Every year in March, the eyes of the horse racing world are completely focused on Cheltenham. The best jump horses in the world have prepared for this festival all year and the jockeys and owners know the difference a win at The Cheltenham Festival can make to their legacy. A win in the Gold Cup can turn an average career into a legendary one.
The History of the Cheltenham Festival
You can not think of a National Hunt race and not think of the Cheltenham Festival. The two have become synonymous since it’s inception in 1911. Over one hundred years of history has been made and raced at Cheltenham since the National Hunt Committee and the Steeplechase Company agreed that their annual race should have a permanent home.
Starting off as a two-day festival, the popularity with both spectators and racers alike meant that from this original concept, the now legendary four-day festival of racing was born.
Over the length of the Cheltenham Festival meeting, twenty-eight races will use the course and create over four million hoofprints. There are over ten miles of rails running around the length of the course, with 165 hurdles and 24 fences. This allows for a series of different races to run on effectively the same course.
The culmination of these races is the world-famous Gold Cup, but preceding this race the course will have been repaired with over 200 tonnes of divot mix and 100 sacks of grass seed.
Watching the Racing
Record attendances for the four days of the festival have hit the quarter of a million mark. Spectators are treated to a world-class field in nearly every race and the traditions of the festival. Dressing up at the festival is encouraged, both for fancy dress and for formal occasions.
The onsite and online betting shops allow spectators to become more involved with the racing and heighten the thrill of watching a 100/1 outsider win, just as Norton’s Coin did in 1990. Spectators can get top odds for the Cheltenham Festival at William Hill.
The Gold Cup
The most prestigious event at the festival is The Gold Cup race. It is a Class A Grade 1 chase run over three miles and two and a half furlongs. This race is for any horse over five years and has the largest prize pool of the week. It has become the highlight of the jumping calendar and allowed for many horses and stables to make themselves a reputation.
If you are looking for a tip for the race, then bear in mind that the last grey Gold Cup winner was Desert Orchid in 1989.
The four day long Cheltenham Festival is a spectacular event with high-quality racing which befits its heritage. Over the course of a hundred years, the festival has shaped itself to become the centre of excellence for jump racing. It marks the culmination of a season of preparation, for horses, stables, jockeys and spectators alike. The spread of races, distances and jumps allows for the festival to cater something for everyone.