The 2016 Cheltenham Festival is just around the corner and you can guarantee that this “Champions League” of horseracing is dominating the thoughts of every jockey and trainer across the UK.
Taking place from 15-18 March at Cheltenham racecourse, Gloucestershire, this year’s events promise to produce a vintage Festival. All in all, we will be treated to 27 fantastic races over the four days — Champion Day, Ladies’ Day, St Patrick’s Day and Cheltenham Gold Cup Day. Notable races include the Gold Cup, Supreme Novices Hurdle, JLT Novices Hurdle, the World Hurdle and the Triumph Hurdle.
Will Mullins and Walsh win the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2016?
No single person can be regarded as being bigger than the Festival itself, but if anyone has come close to “owning the Festival” in recent years, it is Willie Mullins. The Irish trainer had eight 2015 Cheltenham winners, making his Festival total 41 overall. He has trained Hurricane Fly, Quevega and Faugheen, all of whom have left an indelible print on Cheltenham’s history.
Faugheen (2014 Neptune Investment Hurdle Winner, 2015 Champion Hurdle Winner) has been ruled out of this year’s Champion Hurdle due to injury, but Mullins can still call upon Douvan, Annie Power and Un De Sceaux, all of whom are certain to top the Cheltenham odds at top bookmakers such as William Hill.
Other trainers need not despair though; Mullins still has one glaring omission from his CV — the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Will 2016 be the year that he ends his Gold Cup drought? With Vautour (2015 JLT Novice Hurdle Winner, 2014 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Winner) and Djakadam (2015 Gold Cup runner up) expected to lead his charge, Mullins might have his best chance for many years of winning the prestigious race.
If Mullins is to triumph again at Cheltenham 2016, then expect to see a lot of Ruby Walsh in the Cheltenham winners’ enclosure. The duo have teamed up for no less than 22 wins down the years, and Irish jockey Walsh is seen as an integral part of Mullins’ success. Walsh has tasted Gold Cup victory before, twice riding the legendary Kauto Star to land the big one for trainer Paul Nicholls. He knows how to win the Gold Cup and 2016 could see everything fall into place once more.
Who will win the Cheltenham Gold Cup 2016?
Last year’s Gold Cup winner Coneygree is set to take part and jockey Nico de Boinville will feel that the bay will be favourite for the race. Vautour and Djakadam, entries for Willie Mulllins, have all the tools but questions remain over the former’s stamina and the jumping of the latter. However don’t be surprised to see a name like Don Poli, Smad Place or 2015 Grand National Winner Many Clouds adorn the famous trophy. Regardless of who wins the 2016 Cheltenham Festival, William Hill is offering top notch 2016 Cheltenham betting odds and thrills at the racecourse are guaranteed.
The question on everyone’s lips — who will win the Gold Cup? The runners and riders are getting ready and with such a stellar field set to take part, it can be difficult to choose a winner. Of course, it’s helpful to know who will be racing, so visit Who are Cheltenham festival A to Z runners to find out.
Could British trainers bounce back at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival?
Whisper it… the British are coming. 2016 could certainly see a return to form for British trainers at the Cheltenham Festival. Colin Tizzard’s Thistlecrack is showing tremendous form, and one can never rule out the 2016 King George VI winner Cue Card, who is set to make another tilt at the Gold Cup.
Nicky Henderson (the trainer with most wins overall in the history of the Cheltenham Festival) will be bringing a rehabilitated Spinter Sacre. The two-time Festival winner is a big crowd favourite and could well be in with a shout of the Queen Mother Champion Chase — a race in which “Sprinter” destroyed the competition in 2013.
Returning heroes may just be a theme for Henderson, as he is likely to bring along former favourites such as My Tent Or Yours, Peace And Co and Bobs Worth.
This year is also shaping up to be a spectacular one for jockey Richard Johnson. Having spent what seemed like an eternity as runner up to AP McCoy in the Champion Jockey title, Johnson has had a stellar season and is a certainty to land the trophy — will he add Cheltenham glory too? Only time will tell.