With the Cheltenham Festival 2019 under a month away and equine flu a thing of the past, it’s time to look forward to one of the biggest and most popular racing events on the calendar.
There was some speculation as to whether the event would even take place due to the outbreak of equine influenza earlier this month.
However, with the British Horse racing Authority (BHA), confident the disease has been contained, racing is back underway.
The outbreak of equine flu
The British racing industry has had a tough start to 2019 thanks to the outbreak of the equine flu.
The disease was first found in three vaccinated horses from Simon Crisford’s training yard in Newmarket.
As these were active horses taking part in race meets, the British Horse racing Authority (BHA) had to step in to ensure that other horses had not caught the highly contagious disease.
This put all UK stables on lockdown and racing meets were cancelled in what was horse racing’s biggest health and financial crisis since foot-and-mouth back in 2001.
Figures have been released claiming the overall cost to the industry was thought to be between £150m and £200m. Betting firms also lost about £2 million a day during the lockdown.
However, since then no more horses have tested positive for the disease and racing resumed on Wednesday earlier this week.
This comes as a great relief to everyone involved with British racing. Organisers, owners and jockeys can now look forward to and focus their preparations on the Cheltenham Festival next month.
Cheltenham festival 2019
Cheltenham festival 2019 kicks of on Tuesday 12th March and lasts for four days.
The festival welcomes thousands of horse racing fans and celebrities in what is one of the biggest and most exciting meets of the racing calendar.
The biggest race of the festival, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, takes place on Friday 15th March. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the prospects for the race.
A total of 44 horses will start the big race with Presenting Percy, Native River, Clan Des Obeaux, Kemboy and Might Bite some of the bookies favourites.
With odds of 11/4 Presenting Percy is the current favourite to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup. A £20 bet would return £80 on this horse.
Trainer Pat Kelly opted not to take him to a warm-up race last weekend meaning he may be the first horse to start the Gold Cup as the favourite without having raced fences in over a year.
Owner Philip Reynolds said “All is good with Percy, he schooled this morning and there were no problems. Pat and myself had a good chat about it and he is just happy with where he is and didn’t feel we needed to run him this weekend. We’re keeping the faith and staying positive.”
The 2017 Gold Cup winner, Native River, starts as Bet365’s second favourite with a current price of 9/2.
Native River was meant to run at Newbury on February 9. However, due to equine flu this meet was cancelled meaning Native River did not run.
We’ll wait to see if this has caused any upsets in terms of preparation.
Clan Des Obeaux
Clan Des Obeaux is also another favourite for the Gold Cup. After cruising to victory in the Betfair Denman Chase at Ascot, Bet365 cut his price to 9/2.
Trainer Paul Nicholls said “I was a bit nervous running because you don’t want anything to go wrong this close to Cheltenham. Every time he runs, he learns a little bit. Last year, he was a big baby, looking about in front, but this year he has come together. That will have done him the world of good.
“It is now about putting the finishing touches to him to get him to perfection for Cheltenham. Like a lot of horses, it has taken him a while to get to that mature stage, but he is there now.
“Kauto Star was seven when he won his first Gold Cup, and this horse is the same age, so we are very much where we want to be.”
Clan Des Obeaux could prove to be a great bet at 9/2.
Third favourite and with odds of 9/1, Kemboy is certainly worth considering for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
After having a great end to 2018, winning the Savills Chase at Leopardstown in late December, Kemboy is eyeing up the Gold Cup for the first time.
Might Bite (14/1), the 2018 runner-up lines up for the big race despite having two flops over the last few months.
Since then, he has undergone surgery to help his breathing which trainer Nicky Henderson said would not hold back his preparations for Cheltenham.
Whether this is true, we wait to find out.
The Gold Cup is set to be a hotly contested event and we’ll wait to see who takes home the £351,687 prize money.
Betting on Cheltenham 2019
Overall Cheltenham 2019 is set to be a great event with plenty of running over the four days.
As with most large horse racing events of the year, the bookmakers will be offering some great promotions, incentives and other bonuses for customers to use.
With loads of betting opportunities and free bets, it’s a great time to make some extra cash.
Make sure you pick the best betting strategy for the event to ensure you maximise your profit from Cheltenham 2019.
Stay tuned in for the latest betting information and previews for the event.