, Champ and Kemboy, while 2018 champion Native River is also due to return having missed out last year. It’s set to be a cracker, and horse racing fans up and down the UK and Ireland will be glued to their television screens.