Horse racing - equine flu - for display only

With a new calendar year – and a new decade – comes a new sporting calendar.

Alongside the great British sporting events this year, will be some exceptional horse racing.

The first half of the year is brimming the most prestigious and hotly contested events in the national racing calendar, with some even attracting international competitors.

From the much lauded Cheltenham Festival to the final jump meeting of the season, here are three major racing events to look forward to this spring.

The Cheltenham Festival, 10th – 13th March 2020, Cheltenham Racecourse

Aka “the greatest show on turf”, the Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest events in the sport, successfully reaching the mainstream and coming second only to the National in terms of prestige.

With a total of 28 National Hunt races taking place across four days, 14 of which are Grade 1 contests, the 2020 festival is set to offer lots of action, appealing to novice bettors and experienced horse players alike.

Key races to have a flutter on this year are the Supreme Novice Hurdle on day one, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on day two, and day three’s Stayers Hurdle.

The big one, however, will be the Cheltenham Gold Cup, closing out the festival on the 13th March.

The Cheltenham countdown is well and truly underway, and warm up races at the likes of Haydock and Kempton are already providing strong indications on possible favourites for each of the key races at the festival.

The recent Leopardstown Festival favourite, Abacadabras, trained by Cheltenham veteran Gordon Elliott, looks set to become 2020’s novice hurdle winner, whilst 2019’s winner, Klassical Dream, has the Gold Cup in his sith.

Paul Nicholls-trained Clan Des Obeaux is a strong favourite for the Gold Cup, following back-to-back wins at the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

But it’s Elliot’s triumphant Tiger Roll who will no doubt draw in the biggest crowds and bets.

After successfully recovering from a minor operation last November, Elliott has confirmed that Tiger Roll is on-course for a hat-trick at the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase on 11th March.

As per usual, the 2020 festival will be covered by the national broadcasting channels, plus the leading online bookmakers are already accepting future wagers for the festival, meaning that punters can now start betting on their favourites to win any races.

Grand National Meeting, 2nd – 4th April, Aintree Racecourse

Less than three weeks after the end of Cheltenham comes the start of the 2020 Grand National Meeting at Aintree.

With Ladies Day and a wealth of Grade 1 races taking place over the two day meeting, again punters will be spoilt for choice, but the Radox Grand National itself will receive the biggest fanfare, and rightly so.

The most famous race on the planet, this four mile, two furlong, 110 yard mammoth is totally unique in the horse racing industry.

The ultimate test of strength, stamina and speed for both horse and rider, it features a maximum field of 40 runners each season.

With Cheltenham winners, also rans, and horses that missed the festival entirely, the field is always hotly contested.

The 2018 and 19 champion Tiger Roll will be returning to Aintree in 2020 to attempt his second hat-trick of the year, hoping to equal Red Rum’s success and top his record with three consecutive wins.

Although a clear favourite, he’s got some serious competition to face if the results of the season so far are anything to go by.

Classic Chase winner and powerhouse, Kimberlite Candy, should have no problem staying the trip round Aintree, whilst 2019’s National Hunt Chase winner, Le Breuil, will no doubt relish the test that the National brings.

Reigning Irish National winner, Burrows Saint, is also on course to do well, and former Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Native River will have the reigning Aintree champ in his sights.

Bet365 Gold Cup, 24th – 25th April 2020, Sandown Park Racecourse

The last big race meeting of the national Jump season, the Gold Cup meeting at Sandown always closes out the season with a flourish.

The 2 mile Celebration Chase has been elevated to Grade 1 status, whilst the Bet365 Gold Cup offers the top staying Chasers a final and prestigious opportunity in the season.

Over the years, the Gold Cup has produced some of the finest and most memorable moments in British jump racing history.

Previous winners include the illustrious Desert Orchid, but it’s perhaps Arkle’s 1965 record that is the most well known.

After shouldering a total of 12st and 7lb in weight, the courageous gelding charged first past the post and become the only horse to win both the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Sandown Gold Cup in the same year.

Betting markets are yet to open for the event, but since it’s the final jump meet of the season you can expect to see Grand National and Scottish National also rans in their droves.

(Guest post)

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