Handicap Races At Cheltenham
The Cheltenham Festival is growing ever closer and punters are now drawing up their final lists and picking what they believe to be the best bets of 2023.
Of course, Championship races such as the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase, and the Gold Cup, will take centre stage across the four days of action. However, it is in the many competitive Handicap races at the festival that the best value can be found from a betting point of view.
Cheltenham’s Handicap Races
Most of the 28 races on offer throughout the week are Grade 1 races, but there are also several wide-open handicap chases and hurdles to enjoy. Below are the main ones to look out for.
The Ultima Handicap Chase
The opening Handicap Chase of the meeting comes on day 1 in the form of the 3-mile 1 furlong, Ultima Handicap Chase. A great online betting option for those looking for an early win, 2023 will see last year’s winner, Corach Rambler, attempt to become just the fourth horse to win the race on two occasions.
Trained by Lucinda Russell, Corach Rambler is currently 10/1, the same price as he returned the victor 12 months ago. According to the Paddy Power Blog, the Grand National is his main target this year, and this race has proven to be a good stepping stone for the Aintree showpiece in the past.
Ahead of him in the market for this year’s renewal, there are currently four horses vying for favouritism. The Goffer, Into Overdrive, Threeunderthrufive, and Remastered, are all 8/1 for the race that has thrown up plenty of surprise winners.
County Handicap Hurdle
One of the most valuable Handicap Hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival, the County Hurdle has become a race that has produced many future top-level performers. Run on the final day, the race is an exciting spectacle that gets the racing public’s hearts pumping as the Gold Cup grows nearer.
Irish trainer, Willie Mullins, has used the race as a stepping stone for his young hurdlers to graduate into top-level performers the following season, with the likes of Thousand Stars, Wicklow Brave, Saint Roi, and Arctic Fire, having won the race before going on to bigger and better things.
Last year’s winner, State Man, has won four Grade 1 races since triumphing and is currently the 11/4 second favourite for this year’s Champion Hurdle.
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase
The second last race on Ladies’ Day, the Grand Annual, has been known as a race that can make or break a punter’s meeting if they have had a bad start with their wagers. With winners returning at prices of 14/1 and even 66/1 in recent years, there is a possibility of saving the day with a big-priced winner.
Ante-post 8/1 favourites for 2023 are Boothill, and So Scottish, whilst Third Time Lucki and Aucunrisque are both priced at 9/1.
Above are just three valuable Handicap races at the Cheltenham Festival, with the likes of the Coral Cup, the Plate Handicap Chase, and the Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle also available for punters to find a possible big-priced winner.
The Gold Cup and the Champion Hurdle may be the highlights, but when it comes to excitement, the Handicaps can more than hold their own.