Cheltenham Festival: 5 things you might have missed this week

Paddy Power brings you up to speed with the festival stories that might have passed you by

Goshen Altior Kemboy

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The Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching and the racing industry is gearing up for what many see as the highlight of the Jumps season.

Spectators are not allowed at Prestbury Park this year but Paddy Power are offering non-runner money back on every single race at the 2021 meeting in order to soften the blow.

We’ve also got you covered with a round-up of some key stories you might have missed this week as excitement grows ahead of Cheltenham.

Amateur jockeys banned

There will be no amateur jockeys at the 2021 festival as the British Horseracing Authority complies with the UK government’s Covid-19 restrictions on non-elite sport.

Three races at Cheltenham – the National Hunt Chase Challenge CupFulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup, and the St James’s Place Festival Hunter Chase – are traditionally reserved solely for amateurs while several of these riders also regularly compete against the professionals in other contests.

However, amateur and grassroots sport remains suspended up until March 29, meaning top jockeys such as Patrick Mullins and Jamie Codd will miss this year’s meeting – unless they turn professional.

Mullins refused to rule out making the switch, but the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board has stated that “any individual applying for a professional licence will be required to demonstrate their intent to remain as a professional jockey and not to just take out a licence to circumvent current public health restrictions.”

Patrick Mullins Cheltenham March 9, 2020

Cheltenham Festival: Why are amateur jockeys banned from the 2021 festival?

Henderson bigs up Altior

Nicky Henderson is pleased with the progress of ALTIOR and believes the 11-year-old has improved greatly from his seasonal reappearance at Kempton in December, when he was beaten by Nube Negra in the Desert Orchid Chase.

Altior is targeting his third Champion Chase – and his fifth festival win – with his trainer happy that he is finally returning to peak fitness.

“Altior could not be better and I’m very, very happy,” said Henderson. “His whole demeanour is in a better place than he has been this year. It hasn’t been easy and having looked invincible, luck hasn’t gone his way. He raced very lazily and lacked his usual and sharpness and accuracy at Kempton over Christmas.

“I am very happy with where Altior is. He will have one more bit of work here and he is fit and seems very well. Chacun Pour Soi and plenty of others will be there [at Cheltenham] but he is still there and will be sharper this time. There will be a battle and I am looking forward to it.”

Altior Nicky Henderson February 17, 2020

Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips for Cheltenham Festival 2021

Epatante in form after physio

Henderson is also confident EPATANTE can return to her best in the Champion Hurdle after successfully overcoming a sore back.

Last year’s champion is returning to defend her crown but faces a tough task up against Henry de Bromhead’s unbeaten Honeysuckle and a revitalised Goshen.

Epatante started the season with a brilliant display in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle but suffered a shock defeat to Silver Streak in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.

“We’ve been able to iron out a few things and she’s definitely better than she showed there,” he said. “We’re in a better place with her now.

“She had a bit of a sore back and we’ve had that treated. She had a little bit more than physio. I don’t know if that was all that was wrong at Kempton but she wasn’t comfortable for whatever reason.”

Epatante Aidan Coleman Kempton December 26, 2020

Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips for Cheltenham Festival 2021

Goshen on the comeback trail

This year’s Champion Hurdle had been considered a straight shootout between Honeysuckle and Epatante, but GOSHEN has now blown the race wide open after a storming victory in the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton last Saturday.

The five-year-old, who was bolting up in last season’s Triumph Hurdle before unseating Jamie Moore at the final flight, blitzed Song For Someone by 22 lengths to signal his Cheltenham intentions.

The result was eye-catching after three poor runs on the flat and over flights this season, and trainer Gary Moore says everything is in place for another crack at the festival.

“He’s come out of his race very well,” said Moore. “We’ll just do what we do and hopefully keep him on track for Cheltenham. I’ve done nothing with him. He’s just gone out for a jog around the place and nice easy exercise. He’s taking it all well and seems in good order. I’m very pleased with him.”

GoshenMay20

Cheltenham Festival: Prestbury Cup Great Britain v Ireland betting and latest odds

Kemboy to target Gold Cup

KEMBOY is expected to have another attempt at winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup, rather than revert back to hurdles at the 2021 festival.

Willie Mullins recently suggested the nine-year-old could compete in the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, despite not having run over flights since April 2017 and the fact that he notched an impressive victory over fences in the Irish Gold Cup.

However, it now looks likely that Kemboy will line up for the showpiece event and could make the running as stablemate Al Boum Photo eyes a third consecutive win.

Mullins said: “Kemboy hasn’t a great record in Cheltenham and I think that could be down to me and a bit of bad luck. The first year he ran he fell at the first, and last year for some reason I told Patrick (Mullins) not to make it (the running) as Patrick wanted to make it.

“I can’t remember the reason why I told him but Patrick feels that was the reason he disappointed last year. I think he should go for the Gold Cup with different riding instructions – I’ll have to have a word with myself! We’ll see about who is going to ride him in the Gold Cup but I think the idea would be to be more forward this year.”

Kemboy Danny Mullins Leopardstown February 7, 2021

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change

CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL‘S BIG RACES

March 16 – 13.20 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 16 – 13.55 – Arkle Chase latest odds and tips

March 16 – 15.05 – Champion Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.20 – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 17 – 13.55 – Festival Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 17 – 15.05 – Queen Mother Champion Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 13.20 – Marsh Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 14.30 – Ryanair Chase latest odds and tips

March 18 – 15.05 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 13.20 – Triumph Hurdle latest odds and tips

March 19 – 14.30 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Chase latest odds and tips

March 19 – 15.05 – Gold Cup latest odds and tips

March 19 – 16.15 – Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase latest odds and tips

*Paddy will be all over your telly box throughout the Cheltenham Festival sponsoring ITV’s live coverage from Prestbury Park – and you can get free and exclusive tipping columns EVERY DAY from Ruby Walsh, Matt Chapman and Mick Fitzgerald here on PP News.

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