4 Days, 28 Races – Countdown To Cheltenham

Day 1 - 12 March

The Cheltenham Festival starts ON Tuesday with 28 races across four days. The pinnacle of the jumps season with a Championship race on each day.

The Champion Hurdle is on Tuesday, Wednesday is the Champion Chase, Thursday sees the running of the Stayers Hurdle and Friday, the Gold Cup.

When the news broke on Monday morning that Constitution Hill would not defend his crown in the Champion Hurdle that turned what looked to be a mouth-watering rematch with State Man into a pretty much straightforward task for the Willie Mullins ace.

State Man has won ten of his eleven completed starts since joining the Mullins yard, only beaten by Constitution Hill in last season’s Champion Hurdle. He has looked on very good terms with himself since making a seasonal winning return at Punchestown in November.

The opposition he is likely to face next week isn’t on his level and he should take full advantage.

The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase is also run over two miles and the Mullins stable is to the fore again with the odds-on chance El Fabiolo.

Unbeaten in six chases, last season’s Arkle winner takes on the Nicky Henderson trained Jonbon who finished runner-up in that contest. Add to the mix the rejuvenated Edwardstone, himself a Festival winner, and this looks a high-class contest.

Cheltenham action aplenty!

The Stayers Hurdle looks more competitive with defending champ Sire du Berlais now a 12-year-old. A three-time winner at the Festival since 2018, his experience at the track shouldn’t be underestimated.

He seemingly comes alive at Cheltenham in March and was full value for his win over Dashel Drasher and Teahupoo last year.

Teahupoo heads the market, at around 5/2, and looks to have been aimed for this race. The seven-year-old has age on his side and will arrive a fresh horse having only had one winning start at Fairyhouse in December since his third placing last year. He will relish the forecasted soft to heavy ground.

The Willie Mullins star Galopin Des Champ attempts to double up in the Gold Cup on Friday. Only the mighty Best Mate and his stable companion Al Boum Photo have managed that feat in the last fifty years over the demanding three-mile, two-furlong trip.

Class and stamina are both required, as well as some good fortune and Galopin Des Champs will need all of that to overcome his Irish rival Fastorslow and the enigmatic Shishkin in the blue riband event.

 

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