The Cheltenham Festival, known to most as simply ‘The Festival’, is a four-day horseracing event held annually at Cheltenham Racecourse.
It is amongst the biggest days on the horseracing calendar with The Gold Cup a close-second in stature to The Grand National at Aintree.
More or less a household name, The Festival takes place around the end of March and start of April every year, attracting tens of thousands of horseracing fanatics to Cheltenham’s world-class venue.
Day One of The Festival, also known as Champion Day, is made up of a 7 race card, with The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy as the featured race of the day which offered a staggering £470,250 prize pool in 2020.
Champion Day kicks off The Cheltenham Festival’s four days of elite jump-racing on Tuesday the 16th of March 2021, with the first race of the day The Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle Race.
The Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle Race
The first race of The Cheltenham Festival is The Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle Race, beginning at 13:30.
This Grade 1 National Hunt is open to horses aged 4 years or older and covers a distance of 2 miles and 87-yards, featuring 8 hurdles along Cheltenham’s ‘old course’.
In 2020, The Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle Race had a prize pool of £120,000, with £71,187 going to the winning horse.
The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase
The second race of The Festival at Cheltenham is The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase, which starts at 14:10.
This Steeple Chase is a Grade 1 listed National Hunt that is opened to any horse aged 5 years or above. The race is 1 mile 7 furlongs and 199-yards long and has a total of 13 fences to jump.
The prize pool for The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase last year was £175,000, with £98,473 of that being set as the first-place prize.
The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase
Race number three of Champion Day at The Festival is The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase, commencing at 14:50.
The Festival Trophy Handicap Chase is a Grade 3 National Hunt Steeplechase which is run by horses aged five years old and up. The first horse to jump the twenty fences of this 3 miles and 1-furlong race will take home the first-place prize.
In 2020, the placement prizes were £61,897 for first-place, £23,320 for second-place, £11,671 for third-place and £5,830 for fourth.
The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
The fourth race of Champion Day is the first featured race of The Festival – The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy – starting at 15:30.
Horses aged four years and over can participate in The Champion Hurdle – a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race that is run over the 2 miles and 87-yards of the ‘old course’ at Cheltenham, featuring 8 hurdles.
The huge £470,250 prize-pool is awarded to the first four horses to finish, with the winner raking in £264,610, then second-place receiving £99,693, third-place £49,894 and fourth £24,923.
The Close Brothers Mares Hurdle Race
The first race of the second half of Champion Day and the fourth race of The Festival is The Close Brothers Mares Hurdle Race, which starts at 16:10.
Originally The David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, this race is open to mares aged four and above and is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race that spans about 2 miles and 4 furlongs of Cheltenham’s racecourse.
The first four horses to jump the 10 hurdles and reach the finish line will win a share of the £120,000 prize pool.
The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race
The penultimate race of Champion Day at The Cheltenham Festival is The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race, beginning at 16:50.
The Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race is a Grade 3 National Hunt hurdle race that is open to 4-year-old horses. Run over the ‘old racecourse’ of Cheltenham, this race is 2 miles and 87-yards in length and consists of 8 hurdles.
The last prize pool for this race was £80,000, with £45,016 going to the winning horse.
The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup
The final race of Day One at The Festival 2021 will be The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup, which will take place at 17:30.
This Grade 2 National Hunt Steeplechase is open to amateur riders with horses aged five years or older. Taking place on Cheltenham’s ‘old course’, this lengthy 3 miles and 6-furlong race features 23 hurdles and a prize pool of £125,000.
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The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest events on the racing calendar, if not the biggest, and so year after year we find some of the best prices and odds available for the races that take place at this amazing event.
Last year’s Champion Day featured race saw prices as high as 100/1, with 16/1 Sharjah placing in second. The two biggest upsets of Day One at The Cheltenham Festival last year were 16/1 Put The Kettle On in The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase and 12/1 Ravenhill in the last race of the day – The National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase
The highest-priced horse of Champion Day 2020 was Hollow Sound with a starting price of 150/1 in The Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle Race, and when 15 runners are jumping 8 hurdles, who knows what could happen.