Cheltenham Festival Buzz!

The buzz is certainly in the air for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. We were lucky that the 2020 Festival took place, and once again we can count our lucky stars that – from Tuesday – we’re being gifted four days of racing excellence from the likes of Al Boum Photo, Honeysuckle and Native River. Even those with a passing interest in racing are well aware of the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the significance of winning this prestigious race – or any other at the Cheltenham Festival.

And of course there’s the battle between the nations in the form of the Prestbury Cup. In anticipation of the event, Richard Hoiles hosts his very own Betway horse racing quiz version of the cup, with West Ham footballers Mark Noble and Jesse Lingard (Team UK) and Michail Antonio and Darren Randolph (Team Ireland) . With a little help from Betway ambassador Katie Walsh too, let’s see how much the boys know about racing.

Pertemps Network Final

Inaugurated, as the Coral Golden Hurdle Final, in 1974, the Pertemps Network Final is a Listed handicap hurdle run over 2 miles, 7 furlongs and 213 yards on the New Course at Cheltenham. The race has been sponsored by the Pertemps Network Group since 2002 and is open to horses aged five years and upwards, who have qualified by finishing in the first half a dozen in one of a series of qualifying races run throughout Britain, Ireland and France since the start of the current season. The Pertemps Network Final is currently scheduled as the second race on day three of the Cheltenham Festival, a.k.a. ‘St. Patrick’s Day’, in March.

Worth £100,000 in prize money, £56,270 of which goes to the winner, the Pertemps Network Final is a typically competitive Cheltenham Festival handicap, which invariably attracts a maximum field of 24 runners. Unsurprisingly, favourites have a modest record in the race, with just two – namely Fingal Bay in 2014 and Sire Du Berlais in 2019 – winning in the last ten years. The other winners in that period were returned as starting prices of 20/1, 14/1, 25/1, 9/1, 14/1, 11/1, 6/1 and 10/1, so it is not difficult to see why the Pertemps Network Final is often a fascinating, if devilishly difficult, betting heat.

The remarkable Willie Wumpkins, who won the race three years running in 1979, 1980 and 1981, as an 11-, 12- and 13-year-old, is the most successful horse in the history of the Pertemps Network. Jonjo O’Neill, with four wins, remains the most successful trainer, although Gordon Elliott has won the last three renewals, courtesy of Delta Work in 2018 and Sire Du Berlais in both 2019 and 2020.