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For four days in the middle of March, Prestbury Park will open its gates and allow the world to enjoy the incredible spectacle that is the Cheltenham Festival. Every horse racing enthusiast yearns to be part of the Gloucestershire festivities and to be in attendance on any day of the meeting will sit highly on most sports fan’s bucket lists.

If you are a fledgling fan of the sport, new to horse racing, or just want an adrenaline-packed day filled with fun and sporting drama, here are five reasons why you should attend this years’ Cheltenham Festival.

The History

The Festival was created back in 1860, but it wasn’t until 1902 that it was moved to the newly opened track at Prestbury Park and it’s remained there ever since. Prestbury Park is affectionately known as the home of British jumps racing and the Cheltenham Festival is the sports flagship event.

Over the past 150 years, all of the greatest names in the history of the sport have traveled to the Cheltenham Festival in search of fame, fortune, and eternal glory, from trainers like Martin Pipe to riders running in his legacy. You cannot be considered a legend in the world of jumps racing until you have tasted success at the Cheltenham Festival and many of the best hurdlers and chasers have established their legacy on the hallowed, Prestbury Park turf.

The Stadium

You cannot scale a single staircase, fling open a single door, or walk down a single corridor around Prestbury Park racecourse without being reminded of the incredible history that has been written here at the Festival and being filled with a spine-tingling sense of grandeur.

Whether you want to rub shoulders with punters along the rails, take your seat in the state-of-the-art stands or even enjoy the action from your very own private box, there is no better view in horse racing than watching a battalion of equine athletes thundering round the final bend of the Cheltenham track and bolting up the home straight towards the finishing post.

The Cheltenham Festival remains the pinnacle of any horse’s, trainer’s or owner’s career, which means they all make the annual pilgrimage to Gloucestershire during the spring. The world’s press flock to Cheltenham that week to document the incredible sporting action and anyone who is anyone within the National Hunt racing fraternity will clear their schedule to make sure they are in attendance.

Celebrities and dignitaries rub shoulders with average punters alike across Cheltenham enclosures and racecourses, as they all find a comfy spot to watch the action unfold. The best trainers in Ireland will also make the journey over to Cheltenham, bringing with them an army of passionate, knowledgeable supporters, all hoping their countrymen can get the better of the British in the race for the Prestbury Cup.

The Atmosphere

Having such an eclectic mix of people packed into Prestbury Park is not only a wonderful spectacle to behold, but it also aids in creating a unique atmosphere that will have you craving a return to the Cheltenham Festival as you make your way home on Friday evening.

Excitement and anticipation courses through the stands as punters prepare for the upcoming race and rush to the Cheltenham betting tips ring to place their final wagers. As the starter sets the horses on their merry way, the stands erupt into a feverish frenzy, which continues throughout the entire race and only dies down when the victor has finished drinking in the applause in the winners’ enclosure.

The Racing

Whether you purchase tickets for the first day of the Festival or the last, you will experience some of the best action National Hunt racing has to offer.

Day one kicks off in thrilling fashion with the Supreme Novices Hurdle. Young chasers then take center stage in the Arkle Challenge Trophy, before the best two-mile hurdlers in the business do battle in the feature contest on Tuesday, the Champion Hurdle.

Wednesday’s festivities are highlighted by the Queen Mother Champion Chase, a contest which is surrounded by prestigious races like the three-mile RSA Chase and the vastly popular and unusual Cross Country Chase.

The third day of the Cheltenham Festival features the oldest race of the week, the Stayers’ Hurdle. Thursday’s card also features two other prestigious Grade One contests, the JLT Novices Chase and the two-and-a-half-mile Ryanair Chase.

A field of talented juveniles will get the final day of festivities off to a fitting start as they battle it out in the Triumph Hurdle, before some of the strongest first-season hurdlers in the sport fight it out over three miles in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle.

The final Group One of the meetings is also the most famous, most lucrative, most sought-after prize in the world of National Hunt racing – the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The entire sporting stratosphere will come to a stand-still when the starter drops their flag at 3:20pm and it will take a horse of the highest caliber to navigate three-and-a-quarter miles of turf, scale 22 fearsome fences and win the furious sprint to the line to earn the right to be called the best staying chaser on the planet.

Whilst many will be enjoying the best flat racing has to offer during the summer and early autumn months, fans of National Hunt racing will be eagerly awaiting the start of the new season and the momentous day when tickets to the Cheltenham Festival finally go on sale.

For over 150 years, Prestbury Park racecourse has welcomed the best hurdlers and chasers on the planet through its gates in the middle week of March. All the greatest names in the history of the sport have sought fame and fortune at the Cheltenham Festival and you cannot be considered the best in the business until you have tasted success on the famous Prestbury Park turf.

Whether you are a National Hunt racing fanatic, or a complete newbie when it comes to horse racing, a day spent at the Cheltenham Festival would be an occasion you wouldn’t forget in a hurry. Finding the perfect tickets for you can be a painstaking task, but, fear not, we are here to help!

Here are a few hints and tips that could come in handy if you are purchasing tickets to the Cheltenham Festival…

Cheltenham Festival Hints & Tips

  1. All four days of the Cheltenham Festival feature a variety of top-quality races, including thrilling novice contests, exciting handicaps, and prestigious Graded races. Tickets for the opening Tuesday and Gold Cup Friday sell out a little quicker than the middle two days, but those in attendance on Ladies Wednesday or St Patrick Thursday can still look forward to a truly stellar card.
  2. Some tickets can be purchased on the day, but if you are serious about attending the Festival, leave nothing to chance and book in advance
  3. Best Mate and Tattersalls Enclosure tickets are best suited to casual punters, who enjoy the hustle and bustle of the Cheltenham betting tip ring and the feel of the steel railing beneath their hands as they cheer their horses home.
  4. Purchasing a racecard is a must when you attend the Cheltenham Festival. Not only does it provide you with a detailed look at all the races that day, but it contains feature articles, tips to the races and acts as a wonderful memento of your day at Prestbury Park. Racecards can be bought on the day, but if you select the Cheltenham Saver option on Best Mate and Tattersalls Enclosure options, the racecard will be included in your purchase.
  5. If you are traveling to Cheltenham in a party of 15 or more than Group 15 ticket options are perfect for buying in bulk. You can save yourself a substantial amount of money if you book Group 15 tickets in advance.
  6. The Guineas Grandstand is a hugely popular ticket option, especially with the army of Irish fans who make the yearly pilgrimage to Prestbury Park. As you would expect, tickets in this area are highly sought-after and sell out quick, but if you can bag yourself either Club or Tattersalls tickets in the Guineas Grandstand, the atmosphere will be electric!
  7. Another go-to spot during the Festival is the Final Flight Bar, situated in the Club Enclosure right on top of the winning post. Final Flight Package tickets may scale the upper echelons of many punter’s budgets, but the atmosphere is incredible and the view of the finishing line is, quite frankly, unrivaled.
  8. If the culinary offering served up in the many refreshment stalls is not refined enough for your palette, then one of Cheltenham’s various Restaurant Packages could be perfect for you and your party as you punt on all the Cheltenham specials.
  9. All in all, there are ten Restaurant Packages available, ranging from the Moscow Flyer Package, right up to the Chez Roux Package – which includes a champagne reception, canapes, a four-course meal, and afternoon tea. Obviously, the level of cuisine you will consume goes up as the price of the package increases, but with every restaurant package, you will receive general Club admission, an official racecard and car parking tickets for one or two people.
  10. Private Box packages can also be purchased if you want to enjoy the action from a more secluded setting. However, if you are attending the Cheltenham Festival for the very first time, we highly recommend you share your experience with the throngs of passionate fans, who are all at Prestbury Park for the same reasons you are – to have a fantastic day out, soak in the atmosphere and witness sporting history being written.

So, if we’ve convinced you to purchase tickets to the “greatest show on turf”, keep our website in your bookmarks, as we will be uploading all the important Cheltenham Festival news and Cheltenham Festival tips between now and the middle week of March!

