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Cheltenham Festival: Elgin Joins Star-Studded Cast in Champion Hurdle

Excitement continues to mount ahead of the eagerly anticipated Cheltenham Festival, and now the Champion Hurdle (on Tuesday 13th March) has welcomed another exciting entrant to its ranks in the form of 6-year-old Elgin.

The Alan King-trained Gelding has enjoyed an exceptional season so far, having secured a competitive handicap at Ascot, the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton.

His latest triumph prompted connections to seriously consider him for the impending Champion Hurdle, and he was duly added to the field on Wednesday at a cost of £20,000.

Elgin now stands as one of the 15 confirmed runners for the 2-mile hurdling showpiece.

He lines up alongside an impressive collection of Nicky Henderson-trained runners including defending champion Buveur D’Air, three-time Champion Hurdle runner-up My Tent Or Yours, Charli Parcs and Verdana Blue.

Mullins and co. will also be bringing some fierce competition to the field with 2015 Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen, Min, Wicklow Brave, Melon, and Yorkhill.

Gordon Elliot’s Mick Jazz and Apple’s Jade are also expected to feature, but the latter may well contest the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle later in the afternoon.

Finally, Dan Skelton’s Ch’tibello, Henry de Bromhead’s Identity Thief and the Evan Williams-trained John Constable complete the list of provisional Champion Hurdle runners.

Speaking of Elgin’s chances, trainer King said, “He goes in any sort of ground. If you take the favourite (Buveur D’Air) out, it is wide open after that. He progressed the right way through.

“He is much more the finished article this year. I would have said he learned a lot from running in the Supreme (Novices’ Hurdle) last season. He had never been quick and I think that made a man of him and he did very well through the summer.”

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Cheltenham Festival 2018 Hospitality - Silks@Frontrunners Restaurant - VIP Packages

Enjoy prime viewing of the action from our Silks@Frontrunners restaurant balcony.

Our fabulous Silks@Frontrunners facility offers guests a VIP racing experience unmatched by most.

Located directly opposite the final hurdle, it offers prime viewing from its own individual balcony as well as wonderful fine dining, all-day complimentary drinks and a VIP hostess service.

Make it a raceday to remember this year with Eventmasters’ hospitality.

Vroum Vroum Mag to miss Cheltenham Festival

It has been announced that top-class mare Vroum Vroum Mag is now set to miss next week’s Cheltenham Festival following her retirement from racing.

The 9-year-old filly, owned by Rich and Susannah Ricci, had been touted as a runner for the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle on the meeting’s opening day (Tuesday 13th March 2018), a race in which she claimed first in 2016 and second twelve months later.

The impressive mare has not been seen competitively, however, since her disappointing run at Punchestown last April.

And despite originally remaining buoyant on her progress ahead of the anticipated festival in March, trainer Mullins now appears to admitted defeat in trying to restore her for future racing.

Vroum Vroum Mag enjoyed a fabulous vein of form after joining Mullins from France, winning all 10 of her first ten starts. The unbeaten run was rounded off aptly in 2016 with victories in the Mares’ Hurdle and the Punchestown Champion Hurdle.

She tasted defeat in her first start of last season, losing to Apple’s Jade in the Hatton’s Grace at Fairyhouse, and despite then going on to record two subsequent victories, was once again unable to fend off her former stablemate when defending her Cheltenham crown.

Joe Chambers, racing manager to the Ricci owners, said “She’s been a hell of a mare and she’s a regally-bred mare, so she should make a valuable broodmare prospect.”

Vroum Vroum Mag will now likely be put in foal by a yet to be named stallion this spring. She retires as a great credit to the sport having won over £420,000 in win and place prize money.

Will YOU be at the Cheltenham Festival this year?

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Champion Day

Ladies Day

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Cheltenham Festival 2018: Douvan & Altior Champion Chase

The meeting of two racing heavyweights is set to come to fruition this March, as Douvan and Altior look to recover in time to meet in the Cheltenham Festival’s Queen Mother Champion Chase.

While Altior made a successful, if not slightly delayed, return to the track at Newbury with a worthy win at the Betfair Exchange Chase, the Willie Mullins-trained Douvan had looked set to be sidelined with injury for the season’s remainder.

