Cheltenham Festival 2014: Dates, Schedule, Big-Race Runners, Odds and Tips

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistMarch 11, 2014

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 10: Horse and rider on the gallops at Cheltenham racecourse on March 10 2014 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The greatest horse racing festival of them all takes place from Tuesday, as we see the start of the Cheltenham Festival 2014.

It is one of the most prestigious National Hunt meetings of the racing calender.

The 2014 Festival is held from Tuesday March 11 to Friday March 14, with the showpiece race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, held on the final day.

Here is a full schedule of all the event races at the festival with start times, highlighting the current favourites based on their prices at the time of writing:

Cheltenham Festival Day 1 - Tuesday March 11
Race timeEventFavouriteCurrent odds
1:30 p.m.Supreme Novices'Irving11/4
2:05 p.m.Arkle TrophyChampagne Fever11/4
2:40 p.m.Festival ChaseAlfie Sherrin9/1
3:20 p.m.Champion HurdleHurricane Fly3/1
4:00 p.m.Mares' HurdleQuevega8/11
4:40 p.m.National Hunt ChaseFoxrock3/1
5:15 p.m.Novices Handicap ChasePendra7/1
Cheltenham Festival Day 2 - Wednesday March 12
Race timeEventFavouriteCurrent odds
1:30 p.m.Neptune Novices HurdleFaugheen11/4
2:05 p.m.RSA ChaseBallycasey11/2
2:40 p.mCoral CupClondaw Kaempfer12/1
3:20 p.m.Queen Mother Champion ChaseSire De Grugy5/2
4:00 p.m.Cross Country ChaseBig Shu4/1
4:40 p.m.Fred Winter Handicap HurdleDawalan6/1
5:15 p.m.Champion BumperBlack Hurcules6/1
Oddchecker / Sky
Cheltenham Festival Day 3 - Thursday March 13
Race timeEventFavouriteCurrent odds
1:30 p.m.JLT Novices ChaseFelix Yonger9/2
2:05 p.m.Pertemps FinalFingal Bay7/1
2:40 p.m.Ryanair ChaseBenefficient4/1
3:20 p.m.World HurdleAnnie Power15/8
4:00 p.m.Byrne Group PlateTap Night9/1
4:40 p.m.Kym Muir Challenge CupIndian Castle6/1
5:15 p.m.St Patrick's Derby--
Oddschecker / Sky
Cheltenham Festival Day 4 - Friday March 14
Race timeEventFavouriteCurrent odds
1:20 p.m.Triumph HurdleCalipto5/1
2:05 p.m.County HurdleArctic Fire10/1
2:40 p.m.Albert Bartlett Novices HurdleBriar Hill2/1
3:20 p.m.Cheltenham Gold CupBobs Worth15/8
4:00 p.m.Foxhunter ChaseOn The Fringe7/2
4:40 p.m.Conditionals Handicap HurdleVieux Lion Rouge10/1
5:15 p.m.Grand AnnualTed Veale15/2
Oddchecker / Sky

Champion Hurdle 

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 09: Jack Madden riding Hurricane Fly on the gallops at Cheltenham racecourse on March 09, 2014 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The Champion Hurdle was first run in 1927, and this year sees Hurricane Fly enter as a best-priced 3/1 favourite, according to Oddschecker.

The New One is seen as the biggest threat, but his odds have lengthened slightly as punters get behind Hurricane Fly. 

According to Ian Hudson, "Our Conor is the best horse in the Champion Hurdle and can become the first five-year-old since Katchit to win the highlight of the first day of the Cheltenham Festival."

Our Conor is currently 9/2.

Melodic Rendezvous has a fine hurdles record of three defeats in 10 races, but he has drifted in the betting and can be backed at 25/1. 

The drift on Melodic Rendezvous, a confirmed mudlover, can possibly be attributed to the ground at Cheltenham. The UK had the wettest winter on record, but the weather has turned and the conditions are improving at Prestbury Park. A heavy-ground festival had been a possibility but clerk of the course Simon Claisse reports the ground to be drying out, per Greg Wood of the Guardian.

Melodic Rendezvous’ prospects are very much ground dependent, but even then it is hard to argue against Our Conor.

Tip: Our Conor 9/2

Queen Mother Champion Chase

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15:  AP McCoy rides Alderwood (far right) to victory in the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase Challenge Cup on Cheltenham Gold Cup day at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 15, 2013 in Cheltenham, England.  (Photo by Andrew Redin
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Per Hudson's article:

In the unfortunate absence of Sprinter Sacre there will be a new name on the list of winners of the Champion Chase and bookmakers believe that horse will be Sire De Grugy. He has shown by far the best form in the division this season and looks a worthy favourite. However, in a competitive Grade 1 race the odds looks short and other horses make more appeal at bigger prices.

Sire De Grugy is available at odds of 5/2 according to Oddschecker.

Hudson continues, "Sire De Grugy was beaten by Kid Cassidy at Cheltenham. However, conditions favoured that horse and Sire De Grugy was carrying 11 pounds more in weight." 

Gary Moore's charge has taken his form to a different level since his defeat to Kid Cassidy, with authoritative wins at Sandown, Kempton and Ascot.

Those seeking out value could do worse than look at Somersby and Wishful Thinking, who are both proven at the top level and look excellent outside bets and worth considering at 16/1 and 33/1 respectively.

Tip: Somersby 16/1

World Hurdle

CHELTENHAM, ENGLAND - MARCH 15:  Harry Derham riding Salubrious clear the last to win The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' handicap Hurdle Race during Cheltenham Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham racecourse on March 15, 2013 in Cheltenham, England. (Photo by Ala
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Currently there are two horses making all the noise in regards to who will win this race: They are Big Buck’s and Annie Power. However, At Fishers Cross, now the ride of the legendary Tony McCoy, could also be a threat to win.

"Big Buck’s has won four World Hurdles and is the best staying hurdler in the history of sport," per Hudson's article. 

He is priced currently at 11/4 with Oddschecker.

After an injury absence of more than a year the Paul Nicholls trained animal is now 11 and the stats suggest the race is tough to win for a horse of that age, per Hudson. 

Favourite Annie Power is currently at 15/8, with McCoy's At Fishers Cross at 7/1.

Tip: At Fishers Cross 7/1

Gold Cup

LAMBOURN, ENGLAND - MARCH 16:  Nicky Henderson poses with Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth at Seven Barrows Stables on March 16, 2013 in Lambourn, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Per Hudson's article:

Bobs Worth has everything in his favour as he attempts to become the first horse since Kauto Star to be a multiple winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The horse has now won three different races at the Cheltenham Festival and is unbeaten in five starts at Cheltenham so clearly relishes the conditions at the course. Bobs Worth looked beat two out in last season’s Gold Cup but stormed up the hill to beat Sir Des Champs by seven lengths. The horse is a high class staying chaser, possessing great amounts of stamina and a willing attitude.

Robert Cooper and Mick Fitzgerald gave their opinion on Bobs Worth and his challengers:

Paul Nicholls' Silviniaco Conti, winner of this season's King George VI Chase, is second favourite at 3/1 and looked like the winner of last year's race before falling at the third from home. 

There is a feeling he could wrestle the crown this year, especially if Bobs Worth does not put in the expected performance level. The Giant Bolster at 16/1 is a good each-way bet but does not have the class to win the race outright.

Tip: Silviniaco Conti 3/1


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