The Cheltenham Festival is right around the corner and the highlight of the racing calendar for many horse racing fans whilst for others it is all about the Grand National. Either way, the Cheltenham Festival should be giving some clues about those taking part in the Grand National, especially with two of the last six Grand National winners having run at the Cheltenham Festival on their final prep run.
It seems those that run at Cheltenham don’t necessarily have to run well to go onto Grand National success, although some wrote off Don’t Push It for the 2010 Grand National after being pulled up over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival it proved no barrier to success as he landed a late and sustained gamble at Aintree just weeks later. The Grand National winner in 2007 ran more of a race at Cheltenham when finishing 2nd in the Cross Country Chase a few weeks earlier than when landing the big one at Aintree but he was relatively unfancied for his Grand National success, probably due to taking part in one of the less fashionable races at the Cheltenham Festival, as he returned at 33/1 on the big day.
A victory at the Cheltenham Festival is no bad thing either when it comes to a horse’s chances in the Grand National. Only last year Sunnyhillboy won the Kim Muir Chase at the Festival before going down by the narrowest of margins at Aintree to Neptune Collonges, who had finished 3rd in the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup. Full list of 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup runners here.
The Grand National places are littered with horses that recently ran at the Cheltenham Festival. When Don’t Push It tried to defend his Grand National crown in 2011 he once again had his prep over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival but could only finished third on his return to Aintree. In 2009, My Will ran well to finish 5th in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and then went two places better in the Grand National just weeks later.
Some of those that are pretty prominent in the betting for the 2013 Grand National could take in a race at the Cheltenham Festival as their final prep run. Leading fancy Prince De Beauchene has three entries at the Cheltenham Festival but it remains to be seen whether or not he takes up any of those entries. More likely runners could include Sunnyhillboy once again who is entered over fences and hurdles this year and another of last year’s Cheltenham Festival winners, Alfie Sherrin, who looks one of the best each way bets in the Grand National at this stage. Don’t be surprised to see a few more Grand National contenders roll up at Cheltenham and also don’t be surprised if the Grand National Betting has a bit of a different complexion about it after the Cheltenham Festival. Whichever you prefer, the Cheltenham Festival or the Grand National, both should be great events this year.