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Cheltenham Festival 2017 in Review

It’s hard to believe, but Cheltenham 2017 has already flown by us.  The four day festival races past so quickly, just like the horses running in it. 


So what were the highlights?

  • Michael O’Leary’s horse Apple’s Jade won the Mare’s Hurdle on Champion Day.  This is noteworthy in particular because that horse used to be one of Willie Mullins’, who was running two others in the hurdle race.  As this was the first time since 2008 that Mullins did not achieve a win on the opening day of Cheltenham, it was quite a disappointment for him, and quite a victory for O’Leary.
  • The Champion Hurdle on Tuesday was won by Buveur D’Air, while My Tent Or Yours placed second.  Both horses were trained by Nicky Henderson.  What is particularly significant about this victory is that Buveur D’Air was actually running novice chases when the season started.  Henderson intuited that a return to hurdles might be a great move, and that decision paid off in a remarkable triumph.
  • On Ladies day, a major upset took place during the Queen Mother Champion Chase.  Douvan was the heavy favourite for the race, but “was lacking power jumping and he was jumping erratically,” as jockey Ruby Walsh described it.  Special Tiara won the race instead (followed by Fox Norton in second and Sir Valentino in third), and it is believed that Douvan may have some physical problem, and will need an X-ray and an MRI to determine what it might be.  Prior to this loss, Douvan was unbeaten under Willie Mullins.  At least one punter lost £375,000 when Douvan was defeated this time around—quite a painful lesson in the unpredictability of horse racing.
  • More excitement took place at the RSA Chase.  Might Bite’s performance was quite unusual.  In theory, he should have won by 20 lengths, but he decided to slow to the point where he was practically walking on the run-in.  After a challenge passed him, he then sped up again.  He achieved victory, but only by an inch or so.  Both trainer Nicky Henderson and jockey Nico De Boinville were asked about Might Bite’s odd slow-down and recovery, but neither offered much of an explanation.  It’s not the first time; Might Bite did the same thing in 2015 on this same track, slowing down at the same exact point.  That time he went on to win as well.
  • While Willie Mullins was off to a rough start in Cheltenham, his fortunes changed on St' Patrick's Day.  His horse Yorkhill won the JLT Novice’s Chase at the start of the day.  Un De Sceaux came in first for the Ryanair Chase, and Nichols Canyon won the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle.  Finally, Let’s Dance came in first for the Trull House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle in the afternoon.  Ruby Walsh rode all four horses, giving the eminent jockey and Mullins four incredible victories in the same day.
  • The Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday was won by Jessica Harrington’s Sizing John.  This was the first horse that Harrington ever ran in the Gold Cup, making the victory even more astonishing.  Meanwhile, Cue Card’s hopes of Gold Cup victory are likely now lost forever.  His performance this year did not compare to last year’s, and he will be 12 next March.  Nonetheless, trainer Colin Tizzard hopes that Cue Card will race at Aintree in April, where he should stand to do well.


As with every year, Cheltenham 2017 offered quite a few surprises.  Hopefully you placed your money on a few of the winners and were able to take home a purse of your own.  You can view a full list of all Cheltenham festival 2017 race results at the festival’s official website.  Be sure to continue to follow these horses, jockeys and trainers throughout the year so that you will have the knowledge you need to wager profitably on Cheltenham in 2018!


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