Cheltenham Festival tips – What is a Placepot?

Placepot Slips Tote

A picture of the Placepot slips you can find with your highstreet bookmaker.

2020 Cheltenham Festival Placepot Tips We talk you through the ins and out of a placepot bet, and how they could be used during the 2020 Cheltenham Festival which starts on Tuesday 10th March. One of the most popular bets during the Cheltenham Festival is the Placepot. A Placepot is a bet that can often […]

For all the Cheltenham Festival questions, queries and curiosities that have yet to be itched, take a look at the information detailed below – we’ve outlined all the frequently answered questions to make sure that you are all clued up ahead of March 2020.

And if that still doesn’t quench your thirst for racing knowledge, we’ve got a nifty little Cheltenham Festival guide for you to peruse.

So, without further ado…

What is the Cheltenham Festival?

Cheltenham Festival is a horse racing festival held every March. It is one of the biggest dates in the British horse racing calendar, with prize money second only to the Grand National. 

Where is Cheltenham Festival held?

The festival is held at the Cheltenham racecourse at Prestbury Park in Gloucestershire

How many people go to Cheltenham Festival?

In 2018 a total of 262,637 people attended the festival over the four days of racing. Friday, Gold Cup Day, saw a sell-out crowd of 70,684 watch the final day of races.

When was the first Cheltenham Festival?

Racing has taken place in the Cheltenham area since 1815. In 1860 a festival was held under the name of the National Hunt Meeting. The exact venue changed frequently between 1860 and 1911, when it settled at Prestbury Park. 

What is the oldest race at Cheltenham?

The Stayers’ Hurdle is the oldest race at Cheltenham Festival, first taking place in 1912. 

Has Cheltenham Festival ever been cancelled?

In 2001 Cheltenham Festival was called off due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain. Initially, the festival was delayed until April however a case of the disease was discovered in the local area resulting in a complete cancellation of the event that year.

How long does Cheltenham Festival go on for?

Cheltenham Festival takes place over four days in the middle of March. Each of the days features 7 races, totalling 28 in all. 

Racing begins on a Tuesday, known as Champion Day – day 1 of the action. This then develops into Wednesday, Ladies Day, Thursday, St Patrick’s Day, and Friday, the finale of the action in the form of the Gold Cup.

Who won the 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup?

The 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup was won by Al Boum Photo, ridden by Paul Townend. 

What is the prize money for the Cheltenham Gold Cup?

The prize money for last year’s Gold Cup was £625,000. In total there is £4,590,000 to be won over the four days of racing. Around half of that total comes from the race sponsors.

What is the capacity of Cheltenham racecourse?

Cheltenham racecourse can hold 67,500 people. 

Where to watch Cheltenham Festival 2020?

For those who cannot make it to Cheltenham, there are plenty of ways to watch. 

Broadcast live on TV as one of the biggest sporting events of the calendar, whether it’s Sky Sports, BBC, or other platforms, you’ll be able to watch the top festival jockeys in races across devices (mobile, tablet and laptop).

However, there is also a range of live viewing options online. Indeed, most major betting sites – William Hill, Paddy Power Bet365 – offer live streaming services that ensure that wherever you are, you’ll be able to catch the latest action across all four days of races.

And it couldn’t be easier to gain access. All you have to do is fill out a registration form and place a small deposit and you’ll be on your way to watching the drama – no paperwork, tedious details or lump sums needed. 

Is there a dress code?

Cheltenham Festivals are largely synonymous with fancy dress, therefore those attending are expected to impress with their outfits.

However, it’s also practical to err with the side of caution, especially considering the temperamental nature of British weather. This applies to both shoewear – remember that there’s plenty of grass and mud about – as well as your choice of hat.

Any outfits that come across as offensive or ostentatious can be declined entry to the races, especially in particular enclosures, such as the Club Enclosure.

How much are Cheltenham tickets?

Tickets range from £25 to over £140 depending on which day or stand you are looking for.

 You’ll want to buy ahead, as Cheltenham tickets are in high demand and are normally very quickly sold out. Fortunately, we’ve made it easier for you by providing online services that’ll allow you to buy tickets for this year’s Festival here.

Can I purchase tickets on the day?

Considering the nature of this event, if you haven’t bought tickets in advance, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to snap any up the morning or night before Cheltenham Day 1 – Champions Day.

Sure, there are always touts offering passage into individual races at the start of each day – Champions, Ladies, St Patrick, and the Gold Cup finale – but these are subject to availability.

Can I download my tickets or do I have to print them out?

Fortunately, as with most major sporting events, you can use your mobile to get into races by showing your tickets on the entry in PDF format.

If you wish to have a physical copy and print them out, you can do that too – the choice is yours!

Do I get a refund if the race meeting is abandoned?

If a race is abandoned before the first meeting of the day has taken place, then yes, a full refund will be in order. However, only a 50% refund will be given if the race is abandoned before the third race or feature race.

These Cheltenham tickets and refunds will take place online, as regrettably no cash refunds can be given on the day by Cheltenham services.

Who can attend the 2020 Cheltenham Festival?

Under 18s are allowed free access to the tournament, however, it is advisable to bring along ID if the child looks older than their age.

Over 18s require tickets and proof of age before entering. if they are bringing children or under 18s along, the children must be supervised at all times.

New to the Festival? Unsure what the some of the lingo and unusual terminology means? Have no fear, you’re not alone. Horse racing and particularly Cheltenham Festival can be overwhelming for new racegoers. That’s why we’ve put together a huge resource explaining every potential term!

FESTIVAL GLOSSARY

Hurdles / Chases / Bumpers

The 27 races at the Cheltenham Festival consist of 14 chases, 12 hurdle races and 1 flat, or bumper, race.

Chases: Sometimes called steeplechases, chases involve horses jumping larger, rigid obstacles called fences (a minimum of 4½ feet high) and are run over distances of 2-4½ miles. The Grand National is the season’s longest chase, whilst the National Hunt Chase is the longest chase run at the Festival.

Hurdles: In hurdle races the horses jump smaller, more flexible obstacles (typically about 3½ feet in height). They are run over distances of 2-3½ miles.

Both types of race consist of a minimum of 8 obstacles.

Bumper: Bumper is the informal term for a flat race for jump horses, in which they gain racing experience before going hurdling or chasing. These races are usually confined to four, five and six-year-olds and are run over distances of 1½-2½ miles. The term “Bumper” comes from the fact that in the past, only amateur riders were allowed to compete and they typically had an ungainly “bumping” style in comparison to the professionals.

The Champion Bumper is the only Bumper run at the Festival and it regularly showcases some of the most exciting young horses in training, who subsequently go on to make big names for themselves over hurdles or fences.

Hurdlers / Chasers

Hurdlers: Horses may compete in hurdle races to give them practice at jumping before they “step up” to chases. Hurdle races are often, therefore, a stepping stone to competing in chases. However, many of the best hurdlers will never run over fences as there are plenty of big prizes for the top horses to win.

The most prestigious hurdle race is the Festival’s Champion Hurdle. It is the ultimate speed test for hurdlers run, as it is, over the minimum trip of 2 miles.

By contrast, the World Hurdle, also run at the Festival, is the biggest prize for staying hurdlers (i.e. hurdlers who have more stamina than speed).

Chasers: Few horses go straight over fences. Most compete in hurdles first and then switch to fences as their jumping technique improves and/or because they are too slow for hurdle races.

The best chases are considered more prestigious than the best hurdle races, and the ultimate target for all horses is the Gold Cup. It is the sport’s most highly coveted prize and it is run on the last day of the Festival. It has been won by legends of the sport such as Golden Miller, Arkle, Desert Orchid and, more recently, Best Mate, Kauto Star and Denman.

Unlike with hurdles, the biggest prizes over fences are run over longer trips. The Gold Cup, for example, is run over 3 miles and 2 furlongs.

