The Cheltenham Festival is renowned for being one of the biggest betting events of the year, with over half of the top forty UK betting races coming via the four-day Festival. So much revenue is generated through Cheltenham, it is perhaps no surprise that many punters identify their strongest fancied horses months in advance of the meeting. With that in mind, we have identified the three candidates that seem set to be popular with punters for this year’s Cheltenham Festival, along with their intended race targets.
Shishkin – Arkle Chase
At Cheltenham, there is often a horse trained in the UK and one trained in Ireland that are seen as each representative’s ‘banker’ of the meeting. In Shishkin, we have the English banker, with his current odds for Cheltenham at 8/11. The seven-year-old is trained in Lambourn, Berkshire, by the highly successful trainer Nicky Henderson.
Shishkin has won all seven races that he has competed in, with the exception of one fall at Newbury back in December 2019. He took the opening race at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, and his intended target for this year’s meeting is the Arkle Novices’ Chase. This is a race that his trainer has won no fewer than six times, making him the most successful trainer in the race’s history.
Chacun Pour Soi – Champion Chase
Jockey silks that have often been taken to victory at Cheltenham Festival have been in the pink and green Rich & Susannah Ricci colours. They have won Festival races with the likes of Douvan, Vautour, Champagne Fever, and Monkfish in the last decade, to name but a few. Unsurprisingly, they have high hopes for further success with Chacun Pour Soi in the upcoming Queen Mother Champion Chase.
This French-bred chaser has stood little racing for his age, but when on form he has proven scintillating. Three of his five wins since joining County Carlow based trainer Willie Mullins coming in Grade 1 company, the highest level of jumps racing.
Envoi Allen – Marsh Novices’ Chase
Undoubtedly the Irish banker to Shishkin’s English banker title, Envoi Allen is currently the poster horse for jumps racing fans, having won all eleven of his starts to date. Trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott, the seven-year-old is being lined up for a tilt at the Marsh Novices’ Chase.
This race was won twelve months ago by the stable’s very own Samcro. Having already won twice at the Cheltenham Festival, coming over to Gloucestershire in March clearly suits Envoi Allen, and he is sure to be a very popular horse amongst both English and Irish punters.
The popularity of the Cheltenham Festival continues its exponential rise, and it is unlikely that the attraction of the event is going to dip anytime soon. Fortunately for racing fans, the quality of the action on show is matching the ascent. In Shishkin, Chacun Pour Soi, and Envoi Allen, there are three horses on display that many punters will want to be on the right side of when placing their bets for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.