The Cheltenham Festival is the highlight of the national hunt calendar. Twenty eight races across four days, where fans flock to Gloucestershire in their thousands. But what is it about the Cheltenham Festival that makes it so special?
Cheltenham. Just the one word and a racing fan’s eyes will light up. But for those not in the know, what is it about the Cheltenham Festival that makes it so special? It is a combination of famous races, the gathering of the star’s of the racing firmament, top notch hospitality, great shopping and the opportunity to place a bet.
Four feature races
The feature races during the Cheltenham Festival are known as Championship races. The Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup are the leading races in their respective divisions and attract the best horses from the UK and Ireland. Often it is the only time during the season they meet to determine who is the best runner over their preferred distance.
Who Are the Stars on Show this Year?
Douvan is unbeaten over rules since he switched to Ireland to join Willie Mullins’ yard. The seven-year-old has been successful on his last two visits to the Festival and has been tipped up to make it a hat-trick of wins in the Queen Mother Champion Chase over 2m. If you are looking to place a bet on Cheltenham Festival on Douvan in the feature race on day two of the meeting, he can be backed at odds of 2/7.
The former leading trainer at the meeting, Mullins, also has an excellent chance in the Ryanair Chase where Un De Sceaux is the leading star set to line up in the field. The former Arkle Trophy winner is stepping up to 2m5f in what is set to be one of the best races of the week.
In the Cheltenham Gold Cup, trainer Colin Tizzard has the top two horses in the betting including Cue Card who is bidding to win this race for the first time. The former King George winner returned to form recently in the Ascot Chase and is looking to become the first 11-year-old to land the Gold Cup since What A Myth did so in 1969.
What Is on Offer Other Than Racing?
- Food and Drink – There are several restaurants at the racecourse which you can book into for lunch before racing or dinner when the action concludes. Make sure you book in advance to guarantee a table during the meeting. If you just want to drink, there are plenty of options. As you can see from the infographic below, 20,000 bottles of wine were drunk at the 2015 Festival and in the last 30 years the Jockey Club has spent £80 million on facilities at the track to ensure they are tip top.
- Hospitality – If you are lucky enough to own or hire one of the boxes in the main stand at Cheltenham racecourse, you can enjoy the meeting in luxury. You have your own space and you don’t need to queue for food or drink throughout the day. Always check what to wear for your enclosure at the track as certain areas have stricter dress codes.
- Entertainment – Once racing finishes, the entertainment does not stop there. A number of pubs and bars in Cheltenham put on live music in the evening as racegoers head into the town. It is a fantastic atmosphere wherever you choose to go.
Whether you are going along to the Festival this year or watching from home, enjoy the four days of action. And good luck with your bets throughout the week, in what is the highlight of the racing calendar.