Horse Racing desperately needed a massive pick-me-up following two years of struggle due to the Covid-19 restrictions and it certainly got it at Prestbury Park last week when over 280,000 racegoers descended upon the racecourse for the 2022 Cheltenham Festival.
Capacity crowds were treated to four days of exceptional racing with many historical moments created along the way.
Nevertheless not everyone was happy, many leading online betting sites getting their white flags ready as a host of favourites duly obliged in some of the key races. Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Rachael Blackmore was once again the hero of the week as she clinched the feature race on Day Four in stunning fashion aboard A Plus Tard, her glorious fifteen-length victory coming hot on the heels of her Champion Hurdle win aboard Honeysuckle earlier in the meeting. Indeed Blackmore became the first jockey this century to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle at the same meeting and while no-one will begrudge her this magical moment, the bookmakers were running scared following her history-making accomplishments.
In all, no less than twelve favourites got the job done at Cheltenham last week although there were some positive moments for the bookmakers, the most notable being Tiger Roll’s failure to get a fairy-tale ending when finishing second to Delta Work in the Cross Country Chase. Another welcome result for the betting firms came in the Queen Mother Champion Chase when odds-on favourite Shishkin pulled up after eight fences, the Nicky Henderson charge having clear issues with the rain-sodden ground.
These were just two of the very few glimmers of hope for the bookies in what was a great Festival for the punter. This was what the crowds were wanting and while the bookies may have taken a bit of a battering over the four days, in the longer term this will have done wonders for the sport in general. Many of the best betting sites were promoting enhanced special offers for the duration of the Festival and punters were having the time of their lives taking advantage of the many free bet bonuses, cash-back offers, price boosts and enhanced places on key races.
For the bookmakers, the busiest week of the year has now come and gone with many happy customers raking in some healthy profits along the way. Cheltenham, as usual, provided us with a varied mix of results which would have satisfied all different types of punter, many strong favourites winning convincingly along with a handful of upsets for those seeking big priced winners. Punters and bookies will now be looking ahead to the Grand National and we could be in for some more history in the making at Aintree on April 9th.
At the end of the day, everyone has been a winner!