However, the ultimate prize for speedier chasers is the Queen Mother Champion Chase, run over two miles on the Wednesday of the Festival.

Another category of chase is the Hunter Chase. These races are confined to amateur riders and to horses that have hunter certificates. Hunter certificates are issued to horses that have hunted for at least four days in the season before racing starts in January. In addition the jockey must be an amateur who has obtained a certificate from the hunt secretary.

The Foxhunters is the only Hunter Chase run at the Festival. It takes place immediately after the Gold Cup and because it is run over the same course and distance it is often referred to as the amateur Gold Cup.

Novice or not?

A novice is a horse who has not won a race under a particular code (hurdling or chasing) before the current season.

The best speedier novice hurdles will be aimed at the Supreme Novices Hurdle, whilst the best staying novice hurdles run in the Neptune Investment Management (formerly Ballymore Properties) Novices Hurdle .

Likewise, the speedy novice chasers run in the Arkle and the stayers have the RSA Chase as their target.

In simple terms, the horses that perform best in the Supreme Novices Hurdle will often be aimed at the following season’s Champion Hurdle, those that shine in the Arkle will go on to compete in the Champion Chase and the RSA Chase is often seen as a stepping stone to future Gold Cups.

That said, there is nothing to stop novices running in normal hurdles or chases. The last novice to win the Gold Cup was Captain Christy in 1974, whilst Alderbrook was still a novice when capturing the Champion Hurdle in 1995.

A further category of novice is the juvenile hurdler. These are basically three year old hurdlers (who turn four on 31 December, which is the official birthday for all racehorses). Horses cannot run over hurdles before they are three.

The Triumph Hurdle is the championship contest for juveniles.

Handicaps

There are 11 handicap races at the Festival. A handicap is a race where horses carry different weights – this allows for more skill in betting.

After it has raced a few times and been adequately assessed a horse is awarded a handicap mark that allows it to be compared to all other horses under that code (horses can have different handicap marks for turf, all-weather, chase and hurdles races). A horse’s handicap figure is then adjusted by the official handicappers judged on its subsequent racing performances. A better horse will carry a heavier weight in order to make the race more fair.

The mark a horse receives relates to the weight it carries in handicap races – the idea being that if all horses perform to their handicap mark on the day they will all dead heat for first place. For example, if a horse is allotted a mark of 94 (180 is the mark of a top-class chaser) and he wins a race, the handicapper may give him a 5lb rise meaning next time he runs his mark is 99 and so on. Remember this is a theoretical mark and does not relate to the physical weight a horse carries. The actual weight a horse carries is defined by the horses he races against.

As a very rough rule of thumb, 1lb equates to one length, so if a horse wins a race by 4 lengths, all other things being equal, he can expect his handicap mark to rise by a similar amount.

If a horse continues to run poorly, its handicap mark will eventually start to drop – although often not quickly enough to please the connections of that horse!

Although most handicap races are not for the very best horses, this is not true in all cases, and some of the biggest races in the world are handicaps, such as the Grand National.

The most prestigious handicaps run at the Festival include the William Hill Chase for staying chasers and the County Hurdle for speedy hurdlers.

There are also some novice and juvenile handicaps – handicap races open to novices or juveniles only – such as the Centenary Novices’ Handicap Chase over fences and the Fred Winter for juveniles over hurdles.

Cross Country

One race at the Festival is run over the cross country course.

The course takes racing at Cheltenham back to its roots with a selection of natural and man made obstacles incorporating banks, ditches, hedges, water and timber rails.

Designed by Mike Etherington-Smith, who was responsible for the 3-Day Event cross country course at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the configuration of the course deliberately weaves around the centre of the course, with turns to the left and right leading competitors on a variety of routes and directions.

One of the main differences between the cross country course and the usual chase courses at Cheltenham is the materials used to build the fences. Chase fences are constructed from ‘dead’ materials whereas the fences on the cross country course are living, growing trees, shrubs and bushes, which are regularly trimmed for racing.

The race basically suits chasers, who jump and stay well.

Point to Points

A point to point is a form of amateur horseracing over fences for hunting horses. In Ireland many of the horses will appear in these races before they compete in National Hunt races either in Ireland or in the UK. In contrast in England and Wales horses running in point to points are more likely to be at the end of their national hunt careers. The Irish point to point is used as a nursery for future young stars: a horse that wins its debut point to point in Ireland will often sell for a lot of money.

Horses running in Point to Points must be thoroughbreds, save in the case of hunt members races and certain other club members races. The horses have to obtain a certificate from a Master of Foxhounds stating that they have hunted for at least 4 days in the season before racing starts in January. In addition the jockey must obtain a certificate from the hunt secretary.

Some Festival greats started off their careers in Point to Points including Florida Pearl, See More Business, Best Mate and Denman.

Grading

All races are graded.

The most prestigious contests are, in descending order of importance, Grade 1s, Grade 2s, Grade 3s, Listed contests, Handicaps to Bumpers – the least prestigious. The more highly graded races attract more prize money and better horses.

All National Hunt races are also classified in classes 1 – 7 (class 1 best). Graded and listed races are class 1.

HORSE RACING GLOSSARY

Amateur

A non-professional rider who can be identified on any racecard as their title Mr, Mrs, Ms, Captain etc appears in front of their name.

Blinkers

This is a type of hood that fits over a horse’s head to prevent the horse from seeing sideways and helps it concentrate its attention ahead during a race. A visor is an alternative type of blinker.

Blown up

When a horse starts to drop out of contention in a race due to lack of fitness.

Bumper

The informal term for a flat race for jump horses, in which they gain racing experience before going hurdling or chasing.

Clerk of the Course

The person responsible for the overall management of a racecourse during the raceday.

Clerk of the Scales

The person responsible for checking a jockey’s weight against the allocated weight the horse is allowed to carry.

Colours

Shirts or ‘silks’ worn by jockeys to identify a horse to a particular owner.

Conditional

A young jockey tied to a trainer whilst gaining race-riding experience. When racing against professional jockeys Conditionals often receive weight concessions to compensate for their relative inexperience.

Conditions

The make-up of a race, as in the number of runners, the ground conditions, if it’s a sharp or a galloping track, etc. Different conditions suit the physique and running style of different horses.

Connections

Term used to refer to a horse’s jockey, trainer and owner.

Cut in the ground

A description of the ground condition, when there is give in the surface, also called ‘soft going’.

Dam

The mother of a horse.

Distance

The length of a race. It can also refer to the margin by which a horse wins or is beaten. This can range from ‘a short head’ to ‘a distance’ which is in excess of 30 lengths.

Field

Term for the runners in a race.

Form

A horse’s race record. Denoted by figures next to its name in a racecard e.g. 1=1st, 2=2nd etc.

Furlong

The measure of distance used for all flat races in the British Isles. One Furlong equates to 220 yards and there are eight Furlongs in a mile.

Gelding

A male horse that has been castrated. Ouch!

Get the trip

Usually said of a horse that stays the particular distance of the race.

Going

The official description of the state of the ground. This can range from heavy to hard, with variants in between.

Green

A horse is described as “green” or “running green” when he or she shows signs of inexperience.

Hacked up

When a horse has won easily.

Handicap

Probably the single most important term used in racing. After it has raced a few times and been adequately assessed a horse is awarded a handicap mark that allows it to be compared to all other horses under that code (horses can have different handicap marks for turf, all-weather, chase and hurdles races). A horse’s handicap figure is then adjusted by the official handicappers judged on its subsequent racing performances.

The mark a horse receives relates to the weight it carries in handicap races – the idea being that if all horses perform to their handicap mark on the day they will all dead heat for first place. For example, if a colt is allotted a mark of 94 (130 is the mark of a top-class horse on the flat, over jumps it is nearer 180) and he wins a race, the handicapper may give him a 5lb rise meaning next time he runs his mark is 99 and so on. Remember this is a theoretical mark and does not relate to the physical weight a horse carries. The actual weight a horse carries is defined by the horses he races against.

