If you ask the man on the street which racing event is their personal favourite, the Cheltenham Festival will often rank high of the list.With races steeped in history and ability such as the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and of course the Cheltenham Gold Cup there is plenty to look forward to in this four day racing extravaganza. In anticipation of this unmissable national hunt Festival, let’s see how knowledgeable some of out footballing stars are when it comes to Cheltenham (and horse anatomy!). Courtesy of our friends at Betway, Teams representing Ireland and the UK duke it out – Prestbury Cup style.
It’s easy to get caught up in the UK racing scene on account that we all no doubt become very familiar with the national legends of the sport (Kauta Star, Frankel, Tiger Roll to name a few in recent years). There’s no shortage of horse racing action here across both the flat and the jumps season, and of course we have a whole range of races and festivals steeped in history that draw in the nation each and every year. The Grand National, Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival being, for many, the big three. They attract millions at home and abroad, and yet much in the same way that other nations are open to our ‘jewel in the crown’ races and festivals, we too should cast an eye to theirs.
One favourite place of mine in part due to travels and my online casino Australia fun, is Australia. Coincidentally a favourite race of mine is from there too. Yes, you’ve got it, it’s none other than the Melbourne Cup. This grade one event really is one to watch for die hard racing fans (with the Caulfield Cup and Cox Plate also high on the list). With impressive prize money (8,000,000 Australian dollars) on offer this two miler attracts the cream of the crop of world racing and is the richest two miler handicap on the planet. Held at Flemington Racecourse, in Melbourne Australia, the first Melbourne Cup took place way back in 1861, which is proof positive of its prestige. It attracts television audiences of millions and 100,000+ on course (in pre-covid times!). Winner of the 2020 race was the Aidan O’Brien trained Anthony Van Dyck.
I’ve been known to play crazy vegas casino, and an interesting fact about Vegas is that it has no race track, and in fact no professional sports held there in general. This is quite the surprise considering how much sports betting (in addition to casino going) happens there. The US is certainly no stranger to racing though with the likes of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes being two highlights. One of the main highlights of the horse racing calendar, for me, is the Belmont Stakes, held in June of each year. Part of the triple crown and run over 1.5 miles and nicknamed The test of the Champion, the race has a purse of an impressive $1,000,000 and was won last year by American thoroughbred Tiz the Law.
It’s strange to think back to the 80s really, in that there are so many stark difference to today’s world. Where now I wind down in the evening with casinos online, or a streaming service, back then I’d probably have been on my way home from Blockbuster video. Of course though, despite that, some things are timeless and the Cheltenham Gold Cup certainly ticks that box.
The 1987 Cheltenham Gold Cup proved to be a dramatic renewal of the three-and-a-quarter-mile contest, not least because Prestbury Park was engulfed by a blizzard as the runners were being saddled, causing the start to be delayed by an hour and 20 minutes. Racecourse officials attempted to start the race at its advertised off-time, 3.30pm, but with the safety of paramount concern, the horses were recalled from the start and returned to the stables. An anxious wait ensued but, finally, at 4.51pm, the twelve runners set off around what commentator Sir Peter O’Sullevan described as the “snow-sprinkled arena”.
When they did, Cybrandian, trained by Peter Easterby and ridden by Chris Grant, took the field along, jumping well at the head of affairs. An impressive start, much like my experience on the best online casino sites. Future winner Charter Party was an early casualty, parting company with jockey Richard Dunwoody at the first open ditch, but the remaining eleven runners were all still standing heading out on the final circuit. The eventual winner, The Thinker, trained by Arthur Stephenson and Ridley Lamb, was last jumping the water for the second time, but made steady progress from the rear and moved into a close third at the fourth-last fence. A mistake at the third-last halted his progress and he still trailed Cybrandian and the ‘old man’, Wayward Lad, by now a 12-year-old, turning for home.
However, not for the first time in his career, Wayward Lad failed to sustain his effort up the infamous Cheltenham hill and Cybrandian hung badly right in the closing stages, although, to his credit, he battled on to finish second. In a driving finish, The Thinker – a well-backed 13/2 second favourite – edged ahead close home to win by 1 ½ lengths, with Door Latch snatching a highly creditable third place, in a photograph, from West Tip.