The Cheltenham Festival is a National Hunt meetings of the race calendar, it takes place in March, almost at the end of the National Hunt season. The festival takes place at the Cheltenham Racecourse which is located at Prestbury Park, near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.

The Festival at Cheltenham is the shining jewel in Jump racing’s crown. It is four days of magic, magnificence and madness, It features a cast of the best horses, jockeys and trainers playing to an audience of 260,000 people, all of whom are determined to have the time of their lives.

It is the foremost jump racing festival in the world, and is an annual target for both British and Irish trainers, it is said that all roads lead to Cheltenham, The festival hosts races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle, which are seen as races for horses at the peak of their disciplines.

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest in terms of race prize money awarded, it’s second only to the Grand National.

The 2018 festival will run from the 13th to 16th March with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle getting the running underway at 1:30pm. >> Cheltenham Festival dates 2018

Championship Races

There are four races known as the championship races, these are the Cheltenham Gold Cup, The Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the The World Hurdle. Each race is seen as the championship event for the season racing on a . There is one championship race per day.

Champion Hurdle
The first championship race takes place on day one of the festival, and for two miles, hurdlers that like small obstacles battle it out for the seasons ultimate champion.

Queen Mother Champion Chase
The Queen Mother Champion Chase take centre stage on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival. The best two mile chasers produce a fast and furious contest over the famous Cheltenham fences. The race is seen as the championship event for the season’s two mile chasers.

The World Hurdle
The seasons most prestigious race for staying hurdlers, the brave and the strong prevail in this long distance hurdle, which sees the hurdlers run a distance of about 3 miles (4,828 metres)and take on twelve hurdles over the new course at Cheltenham.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the championshiprace on day 4 of the festival, it is the biggest and most anticipated race of the festival and the National Hunt season. The Gold Cup is a great race to bring the four days of racing at the Cheltenham Festival to an end. The superstars jump 22 fences during the 3m 2f 110y chase. Arkle, Best Mate, Golden Miller, Kauto Star and Mill House are some of the most famous racehorses on its roll of honour. Who will add there name to the list of famous national hunt horses.

History

The Cheltenham Festivals has it roots right back in 1860 when the now National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup (run on the first day of the festival) started being run. The race first took place at Market Harborough and was run under the title, Grand National Hunt Meeting. The race took place at several locations, at the turn of the 20th century it was mostly held at Warwick Racecourse. The race was held at Cheltenham in 1861, it was run again at Cheltenham in 1904 and 1905. The race was run again at Cheltenham in 1911 after improvements to the course. The race has been run at Cheltenham ever since. The earliest traceable reference to a “Festival” is in the Warwick Advertiser of 1907.

The championship races were established over subsequent years, the Stayers Hurdle, first ran in 1912, is the oldest race from the Cheltenham festival that is currently a championship race. The Gold Cup, was introduced in 1924 and was originally a supporting race for the County Hurdle which was the main event of the first day but that quickly changed and in the following seasons it became a championship race. The Champion Hurdle first ran in 1927 and the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1959, were both championship races from the time they were introduced unlike the Stayers Hurdle and Gold Cup.

The festival has grown in size and length over the years. In 2005 a fourth day was added to the programme so there was a championship race on all four days, the Gold Cup being the highlight of the festival on day 4. Five extra races were added to the schedule so that there were six races each day. Extra races have since been added so there are 7 races every day, a total of 28 races run over the four days.

Grade one events include the Champion Bumper, Triumph Hurdle, Ryanair Chase, Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, Arkle Challenge Trophy, RSA Chase, Champion Hurdle, World Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the feature race, the Gold Cup.

Two of the biggest Hunter Chases of the season are run at the festival, the Foxhunters’, which is run on the Friday over the same course as the Gold Cup.

Betting

It is a massively important betting event, one that can fundamentally affect the annual profits of bookmakers. Large amounts of money are gambled during Cheltenham Festival week, with hundreds of millions of pounds being bet over the week. If the favourites all win, then the bookies annual profits could be significantly lower than expected.

Britain’s bookmakers put a great emphasis on the 27 races that comprise the Festival. They release a plethora of betting offers such as free bet, money back offers, bonuses, enhanced odds and others for the 4 days of racing. Antepost betting is available 364 days before the next festival takes place.

Punters can bet on the winner of each race, place each way bets on each race or place novelty bets such as ‘To Win Any Race At The Cheltenham Festival’

Races

The number of races and festival days has increased over the years. The festival started as a 2 day affair but has expanded to last 4 days, with 27 races, 4 of which are championship races.

DayRaceTypeGradeCourseDistanceAge
TuesdaySupreme Novices' HurdleHurdle1Old2m 110y4yo +
TuesdayArkle Challenge TrophyChase1Old2m5yo +
TuesdayFestival Trophy Handicap ChaseChase3Old3m 110y5yo +
TuesdayChampion HurdleHurdle1Old2m 110y4yo +
TuesdayMares' HurdleHurdle1Old2m 4f4yo + M
TuesdayNational Hunt Chase Challenge CupChaseListedOld4m5yo +
TuesdayCentenary Novices' Handicap ChaseChaseHandicapOld2m 4f 110y5yo +
WednesdayNeptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle Hurdle1Old2m 5f4yo +
WednesdayRSA ChaseChase1Old3m 110y5yo +
WednesdayCoral CupHurdle3Old2m 5f4yo +
WednesdayQueen Mother Champion ChaseChase1Old2m5yo +
WednesdayGlenfarclas Cross Country Handicap ChaseChaseHandicapCross3m 7f5yo +
WednesdayFred Winter Juvenile Novices' Handicap HurdleHurdle3Old2m 110y4yo + Only
WednesdayChampion BumperN H Flat1Old2m 110y4yo-6yo
ThursdayJLT Novices' ChaseChase1New2m 4f5yo +
ThursdayPertemps FinalHurdleHandicapNew3m5yo +
ThursdayRyanair ChaseChase1New2m 5f5yo +
ThursdayStayers' HurdleHurdle1New3m4yo +
ThursdayFestival PlateChase2New2m 4f5yo +
ThursdayMares' Novices HurdleHurdle2New2m 4f5yo +
ThursdayKim Muir Challenge CupChaseHandicapNew3m 1f 110y5yo +
FridayTriumph HurdleHurdle1New2m 1f4yo only
FridayCounty Handicap HurdleHurdle3New2m 1f5yo +
FridaySpa Novices' HurdleHurdle1New3m4yo +
FridayGold CupChase1New3m 2f 110y5yo +
FridayCGA Foxhunter ChaseChaseConditionsNew3m 2f 110y5yo +
FridayMartin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap HurdleHurdleHandicapNew2m 4f 110y4yo +
FridayJohnny Henderson Grand Annual ChaseChase3New2m 110y5yo +