But reports suggesting that the 8-year-old was suffering such an injury appear to be far from the mark with Mullins stating that the former Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Champion ‘has been pleasing’ and doing ‘everything right’ in preparation for the meeting at Cheltenham.

A scintillating showdown on Wednesday 14th March between an in-form Douvan and Altior now looks to signify one of the highlights of the festival, with plenty of racegoers eager to see how the thrilling fixture unfolds. The rivalry became duly recognised after the latter emulated his opponent in style by claiming the Arkle Trophy at the 2017 Festival, a year after also taking its Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

Mullins, whos remarkable 54 winners put in him in second in the list of Festival-winning trainers behind Nicky Henderson, said: “Not so long ago, we were being told we couldn’t train for a year, but we’re coming back – we’re not back yet, but we’re hopeful.”

Douvan, former Champion hurdler Faugheen, Gold Cup hope Total Recall and Arkle Trophy favourite Footpad head Mullins’ party of 40-plus runners to appear at this Cheltenham Festival.

Witness two of horse racing’s hottest contestants at Prestbury Park this year and enjoy the very finest corporate experience to match with Eventmasters’ Cheltenham Festival Hospitality.

Enjoy the finest corporate setting the racecourse has to offer as you sit back relax and soak up a fabulous day of horse racing at Cheltenham. With a splendid array of facilities to choose from, there is certainly to satisfy everyone.

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Savour a Splendid St Patrick’s Thursday at the Cheltenham Festival

Renowned for its unrivalled atmosphere and high-octane action, St Patrick’s Thursday (15th March) is truly one for all to savour, as the Irish descend in their numbers upon Prestbury Park for day three of the splendid Cheltenham Festival.

With the famous Guinness Village once again open for business, it is sure to be a jovial day on course for avid racegoers, with three fabulous Grade 1 contests, including the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle and the JLT Novices’ Chase, never failing to impress.

Rather aptly, in 2017 this marvellous event saw the resurgence of a formidable Irish duo with Messrs Mullins and Walsh producing an inexplicable four-timer, including a storming victory in the feature race of the day, the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.

St Patrick’s Thursday is certainly one not to be missed, with delicious food, fabulous music and stunning racing to enjoy throughout.

Cheltenham Festival Hospitality - St Patrick's Thursday - Silks@Frotrunners Restaurant

Our marvellous Silks@Frontrunners facility offers private table dining coupled with stunning track views for the comfort of an exclusive hospitality balcony.

If you’d like to add a tier of eminence to your day out at Cheltenham Racecourse this year, then don’t hesitate to book your very own Cheltenham Festival Hospitality package with Eventmasters.

As you gear up for a day of racing unlike any other, why not luxuriate within the confines of one of our signature corporate facilities. Places are still available in the delightful Silks@Frontrunners restaurant, which offers splendid fine dining as well as tremendous course-facing views from a private balcony.

The Venue also promises to offer guests a memorable race-day experience. Situated within the racecourse’s hospitality village, it provides guests with a sumptuous four-course feast, complimentary bar, afternoon tea and more!

With hospitality as good as this, it is no wonder places are selling fast!

A full racing schedule for St Patrick’s Thursday can be found below:


St Patrick’s Thursday – 15th March 2018

JLT Novices’ Chase – 13.30 (Grade 1)

Pertemps Network Final – 14.10

Ryanair Steeple Chase – 14.50 (Grade 1)

Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle – 15.30 (Grade 1)

Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate – 16.10

Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle – 16.50

Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase – 17.30


Cheltenham Festival 2018: Champion Hurdle Entries Revealed

The Cheltenham Festival will certainly be one for horse racing enthusiasts to relish this year, with a fabulous feast of fixtures promising to an unrivalled race day experience. Excitement continues to heighten following the release of the 23 name Champion Hurdle list, which features an array of star names including Buveur D’Air and Faugheen.

Nicky Henderson’s champion hurdler is hot on the heels of back-to-back wins in the thrilling Grade 1 contest at the Cheltenham Festival has already emerged as a firm favourite for the race.

Ante-Post favourite Buveur D’Air is one of 23 horses entered for the Champion Hurdle which will be staged on day one of the Festival on Tuesday 13th March 2018.

Henderson’s seven-year-old Gelding is currently a 4-6 shot to defend his crown at Prestbury Park but is likely to face fierce competition from a number of close rivals, not least of all Willie Mullins’ Faugheen.