As a very rough rule of thumb, 1lb equates to one Length, so if a horse wins a race by 4 Lengths, all other things being equal, he can expect his handicap mark to rise by a similar amount.

If a horse continues to run poorly, its handicap mark will eventually start to drop – although often not quickly enough to please the Connections of that horse!

Hands and heels

Riding a horse without using a whip.

Handy

A description of a horse who is in a prominent position during a race.

Hunter chase

A race restricted to horses that have hunted during the present hunting season.

Hurdle

The smaller of the two obstacles in jump racing, typically about 3’6” in height.

Judge

The official responsible for declaring the finishing order and declaring the Distance between runners.

Length

The measurement used to describe the distance between horses in a finish with one Length equating to the body length of an average horse. Where a horse wins a race by a distance of less than one length, the winning margin will be described as anything from a short head (the closest of margins) to ¾ of a length.

Maiden

The name given to all horses without a victory.

Mare

Female horse aged five and above.

National Hunt

The traditional name for jumps racing.

Objection

A complaint by one jockey against another regarding breach of rules during a race.

Off the pace

When a horse isn’t keeping up with the other horses in a race.

Open ditch

A steeplechase fence with a ditch on the take-off side.

Over the top

A horse past his peak for the season.

Pace

The speed at which a race is run. Up with the pace means close to the leaders, off the pace means some way behind.

Pecked/Nodded

When a horse’s head nearly lands on the ground after jumping a fence.

Penalty

An addition to a horse’s weight when it has won a race after the entries for a future race have closed and therefore before the official handicapper has had a change to reassess their handicap mark. The amount of the penalty depends on the value of the race won.

Permit holder

A trainer who is only qualified to train for members of their family.

Photo finish

Electronic photographic equipment which decides who has won in a close finish.

Ping

“To ping” is a verb often used to describe when a horse is jumping in particularly good style.

Pulled up

A horse who is stopped by his jockey from carrying on in a race, often because that horse is too tired to continue. Denoted by a ‘P’ on the racecard.

Racing plate

Lightweight horseshoes specially fitted for racing.

Refused

When a horse stops instead of jumping over a fence. Denoted by an ‘R’ on the racecard.

Run free

A horse going too fast too early, which then can’t settle into the race.

Schooling

Teaching a horse to race or jump. A “well-schooled” horse is less likely to show signs of inexperience or “greenness”.

Scope

A horse is said to have scope if it is likely to improve with age and as it grows into its frame.

Spread a plate

When a racing plate or horseshoe comes off, sometimes causing delay to the start of a race as the horse is re-shod.

Stayers

Horses who have a lot of stamina and are more likely to show up best over 3 miles, rather than 2 miles over jumps, and over 2 miles on the flat.

Steeplechase

A horse race over fences, open ditches and water jumps.

Stewards

The group of people responsible for ensuring adherence to the rules of racing.

Stiff track

A track that requires a lot of stamina, such as one with a long home straight or an uphill finish, like Cheltenham.

Weigh in/out

Weighing the jockey before and after the race to make sure the horse carried the right weight. The ‘weighed in’ announcement means the result is official and all bets can be settled.

Weight cloth

A cloth with pockets for lead weights placed under the saddle.

Weights

Lead strips placed in a weight cloth to bring the jockey and tack up to the handicap weight.

BETTING GLOSSARY

Ante-post

Betting on an event well in advance of the day of the race.

Banker

A strongly fancied selection that will often be the cornerstone of combination bets.

Bar

This shows what the lowest odds of the horses not mentioned in the betting forecast are likely to be – for example, ’20 – 1 bar’ means those not quoted are 20-1 or bigger.

Best-price percentage

The bottom line is that the odds available are balanced in favour of the bookmaker. A simple example is the toss of a coin where the chances of head or tails are 50:50. However, if the bookmaker were to offer even money on either event there would be no profit margin. Hence odds of 5-6 each of two would probably be offered.

The Best Price Percentage figure at the bottom of most odds tables calculates the percentage in favour of the bookmaker (i.e. 111 per cent means 11% in bookmaker’s favour). Sometimes, the percentage will drop below 100% and therefore the odds turn in the punter’s favour.

Board prices

This refers to the currently available odds as displayed on the boards of on-course bookmakers. It is from these that the Starting Price is derived.

Bottle

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 2/1.

Burlington Bertie

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 100-30.

Carpet

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 3-1.

Cockle

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 10-1.

Double Carpet

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 33-1.

Drift

When the price of a selection moves out (gets bigger), often due to a lack of support. That selection is said to be “on the drift”.

Ear’ole

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 6-4.

Enin

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 9-1.

Favourite

The selection that the bookmaker rates as most likely to win the event.

Flip Flop

Favoured saying of John McCririck! It relates to the situation in the on-course betting market when two horses switch places, with one’s price getting larger and the other’s getting smaller.

Handful

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 5-1.

Jolly

Another term for the favourite in a race.

Monkey

Bookmaker slang for £500.

NAP

A tipsters favourite bet from a particular day.

Neves

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 7-1.

Over-round

In theory a betting book should be 100%, so a toss of a coin would be even money heads, even money tails. However, the bookmakers’ profit margins mean the figure is usually above 100%.

In cases where it is less (one bookmaker betting 11/8 against on Horse A, another going evens on Horse B in a two-horse race) this is referred to as ‘over-broke’.

Pony

Bookmaker slang for £25.

Rule 4

If a horse is withdrawn and there is insufficient time to form a new market the remaining horses in the race are subject to a deduction if they win or are placed.

These are calculated according to the starting price as follows: 3/10 or longer odds – 75p in the £, 2/5 to 1/3 – 70p, 8/15 to 4/9 – 65p, 8/13 to 4/7 – 60p, 4/5 to 4/6 – 55p, 20/21 to 5/6 – 50p, Evens to 6/5 – 45p, 5/4 to 6/4 – 40p, 13/8 to 7/4 – 35p, 15/8 to 9/4 – 30p, 5/2 to 3/1 – 25p, 10/3 to 4/1 – 20p, 9/2 to 11/2 – 15p, 6/1 to 9/1 – 10p, 10/1 to 14/1 – unchanged.

Roof

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 4/1.

Starting Price

This is often abbreviated to SP. These are the returned prices of the horses which form the basis of the pay out to winning punters if they haven’t taken a specified price themselves.

Steamer

A horse whose odds are continually shortened in the face of heavy support.

Tic-tac

The sign language with which bookmakers on the racecourse communicate.

Tissue

The betting forecast of how an on-course bookmaker thinks the betting on a race will open.

Xis

The ‘tic-tac’ term for 6/1.

TYPES OF BET

If you’re unsure who to back at this year’s event, check out our Cheltenham tips. Our tipsters work year-round analyzing form and a wide range of other factors to identify great betting options for every day of the Festival.

Single

1 bet on 1 selection in one event.

Double

1 bet involving 2 selections in different events. Both must be successful to get a return.

Treble

1 bet involving 3 selections in different events. All must be successful to get a return.

Accumulator

1 bet involving any number of selections from 4 upwards in different events. All must be successful to get a return.

Trixie

4 bets involving 3 selections in different events. The bet includes 3 doubles and 1 treble. A minimum of 2 of your selections must be successful to get a return.

Patent

7 bets involving 3 selections in different events. The bet includes a single on each selection, plus 3 doubles and 1 treble. Just one successful selection guarantees a return.

Yankee

11 bets involving 4 selections in different events. The bet includes 6 doubles, 4 trebles, and an accumulator. A minimum of 2 of your selections must be successful to get a return.

Lucky 15

15 bets involving 4 selections in different events. The bet includes 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles, and 1 fourfold. If only one selection wins, as a consolation returns are paid to double the odds. If all four selections win, a bonus of 10% is added to total returns.

