The Cheltenham Festival, slated to take place from Tuesday, March 10 to Friday, March 13, is one of the most eagerly awaited horse racing events on the National Hunt racing calendar in the UK. Each day will feature 7 races, with the first starting at 1.30pm GMT, and the last race taking place at 5.30pm GMT.
Punters closely monitoring the racers in the next few weeks and are set to bet on Cheltenham guide bookies the world over. And based on the latest race results traders are scrambling to change their prices on the favorites for the Cheltenham Festival.
The Gold Cup
This race is jump-racing’s Blue Riband, and it the finale for the Cheltenham Festival. Slated to take place on Friday, March 13, this Grade 1 racecourse is 3 miles and 2/5 furlongs long and has 22 fences that need to be jumped.
With a prize of £625,000, the Gold Cup is the most valuable non-handicap race in the UK, and only the best horses run this course. This year, there are about 28 potential runners, of which, Al Boum Photo is the big favorite, with odds at 7/2 to win the race. Santini has a 5/1 odds of winning the race, Delta Work has a 6/1 chance and Lostintranslation and Kemboy have 7/1 chances of winning.
However, the one horse that everyone has their eye on this year is Native River. According to the report by SportingLife, Native River won the Betfair Denman Chase at Newbury on Saturday, February 8.
Native River’s ranking before Saturday was at 14/1, but after the race, his odds went up to 12/1 for winning the Gold Cup at Cheltenham.
The Queen Mother Champion Chase
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the National Hunt’s top minimum-distance chase, and is the main event of Day 2 at the Cheltenham Festival. Slated to take place at 3.30pm on Wednesday on March 11, this race will be run on the Old Course, which is about 2 miles long, and has 13 fences.
The Guardian reported on Altior’s last race, where he won the Game Spirit Chase at Newbury. Altior is expected to race in the Queen Mother Championship Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
Ridden by jockey Nico de Boinville, and trained by Nicky Henderson, Altior has already won the Queen Mother Championship twice before, and now the odds on him have gone up; he is now at 2/1 joint favorite, along with Defi Du Seuil, to win it again this year. The racer’s previous odds were 3/1.
Cancun Pour Soi will currently be running with odds of 5/2, Cyrname with odds of 8/1, A Plus Tard at odds of 8/1, Cilaos Emery and Min at odds of 10/1, Politologue has odds of 20/1, and Sceau Royal and Dynamite Dollars have odds of 25/1 to win the Chase.
The Brown Advisory Handicap Chase
For this Grade 3 race, Clondaw Castle, who won at the races comfortably on Saturday at Warwick, has finally caught the eyes of punters and traders. Expected to run at the Brown Advisory Handicap Chase at the Cheltenham Festival, Clondaw Castle is now a new favorite, and his rating has been cut from 25/1 to 16/1 to win the race.
The Mares Hurdle
The favorite for the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham, Indefatigable, has a current rating of 12/1 after she won her race at Warwick by a massive 6 lengths on Saturday.
Another surprise jump in ratings goes to Rouge Vif, whose odds to win the Arkle Change have gone up from 33/1 to 20/1 after he won the Agetur UK Kingmaker Novices’ Chase on Saturday, February 8, at Warwick. The 6-year old horse won his race by an easy 7 lengths.
The Pertemps Final
One For The Team won his Newbury race, and traders set his odds at 14/1 to win the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham. This will be One For The Team’s first showing at the Festival, so this horse, trained by Nick Williams and ridden by Chester Williams will be one to watch at the big races in March.
Ballymore Novices Hudle and Supreme Novices Hurdle
Chantry House, trained by Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty, won the 2-mile long Betfair Exchange Novice Hurdle in Newbury on Saturday. This 6-year old had made his debut at Cheltenham, and this was his second victory, keeping his record unbroken. Thanks to his victory at Newbury, Chantry House’s odds have jumped up from 20/1 to 10/1 for winning the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham this year.
Chantry House’s chances to win the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham have also gone up to 10/1 after this good performance in the last races.
The one name that is on everyone’s lips for winning the Ballymore Novices Hurdles is Envoi Allen. His odds are stacked at 5/4 to win this race.
Aaron Rodgers Signs $150m Contract as Green Bay Packers Retain Star Quarterback
If you are a Green Bay Packers fan, then the news that Aaron Rodgers has pledged himself to the Lambeau Field franchise for another three years will be music to your ears. The veteran quarterback has completed back-to-back NFL MVP award-winning seasons, and many may have feared that another offseason filled with ‘will-he, won’t he’ rumors were on the cards, but that’s now been neatly avoided.
38-year-old Rodgers has put pen to paper on a deal that will net him a massive $150m and makes him the best-paid player in the league. His first year will amount to $41m, the second is worth $59, and his third will work out at $49m. That may seem like a hefty sum, but Rodgers reportedly actually turned down a higher amount, knowing that doing so would free up money to improve the deals of other players (and possible newcomers to the Packers ranks).
The retention of Rodgers will, of course, offer a massive boost to Matt LaFleur’s team’s push for a Super Bowl title, and if you take a look at any odds comparison site, you’ll see that Green Bay are now at around the (+1100) mark, meaning that only the Buffalo Bills, the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ahead of them in the betting.
Rodgers has been in superb form over the past few seasons, showing that age hasn’t caught up with him, and there is certainly plenty more left in the tank. Next season will be his 18th with the Packers, and he has led his team to the playoffs in each of the past three campaigns.
During that period, the Packers have a 39-6 record in regular-season action, which is a frightening level of consistency, and keeping such a hugely talented player at the team is something that has been widely applauded.
Green Bay general manager Brian Gutekunst remarked;
“We are very pleased to be able to come to an agreement with Aaron that keeps him in Green Bay,”
“His play on the field and leadership in our locker room remain vital in our pursuit of another Super Bowl title. The agreement also allows us to maintain and enhance what we feel is already a very competitive roster.”
The new deal for Rodgers has left back-up QB Jordan Love considering his options, and one imagines he may look to leave Green Bay in order to find game time elsewhere.
On that point, comments from LaFleur suggest that they may not stand in his way, should he indeed look to find a new team;
“Jordan’s come a long way,”
“I still think, with any young player that hasn’t gotten maybe the experience up to this point, there’s still a lot of room for growth. So I think it’s going to be an important offseason, that when he does come back, it’s making sure that his footwork is sharp, that he’s on the details of what we’re trying to accomplish on each and every play and all the concepts, really a mastery of the offense, and just the command that he has. I know he takes that to heart, and he takes it very personally, and he’ll do whatever he can to be his best.”
One thing is for sure. Trying to force your way from behind the shadow of such an accomplished player, such as Aaron Rodgers, isn’t something that can be easily achieved. Hence the likely need to move on rather than sit on the sidelines for another three years.
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