As the 2014 Cheltenham Festival draws closer, the fields for the 27 races are beginning to fully take shape. Horses will be running their last races before the festival and trainers will be making their last minute plans, with hopes of winning some of the extensive prize money on offer.
However, for some there will be last minute withdrawals, with two of the biggest names in racing having recently been pulled out of their respective races due to injuries. All the news, twists and turns leading up to the festival can be found at Coral, with the latest installment and brand new website keeping you on top of everything.
After winning the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase in fantastic style, Nicky Henderson’s superstar looked set to dominate the chasing scene for years to come. However, the defence of his title at this year’s festival was put in doubt after he was pulled up at Kempton in the Desert Orchid Chase in December 2013, having suffered a heart scare.
Henderson has confirmed that Sprinter Sacre’s withdrawal from the 2014 Queen Mother Champion Chase is down to the horse not being fully back to his best, not due to further heart problems, and that he will be looking to race his superstar jumper as soon as he is back to his best.
Despite this, fans will be extremely disappointed that one of racing’s true superstars will not feature at the festival. Previous second favourite Sire De Grugy has now been eased into favouritism after Sprinter Sacre’s withdrawal, available at 7/4 with Coral.
Along with Sprinter Sacre, Gold Cup entrant Cue Card has also been pulled out of the 2014 Cheltenham Festival due to a muscle injury. Trainer Colin Tizzard had recently confirmed that Cue Card would forego the defence of his Ryanair Chase title, instead entering the festival’s showpiece race. Cue Card was prominent in the betting markets for the Gold Cup before the injury, having beaten fellow Gold Cup entrants Bobs Worth and Silviniaco Conti in the Betfair Hurdle in late 2013.
After Cue Card’s withdrawal, Last Instalment has been eased in the betting, now available at 5/1 with Coral. The favourite remains last year’s winner Bobs Worth at 7/4, with Silviniaco Conti breathing down his neck at 3/1. Despite the losses of two big-name horses, the 2014 Cheltenham Festival still promises to be one of the most competitive and exciting in recent times.