For the bonus to apply, all selections must win (no void or non-runners). For each-way bets the consolation is paid only on the win part of the bet. Lucky 15 bets are accepted on horse racing and greyhounds only.

Canadian (Super Yankee)

26 bets involving 5 selections in different events. The bet includes 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 fourfolds plus an accumulator. A minimum of 2 of your selections must be successful to get a return.

Heinz

57 bets involving 6 selections in different events. The bet includes 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds and an accumulator. A minimum of 2 of your selections must be successful to get a return.

Lucky 63

63 bets involving 6 selections in different events. The bet includes 6 singles, 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfolds, 6 fivefolds and an accumulator. If only one selection wins, returns are paid to double the odds. If all six selections win, a bonus of 20% is added to total returns. For the bonus to apply, all selections must win (no void or non-runners). For each-way bets the consolation is paid only on the win part of the bet. Lucky 63 bets are accepted on horse racing and greyhounds only.

Super Heinz

120 bets involving 7 selections in different events. The bet includes 21 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 fourfolds, 21 fivefolds, 7 sixfolds and an accumulator. A minimum of 2 of your selections must be successful to get a return.

Goliath

247 bets involving 8 selections in different events. The bet includes 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 fourfolds, 56 fivefolds, 28 sixfolds, 8 sevenfolds and an accumulator. A minimum of 2 of your selections must be successful to get a return.

Forecasts

A forecast bet is one where you predict the first and second in a horse or greyhound race.

Straight Forecast

2 selections in 1 race finishing 1st and 2nd in the order named. A Straight Forecast (FC) pidend is declared based on the Starting Prices (SP’s) of all the horses in the race. (A Straight Forecast is known in many countries as an Exacta).

Reversed Forecast

2 selections in 1 race finishing 1st and 2nd in either order. As such it is two straight forecasts.

Straight Forecast Doubles

SFC doubles are staked in exactly the same way as ordinary doubles. The only difference is that you take 2 selections per race. Both SFC predictions must be successful for there to be any return.

Straight Forecast Trebles

SFC trebles are staked in exactly the same way as ordinary trebles. The only difference is that you take 2 selections per race. All three SFC predictions must be successful for there to be any return.

Combination Forecasts

This bet involves 3 or more selections in a race, with any 2 to finish 1st and 2nd in any order. For example, a £5 combination forecast (or CFC) equates to a total stake of £30 That’s 6 x £5 forecasts.

The easiest way to calculate the number of bets in a CFC is to multiply the number of selections by the preceding number. So, for 3 selections, 3 x 2 = 6. If you picked 5 selections in a race, you would have 20 combination forecast bets (5 x 4 = 20).

Tricasts

Tricasts are only accepted on horse racing handicaps with 6 or more runners.

Straight Tricasts

This bet involves 3 selections in a race finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the order named. (The closest equivalent to a Tricast in many countries is a Trifecta or a Tierce).

Combination Tricasts

This bet involves 3 or more selections in a race finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd in any order. To calculate the number of bets in a Combination Tricast multiply the number of selections by the preceding number. For example, a £10 Combination Tricast (CTC) with four selections would cost £240. That’s 4 x 3 x 2 = 24 bets.

TOTE BETTING

Betting on the Tote offers a slightly simpler way for punters to place a bet. They have outlets all over every racecourse and are easy to find.

The major difference between betting with the Tote and in the Betting Ring is that when you place a bet with the bookmakers you know the price you are getting. That is not the case on the Tote because it is pool betting.

Pool Betting is the system whereby all the money gambled on a particular bet – for instance, a single win – goes into a pool. The Tote takes out its percentage and the rest of the money is pided between the winning tickets. The odds are often similar to those offered by the bookmakers because punters will watch both and not allow one to be overly different to the other – especially on those near the top of the betting (the Tote have screens allowing punters to see what the odds are on each horse but no-one can tell the final odds until after the race).

One thing to note about the Tote is that because it attracts more inexperienced punters, those horses with popular sounding names or connections, especially on big days, are a lot shorter odds than they should be.

The different type of Tote bets are as follows:

Pick the winner of the race. Minimum bet £2. Pick a horse to be placed in the race. Minimum bet £2. Your selections need to be placed as follows:

Up to 4 runners – no place betting 5 – 7 runners – 1st and 2nd 8+ runners – 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Handicap 16+ runners – 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

A very popular way of betting, this is simply a totewin bet and a toteplace bet on the same horse. Minimum total stake £4 (i.e. £2 win and £2 place).

Pick the horses to finish 1st and 2nd in the correct order. A reverse toteexacta or a combination toteexacta will increase the chances of winning. This is obviously more difficult than just picking the winner, but the rewards are potentially much greater. Minimum total spend £2.

Pick the horses to finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the correct order in a tote trifecta race. Minimum total spend £2.

Pick a horse to be placed in each of the six toteplacepot races (normally the first six races on the card). You can choose more than one horse in any of the races to increase your chances of winning. Minimum total spend £2.

A popular bet if you’ve missed the start of the tote placepot or it has fallen by the wayside before the 3rd race. As before, just pick a horse to be placed in each of the four totequadpot races which are normally races 3, 4, 5 and 6. Minimum total spend £1.

Pick the winners of the six tote jackpot races at the nominated tote jackpot meeting each day. You can choose more than one horse in any of the races to increase your chances of winning. Minimum total spend £2.

Racing in the Cheltenham area dates back 200 years to 1815 when the first recorded flat racing meeting was held on Nottingham Hill. 

Fortunately, we’ve turned back the years and taken a look at the races and riders that ingrained themselves in Cheltenham history – the likes of which you can read about in our 2020 Cheltenham festival guide.

So, without further ado…

The Early Years (1818 – 1911)

The first races were a tentative affair of which little is recorded and it was a further three years before another meeting was staged, this time on Cleeve Hill which overlooks the current Cheltenham racecourse site. This one-day meeting took place on Tuesday 25th August 1818, including five races and Cheltenham’s first recorded winner, was Mr. E.Jones’ five-year-old bay mare, Miss Tidmarsh.

The Cleeve Hill meeting was evidently a success because the following year saw the construction of a grandstand on the side of the hill which was said to be visible from the Promenade. A proper course was laid on on the West Down of the hill and for 1819 the meeting was increased to three days duration (23-25 August). The main attraction of the final afternoon was the first-ever Cheltenham Gold Cup, a three-mile flat-race for three-year-olds, won by Spectre.

The races on Cleeve Hill soared in popularity over the next decade with crowds of up to 50,000 attending an annual two day July meeting. During this period the races became the central feature of a carnival, in town and on the hill – the elite was attracted to extravagant parties staged in Cheltenham, a fashionable spa town, whilst on the hill sideshows and drinking and gambling booths catered for the masses.

Inevitably the races began to attract some unwelcome elements such as pickpockets, drunkards, cards sharps and prostitutes and further to the ultra-evangelistic Anglican Rector of Cheltenham, Reverend Francis Close, preaching about the evils of horse racing and gambling, such strong feelings were aroused amongst his congregation that the meeting in 1829 was disrupted, with bottles and rocks thrown at the horses and their top jockeys. Before the following year’s meeting, Close was the instigator of an arson attack in which the facilities were burnt to the ground!

As a result, the following year races were moved to Prestbury Park in “three fields” for flat racing around a roughly drawn course, with a 700-capacity grandstand erected. Prestbury Park was first used for racing on 19th July 1831 where it continued until 1834, but the turf was not as good as on the hill and in 1835 the races returned to Cleeve Hill where a new three-story stand had been built and access to the course improved. However, in part due to an economic depression, the glory days of the Cheltenham flat races were over as numbers dwindled and the glamour that initially surrounded it evaporated. The standard of racing on the hill deteriorated and even the renaming of the races in 1840 as the “County of Gloucester Races on Cleeve Hill Course” failed to stop the decline – from 1843 to 1850 there was no flat racing at all and after a brief revival between 1851-1855, there were no further meetings on the hill.

