The Excitement of Cheltenham Comes TwinSpires This Week
You’d be hard pressed to find a race meeting with a more distinctive atmosphere than the Cheltenham Festival, where the tremendous and deafening roar of the crowd greets the runners as they set off for the first race of the four-day event.
It’s the pinnacle meeting for English and Irish jumps racing where runners compete over hurdles, fences, or in bumper races, which are flat races meant for horses before they begin their hurdling or chasing careers. The Festival calendar is Tuesday-Friday with a feature race each day culminating with the most prestigious of all, the Gold Cup on March 13.
One of the best aspects of jumps racing is that the horses race at far older ages than what we’re accustomed to in flat racing in America, so fan favorites come back year after year. That can lead to the formation of fierce rivalries like that of Denman and Kauto Star a few years back. Speaking of horses returning year after year, Hurricane Fly is set to compete in one of the feature events—the Champion Hurdle—at the age of 11. In the nine years he has spent racing, he’s raced in both flat and hurdles events and has won 26 times from 39 starts, including twice winning the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham.
And, of course, because both English and Irish-trained horses are involved, there is a friendly rivalry over which nation’s horses win more races. Local punters can bet on this competition, called the Prestbury Cup, but it’s fun even to just follow along. Last year, Great Britain narrowly defeated the Irish who had bested them the year before, and England is a big favorite with bookmakers to repeat again this year.
When it comes to betting the races, we’re often greeted with large, competitive fields and some decent upsets, particularly when the favorites haven’t yet raced at Cheltenham or excel mostly over flat courses unlike the undulating Cheltenham course that finishes with a steep uphill half mile climb. Last year, 20-to-1 shot Lord Windermere won the Gold Cup over 16-to-1 On His Own and 14-to-1 The Giant Bolster, so there are prices to be had.
To top things off, Twinspires will be offering a 10% exacta bonus, where you earn a bonus equal to 10% of your gross winnings ($500 maximum per player for the card) for every exacta you cash in any race.
So join us here on the Twinspires blog throughout the week as we preview races, give out plays, and hopefully win some money.
Candice will blog each day of the Cheltenham Festival for TwinSpires.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHARE889 for real-time insights into the races, including her 10% exacta bonus plays!