Friday, 2 July 2021

Cheltenham Fesival - Festival Trophy

The Festival Trophy – otherwise known as the Ryanair Chase- is another Grade 1 race to be witnessed on the third day of the Cheltenham Festival. It has some pretty generous offerings as horses aged five years and over compete to clear seventeen obstacles and cover a distance of two miles and five full furlongs (4225m). It was introduced as a lower grade race as more events were required to increase the action when the festival was expanded to four day in 2005.

By 2010, it had become a highly competitive and popular race and it was then handed a first-grade ranking.

To this end, Albertas Run remains the leading horse in this event after sweeping first honours in 2010 and 2011. Five trainers hold a joint record of two wins each, among them Jonjo O’ Neill who rode Albertas run in both wins. Ruby Walsh has crossed the finish line atop the winning horse a record four times- twice before 2010 and twice after.

Ahead of the 2018, joint record trainer Nicky Henderson announced that he was withdrawing his horse Top Notch from the Festival Trophy. It was a disappointment to race fans who had tipped the
trainer to win the race, but he explained that recent performances and signs from the horse to his rider indicated he was not ready for the event.

Monday, 28 June 2021

Cheltenham Festival - Queen Mother Champion Chase

This is one of the elite Grade I races run on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. It is a tough race that enlists horses of age five years and above to compete over a distance of two miles (3219 m). Twelve fences are jumped along this path.

The inaugural event of Queen Mother was held in 1959. Then, it was known as National Hunt Chase. It was renamed to the current form in 1980 on the eightieth birthday of Elizabeth (Queen Mother). It often takes a prefix to go along with the existing sponsor (currently Betway).

You might guess from the name that this is a pretty royal race. With a purse of around £350,000, it ranks among the highest paying races at the event. Consequently, it attracts the best horses and the biggest crowds.

Nicky Henderson will be making an entrance in this event during the 2018 festival with Arkle winner and increasingly popular horse Altior, who is 4-1 favourite to finish in first position

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Cheltenham Festival - Spa Novices' Hurdle

Any race run on the final day of Cheltenham Festival is a big race and so is the Spa Novices’ Hurdle. This is a grade 1 National Hunt ranked race that admits four years and above aged horses. They compete over a three mile (4828 m) distance on the New Course.

A generous offering of £68,000 goes to the race winner while the rest share what remains of the £120,000 purse.

The Spa Novices at Cheltenham, oft referred to as the Albert Barlett Novices’ Hurdle, has been existence for 12 years before the 2018 edition. It Achieved Grade 1 status in 2008. Its popularity among viewers make it one of the races with a good actual viewing from the stands.

Tony Mc’ Coy is the race’s leading jockey with three wins while the two wins by Jonjo O’ Neill make him the leading trainer.

Horses that compete in the Spa Novices are often angling for elite jump races like the Gold Cup.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Grand National - Equality of Opportunity

 



Well hasn't it come around fast? In a little under a week's time the highlight of the national hunt calendar, namely the Grand National, is upon us. Last year due to Covid we had to make do with a pixelated affair, which while better than nothing, was no substitute for the blood, sweat and tears that goes into 'the real thing'. The 2021 Grand National brings together the best of the best at a time where we could do with something positive to focus on.

With no Tiger Roll this year, heavy favourite Cloth Cap is looking to show them how its done, with a convincing win, but is it really going to be that easy? Speaking of which, Katie Walsh recently spoke to Betway about another facet of racing that has been anything other than easy over the years; namely representation of female jockeys in the Grand National. Unbelievably it wasn't until the 1970s that a female jockey even took part. Watch the video to learn more about how our girls turned the lemons of discrimination in the sport, into the lemonade of success. Cheers!

Tune into the Grand National on April 10th

Monday, 29 March 2021

Many Clouds

 Described by trainer Oliver Sherwood as 'the horse of a lifetime', Many Clouds tragically collapsed and died, from a severe pulmonary haemorrhage, shortly after narrowly beating Thistlecrack in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham in January, 2017. However, aside from that final Herculean effort, the Cloudings gelding will always be best remembered for winning the Grand National in 2015.


The winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, 2014, Many Clouds was sent off 7/1 second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup the following March, but could manage only sixth, beaten 24½ lengths, behind Coneygree. Consequently, when he lined up at Aintree less than a month later, under the welter burden of 11st 9lb, he was a largely unconsidered 25/1 chance.


However, ridden by regular partner Leighton Aspell, he raced prominently for most of the way and was left in the lead when second favourite Druids Nephew fell at the fence after Valentine's Brook on the second circuit. Thereafter, he made the best of his way home and set off up the run-in with a three-length lead over his nearest pursuer, Saint Are. Approaching the famous 'Elbow', he looked sure to win comfortably, but Saint Are, who was receiving 17lb, started to cut into his lead close home and, in the end, he had to be driven right out to win by 1¾ lengths.


Win he did, though, and in so doing made Aspell the first jockey since Brian Fletcher, in 1974, to win back-to-back Grand Nationals. Winning owner Trevor Hemmings, previously successful with Hedgehunter in 2005 and Ballabriggs in 2011, joined James Machell and Noel Le Mare as co-leading owner in the history of the Grand National.








Monday, 15 March 2021

Chomping at the Bit for Cheltenham!


Here at FestivalFocus.co.uk it should be no surprise that we're chomping at the bit with excitement for this years Cheltenham Festival. For starters it's a relief that it's even going ahead (last years Grand National had no such luck and we were instead lumbered with a 'Virtual' version – a poor substitute). And secondly there are a number of races that we just can't wait to see. Can Honeysuckle (currently 9/4) make it an amazing 11 from 11 in the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy? Can Altior (13/2) overcome Chacun Pour Soi(10/11) in the Champion Chase. We'll soon find out, so prior to that let's have a lighthearted Cheltenham Festival themed  quiz from Betway with some not necessarily 'in the know' Premier League footballers!


Monday, 1 March 2021

Cheltenham Festival - Cheltenham Gold Cup

There is definitely a good reason why this race is the headline event of the Cheltenham Festival. An Assortment of the best horses fight it out for the top position through three miles and two-and-a-half furlongs ( 5331m) on the Cheltenham New course.

The horses must have attained the age of five years to participate, and will have to have been in tip-top position throughout the season. A gruesome path of such lengthy distance is laden with 22 fence obstacles.

A horse’s acceleration over short distances, endurance, braking and jumping skills are put to ultimate test in this event. The same applies to a rider’s handling skills.

For all the pain, the winner gets to take home a whopping £327,000 from a £575,000 purse. Gamblers find some of the best odds here too!

When it’s time for the Gold Cup, everything else comes to a stop. The viewing stands fill up to the brim as spectators line up to see this spectacular event.

Thursday, 7 January 2021

Cheltenham Festival - Cross Country Chase

The Cross Country Chase- oft referred to with sponsor Glenfarclas name as a prefix- is another longer distance race run during the latter stages of the Cheltenham Festival. It opens its gates for
horses of age five years and more who fight to complete three miles and seven furlongs (6236 m) on the cross country course.

Along this distance, an astounding 32 obstacles are to be cleared, all in the bid to collect the most of a £50,000 purse. The already tough race is made even more demanding by the presence of condition weights used to cull weight advantages.

It is a unique race in that it is the only cross country competition held at the Cheltenham event and all over racing circles at this time of the year. This has caused its popularity to go up among stamina race lovers since it was first introduced in 2005.

Irish trained horses do love this chase as indicated by their 11 wins in the 13 editions running up to 2017. It gets even better for horses of between eight and 10 years who have won ten of the
thirteen races. The other three were 12-year-olds. Garde Champetre and Balthazar King share a record of two wins. The leading trainer is Miss Nina Carberry with three wins, during which she rode leading trainer Enda Bolger (5wins) trained horses.