The Irish Thoroughbred, best known for winning the 2015 Champion Hurdle and back-to-back Christmas Hurdles in 2014 and 15, was pulled up at Leopardstown but is reported to have regained form with Cheltenham firmly on the agenda.

Mullins has a total of six entries which also include Min, Melon and Yorkhill.

Enjoy the 2018 Cheltenham Festival in style with our fabulous corporate hospitality packages

Eventmasters are delighted to provide a superb selection of corporate hospitality facilities for the Cheltenham Festival this year. With places available in the exquisite Silks@Frontrunners restaurant, The Venue and exclusive Grandstand Box facilities, you can be sure of treating your valued guests to a VIP experience worth savouring.

Cheltenham Festival Hospitality 2018 - Silks@Frontrunners Restaurant - Cheltenham Racecourse

Access the links below to discover our exclusive hospitality packages available for each day of the event:

Champion Day

Ladies Day

St Patrick’s Thursday

Gold Cup Day

 

Champion Chase stars to clash at Ascot

Champion Chase favourite Un De Sceaux and 2014 Champion Chase hero Sire De Grugy will meet for the first time in Saturday’s Grade One Sodexo Clarence House Chase at Ascot.

The seven entries do not include dual Cheltenham Festival winner Sprinter Sacre, who could head straight for the 2016 National Hunt Festival; Tuesday 15th – Friday 18th March. The talented performers Felix Yonger, Vibrato Valtat and Captain Conan will line-up for the two-mile contest.

However all eyes will be firmly fixed on the two headline attractions. Un De Sceaux enjoyed a fantastic campaign last season culminating with a victory in the Racing Post Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival. The eight-year-olds seasonal return didn’t go to plan as he fell when going well at Leopardstown over Christmas.

That fall has prompted Willie Mullins to send another of his superstars to Britain in a bid to get his year back on track and he is as short as 5-6 to register his 14th win in 16 starts.

Sire De Grugy was one of the most popular Cheltenham Festival winners when he flew up the hill to claim the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase and he has slowly returned to form this season. He was way below his best at Exeter in the Haldon Gold Cup.

But he produced a stirring performance to beat Special Tiara in the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, his first Grade One victory since April 2014. At Christmas he lined up against a rejuvenated Sprinter Sacre and was only narrowly beaten.

Champion Chase Clues Ahead

The race could will have a major impact on the betting for the 2016 Queen Mother Champion Chase with the current favourite and third favourite due to run.

Gary Moore’s ten-year-old is currently priced at 8-1 for the race on Ladies Day of the Cheltenham Festival (Wednesday 16th March). But if he lowers the colours of his illustrious opponent he will surely be seen as one of the leading British hopes at Prestbury Park.

Victory for Un De Sceaux on Saturday will see his price of 13-8 for the 2016 Champion Chase tumble dramatically, as Mullins continues to dominate the ante-post markets.

The win would also strengthen Mullins’ position in the British Trainers Championship. Paul Nicholls currently holds a £800,000 lead but with several Cheltenham Festival winners on the horizon, Mullins could mount a serious challenge for his first title.

For more information on our 2016 Cheltenham Festival hospitality packages please click here.

Image Credit – Carine06 (Flickr)

Cheltenham Gold Cup 2016 receives record Irish entries

The 2016 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup received a record number of Irish entries with 18 of the 32 possible contenders hailing from the Emerald Isle. The Grade One chase is the feature race on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival – Friday 18th March 2016.

One of the most interesting entries is current RSA Chase favourite No More Heroes, trained by Gordon Elliot. The seven-year-old has enjoyed a successful first season over fences and could look to emulate Coneygree and win the Cheltenham Gold Cup as a novice.

Elliot also trains one of the leading contenders for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in Don Cossack. Despite his fall in the King George VI Chase on Boxing Day, many are tipping the talented nine-year-old to play a big part come March.

One star who will not be tackling the historic race is 2014 World Hurdle winner More Of That. Jonjo O’Neill’s stable star is unbeaten at Prestbury Park but will concentrate on novice events, although he could be supplemented for the race up until 12th March.

Cheltenham Gold Cup bound for Ireland?

