Cheltenham Festival 2014 –National Hunt Racing’s Biggest Event of the Year
Every year, the best British and Irish trained horses and jockeys gather together for one of the biggest meetings in the National Hunt racing calendar – The Cheltenham Festival. Held in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, this four day event takes place in March and culminates in the Cheltenham Gold Cup Day. The festival boasts a lively atmosphere with the crowd bursting out in the ‘Cheltenham roar’ just before the first race commences.
The History of the Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival is a tradition that dates back more than 100 years. In 1860, the first National Hunt Chase was held. At the time, it was known as the Grand National Hunt and was held at a number of locations, which included Cheltenham in 1861. The race would return to Cheltenham in 1904 and again in 1905 at Prestbury Park. From 1906 through 1910, the festival was held in Warwick, but returned once again the Prestbury Park in 1911 and continues to be held here to this day.
Originally, the Cheltenham festival was a three day event, but this changed in 2005 when an extra day was added. This would allow for one championship race to occur each day and finally end with the Gold Cup on the last day of the event. Seven new races have since been introduced, which brings the total to 26 overall.
On the last day of the event, the Foxhunters’ race is held, which is known as the Gold Cup for amateurs. In 2010, the first ever Ladies Charity Flat Race was held to benefit Cancer Research UK. A group of 12 female jockeys competed over a 1.6 mile course.
Day 1 – Champion’s Day
Champion’s Day kicks off the event with the season’s most important hurdle race, along with six other racing events. On the first day of the festival, Champion’s Day is brimming with excitement and energy. The first race of the festival, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, traditionally begins with the famous ‘Cheltenham Roar’ where loud cheers can be heard from every corner of the crowd. The following events are take place on the first day:
· Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
· Arkle Challenge Trophy
· Festival Trophy Handicap Case
· Champion Hurdle
· Glenfarclas Cross Country Handicap Chase
· David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle
· Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase
Day 2 – Ladies Day
Wednesday is Ladies Day at the Cheltenham Festival. This special day features the famous Ladies Day fashion awards and seven exciting races, including the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Below is an overview of the day’s races.
· National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup
· Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle
· RSA Chase
· Queen Mother Champion Chase
· Coral Cup
· Fred Winter Juvenile Novices’ Handicap Hurdle
· Champion Bumper
Day 3 – St Patrick’s Thursday
Celebrate St Patrick’s Day early at the Cheltenham Festival with plenty of exciting races and Irish-style festivities. Entertainment and fashion play a major role in the day’s events, which also include a charity race for the Cancer Research UK organization. Below is a run-down of the day’s races.
· Jewson Novices’ Chase
· Pertemps Final
· Ryanair Chase
· World Hurdle
· Byrne Group Plate
· Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup
Day 4 – Cheltenham Gold Cup Day
Cheltenham Gold Cup Day is the highlight of the festival that features six fiercely competitive and exciting races. With an equally energetic atmosphere, this is one the biggest racing days of the year. Races include:
· Triumph Hurdle
· Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle
· Spa Novices’ Hurdle
· Cheltenham Gold Cup
· CGA Foxhunter Chase
· Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle
· Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase
Celebrating the Event
There are many ways to get in on the excitement and anticipation of the Cheltenham Festival – even if you cannot attend the event. Cheltenham Zone, for example, is a blog that offers detailed information and opinions on each race and all of the big National Hunt racing events that lead up to the four day event. In addition to CheltenhamZone, racing fans can also follow major media outlets for the latest information and watch live coverage of the races.
Of course, betting on the races is just one more way to celebrate and add excitement to the event. If you cannot make it to the event, you can join in by betting online. Hundreds of millions of pounds are bet each year on the Cheltenham Festival with many bettors walking away with double their money.