However, just as interest in flat racing diminished, steeplechasing began to become more popular. In 1834 in nearby Andoversford, the first Grand Annual Steeplechase was run over four miles on the open countryside surrounding the town. The race, on Friday 4th April 1834, attracted a field of nine runners and watched by a crowd of around 10,000 that placed their Cheltenham free bets with vigor. Unusually for a steeplechase at this time, the race could be seen in its entirety from the winning field and was won by Fungleman, despite falling at the last fence! In second was Conrad whose effort was particularly noteworthy as the previous day he’d won two races on the Flat over the Prestbury Park course.

Predating the Grand National by two years, the Grand Annual is the oldest race in the jumping calendar and in subsequent years the races were run at various courses including Andoversford, Southam and in 1847 at Prestbury Park in a race won by William Holman on Stanmore with William Archer finishing second on Daddy Longlegs. The race continued to be held in Prestbury Park until the land was sold in 1853 (for £19,600). The new owner was totally opposed to racing and would not have it on his land.

As the century drew to a close racing of all kinds was losing popularity and Cheltenham races seemed destined to die a quiet death, but in 1881 Prestbury Park was sold to Cheltenham Racecourse’s founder, Mr. W.A Baring Bingham, a racing enthusiast who wanted to revive its former glories. However, at first, he used the Park as a stud farm and it was not until 1898 that a race meeting was held there with a modicum of success, re-establishing racing at its current location.

Four years later Prestbury Park held its first National Hunt Festival (9-10 April 1902).

The Cheltenham Festival was originally the National Hunt Meeting – the meeting that staged the National Hunt Chase, the four-miler for amateur riders. This race was first run in 1860 at Market Harborough and regularly changed venue. Held at Prestbury Park in 1904 and 1905 it finally settled there in 1911, where it has remained ever since. As it was the second most prestigious prize in the National Hunt calendar, after the Grand National, the March meeting at which it was run assumed permanent importance from that year.

The Cheltenham Festival

Frederick Cathcart is the man who did more than anyone else to make Cheltenham the headquarters of jump racing. Cathcart was a senior partner of Messrs Pratt & Co, the firm in charge of managing several racecourses including Prestbury Park.

He was to become the most influential racecourse official of the 20th century and guided the fortunes of Cheltenham as both clerk of the course and the founding chairman of The Steeplechase Company (Cheltenham) Ltd.

Cathcart decided that just as Newmarket was for flat racing, so Cheltenham should be established as the headquarters of National Hunt racing.

The first Cheltenham Festival took place at Prestbury Park in 1911 when The National Hunt Committee agreed to terms with The Steeplechase Company to allow the National Hunt Meeting to remain year-on-year at Cheltenham rather than continue its traditional annual tour.

That year the very wet weather spoilt the enjoyment of the huge crowd for the two-day fixture and the going proved exceptionally heavy.

The four-mile National Hunt Steeplechase on the first day, Wednesday, had prize-money of £815 and was won by Sir Halbert by a neck at odds of 33/1. The three-and-a-quarter-mile National Hunt Steeplechase the following day (the forerunner of the Gold Cup) was worth £832 and was raced in heavy hail and sleet. It was won by Autocar at odds of 100/6.

A new stand had been built in that first Festival year of 1911 and a “Luncheon and Private View to Press and Officials” was given on the course beforehand presided over by Cathcart. That little stand, so small and quaint by the standards of Cheltenham today, was to see service for the next 70 years!

The Early Days

Under Cathcart’s direction, the meeting grew significantly in importance and, such was the popularity of the occasion, it was expanded from two days to three in 1923. The following year saw the introduction of a level weight extended three-mile steeplechase, called The Cheltenham Gold Cup followed, in 1927, by The Champion Hurdle.

Frederick Cathcart died in 1934, aged 74. His Sporting Life obituary stated: “He was indefatigable in his efforts to increase the popularity and public appeal of the race meetings with which he was associated…Much of the success of the ‘chasing at Cheltenham was due to Mr. Cathcart’s energy and enterprise.”

All the NH Meetings needed to be was a star to project its appeal to a wider audience who bought Cheltenham tickets in hordes. Golden Miller more than filled that vacancy, winning The Gold Cup five times in the 1930s to become the sport’s first household name.

The first of these wins came in 1932 at just five years old. Better was to follow in 1934, when still at just seven years of age he won both the Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season – a feat that has never been equaled before or since. His sequence of Gold Cup victories (from 1932-1936) may have been even better had it not been for the 1937 renewal being lost to the weather. He was retired in 1939 with a record of 28 wins from 52 races.

The Post-War Years

The bounce-back following the Second World War came in the form of Cottage Rake, the first Gold Cup winner to be trained in Ireland, who went on to win three and, with Vincent O’Brien at the helm, sparking the Irish invasion that has become the hallmark of the Festival. Timing is everything in sport and three ingredients came together in the 1960s to launch The Festival into the modern era.

The racecourse was bought by Johnny Henderson, the late father of trainer Nicky Henderson, and his city friends to form Racecourse Holdings Trust. This prompted a massive investment, the BBC embracing racing as a key element of its outside broadcast agenda and a horse without parallel carrying all before him.

It is over 40 years since Arkle won three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups, but his achievements have stood the test of time and at 212 his Timeform rating is the highest ever awarded to a steeplechaser. Only Flyingbolt, also trained by Tom Dreaper, had a rating anywhere near his at 210. The third highest is Kauto Star & Mill House on 191. Such was his class that when running in handicaps, he was forced to give away huge amounts of weight – yet still managed to come home in front. In his 34 races under rules, he carried at least 12 stones in 23 of them but finished with a career total of 27 victories.

Cheltenham is where true National Hunt champions prove themselves and Arkle was no exception, fittingly making his (winning) chasing debut there in November 1963. He was back for the Festival the following March where he won what is today known as the RSA Chase. The Gold Cup itself was that year won by Mill House and the subsequent rivalry between him and Arkle, billed as a clash between England and Ireland, became one of the most famous of all-time.

When the pair first met in the Hennessy the following season, Mill House prevailed but Arkle had his revenge at Cheltenham in the 1964 Gold Cup. His success in the following two years saw him established as a legend at the course, where he is honored with a special statue.

The Modern Era

The event has continued to gain prominence within the racing calendar both from an entertainment perspective as well as on the betting tips forefront. And it is now widely recognized as one of the UK’s premier sporting events, alongside the likes of Wimbledon, the British Open, the British Grand Prix and the FA Cup Final.

The Dickinson Famous Five and Dawn Run landing the Champion Hurdle/Gold Cup double catapulted The Festival to the front of the nation’s consciousness in the 1980s, a decade that climaxed with Desert Orchid triumphing in conditions that only Cheltenham can muster. Istabraq and then Best Mate brought another generation to claim The Festival as their very own before Kauto Star became the first Cheltenham Gold Cup Champion ever to regain the title in 2009.

The Festival is the county’s biggest single revenue-earning event, generating an estimated £50m for local hotels, shops, pubs, and clubs.

2005 saw the first four-day Festival with six races on each day. A new 3m7f Cross Country Chase was added to Tuesday’s card, which still features the Champion Hurdle. Wednesday’s highlight is still the Queen Mother Champion Chase, while the World (Stayers) Hurdle is now the highlight of Thursday’s card. Friday is now Gold Cup day with the Triumph Hurdle, Foxhunters and County Hurdle still also appearing on the final afternoon. The first four-day Festival was undoubtedly a huge success and the format was retained in 2006 and looks set to stay.

The build-up to Cheltenham now dominates the entire jumps season, with every decent race run after the turn of the year being seen as some form of Festival trial. Some have argued that this is detrimental to other top-class races that are prestigious events in their own right. However, any potential downside is surely outweighed by the fact that the increased interest in the Festival has widened the attraction of national hunt racing on a worldwide basis and has brought thousands of new enthusiasts to the sport. It also provides a climax and focuses that the Flat season so badly lacks.

