Cheltenham Festival Runners and Riders Lining Up

Eventmasters Horse Racing Specialist Picks 5 Cheltenham Festival Hopefuls

With the Festival a mere matter of days away, you’re probably looking at your race card and wondering what horse shall I put a bet on? If that is you, fear not, our horse racing specialist has identified 5 Cheltenham Festival hopefuls who may just be turning heads next week.

Asterion ‘The Dark Horse’ Forlonge

At 1.30pm a roar will echo through the streets and hills of Cheltenham as the first race of the day gets underway and Asterion Forlonge, trained by Willie Mullins has been labelled the dark horse for the opening race. He’s being pitted against Gordon Elliott-trained Envoi Allen and the impressive Shishkin, who is Nicky Henderson’s runner for the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Asterion Forlonge had a cracking performance last season and has carried all to remain undefeated after fierce shows at Naas and Dublin Racing Festival. He has huge cruising speed and has looked a strong two-miler in the pre-Festival races – there’s no doubt he stands a definite chance having won over distance a number of times. Mullins has won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle a total of six times, so has great knowledge and familiarity of the course which puts a horse in his keeping at a great advantage.

Fakir D’Oudairies, the classy but aggressive chaser

Fakir D’Oudairies will be a top player in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy at the Cheltenham Festival on Champion Day Tuesday. He looked impressive earlier this season and travels well on soft ground so the course should play to his strengths.

He lost out on first place at Leopardstown to Notebook, arguably because the grounds had taken a turn. He’s going up against his rival and defending champion of the Arkle Challenge Trophy title, so will face stiff opposition but the Joseph Patrick O’Brien-trained horse has won over the course and distance before.

He’s a classy novice chaser and should perform well.

Defi du Seuil for the Queen Mother’s Champion Chase

There’s plenty of talk about front-runner and Nicky Henderson-trained Altior returning to The Festival on Ladies Day Wednesday but his arrival may not be as easy as the punters expect. He’s up against eight-year-old Chacun Pour Soi and Philip Hobbs’s, Defi Du Seuil.

Hobbs’s runner is second favourite for the feature race but should not be undermined. Not only has he got strong course form, he’s a multiple Grade 1 winner and is currently being held up as one of the best two-mile chasers in Britain right now.

Cheltenham is without question his track and the seven-year-old boasts an excellent record at the course. Defi du Seuil is also unbeaten this season – even more reason as to why he is capable of taking the title.

The Queen Mother Champion Chase will be one of the most thrilling races to watch.

Envoi Allen has serious chance

He’s the bookmaker favourite for both races and arguably the most hyped about horse in training, although trainer, Gordon Elliott has described Envoi Allen to be his own hype man.

The 2019 Champion Bumper is unbeaten, boasting a record of seven wins in seven runs, he should keep his undefeated record intact in the Ballymore Hurdle or the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. Envoi Allen is drawing all the attention in the wake of The Festival and though this will be his biggest challenge yet, he’s a burgeoning talent with a serious chance of making it 8 in 8 wins.

cheltenham festival 2021
Cheltenham Festival Race Atmosphere

Santini for the Gold Cup

With the Festival building to its finale, all heads turn to the Grade 1 Gold Cup Chase at Cheltenham. It’s already promising high-quality drama with a strong field of runners propped up to race and Santini is one of the horses providing stiff opposition in the Blue Ribband race on Gold Cup Day.

He’s a big name at the Cheltenham Festival this year after winning the Cotswold Chase on Cheltenham Festival Trials Day and his RSA form from last year reads strongly. The bookmakers have made Santini the market rival to last years winner, Al Boum Photo and with Nicky Henderson as his trainer and jockey, Nico de Boinville in his corner is there anything this horse couldn’t amount to?

Nico and Nicky have seen past success in the race and his prep for The Festival climax has been nothing but “smooth” said Henderson. He’s a powerful chaser and on a good day could make a lot of noise.

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