Commonly referred to as the home of jump racing, Cheltenham Racecourse is a world-class horse racing venue in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, that hosts The Cheltenham Festival every March, as well as a number of other prestigious National Hunt racing events.
The Festival moved around various racecourses regularly until 1911 when it took permanent residence at Prestbury Park after renovations. It has since remained in Cheltenham every year with both attendances and prize pools growing regularly.
Of the 28 incredible races that are run during The Cheltenham Festival every March, many are Grade 1 listed, including the Champion Hurdle on Champion Day, The Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase on Day Two, The Ryanair Steeple Chase and The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle on St. Patrick’s Thursday, and of course, The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase on Gold Cup Friday.
Cheltenham Racecourse has two main racecourses running alongside each other that have specific race days dedicated to them. They are titled simply ‘The New Course’ and ‘The Old Course’.
Since the opening of The Princess Royal Stand in 2015, Cheltenham Racecourse has been able to welcome up to 67,500 spectators through its gates for each race day. The Festival sees the arrival of around a quarter of a million horse racing fanatics throughout its four-day duration.
The longest race that is run at Cheltenham Racecourse during The Cheltenham Festival is The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase, which stretches a lengthy 3 miles and 7 furlongs of the Cross Country course. This race takes place on Ladies Day, Day Two of The Festival, beginning at 16:10.
The shortest races that are run during The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse are The Arkle Challenge Trophy and The Queen Mother Champion Chase, both only 2 miles in length.
The Arkle Challenge Trophy is the second race of The Cheltenham Festival, beginning at 14:10 on Champion Day and The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the featured race of Ladies Day, beginning at 15:30.
The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase measures a total distance of 3 miles, 2 furlongs and 110 yards. This prestigious main event takes place on the final day of The Cheltenham Festival, Gold Cup Friday, at 15:30.
Cheltenham Racecourse is renowned for its number of hurdle and fence races used – after all, it is the home of jump racing.
A hurdle race is a horse race in which competitors are required to jump flexible obstacles that are over three and a half feet high, usually made up of a series of panels with brush.
The most hurdles required to leap in a single race at The Cheltenham Festival is 12, which is the case in three races across The Festival:
- The Pertemps Network Final – Race Two – Day Three (St. Patrick’s Thursday) – 14:10
- The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle – Race Four – Day Three (St. Patrick’s Thursday) – 15:30
- The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race – Race Three – Day Four (Gold Cup Friday) – 14:50
The least amount of hurdles for competitors to clear in a race is 8, which is the case in a number of races:
- The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race – Race One – Day One (Champion Day) – 13:30
- The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (featured race) – Race Four – Day One (Champion Day) – 15:30
- The Mares Novices’ Hurdle – Race Six – Day Three (St. Patrick’s Thursday) – 16:50
- The JCB Triumph Hurdle – Race One – Day Four (Gold Cup Friday) – 13:30
- The County Handicap Hurdle Race – Race Two – Day Four (Gold Cup Friday) – 14:10
The featured hurdle races of The Cheltenham Festival are The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy on Champion Day and The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle on St. Patrick’s Thursday.
Races that feature fences instead of hurdles are known as Steeplechases. Steeplechases also often feature ditches and tend to be longer races than hurdles.
The most fences required to be jumped during The Cheltenham Festival is 32 in The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase. This race is the fifth race of Day Two, Ladies Day, taking place immediately after the day’s featured race The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase.
The least amount of fences to be jumped in The Cheltenham Festival’s Steeple Chases is 13. The Steeplechase with just 13 fences for the competitors to leap in The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase which is the second race to take place on Day One, Champion Day, beginning at 14:10.
The featured Steeple Chases of The Cheltenham Festival are The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase on Day Two, Ladies Day, The Ryanair Steeple Chase on Day Three, St. Patrick’s Thursday and The WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase on Day Four, Gold Cup Friday.
Run on the Cross Country course at Cheltenham, The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase is the longest race of The Cheltenham Festival.
This National Hunt Chase is open to horses aged 5 years or older and takes place at 16:10 on Ladies Day every year at The Festival, immediately after the day’s featured race.
The Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase spans a mighty total distance of 3 miles, 6 furlongs and 37 yards and features thirty-two obstacles for the elite participants to jump.
The Weatherbys Champion Bumper is a National Hunt Flat Race that takes place on Ladies Day of The Festival every March. Flat races, as you’ve probably guessed, feature no obstacles for the competitors to jump.
The Grade 1 Champion Bumper National Hunt Flat Race is open to horses between and including the ages of 4 and 6 years old. It measures a total distance of 2 miles and 87 yards on the ‘Old Course’ of Cheltenham.
The Weatherbys Champion Bumper is the only National Hunt Flat Race to take place during The Cheltenham Festival and is scheduled to take place at 17:30 on Wednesday the 17th of March 2021. This is the final race of Ladies Day.