Each year the attendances have also continued to grow, and over the duration of the meeting, crowds will easily exceed 200,000. Combine this with those watching on television, listening to the radio and following live on-line feeds – which you can read more about in our Cheltenham Festival 2020 guide – and you have, without doubt, one of the world’s most anticipated racing spectacles.

The quality of the entrants for each and every race is top class, and the event seems to have an increasingly international flavor to it each year. Runners from France, Eastern Europe (particularly in the Cross Country Chase) and Germany are becoming more and more common, and are enjoying considerable success.

However, it is the involvement of one nation in particular, both on and off course, which gives the Festival its unique atmosphere.

The Irish and The Festival

The Irish have been traveling to Cheltenham for generations and a huge Irish presence is an essential part of the unique atmosphere every March. It is estimated that about 7,500 to 8,000 people travel from Ireland to the Gloucestershire countryside each year, although this has declined by about 30% for the last couple of Festivals as a result of the economic downturn.

Those who journey are making one of the sport’s great annual pilgrimages, to attend National Hunt racing’s famous four-day spectacle. The Irish regularly take center stage on this great occasion, whether it be man or beast. Some of the greatest jockeys, trainers, owners, and horses to have graced the hallowed turf of Prestbury Park have originated from the Emerald Isle. Legendary Irish names such as Jonjo O’Neill, Dawn Run, Arkle, Vincent O’Brien, and Istabraq have sealed their place in Cheltenham Festival folklore with their glorious achievements at this magnificent course.

The Festival would certainly not be the same without the Irish punters who revel in taking on Cheltenham’s bookmakers. Probably the most famous Irish gambler to be found at the Festival is owner JP McManus, known in racing circles as the “Sundance Kid”, who for more than 20 years has bet – and won – huge sums, including successful wagers on his dual Champion Hurdle winner Istabraq.

Legend tells of another Irishman who won enough on Istabraq in the Champion Hurdle of 1998 to pay off his mortgage and then lost his house on Doran’s Pride in the Gold Cup. “It was only a small house anyway,” he is reputed to have said.

Tragedy mingles with triumph all too closely in National Hunt racing and the Irish have suffered their fair share – such as former jockey Shane Broderick, who was paralyzed after a horrific fall at Fairyhouse in 1997. Despite his disability, he bravely reflected on how lucky he was to ride a winner at Cheltenham. These stories sum up the indomitable spirit of the Irish that characterizes the history of the Cheltenham Festival.

The Emerald Isle re-affirmed their dominance of the National Hunt scene in 2006 by winning the three most prestigious prizes the Cheltenham Festival has to offer. Their success reached a magnificent crescendo on the final day when War of Attrition led home an Irish one – two – three in the Gold Cup to send his countrymen into raptures on St Patrick’s Day.

The emotional win of Moscow Flyer in the Champion Chase in 2005 will also live long in the memory, as the Irish chaser confirmed himself as one of the all-time greats and sparked wild Irish celebrations.

Champions, Cups, and Cancellations

1911: Festival is established.

1924: First Gold Cup is run at the Festival, won by Red Splash with prize money of £685.

1927: First Champion Hurdle.

1932-1936: Golden Miller runs up an amazing sequence of five Gold Cup (in 1934 he became the only horse ever to win the Aintree Grand National and the Cheltenham Gold Cup in the same season).

1948-1950: Cottage Rake’s hat-trick in the Gold Cup marks the birth of the annual pilgrimage from Ireland.

1954: First locally-trained winner, Four Ten, trained in Prestbury by John Roberts.

1963-1965: Arkle’s hat-trick of Gold Cups creates a legend.

1978: Gold Cup is abandoned because of snow and is run in April instead.

1989: Desert Orchid brings the house down by winning the Gold Cup.

1990: Norton’s Coin, at 100-1 the longest-priced winner of the Gold Cup, triumphs in the sunshine for Welsh dairy farmer Sirrell Griffiths.

1997-2000: Istabraq runs up a Festival sequence of four victories, first in what is now the Ballymore Properties Novices Hurdle, then a hat-trick in the Smurfit Kappa Champion Hurdle.

2001: Festival abandoned because of foot and mouth disease.

2002-2004: Best Mate dominates the Gold Cup, the first three-timer since Arkle.

2005: Festival extended from three to four days.

2007: Kauto Star wins the richest ever Totesport Cheltenham Gold Cup and picks up a £1m bonus.

2008: Day two of the Festival canceled due to high winds with all Wednesday races moved to Thursday and Friday.

Cheltenham Festival – Lost Races

Since the first Cheltenham Festival in 1911, a number of races have come and gone or been replaced. Below we detail those lost races of the Cheltenham Festival:

Croome Hunters’ Chase (1911)

Chapilizod, who subsequently won the 1913 Foxhunter Chase, won the only Festival running of this race.

Rose Hill Handicap Hurdle (1911)

Hardingstone, the 5/4 favorite, won the only renewal of this race, which was named after a local beauty spot.

Cheltenham Chase (1911)

Another race that survived only one year at the Festival.

Prestbury Handicap Chase (1911-12)

Although pre-dating the Festival, this race was only staged twice after 1911.

Southam Selling Chase (1911-15, 1921)

A short-lived two-mile chase.

Cotswold NH Flat Race (1911-21)

Run-on six occasions.

Cleeve Selling Hurdle (1911-23)

Staged on eight occasions. The winner in 1911, Aftermath, won the following year’s running of the Stayers’ Selling Hurdle.

Swindon Selling Chase (1911-39)

The only winner of note was Denis Auburn in 1920 who also won the Foxhunters’ Chase in 1915.

National Hunt Juvenile Chase (1911-58)

Perhaps the Festival’s most notorious race, this event – open only to four-year-olds – was finally abandoned in 1958 with the aptly named Bee Off riden by John Lawrence (later Lord Oaksey) winning the last renewal. 

 The most notable winners of this race were future Grand National winners, Grakle and ESB and subsequent Gold Cup victor, Medoc II. In 1959 the race was replaced by the National Hunt Two-Mile Champion Chase, which later became the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Jubilee Handicap Hurdle (1912)

Staged as a one-off in 1912, the Jubilee was replaced by the County Hurdle in 1913. In effect, the only difference between the two races was the name as the distance and value were exactly the same.

Stayers’ Selling Hurdle (1912-38)

The original Stayers’ Hurdle, which unlike the race currently staged at the Festival, was a seller, was dropped from the Festival program in 1928. It returned in 1930 but was abandoned twice due to bad weather in the ‘thirties. Silver Bay (1913 and 1914), Warwick (1923 and 1925) and Sobrino (1930 and 1933) were all dual winners.

Maiden Five-year-old Chase (1915)

A one-off won by Gary Mac who won the Southam Selling Chase five years later.

Coventry Handicap Chase (1915)

Only one renewal for this 3m 2f chase.

Amateur Riders’ Chase (1920-29)

Run over two miles until 1923 and then three thereafter, the only notable winner was Dudley in 1923.

Breedon Selling Handicap Hurdle (1923-26)

Introduced when the Festival was extended to three days in 1923.

Newent Selling Chase (1923-42)

Run over two miles, The Newent Chase was, for a number of years, the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival. One name stands out from the winners of this race: Ferrens. A selling plate specialist, trained by George Beeby, Ferrens made seven appearances at the Festival, finishing unplaced in the 1933 Seven Springs Chase, second in the 1934 Swindon Chase and third, second, second, first, tenth and second in successive renewals of this from 1935-39. He was fifteen when he won and seventeen when he made his last appearance in 1939.

Spa Hurdle (1923, 1942, 1946-67, 1971)

A Spa Hurdle, over three miles, was run during the 1923 Festival and again in 1942 over two miles. It was established as a stayers’ hurdle from 1946 until 1967, when it transferred to the April meeting in 1968, although it made a fleeting reappearance at the 1971 Festival and was subsequently revived at Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day meeting. 

