Jockeys, trainers and fans can’t help but be excited at this time of year. The Cheltenham Festival is an amazing event, even if you don’t follow horse racing closely. It’s one of the biggest dates in the racing calendar, and the atmosphere is unlike anything else you can experience. 

Looking ahead to the racing, so much will depend on the going this week, which is what makes Cheltenham so hard to predict. It can start out soft on Tuesday and then harden up by the end of the week – a key part of what makes the festival such a challenge for jockeys and trainers, and such a spectacle to watch. 

Sir AP McCoy's top tips below: 


The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Tuesday, 3.30pm) 

Buveur D’Air has won the last two Champions Hurdles so I’d say it’s hard to look further than him for Tuesday’s big race. 


The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase (Tuesday, 4.50 pm)

I’d fancy Tower Bridge each way in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase.  


The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Wednesday, 3.30 pm)

Altior looks like he’ll be dancing on his own.  The Willie Mullins trained Min could be a contender but it’s all about Altior.


The Sun Racing Stayers’ Hurdle (Thursday, 3.30pm)

I like the look of Paisley Park but I’m also keen on Faugheen.


The Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase (Friday, 3.30 pm)

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is open and as good a Gold Cup as I’ve seen in a long time.  I’ve always said that Presenting Percy is a Gold Cup winner waiting to happen, but you have to question his preparation this year.  Clan Des Obeaux has been impressive, winning the King George.  Paul Nicholls has already won four Gold Cups so there’s a good chance he’ll do so again.  Native River has everything in his favour.  The conditions suit but it’s hard to win back to back Gold Cups.  I like Al Boum Photo as an each way bet.


A true test for jockeys

For a jockey, Cheltenham is one of the biggest tests, both physically and mentally, but in my opinion nothing beats it. It’s the best feeling in the world when you win in front of a crowd of 70,000, as I was fortunate enough to do during my career. I will be as excited as everyone else cheering on this year’s runners and riders, and look forward to a fascinating festival. 

Please note that the opinions expressed are those of Sir Anthony McCoy and not those of Close Brothers Group plc.

Article published on 11 March 2019. Horses running may be subject to change.


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