Between Tuesday, March 15th and Friday, 18th horse racing fans will be treated to four fantastic days of racing at the annual Cheltenham Festival in England.
The event, which originated in 1860 and attracts over 250,000 fans, takes place in the National Hunt Racing calendar and will feature 14 Grade-One races among its four race cards and total of 28 races in all.
The highlight of day one on Tuesday March 15th is the Champion Hurdle, while day two features the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Day three’s big races include the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase while the festival wraps up on the fourth day with the ever-popular Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Cheltenham Race Course in the Cotswold Hills is considered to be the home of jump racing as it hosts the most important and popular races each year with The Festival always being the sport’s crown jewel.
The course’s history can be traced back to 1815 and it has been present at its current location at Prestbury Park since 1831 with steeple chasing arriving in 1898. The track is now owned by Jockey Club Racecourses with the group reinvesting all of the profits back into British horse racing.
The Gold Cup Steeple Chase was introduced in 1924 and was won last year by eight-year-old Minella Indo with the jockey being Jack Kennedy, Henry De Bromhead its trainer and owned by Barry Maloney. De Bromhead made history with last year’s victory as he became the first trainer to win the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and Cheltenham Gold Cup all at the same festival.
The Champion Hurdle on day one is made for two-mile hurdlers while the Queen Mother Champion Chase is for two-mile chasers. The Ryanair Steeple Chase is for five-year-old horses and up with the Stayers’ Hurdle being regarded as the top stamina race for hurdlers as it’s run over three miles.
This year’s prize money for first place in the Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase is £625,000 (pounds) and will be contested by the greatest chasers in Ireland and Britain. The event is for five-year-old horses and up and features a total of 22 fences. The very first Cheltenham Gold Cup race took place in 1819 as a flat race over three miles and it was first run as a jumps event in 1924.
The oddsmakers currently have A Plus Tard and Galvin as the co-favorites to take the Cheltenham Gold Cup race at +333.
They’re followed by last year’s winner Minella Indo at +550, then Protektorat at +700, Al Boum Photo at +1000, Tornado flyer at +1100, Chanrty House, Asterion Forlonge, and Royale Pagaille all at +2000 with Santini at +5000 and Aye Right as the race’s underdog at +10000.