Whether you’re in to horse racing or not there’s no day out quite like a day at the races. Second only to the Grand National, the Cheltenham Festival is one of the annual events in England that you have to experience for yourself. The glamour of the formal dress code, the picnics and drinks in the racecourse grounds, and the sheer thrill of cheering on your favourite in each race. It’s the perfect English day out. So here’s our short guide to why you should bet on Cheltenham Festival this year.
A little history about the festival
The original title for the event is actually the “National Hunt meeting” which started way back in 1860 although it wasn’t until 1911 that the event found its permanent home at the Warwick racecourse. It became known as the Cheltenham Festival around 1907 and over the last hundred or so years has become ever more important on the racing calendar. While there are plenty of races throughout the festival the most important is the “Cheltenham Gold Cup” which first started in 1924. There are also a number of exciting races to watch out for including the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Champion Hurdle.
What to expect at the Cheltenham Festival
Over the years the number of days and races has increased to accommodate the growing popularity in horse racing. The event is now 4 days long and last year played host to a whopping 27 races. The event is known for its lengthy and arduous races that have proved controversial over the years. Expect high fences, falling horses and a real battle to the finish line that has the crowd whipped up in to a frenzy. In fact the atmosphere at the festival is so great that the noise create by each race has its own nickname, the “Cheltenham roar”. You’ll be sure to get involved once you’ve placed your first bet.
The event runs from Tuesday to Friday, although many believe this should be increased to Saturday too. The big “Gold Cup” race on Friday draws the biggest crowd, a whopping 70,000 last year, with total attendance for the 4 days around 236,000.
The first day of the Cheltenham Festival kicks off in fine style with the Stan James Champion Hurdle. There are 6 more fantastic races to bet on too. Wednesday is Ladies day and is very popular. Its a chance to get dressed up especially with flamboyant hats and high heels. The men are expected to make an effort too in your finest suit and tie. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the highlight of the day here and a last chance to beat the crowds before the capacity really ramps up towards the weekend. Thursday coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day and with a lot of Irish stables involved in horse racing you’ll find the day is well celebrated at the Cheltenham Festival. The World Hurdle race takes place on this day along with a number of other Irish sponsored events. There’s also the wonderful St Patrick’s Derby which races money for injure Jockeys.
The big day of course is the Friday when the Gold Cup takes place. With prize money in excess of £500,000 this is the one they all want to win. Tickets for this day sell out fast and this is definitely the busiest and loudest day of the festival.
- For more information check out cheltenham.thejockeyclub.co.uk.