Other Irish entries for the £575,000 contest include the fancied Willie Mullins trio of Djakadam, Don Poli and Vautour. Djakadam is the current favourite for the race, he finished second to Coneygree in last season’s Gold Cup and made a winning return in the John Durkan Chase at Punchestown.

Don Poli was an impressive winner of the RSA Chase at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival and has won on both starts this season including the Grade One Lexus Chase at Christmas.

While Vautour made the step up to three-miles for the first time in the King George and was headed in the final strides by the rejuvanted Cue Card and he is on course for the race. Mullins has also entered On His Own, Boston Bob, Sir Des Champs, Ballycasey and Valseur Lido.

The main challengers for the home team are headed by Colin Tizzard’s Cue Card, who is chasing the Chase Triple Crown after victories in the Betfair Chase and the King George. Victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup would secure a massive £1 million bonus for the stable.

While impressive Hennessy Gold Cup winner Smad Place could line-up for the Alan King team. Dual Cheltenham Festival winner Holywell and former RSA hero O’Faolains Boy are the likeliest challengers from the UK.

One thing is for sure, the 2016 Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup is shaping up to be a classic.

For more information on our 2016 Cheltenham Festival hospitality packages please click here.

Image Credit – Kate (Flickr)

Min lays down Cheltenham Festival marker

Min established himself as one of the leading hotpots for the 2016 Cheltenham Festival after sauntering to success in the Grade Two Moscow Flyer Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday.

Irish champion trainer Willie Mullins looks to have another superstar amongst his ranks; with Min set to follow in the footsteps of stablemates Vautour and Douvan, who both won the race before taking the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on Champion Day of the Cheltenham Festival – Tuesday 15th March 2016.

The five-year-old was sent off as 1-7 favourite for Punchestown event and won with plenty in hand. Jockey Ruby Walsh sent the Ricci owned import into an early lead and he never looked in danger, with his slick jumping really catching the eye.

Turning for home the Gigginstown pair of Attribution and Ball D’Arc looked set to lay down a challenge to the red hot favourite. But Min had far too many gears for his rivals and a devastating turn of foot saw him cruise to a nine-and-a-half-length victory.

All roads lead to the Cheltenham Festival 2016

The victory solidified the gelding’s place at the head of the betting for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle with many firms cutting him into 6-4. There is no doubt that he will be seen as one of the bankers for the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.

After the race Mullins was full of praise telling Sky Sports: “You could not ask for any more, and he’s living up to all the chat about him. He does his best work at home on better ground, so to do that on this ground is a big plus.

“I don’t know if he will run again before Cheltenham, probably not. He’s a very easy ride at home, but he seems to grow horns or wings on the race track. He took a hard hold today.

“I was very impressed that he could pull so hard early on, then Ruby gave him a breather and when the other two came to him I said ‘we’ll see what’s in the tank now’. But he just eased right away.”

While Walsh added in the Racing Post “He’s got plenty to do but he’s got a lot of natural ability. He was always taking a fair grip and quickened up really impressively going to the last.”

The sky now looks to be the limit for the French import and all roads now lead to the Cheltenham Festival 2016.

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Cheltenham Festival – Min set for second start

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle favourite Min will be looking to strengthen his Cheltenham Festival credentials in Saturday’s Grade Two Sky Bet Moscow Flyer Novices’ Hurdle at Punchestown on Saturday.

The highly regarded five-year-old made his debut for Willie Mullins and Susannah Ricci at Punchestown in December and the 4/11 favourite produced an explosive display to win by 14-lengths.

The win catapulted the French import into 3/1 favouritism for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle on the opening day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival – Tuesday 15th March.

After the race jockey Ruby Walsh said “He did it well. He raced a bit keenly but he had some experience in France so his jumping was very good. He quickened up nicely in the straight to win well in the end.”

While his trainer added “That was two miles two furlongs and looking at him, he would have no problem at two miles or going up to two and a half.  He has stamina and plenty of gears. He took off with Ruby at halfway but he jumped very, very well. Christmas will come a bit soon but he could come back here in January.”

Min to follow familiar path to Cheltenham Festival

Min will now look to follow in the footsteps of stablemates Vautour and Douvan who both won the Moscow Flyer Novices’ Hurdle for the same owner and trainer combination, before heading to the Cheltenham Festival to register wins in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

The Festival favourite will no doubt face much stronger opposition than he did on his debut with the powerful Gigginstown team holding two entries.

