Cheltenham explained: Our Cheltenham Festival guide

What is the Cheltenham Festival?

Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious meeting in the National Hunt racing calendar.

It takes places in March every year at Cheltenham racecourse – also known as Prestbury Park – in Gloucestershire and lasts for four days.

It features several Grade 1 races, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase and Stayers’ Hurdle.

The Cheltenham Festival was first held in 1860 under the name of the National Hunt Meeting. The exact venue changed frequently from then until 1911, when Prestbury Park was confirmed as its permanent home.

Over 250,000 people usually attend across the four days, while there was a record opening day crowd of 67,934 in 2019.

When is Cheltenham 2021?

This year’s Cheltenham Festival will be held from Tuesday 16 March to Friday 19 March 2021. 

How long is Cheltenham Festival?

Cheltenham Festival lasts for four days, starting on the Tuesday and ending on the Friday.

How many races are there at Cheltenham Festival?

There are a total of 28 races at Cheltenham Festival.

They are split evenly across the four days, with seven races per day from Tuesday to Friday.

What time do Cheltenham Festival races start?

The first race each day is at 13:30. The next six race times are as follows: 14:10, 14:50, 15:30, 16:10, 16:50 and 17:30.

The feature race of each day is at 15:30.

What day is the Gold Cup on?

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is held on the final day of the Festival. This year, that will be Friday 19 March.

The Gold Cup is the highlight of the Festival and, with a total prize fund of £625,000 in 2021, is the most valuable non-handicap chase in the United Kingdom.

Who won the 2020 Gold Cup?

The 2020 Gold Cup was won by Al Boum Photo, who claimed his second successive victory in the race. Starting off as 100/30 favourite, Al Boum Photo was ridden by Paul Townend and trained by Willie Mullins.

Santini came second and Lostintranslation finished third.

What are the other feature races?

The opening day of the Festival is known as Champions Day. The feature race is the Champion Hurdle, which is 2m 87y long, run over hurdles, and open to horses aged four or older.

The 2020 Champion Hurdle was won by Epatante – trained by Nicky Henderson and ridden by Barry Geraghty – with the prize for first place being £250,000.

Wednesday is Ladies Day, the highlight of which is the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, with a prize pool of £400,000. 

Politologue, trained by Paul Nicholls, won the 2020 Champion Chase under Harry Skelton, with 2/5 favourite Defi Du Seuil finishing fourth. 

Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day at Cheltenham, when the key race is the Stayers’ Hurdle, with a prize pool of £325,000.

This race saw a surprise winner in 2020, with 50/1 outsider Lisnagar Oscar – trained by Rebecca Curtis and ridden by Adam Wedge – beating out Ronald Pump and Bacardys. Odds-on favourite Paisley Park finished seventh. 

What channel is Cheltenham Festival on?

The first five races of each day will be broadcast on ITV1.

Racing UK, meanwhile, will broadcast the entire programme of racing throughout the Festival.

Will Cheltenham Festival go ahead?

Yes. Cheltenham Festival will go ahead as normal in 2021, although there will be no fans in attendance due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. 

Has Cheltenham Festival ever been cancelled before?

Cheltenham Festival has been cancelled on one occasion, in 2001 after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among farm animals in the United Kingdom.

The Festival was initially delayed until April, but it was eventually cancelled after a case of the disease was found in the local area.

In 2019, an equine flu crisis put the Festival under threat after races in February were abandoned across the country, but the virus was ultimately contained, meaning Cheltenham Festival was able to go ahead as planned.

How to bet on Cheltenham

Betway have all of your Cheltenham betting needs covered for the festival.

We are offering markets on all 28 of the races, which are able to be backed ante-post or on the day.

Visit Betway’s horse racing betting page.

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