The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most anticipated events on the horse racing calendar. This year’s iteration will, like so many sporting events in 2021, be significantly affected by the ongoing pandemic. It certainly will not be business as usual and below we detail all of the changes that are in store for punters, as well as previewing the festival itself, so you know exactly which horse to back after receiving your Cheltenham free bet offers. There is a lot to get through, so let’s get started shall we?
When is the 2021 Cheltenham Festival taking place?
The 2021 Cheltenham Festival will take place between Tuesday 16 March and Thursday 19 March. As always, it is being held at Cheltenham racecourse, one of the most famous race courses on the planet.
Which races are at this year’s Cheltenham Festival?
The 2021 Cheltenham Festival will feature a packed racecard. Overall, 14 Grade One races will be contested across the four seven-race cards. All of the best horses, trainers and jockeys will be vying to earn the hefty prize purses on offer.
The standout race on Tuesday is the Unibet Champions Hurdle. This will see the strongest two-metre hurdlers compete for supremacy. Wednesday brings the Queen Mother Champions Chase, a steeplechase open to horses aged five or old, while Thursday features the Ryanair Chase.
The climax of the festival, as always, is the Gold Cup. Widely considered the most coveted jump race in the world, last year’s run was won by Al Boum Photo for the second year on the spin.
What changes have been made due to coronavirus?
For a brief moment, many people feared that the festival would be cancelled due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. Luckily, organisers have made several compromises to ensure that the meeting goes ahead.
Firstly, for the first time ever there will be no crowds in attendance at the festival in order to curb the spread of the virus.
Furthermore, all jockeys, trainers and staff will be tested before entering the festival. Also, social distancing regulations must be strictly adhered to, while British and Irish jockeys will be kept apart in order to stop cross contamination.
Who could win the big races?
There are always hundreds of horse racing tips available as soon as Cheltenham season rolls around. It can be hard knowing which ones to trust, but below are the horses we most like the look of going into the 2021 festival.
- Roksana, Mares’ Hurdle – Roksana’s odds have been steadily falling over the past few days but she still offers good value, as she is in fine form. She is one of the favourites for Tuesday’s Mares’ Hurdle.
- Real Steel, Ryanair Chase – Trained by the highly successful Paul Nicholls, Real Steel is a real sensible pick for Thursday’s Ryanair Chase.
- Chatham Street Lad, Marsh Novices’ Chase – Chatham Street Lad could make your festival if he comes in. The horse is currently an outsider for the Marsh Novices Chase but that does not mean he cannot win it.