The Brave and the Beautiful Compete at Cheltenham Festival 2013
Two inter-related factors make the Cheltenham Festival the brilliant event that it is: the horseracing and the punting. Yes, the fashion awards on Ladies Day are entertaining and the Irish theme on St Patrick's Thursday is most enjoyable, but what truly grabs the attention of horseracing fans at Prestbury Park and around the world are the 27 superb races, and the powerful horses that run in them. The hundreds of millions of pounds wagered on Internet betting sites are a rich indication that the Cheltenham Festival is one of the top events of the year for the global punter. Cheltenham Festival betting knows no boundaries; while a few hundred thousand festival attendees are punting with trackside bookmakers, perhaps a million more avid fans are placing bets through scores of online punting sites.
Every year, new stars are born at Cheltenham and, in the weeks before the start of the festival, the ante-post odds reflect which horses are likely to achieve fame and fortune. The 2013 Cheltenham Festival will run from March 12th through the 15th, and over the course of those four days, the horses, jockeys, owners, and trainers will gather with one goal in mind: to attain a spot in the victory circle, thereby cementing their place in horseracing history.
Trainer Nicky Henderson produced seven winners at last year's festival; checking the pre-race prices on the online betting sites, punters will notice that all Henderson horses are considered 2013 favourites, regardless of the competition. Although no one is guaranteed a win, Cheltenham Festival betting is strongly influenced by a horse's history and a trainer's reputation. This year, Henderson is bringing the following horses to Cheltenham:
- Sprinter Sacre, slated to win the Queen Mother Champion Chase
- Simonsig, in the running to take the Arkle Challenge Trophy
- My Tent Or Yours, a favourite in the William Hill Supreme Novices' Hurdle
- Riverside Theatre, aiming to triumph in Thursday's Ryannair Chase
- Bobs Worth, a favourite to prevail in the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Henderson will have stiff competition at Cheltenham, as other trainers are also well represented. Rock on Ruby, trained by John O'Dwyer, won last year's Champion Hurdle and is nicely positioned to repeat the feat. Hurricane Fly – the 2011 Hurdle winner – could also win it for trainer Willie Mullins. Although Sprinter Sacre looks to have the Champion Chase all but tied up, Sizing Europe, trained by Henry de Bromhead, could give the Henderson horse a run for his money. The World Hurdle is wide open this year and while Henderson-trained Oscar Whiskey has a good shot, so does another Mullins trainee: the mare Quevega. Mullins will again give Henderson a fight in the Gold Cup, pitting Sir Des Champs against Henderson favourites Bobs Worth and Long Run. The strong fields result in Cheltenham betting being particularly lively; favourites often disappoint and long shots can always surprise. That's what makes horse races, and that's what makes the Cheltenham Festival a perennial crowd pleaser.