How the feature races were won at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival
Nick Murphy | 16 March 2020
We run through all of the key races from the Festival
The Cheltenham Festival is never short of drama. But the 2020 event at Prestbury Park took it to another level. From head-bobbing finishes to big-price winners, hotpot favourites and the looming threat of coronavirus, it was a Festival like no other.
It’s a sentiment that can be applied to the event’s Championship races, too. Favourites Epatante and Al Boum Photo obliged for punters, while Politologue and Lisnagar Oscar sprung dramatic shocks in their respective races.
A four-fold on the quartet would’ve returned 4641/1. And with that in mind, let’s take you through how it all unfolded in each of the Festival’s Championship contests.
Champion Hurdle – Epatante
The 2020 Champion Hurdle was billed was one of the weakest in some time.
With none of 2019’s market principals re-opposing, including Apples Jade, dual-winner Buveur D’air or Espoir D’Allen, who sadly lost his life, there would be a new winner of the race.
Epatante went off as the warm 2/1 favourite and never looked back. The six-year-old was given a patient ride out the back by Barry Geraghty before leaping ahead of Darver Star at the final flight of hurdles and powering up the hill to victory.
It was a record eighth win in the race for trainer Nicky Henderson, as owner J.P. McManus took his own tally up to nine in the contest and his fourth in the last four years.
Champion Chase – Politologue
Billed as the race of the Festival, the 2020 Champion Chase ended up being a memorable contest, just not for the reasons everyone thought at the start of the week.
The 2m contest was meant to be a titanic showdown between dual-winner Altior and young pretenders Chacun Pour Soi and Defi Du Seuil. In the end only the latter turned up. Altior was ruled out after being found lame the weekend prior, while Chacun missed out on the day after receiving a vet’s certificate for an abscess. That left Defi Du Seuil as the 1/4 favourite.
Unfortunately for anyone who backed him, the Phillip Hobbs-trained inmate ended up running like a 40/1 shot. He travelled poorly throughout and never looked comfortable in the race.
The same could not be said for Politologue, who made all and jumped superbly to run the field ragged and claim a first Champion Chase at the third time of asking.
Stayers’ Hurdle – Lisnagar Oscar
A lot of the races at the 2020 Festival looked pretty open. Not this one. The only outcome deemed possible was another victory for 2019 winner Paisley Park. His price reflected that too. Emma Lavelle’s star was sent off as though defeat was out of the question at 4/6.
But Cheltenham has claimed plenty of hotpot favourites down the years. And here was another. The mount of Aidan Coleman never really fired throughout the contest, failing to show his customary turn of foot to eventually leave him trailing home in seventh.
That left 50/1 shot Lisnagar Oscar to pick up the pieces. Rebecca Curtis’s outsider led off the bend and stayed on well ahead of fellow outsiders Ronald Pump and Bacardys to spring the almightiest of shocks at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival.
Our traders make Paisley Park a 7/1 shot to regain his crown in 2021.
Gold Cup – Al Boum Photo
Cheltenham Gold Cups are like London buses. You wait years for one and then two come along at once. Well, at least that’s according to Willie Mullins, who recorded back-to-back victories in the Festival’s blue-riband event with Al Boum Photo.
The defending champion faced a deep field this time around with as many as 10 genuine contenders to his throne. But the mount of Paul Townend swept them all aside with aplomb. He travelled well out the back before making his move close to home.
The Buck’s Boum gelding then led at the last before repelling a late challenge from Santini up the Cheltenham hill to become the first horse since Best Mate to win the Gold Cup in successive years.
Fancy him to do it again next year? He’s 6/1 to join Golden Miller, Cottage Rake, Arkle, and Best Mate and complete the hat-trick.
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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.