It was replaced in 1972 at the Festival by the Stayers Hurdle, today known as the World Hurdle. Prominent winners of the Spa Hurdle include the 1955 Champion Hurdler, Clair Soleil, successful in 1959 with legendary jockey Fred Winter. Merry Deal won this aged twelve in 1962, five years after winning the Champion Hurdle. Beau Normand, trained by Bob Turnell, is the only dual winner, having been successful in 1963 and 1967.

United Hunts Challenge Cup (1923-73)

Last run at the Festival in 1973, the race subsequently formed the centerpiece of Cheltenham’s April Hunter’s meeting. Baulking Green’s name will forever be associated with this race. A strong chestnut, owned by Jim Reade and trained by Captain Tim Forster, Baulking Green won this race on four occasions, three times in succession between 1963-65 and again in 1967. 

In 1968, at the age of fifteen, he was beaten a short-head by Snowdra Queen, who had also taken the 1966 renewal. Uppergrange, (1926 and 1928), Cheerful Marcus (1935 and 1936) and Mr Teddy (1959 and 1962) also won the United Hunts Cup twice.

Open Military Handicap Chase (1924-26)

Only run on three occasions. Winner in the first two years was Ruddy Glow, who started favorite for the 1926 Gold Cup but could only finish third.

Cleeve NH Flat Race (1924-26)

Also, run on just three occasions, the final renewal was worth £415.

United Services Hunt Cup (1927-29)

Run over three-and-a-half-miles.

Swindon Hurdle (1928-29)

Replaced the Stayers’ Selling Hurdle for two seasons.

Coventry Cup Chase (1928-36)

Introduced in 1928, the Coventry Cup became an unofficial two-mile championship. Fields were always small but select, although the match won by the 1/5 favorite Rathcoole in 1929 and Thomond II’s walkover in 1934 were taking this selectivity a little too far. The inaugural running went to the fourteen-year-old Dudley, while in 1930 Blaris, the winner of the first Champion Hurdle in 1927, was successful.

Lansdown Selling Handicap Hurdle (1928-42)

No notable winners, with the exception of Anarchist, who had finished second to Seneca in the previous year’s Champion Hurdle and won the Lansdown Hurdle in 1942, a few days before finishing second to Forestation in the Champion Hurdle.

Seven Springs Handicap Chase (1930-50)

Although well established before the war, this race only survived until 1950. Notable winners include Thomond II (a great rival of Golden Miller, who beat him three times in big races – twice in the Gold Cup and once in the Grand National). 

Abbot’s Glance won in 1936 and 1939 whilst Medoc II won successive renewals in 1940 and 1941 before winning the 1942 Gold Cup. Silver Fame, the winner of twenty-seven chases for his owner Lord Stalbridge, won this in 1948, three years before winning the Gold Cup.

Cathcart Challenge Cup Chase (1938-2004)

The two miles and five furlongs Cathcart Chase was a race for novices and second-season chasers named in honor of Frederick Cathcart, the clerk of the course and chairman at Cheltenham from 1908 to 1934. Quita Que (1958 and 1961), Half Free (1985 and 1986) and Stormyfairweather (1999 and 2000) were dual winners of the Cathcart, whilst Fred Winter trained seven winners of the race between 1972-1987. 

It was replaced in 2005 by two separate races: the Jewson Novices Handicap Chase and the Festival Trophy (Ryanair Chase) which were opened up to all horses.

National Hunt Moderate Chase (1941)

Thankfully, the Moderate Chase was only run once at the Festival. Victory, in this two-mile race, went to Uplifter.

High-Class Hurdle (1946)

Flying Mascot won the only running of this two-mile hurdle race in 1946.

High Flyer Chase (1946)

A selling chase over three miles, this race made one appearance at the Festival in 1946 when the Brian Marshall rode Lavenham beat his four rivals.

Gloucestershire Novices’ Hurdle (1946-1973)

Between 1946-1971 the Gloucestershire Hurdle was divided on no less than 25 occasions and in 1946 and 1963 there were even three divisions. From 1974 it was renamed the Lloyds Bank Novices Hurdle, the first of various sponsors of a race that became known as the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 1980 when it took its now traditional spot as the Festival opener.

Croome Hurdle (1947)

Run as part of the revised one-day Festival in 1947.

Mildmay of Flete Handicap Chase (1951-2005)

Established in 1951 and originally named in memory of the 2nd Baron Mildmay of Flete (1909–1950), an amateur National Hunt jockey who rode three winners at the Cheltenham Festival. The inaugural race took place in April because it’s planned running in March was abandoned due to waterlogging. The race was renamed The Festival Plate in 2006 and is now known as the Byrne Group Plate.

Birdlip Hurdle (1952-62)

Originally a two-mile selling hurdle, this race was run at the Festival on ten occasions. From 1958 its distance was extended to three-miles. A notable name amongst the winners is Lester Piggot who rode Mull Sack to victory in 1954, whilst Fred Winter rode St Stephen to victory in 1962.

Aldsworth Hurdle (1956, 1971-73)

A race of this name firstly appeared at the Festival in 1956 as a two-mile heat won by Nickleby. It reappeared in 1971 and is now known as the Neptune Investment Management Novices Hurdle.

George Duller Handicap Hurdle (1963-73)

Run in memory of a legendary hurdling specialist (before he turned to motor racing), this three-mile race appeared on eleven occasions and was run in two divisions in 1969. In 1974 it was switched to the April meeting and replaced at the Festival by the Joe Coral Golden Hurdle Final, which is now known as the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final.

Cathcart Champion Hunter Chase Challenge Cup (1975-77)

This shortlived race replaced the Cathcart Cup for three seasons. The first renewal, in 1975, was abandoned and the subsequent two runnings went to Mickley Seabright and Rusty Tears. In 1978 the Cathcart reverted to its original name.

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CHELTENHAM FESTIVAL DATES 2020

The Cheltenham 2020 dates have been announced and racing fans can look forward to four days of explosive action. This Cheltenham Festival takes place between Tuesday, March 10th and Friday, March 13th. The first race, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle starts at 1:30pm and the Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place on the final day, the 13th of March 2020, at 3.30pm.

And now those Cheltenham festival dates have been released we can look forward to 24 races across four days as the equivalent of the equine Olympics takes place at Prestbury Park. Plenty of key questions looks set to be answered. Will Al Boum Photo retain his Gold Cup crown, can Paisley Park add to his legend with another authoritative win in the Stayers’ Hurdle and which young gun could take Altior’s place at the top of the Champion Chase tree.

All these questions and more will be resolved at the Cheltenham Festival 2020 and if you have any queries about Cheltenham dates? Read our Cheltenham FAQ for more details. 

2020 Cheltenham Festival Race Times

Sport doesn’t get much better than the Cheltenham Festival and the Cheltenham 2020 dates and times have been revealed The entire nation will embrace jumps racing for four days during the second week of March, as legends are made, records are broken and the best equine athletes etch their names into the annals of sporting history.

Many of the horses who starred in the 2019 edition of the Cheltenham Festival will return to Prestbury Park on various Cheltenham festival dates along with a whole host of newcomers looking to thrust their names into the headlines.

Here are the dates for the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and a little look at which races punters can look forward to on each of the four days.

The finale of the Festival is, of course, Gold Cup Day. While the attention focuses on the 3:30 race, our tipsters have bets and predictions for every race. See all of our Cheltenham day 4 tips

Get ready for the 2020 Festival

The Cheltenham 2020 dates have been announced and there are plenty of tickets already on sale. Make sure you get yours early and ensure you’re there to soak up the legendary Cheltenham atmosphere. Now the Cheltenham festival dates and times have been revealed, our tipsters are already sharing their early Cheltenham tips and ante-post bets, complete with previews of the main races. 

You can also find our free bets for Cheltenham here, updated throughout the Festival with all the best bookmaker offers.