Cheltenham Festival 2020

Well, can you believe it, it’s almost that time of year again. The most prestigious National Hunt meeting of the year is almost upon us. From Tuesday March 10th to Friday 13th March, both casual and serious punters alike will be tuning into the four day feast of jump racing that is the Cheltenham Festival. Over the coming weeks there will of course be 2020 Cheltenham tips and betting opportunities galore, with office sweepstakes and the like taking place and TV audiences well into the millions for the jewel in the crown that is the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The Gold Cup is steeped in history, having first taken place on 12th March 1924 with prize money of just £685 (whereas in 2019 the first place purse was £351,688 and total purse £625,000). The likes of Best Mate and Kauto Star have in part cemented their place in the annuls of racing, due to their Gold Cup wins, which is testament to what the race means to people. It’s not the only race that stands out in a big way though. Other Group 1 races held during the Cheltenham Festival are the Champion Hurdle, the (almost) 2 mile Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Stayers’ Hurdle, all of which have prize money in the £300,000-£500,000 range. These races and others all draw in the cream of the racing crop, in terms of owners, trainers, jockeys and of course horses. They will no doubt, once again, be responsible for many captivating moments in this 28 race Festival of excellence.

So what’s the state of play for the big races at the Cheltenham Festival 2000 you may ask. Well, in terms of the Gold Cup there’s no firm favourite, which if anything adds to the excitement and unpredictability of the race. Al Boum Photo, Santini and Delta Work are all seen to have what it takes at about the 4-1 and 5-1 mark with bookmakers. Also in firm contention are the likes of Lostintranslation, Clans Des Obeaux and Kemboy all at around 6-1. There’s a good spread among tipsters; Greg Wood of The Guardian for instance highlights the Gordon Elliot trained Delta Work’s recent Irish Gold Cup win as reason to be positive about its Cheltenham Gold Cup chances . Of course there’s no guarantee that all of these selections will even race on the day, but it’s handy nevertheless to get a good indication of the current lay of the land.

Elsewhere there are a few selections that punters and bookies alike appear to think are a class above the field. For example,in the Stayers Hurdle, Paisley Park is currently 9/10 favourite (with Benie Des Dieux second favourite at 8-1), and much fancied Appreciate It is 9/4 to win the Champion Bumper. Tipsters will of course ramp up their predictions as the Festival approaches, and whether you gleam anything from their contributions or are dead set on your own approach is down to you, and all part of the fun. Whatever your approach, the very best of luck to your betting balance during this years Cheltenham Festival.

Like a flutter on the horses as much as you love a spin on the Slots? We’ve got good news for you. To celebrate Royal Ascot this month, we’ve teamed up with the guys from the online casino, to bring you a list of the top 5 online slot games themed around horse racing.

Galloping into first place is Ascot: Sporting Legends. The latest release in Playtech’s Sporting Legends Jackpot Collection, this 5-reel, 25-line line slot transports you to Ascot Racecourse. Expect to see ladies dressed in fancy hats, gentleman sporting top hat and tails, and plenty of fast-running thoroughbreds on the reels as you play.  

It’s loaded with bonus features too. Wild symbols shaped like gold cups can expand to fill entire reels, helping you find more of the best winning combinations. The High Society Free Games Bonus gives you the chance to win up to 20 free spins, during which even more wilds appear on the reels. And then there’s the best feature of all: The Jackpot Bonus. Any spin gives you the chance to win Playtech’s Daily, Weekly or Sporting Legends Jackpot!

To find out more about Ascot: Sporting Legends and other top racing slots, check out our full guide on this page now.

Ride to victory with the top 5 racing slot games

Tony McCoy Sir Anthony Peter McCoy, knighted in 2016 for services to horse racing, but known to the racing public as ‘Tony’ or ‘A.P.’ was, by any objective measure, not only the greatest National Hunt jockey of his generation, but the greatest National Hunt jockey of all time.


