Does the Cheltenham Festival deserve the Netflix treatment?

Posted on 9 March 2020
By Carlton Whtifield
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Between Netflix and Amazon Prime, many key events across the world of sport have been adapted or captured for global audiences, with shows like All or Nothing: Manchester City and Formula 1: Drive to Survive igniting interest in football and Formula One, respectively.

With such programmes only increasing in popularity, does horse racing have what it takes to make the cut? The Cheltenham Festival is the best four days of jumps horse racing action each year, and the 2020 meeting looks no different with the five championship races more competitive than ever.

What should casual sports fans and visitors to Cheltenham Racecourse look out for during the Festival, and does the drama of the event have what it takes to capture the attention of global audiences?

Champion Hurdle

With a new Champion Hurdle winner guaranteed, there’s an exciting start to the opening day of the Festival. This feature race over about two miles has multiple runners from winning-most trainer Nicky Henderson lining up in it, including Call Me Lord, Epatante and Pentland Hills.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the highlight of Ladies Day, the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. Altior, one of the most popular and best-known horses in training, has won this in each of the last two seasons, so he’s back to try and land the hat-trick.

Challenging the multiple Cheltenham Festival winner are younger duo Chacun Pour Soi and Defi Du Seuil. It will be fascinating to see if either has the pace to wrestle the two-mile Champion Chase crown out of the firm grip of Henderson’s 10-year-old who has only ever lost one race over jumps in his entire career to date.

Ryanair Chase

This might just turn out to be the race of the Festival. St Patrick’s Thursday, the penultimate day of the Cheltenham meeting, has two feature contests, and the first of those is the Ryanair Chase.

Impressive Irish duo A Plus Tard, a winner of a valuable handicap here last season, and Min who has spent much of his career in Altior’s shadow are competing with the British hopefuls. Frodon won the Ryanair over two-and-a-half miles for Paul Nicholls 12 months ago but, besides the Emerald Isle raiders, he has progressive Ascot Chase hero Riders Onthe Storm to contend with in a hot renewal.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Paisley Park brought the house down at Cheltenham last year when he won the Stayers’ Hurdle for trainer Emma Lavelle and blind owner Andrew Gemmell. The popular seven-year-old has become dominate force in three-mile races over hurdles and comes into the defence of his title unbeaten in two years.

With strong form in the book and, having beaten virtually every major rival, it is very hard to see Paisley Park losing his crown. He is going to take some beating and could dominate this division for the foreseeable future.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

You have to go back to 2004 for the last back-to-back winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but that is what Al Boum Photo will try to do on Friday the 13th. Superstitions aside, this brings the Festival to a real crescendo on the final day with most of the top staying steeplechasers in training set to line-up.

Other Irish runners include Delta Work, Kemboy and Presenting Percy, while British horses going for Gold Cup glory include Clan Des Obeaux, Lostintranslation and Santini. This is wide-open betting wise, just like the Champion Hurdle, and you won’t be disappointed by what Cheltenham has to offer.

Each race is a story in itself and carries a history worth remembering. 2020 looks to be no different, so could we see the Cheltenham Festival and the popularity surrounding it be enough to gain the interest of Netflix and Amazon Prime?