National Hunt horse racing over jumps remains hugely popular across the pond in Britain, and their premier meet is the Cheltenham Festival. Held over four days in March, that’s twice as long as the annual Breeders’ Cup World Championships run at a different track each year stateside, the best hurdlers and chasers from the UK, Ireland, and even France face-off at Cheltenham’s Prestbury Park-based course.
Who are the early favorites for Festival glory in 2021? As well as finding favor with bookies, there are horse racing betting Exchange prices for bettor to bettor trading available on all these equine stars.
After winning the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the previous Cheltenham Festival, Shishkin is fancied to follow-up on that after making a flawless transition to steeplechasing. His debut over fences at Kempton was very impressive as Nicky Henderson’s charge was slick and quick at the larger obstacles.
The Irish will have something to put up against him in the Arkle, while his main British challenger looks to be Allmankind, the winner of the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown. Shishkin remains a strong favorite despite that, and could well be the replacement for long-time stable star Altior.
Between November 2019 and 2020, Epatante won all four of her starts including three Grade 1s which make up the UK’s Triple Crown of hurdle races. A rapidly progressive mare last season for Henderson, she has picked up in the new campaign right where she left off.
Wins in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton Park and then the Champion Hurdle itself showed that Epatante has arrived. She has since added the Fighting Fifth up at Newcastle to her resume with an easy success at a canter and remains favorite to retain her Champion Hurdle crown come March.
Chacun Pour Soi
The fragile but brilliant Chacun Pour Soi was a high-profile absentee from the Queen Mother Champion Chase last season thanks to a last-minute minor setback. Irish master trainer Willie Mullins will be desperate to win that race which has eluded him in his storied career to date.
Chacun Pour Soi delivered in the Dublin Chase and looked as good as ever taking his rivals off their feet in the Hilly Way Chase at Cork on his return to action. If Mullins is to finally have Champion Chase honors, then the market strongly suggests this is the horse to do it for him in 2021.
As yet undefeated in any organized race, Gordon Elliott’s Envoi Allen has a fearsome reputation and the long-term career target of capturing the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Any talk of the blue riband event of the Festival can wait until next year, though.
The Marsh Novices’ Chase on St Patrick’s Day is the target for this Irish raider in 2021, and that would be fitting. Any horse with an unbeaten streak like Envoi Allen is bound to scare some opposition away and, as a result, he is a hot favorite to record a third consecutive Cheltenham triumph.