Crio’s Racing: Cheltenham Festival 2015

The world-famous Cheltenham Festival gets underway tonight (Australian time) and here’s a fantastic guide to Cheltenham if you’re new to the festival, courtesy of the UK’s Independent newspaper.


Cheltenham Festival beginners’ guide: When is the Gold Cup, when does it start, race card and who should I back?

A brief look ahead to this week’s action at the Cheltenham Festival. [With the exception of the opening paragraph, all times and dates have been converted to AEDST. – Ed]


The Cheltenham Festival takes place between Tuesday 10 March and Friday 13 March [UK time. Here in Australia, it will run from Wednesday to Saturday morning. – Ed], with each day featuring a Grade 1 championship race to dominate the action.

On Wednesday morning, the Champion Hurdle will take centre stage as overwhelming favourite Faugheen, ridden by Cheltenham favourite Ruby Walsh, faces stiff competition from last year’s winner Jezki, The New One and two-time winner Hurricane Fly.

On Thursday morning, the Queen Mother Champion Chase will see two of the most successful horses seen in recent times go head-to-head as Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy look to overcome a troublesome year to reign supreme at Cheltenham once again. However, the action on track could well be overshadowed by the scenes off it, as Ladies Day often throws up a glamorous appearance or two – and a not-so-glamorous day out for some.

Friday morning’s action sees the three-mile World Hurdle get underway, with the bookmakers’ unable to split co-favourites Annie Power and Zarkandar.

Finally, the fourth and final day of racing sees the famous Gold Cup bring the curtain down on the main races, where the formidable Silviniaco Conti will look to fend off a packed field that contains many of the best hurdlers in the world.


This year’s Cheltenham Festival will also represent a last for stalwart jockey AP McCoy, who will bow out from riding after a career that spans over 22 years. During that time, McCoy has won the Gold Cup twice, winning with Mr Mulligan in 1997 and Synchronised just three years ago.

McCoy will be looking to add to the 30 winners he has ridden at Cheltenham over the years, before he final calls it a day at the end of the season.

Another to look out for will be Ruby Walsh, who will team up with trainer Willie Mullins once again to ride Faugheen on the opening day. Such is Walsh’s faith in this horse, Walsh decided to abandon his usual runner Hurricane Fly in order to mount Faugheen, and he will go up against McCoy (Jezki), Sam Twiston-Davies (The New One) and Paul Townend (Hurricane Fly).

Keep an eye out for both Twiston-Davies and Townend, as well as Barry Geraghty.


Paul Nicholls will be gunning for a trainers’ record of five Gold Cup victories with Silviniaco Conti, although the memory of last year’s disastrous finish that saw him become the first horse to lead over the last yet finish unplaced will be all-too-fresh for Nicholls.

Any horse with the name Willie Mullins alongside it will also be one to keep an eye on, although Boston Bob, Djakadam and On His Own stand an outside chance at best in the Gold Cup.

McCoy’s partnership with Jonjo O’Neill is another that has withstood the test of time, while Nicky Henderson will be hoping taste success throughout the week with up to 56 entries set to ride under his name.


The Program: [All race times and dates have been converted to AEDST and the card is subject to change]

Wednesday 11 March
12:30am: Novices’ Hurdle – Douvan, Nichols Canyon, Windsor Park, Outlander

1:05am : Arkle Challenge Trophy – Un De Sceaux, Vibrato Valtat, Josses Hill

1:40am : Handicap Chase – Pendra, The Druids Nephew, Ned Stark

2:20am : Champion Hurdle (G1) – Faugheen, The New One, Jezki, Hurricane Fly

3:00am : Mares Hurdle – Annie Power, Glens Melody

3:40am : National Hunt Chase – Very Wood, Sego Success

4:15am : Novices Handicap Chase – Generous Ransom, Thomas Crapper, Bold Henry


Thursday 12 March
1:05am : RSA Chase – Don Poli, Coneygree, Kings Palace

1:40am : Coral Cup – Aux Ptits Soins, Activial, Roi Des Francs

2:20am : Queen Mother Champions Chase (G1) – Sire De Grugy, Sprinter Sacre, Mr Mole

3:00am : Cross Country Chase – Any Currency, Sire Collonges

3:40am : Handicap Hurdle – Hostile Fire, Arabian Revolution, All Yours

4:15am :  Champion Bumper – Bordini, Moon Racer, Pylonthepressure


Friday 13 March
12.30am : Novices Chase – Vantour, Ptit Zig

1:05am : Pertemps Final – Edeymi, Regal Encore, Call The Cops

1:40am : Ryanair Chase – Don Cossack, Ma Filleule, Balder Succes

2:20am : World Hurdle (G1) – Annie Power, Zarkandar, Saphir Du Rheu

3:00am : Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Plate – Monetaire, Buywise, Un Ace

3:40am : Kim Muir Handicap Chase – Pendra, Gallant Oscar, As De Ferbet


Saturday 14 March

12:30am : Triumph Hurdle – Peace and Co, Hargam, Beltor

1:05am: Vincent O’Brien Country Handicap Hurdle – Quick Jack, Calipto, Savello

1:40am: Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle – Black Hercules, No More Heroes

2:20am : Cheltenham Gold Cup (G1) – Silviniaco Conti, Many Clouds, Holywell, Coneygree

3:00am : Foxhunter Chase – Paint The Clouds, On The Fringe, Aerial

3:40am : Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle – Roi Des Francs, Le Mercurey, Ebony Racism

4:15am: AP McCoy Grand Annuel Chase – Ned Buntline, Next Sensation, Monetaire




If you’d like to read the original article in full, click HERE to go to the Independent’s website, where this content originally appeared.

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