Gordon Elliot’s Tombstone finished a fine second to Long Dog in the Grade One Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle at Leopardstown on December 27th and he could take on the hot favourite; while Ball D’Arc could also line-up for Elliot on Saturday.

The race has become a key Cheltenham Festival trial race in recent seasons and this year promises to produce more thrilling action. Can Min live up to the hype? Or will we see a shock winner?

Please click here if you are interested in our Cheltenham Festival hospitality packages.

Cheltenham Festival – Mullins strengthens grip on big races

Cheltenham Festival legend Willie Mullins once again looks to have an outrageously strong hand heading into the 2016 National Hunt Festival after several of his star performers laid down a marker over the Christmas period.

It is no surprise to see the Irish trainer once again dominating the ante-post markets for the majority of races at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival.

One of his best chances for success at the biggest meeting in jumps racing will come on the opening day (Tuesday 15th March 2016) with Douvan now odds-on to take the Racing Post Arkle. The six-year-old tasted Festival success in the 2015 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and has made a seamless transition to fences.

In just his second start over the larger obstacles the Mullins star made short work of a quality field to win the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase at Leopardstown by 18-lengths. His cruising speed and flawless jumping have marked him out as the outstanding two-mile novice chaser and he is now 4/6 to make it back-to-back Cheltenham Festival wins.

Faugheen bounces back to form

Douvan’s owners Susannah and Rich Ricci saw their Champion Hurdle hero Faugheen return to his best with a powerful victory in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day. The eight-year-old lost his unbeaten record on his return to action in November, but made short work of the field with a front-running display under Ruby Walsh.

Bookies reacted to the success by slashing the dual-Cheltenham Festival winner to 8/13 to retain his Champion Hurdle crown in the feature race on day one of the meeting.

One of Faugheen’s main challengers at Prestbury Park could be the exciting Nichols Canyon. The highly progressive six-year-old caused a major upset by lowering the colours of Faugheen at Punchestown in the Morgiana Hurdle and took his tally of Grade 1 wins to six in the Ryanair Hurdle on December 29th.

After his two-length defeat of Fighting Fifth winner Identity Thief, Mullins compared Andrea and Graham Wylie-owned hurdler to the great Hurricane Fly saying, “He’s got the battling qualities and jumping ability of Hurricane Fly, although he doesn’t have the same zip as he had. He has plenty of stamina and great courage.”

He is now as short as 5/1 to get the better of his stablemate in the 2016 Champion Hurdle.

Cheltenham Festival fancies enhance claims

Andrea and Graham Wylie’s success over Christmas and New Year continued as four of their most exciting talents staked their claims for Cheltenham Festival success.

Up For Review, a talented bumper performer, made it two from two over hurdles with a 13-length romp in the Grade 2 Dorans Pride Novice Hurdle. The win moved him into 5/1 favourite for the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle on Cheltenham Gold Cup Day (Friday 18th March 2016).

Willie Mullins won the race two years ago with Faugheen and was clearly impressed with the seven-year-old saying, “It was a special performance and he has real potential. He’ll get an entry in the Neptune but looks more Albert Bartlett type.”

While Shaneshill, second to Douvan at the 2015 Festival, was installed as 5/1 favourite for the JLT Novices’ Chase on St Patricks Day (Thursday 17th March) after a comfortable success in a novice chase at Naas.

Bellshill followed the success of his stablemates with his second Grade 1 victory in the Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle at Naas. The 2/5 favourite cruised round under Ruby Walsh to score by five-lengths; he now heads the market for the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle on Ladies Day of the Cheltenham Festival (Wednesday 16th March).

The Mullins and Wylie combination completed a fabulous few days when Yorkhill maintained his unbeaten record under rules to win the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown. In terrible conditions the 4/9 favourite travelled powerfully and produced some slick jumping to win by two-and-a-quarter lengths.

The talented six-year-old is now 8/1 for both the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Neptune Novices’ Hurdle and Mullins is keeping his options open saying after the race, “There’s no trouble staying when he did what he did there, but he has always shown us plenty of speed at home and the Supreme is certainly not out of the equation at this stage.”

With all this firepower at his disposal Willie Mullins is once again set to dominate the Cheltenham Festival in 2016.

If you are interested in our 2016 Cheltenham Festival hospitality packages please click here.