Born and bred in Co. Antrim, McCoy rode his first winner in Britain on Chickabiddy, trained by Gordon Edwards, in a handicap hurdle at Exeter on September 7, 1994, and at the end of the 1994/95 season became Champion Conditional Jockey. Thereafter, McCoy rode more winners than any other National Hunt jockey in Britain in each of the next 20 seasons or, in other words, in every season until his retirement in April, 2015. Famously tall for a jockey, at 5’10”, testament to his dedication to his profession is the fact that, on the day he retired, at the age of 40, he still weighed only 10st 2lb and had the body fat percentage of a typical elite athlete.


Surprisingly, McCoy never won the Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, but won the Champion Hurdle three times, on Make A Stand in 1997, Brave Inca in 2006 and Binocular in 2010, the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Edredon Bleu in 2000 and the Cheltenham Gold Cup twice, on Mr. Mulligan in 1997 and Sychronised in 2012. Away from the Festival, he famously won the Grand National, at the fifteenth attempt, on Don’t Push It in 2010.


McCoy enjoyed a fruitful association with Martin Pipe, winning the jockeys’ title in nine consecutive season while stable jockey at Pond House, before his decision to leave in 2004. In 2001/02, McCoy rode 289 winners – including 189 for Pipe – and broke the all-time record (269) for the most winners in a season, previously held by Sir Gordon Richards. In August, 2002, he became the most successful National Hunt jockey, numerically, in history, with 1,700 winners, one more than his predecessor at Pond House, Richard Dunwoody, in half the time and two-thirds of the number of rides.


McCoy left Pond House for what he described as the ‘new challenge’ of riding for Jonjo O’Neill at Jackdaws Castle, but accepted a huge retainer – rumoured to be anything up to £1 million a year – from John Patrick ‘J.P.’ McManus, owner of the state-of-the-art training facility, to ride in his familiar green and gold hooped silks. McCoy kept the retainer for the rest of his career and retired with 4,348 winners – 4,204 of them in Britain – and his financial future secure.

Richard Dunwoody Belfast-born Thomas Richard Dunwoody MBE, who retired from race-riding, on medical advice, in December, 1999, after a long-term neck injury, which led to a loss of strength in his right arm, was aggravated by a series of falls, was one of the most celebrated National Hunt jockeys of his generation. He began riding, as an amateur, for the late Tim Forster at Old Manor House Stables, near Wantage, in the Vale of the White Horse, in 1982 and rode his first winner in Britain, Game Trust, at Cheltenham the following May.


In his first season as a professional, in 1984/85, Dunwoody rode 46 winners and must surely have gone close to winning the Grand National on the favourite, West Tip, trained by Michael Oliver, had the 8-year-old not fallen, when travelling conspicuously well, at Becher’s Brook on the second circuit. In any event, in 1986, by which time Dunwoody had become stable jockey to the late David Nicholson, but was released from his retainer on Port Askaig – who parted company with Graham McCourt at the first fence – to ride West Tip, the partnership set the record straight, winning the National by 2 lengths and 20 lengths from Young Driver and Classified.


Dunwoody won the Cheltenham Gold Cup on Charter Party, trained by Nicholson, in 1988 and the Champion Hurdle on Kribensis, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, in 1990. In 1989, he also began his association with Desert Orchid, trained by David Elsworth, on whom he would win seven races, including the King George VI Chase twice, in 1989 and 1990.


For all his early success, though, Dunwoody did not win the jockeys’ title for the first time until 1992/93, by which time he had succeeded Peter Scudamore as stable jockey to Martin Pipe. That season he rode 175 winners and retained the title in 1993/94 and 1994/95, with 197 and 160 winners, respectively.


In 1994, Dunwoody won the Grand National again, on Miinnehoma, trained by Pipe and owned by Liverpool comedian Freddie Star. That year, the race for the jockeys’ title featured an engaging, head-to-head battle between Dunwoody and the 23-year-old Adrian Maguire, who had replaced him as stable jockey to David Nicholson. Despite being banned from riding for 14 days – which included the Cheltenham Festival, in its entirety – on March 2, after being found guilty of deliberately obstructing a horse ridden by his arch rival, Dunwoody, with the resources of Pipe at his disposal, won the jockeys’ title by a score of 197-194.


At the end of his career, Dunwoody had ridden 1,874 winners, including 1,699 on British soil and, like his predecessor at Pond House Stables, become the most successful jockey, numerically, in the history of British National Hunt racing.