With four of the five richest National Hunt races taking place, the annual Cheltenham Festival is one of the most highly anticipated weeks on the racing calendar.
The biggest owners, horses, jockeys and trainers descend from across Europe to pit themselves against the best in the sport for a chance to land a prestigious Cheltenham winner.
Having originally been named the Grand National Hunt meeting at its inception in 1860, the Festival was only held once at Cheltenham before 1904 and only became the permanent host in 1911.
The racing comes thick and fast during the festival, with seven races each day. But do you know your Supreme Novices’ from your Novices’ chase? Our complete racecard has you covered. Get ready for
- Day One – Supreme Novices Hurdle (1.30PM), Arkle Novices Chase (2.10PM), Handicap Chase (2.50PM), Champion Hurdle (3.30PM), Mares’ Hurdle (4.10PM), Novices’ Handicap Chase (4.50PM) National Hunt Chase (5.30PM)
- Day Two – The Ballymore (1.30PM), RSA Chase (2.10PM), Festival Handicap Chase (2.50PM), Champion Chase (3.30PM), Cross Country Chase (4.10PM), The Fred Winter (4.50PM), Champion Bumper (5.30PM)
- Day Three – Marsh Novices’ Chase (1.30PM), Pertemps Final (2.10PM), Ryanair Chase (2.50PM), Stayers’ Hurdle (3.30PM), Festival Plate (4.10PM), Mares Novices’ Hurdle (4.50PM), The Kim Muir (5.30PM)
- Day Four – Triumph Hurdle (1.30PM), County Hurdle (2.10PM), The Albert Bartlett (2.50PM), The Gold Cup (3.30PM), Foxhunter Steeple Chase (4.10PM), Grand Annual (4.50PM), The Martin Pipe (5.30PM)
Day by Day Racing Guide
The four-day Cheltenham Festival has just about everything. Twelve Grade Ones (including the four Championship races) where the best of the best take each other on. While the deviously tricky handicaps, which give the punters the chance to seek out some value, compliment them superbly.
Each day has it’s own unique feeling, with the Day One crowd at fever pitch with excitement, before the masses descend on Cheltenham for Gold Cup Day later in the week.
Check out our day-by-day guide for the full breakdown on all the action.
Betting on Cheltenham Festival
As well as occupying a huge space on the sporting calendar, the Cheltenham Festival occupies a special place on the betting calendar. With an estimated £500million staked on Cheltenham Festival in 2019, many punters spend the year preparing to get it right for the festival. To put this in perspective, less than half this amount was staked in last year’s Kentucky Derby.
With the biggest priced Gold Cup winner Norton’s Coin coming in at 100/1 it certainly pays to understand how and where to place your Cheltenham Festival bets. Luckily, our guide is on hand to help you navigate the betting ring.
Studying Form for the Cheltenham Festival
Now you know how to place your bets, it’s important to consider them carefully and take the time to study the form. With just 12% of favourites winning last year’s Cheltenham handicap races, it’s important to know how to separate the horses from the ponies.
Cheltenham Festival 2020 – Big Race Guide
Tuesday – Champion Hurdle
The Champion Hurdle is always a fantastic spectacle and this year’s renewal should make for brilliant viewership. The race has been won by greats such as Faugheen, Buveur D’air and most recently the late Espoir D’Allen.
This year’s renewal sees Epatante lead the betting with Pentland Hills close behind. Epatante didn’t impress at last year’s meeting and there have been recent reports of coughing could raise questions. Last year’s Triumph Hurdle winner, Pentland Hills, is a major player due to the ability to travel powerfully.
Wednesday – Queen Mother Champion Chase
The Queen Mother Champion Chase has been dominated in the past two renewals by Nicky Henderson’s stable star Altior. Other notable winners of this prestigious race include Sprinter Sacre, Sizing Europe and Moscow Flyer.
This year see’s Altior challenged by Defi Du Seuil who just doesn’t stop improving. Chacun Pour Soi rounds off the top three in what could be the tightest renewal of the Queen Mother in recent memory.
Thursday – Stayer’s Hurdle
Paisley Park is the red-hot favourite who is being hammered in at a very short price. Ruby Walsh has claimed he is in the same bracket as the mighty Big Bucks and he’s made a habit of winning races. One of the more solid favourites of the festival, horses like Paisley Park is what the Stayers’ Hurdle is all about.
Friday – The Gold Cup
The Gold Cup is the crown of the Cheltenham Festival. One of the biggest races of the year, the Gold Cup has seen winners such as the great Golden Miller, Cottage Rake, Arkle, Best Mate and Kauto Star.
This year’s renewal sees defending champion Al Boum Photo take on Santini, Presenting Percy, Lostintranslation and Delta Work. The English challenge headed by Santini looks very strong this year. Santini is lightly raced for an eight-year-old but meaning that he will be in tip-top condition.
Check out our big race guide for the lowdown all this year’s major races.
The most memorable Gold Cups
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is more than just a horse race. It’s a national institution.
With entire offices huddled around televisions, the whole country stops to see which horse and jockey can write their names into the history
It’s a race that can produce epic rivalries, such as Denman v Kauto Star, which culminated in Denman’s surprise victory in 2007, and who could forget Al Boum Photo’s incredible win for Willie Mullins in last year’s race.
— GrosvenorSport (@GrosvenorSport) March 15, 2019
With the calibre of horse involved in this year’s race, Al Boum Photo will have a huge task to win the race for consecutive years and who knows, we could be in for another classic to join our list of the most memorable Cheltenham Gold Cups.
Most memorable horses, jockeys and trainers
But the Cheltenham Festival is about much more than the Gold Cup. With the Champion Hurdle, Arkle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase heading-up the other three days of racing, there’s plenty of opportunities for Cheltenham runners to produce their moment in the sun (or rain).
We’ve put together some of our favourites, although we couldn’t possibly include them all. Let us know in the comment what your most memorable Festival winner is.
One of the things that makes the Cheltenham Festival the sporting spectacle that it is, undoubtedly is the attachment fans form with the horses on show. From Kauto Star to Best Mate, Cheltenham runners can etch themselves into the hearts and minds of millions.
With the likes of Paisley Park, Altior and Defi Du Seuil all in with a striking chance, we could yet see some of this year’s runners join our list of the most memorable Cheltenham Festival horses.
It’s not just the horses that enjoy this opportunity to immortalise themselves at Cheltenham. Jockey’s like Nina Carberry and Ruby Walsh have cemented their racing legacies with strong festival performances.
They’re just two of the names on our list of the most memorable Cheltenham Festival jockeys. Have we missed your favourite?
Harry Skelton’s Complete Cheltenham Guide
As one of the most prominent National Hunt jockeys in the country, whether it be the new course or the old course, few people know more about what it takes to ride winners on the biggest stage than Harry Skelton.
He and trainer brother Dan picked up their first Cheltenham winner in the Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle back in 2016, with the aptly named Superb Story.
In last year’s festival, the duo picked up a Grade One victory with Roksana in the Mares’ Hurdle, one of Harry’s favourite Cheltenham wins so far and Ch’tibello powered home to take the County Hurdle.
With the likes of Oldmankind and Triumph expected to go close in this year’s festival, don’t be surprised to see Harry add to his already impressive 400+ career winners during the biggest week on the racing calendar.
As well as sharing his favourite Cheltenham Festival races below, Harry offers his thoughts on all his rides every weekend in his exclusive Grosvenor Sport blog.
Harry v Harry
We challenged Grosvenor Sport Ambassador Harry Skelton to test his knowledge of the Cheltenham Festival (and himself) against Assistant Trainer to Paul Nicholls, Harry Derham.