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One of the biggest dates on the racing calendar is set to be held behind closed doors this year
The 2020 Cheltenham Festival was one of the last major sporting events held in the United Kingdom prior to the start of the first nationwide lockdown, but it appears their good fortune won’t extend to this year’s gathering. Whilst the event is still set to go ahead this year, there are some big changes being planned including holding the races behind closed doors for the first time on record.
The meet is currently scheduled to begin on Tuesday 16th March, with the iconic Unibet Champion Hurdle planned as the first day’s headline race at 3:30pm. The prize fund for that contest stands at close to half a million pounds, and the resulting publicity is sure to fill Unibet’s sportsbook with wagers from those who fancy a flutter on horse racing bets UK.
Main Races for Cheltenham 2021
The action at Cheltenham normally begins at 1:30pm, with seven races held on each day. The full schedule is yet to be announced, but we do know the details of the headline race for each day already; as mentioned above, the Unibet Champion Hurdle tops the bill on Tuesday 16th March, followed by The Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday 17th March and The Stayers’ Hurdle on Thursday 18th March.
The festival will reach its crescendo with the world-famous Gold Cup race on Friday 19th March.
Will Spectators Be Permitted?
Probably not – the organizers have already stated that due to government guidelines they have no choice but to hold this year’s meet behind closed doors, with no spectators being allowed in to observe the races. Racecourse bosses are monitoring the situation closely, however, and there is some hope that a small number of fans may be able to attend if restrictions are lifted over the next few weeks.
The most recent statement released by the Cheltenham Racecourse reads: “Based on current Government restrictions, professional sport is able to continue under stringent health and safety protocols, without spectators present.”
“In horseracing’s case this is vital to support the livelihoods of the many thousands of people who rely on the industry and for the welfare of the thousands of thoroughbred racehorses who live and train in Britain.”
“This means that under current restrictions, The Festival will take place as a televised event, but sadly without spectators at the course. We continue to monitor Government guidance and should this change in advance of The Festival we will act accordingly.”
Who are the Favourites?
Unibet are already offering odds on all of the runners in each of the Cheltenham 2021 races. You may even be able to get a better price than those shown below by using their Price Boost & Super Boost promotions. Cheltenham is yet to feature in these offers, but keep an eye on their website closer to the festival as they are sure to appear at some stage.
Remember, the odds shown below are very likely to narrow as more bets are placed in the next few weeks so your best chance to make a big profit is to get your bet on right now! Here are our current picks in each of the main events:
Unibet Champions Hurdle
The favourite on the first day is currently Epatante who is ahead by some margin with odds of 9 to 4. Behind her are Honeysuckle and Sharjah, who are currently priced at 7 to 1 and 8 to 1 respectively.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase
Nobody can touch Chacun Pour Soi in this race, who is currently being offered at just 1 to 1 by Unibet. Her closest competitors Politologue and Altior have a long way to go to close the gap, with both presently on offer at odds of 8 to 1.
The Stayers’ Hurdle
This one is a little bit closer, with front-runner Paisley Park leading the field by a short margin of 3 to 1 versus Thyme Hill at 7 to 2. The third favourite is Sire Du Berlais, at 8 to 1.
The Gold Cup
The favourite in Cheltenham’s marquee race is currently Al Boum Photo, who leads the field with odds of 3 to 1. Unibet fancy Minella Indo and A Plus Tard as competitors, both of whom are currently priced at 8 to 1.
Allison is the Publisher of Eclipse Magazine. She loves going to the Races and is learning to bet (despite being officially the worst bettor in the History of the Universe), there’s a lot more to learn…