The countdown to the 2021 Cheltenham Festival is well and truly on, and while this year’s meeting will be a little different, without fans in the enclosure, excitement is building for Tuesday 16th March. Of course, there will be no iconic opening day Cheltenham Roar, but still punters and fans will be checking the latest Cheltenham festival ante post betting tips. And if you’re eyeing up the favourites, read on as we highlight the ones to watch.
Arkle Chase: Shishkin
We start with a horse from Nicky Henderson’s yard, Shishkin. While comparisons are already being made between him and stablemate, Altior, jockey Nico de Boinville refuses to get involved in the debate. Having won last year’s Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by a head, and going on to land larger margins of victory at both Kempton and Doncaster, you simply cannot look beyond this fine chaser. It’s three wins from three entries this season – all as the favourite too.
Champion Hurdle: Epatante
The latest Cheltenham 2021 odds are pretty tight between Epatante and Honeysuckle, but you can’t rule out last year’s winner. A disappointing showing at the Kempton Christmas Hurdle was excused by a back injury – and the mare had been in reasonable form prior to that, and her Cheltenham win.
Last month, Henderson revealed: “No (she won’t run before Cheltenham), that’s an easy answer. She didn’t last year and she won’t this year. We’re very pleased. We’ve been tinkering, obviously she wasn’t right at Kempton.”
Gold Cup: Al Boum Photo
Not only to be a dual-winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but to win it three or more times means your name will be amongst the elite. This is what is facing Willie Mullins’ Al Boum Photo. The last two years’ winner of the Blue Riband jumps race is looking to make it a memorable hat-trick for the first time since Best Mate achieved the feat in 2004. The nine-year-old’s routine is the same as the previous couple of years – win the Gold Cup, and then go to Tramore, and win the chase on New Year’s Day.
Marsh Novices’ Chase: Envoi Allen
With a 100% winning record intact, all roads lead to Cheltenham again, for Gordon Elliott’s prized bay. Victory in 2019’s Champion Bumper was followed up last year with a win in the Novices’ Hurdle, and while the Chase will prove his biggest test to date, you can’t look beyond the seven-year-old to bring it home. His performances in similar distances races at both Fairyhouse (December 2020) and Punchestown (January 2021) bode well ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.
Queen Mother Champion Chase: Chacun Pour Soi
Last year’s favourite had to pull out of the Champion Chase at the thirteenth hour, denying trainer Mullins his first ever victory in the race. However, Chacun Pour Soi is back, and is looking to make amends for that disappointment. Despite never racing in Britain to date, the nine-year-old has an enviable chase record – with six wins from eight starts, and always placing. More recently, Chacun Pour Soi won the Dublin Chase at Leopardstown, and it’s this form that makes the gelding favourite going into this contest.