CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL 2021: Our preview of the greatest show on turf
It’s that time of year again as the jumps season draws to a close and some of the world’s finest equine stars descend on Prestbury Park, but what is the Cheltenham Festival?
Although the Gordon Elliot saga has thrown racing in to the spotlight, the festival will give the sport a chance to shine through its true qualities.
Four days of gripping sporting action are set to commence on the Tuesday 16th March 2021.
The Cheltenham Festival of 2021 will be split in two with the first couple of days ran on the Old Course before the final two are ran on the New Course.
The Old Course is used for the Champion Hurdle and Queen Mother Champion Chase and its slightly shorter run-in puts an emphasis on speed.
However, the New Course, which hosts the longer Stayers' Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup, puts extra emphasis on a horse’s stamina as horses do battle at the finish when climbing the infamous ‘Cheltenham hill.’
Across the four days of the Cheltenham Festival there are a total of 28 races, with seven being run each day.
Ahead of the festival, we spoke with racing journalist Joe Tuffin to find out more about one of sport’s greatest annual events:
“It’s [Cheltenham] where all the best horses from the world of jumps racing come together to compete for the best prizes and the best races.
“Aintree is the last big meeting of the season and that ends with the Grand National but Cheltenham is four days of top quality racing.
“You get horses from England, Ireland, France and even further afield like America.”
The Cheltenham Festival will take place behind closed doors this year due to the pandemic and Joe highlighted the atmosphere as one of the events biggest attributes; “It won’t be quite the same this year,” he said.
“I’ve been lucky enough to attend some of sports greatest events but nothing has an atmosphere like Cheltenham.
“The infamous Cheltenham roar on the first day of the festival really is spine tingling and just adds to the standard of the racing.”
As the festival draws closer, everyone is looking at who can shine in each race.
Al Boum Photo is going for a third successive Gold Cup but Joe highlighted some younger horses who could steal the spotlight:
“You can’t ignore Al Boum Photo but it’s mainly the young guns stealing the headlines.
“Shishkin goes in the Arkle, Envoi Allen in the Marsh and Monkfish in the Brown Advisory.
“All three are top novice chasers with previous festival form and are looking very likely to repeat their heroics this year.”
Can all three be first past the post yet again?
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