The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most prestigious events in the UK’s calendar year. In fact, it only comes second to the Grand National when it comes to prize money. So this should tell you about the calibre of the event we’re talking about here!
Cheltenham Festival is a four-day event which takes place annually in March. Of course, it goes without saying that the Cheltenham Festival takes place at Cheltenham racecourse every year. It also runs at the same time as St Patricks Day. So seeing lots of four-leaf clovers and ginger beards at the festival is a common sight!
Syncing up with St Patricks Day has only been a blessing for Cheltenham Festival too. One of the big selling points to the Cheltenham Festival is its incredible atmosphere. Cheltenham even has its infamous “Cheltenham roar” from the crowd before the festival’s first race!
The Cheltenham Festival first opened its doors in 1860. However, at first, it was hosted at various locations across the UK. It wasn’t until 1911 though that the Cheltenham Festival was established fully in Cheltenham.
Interestingly, the festival was traditionally a 3-day event. However, in 2005 a fourth day was added. This was so there would be a championship race on each of the race days. Cheltenham Festival has typically had six races on each of the days. So five new races were added to the festival. After this, they then added a further four races to the event. So now there are 28 races taking place at the Cheltenham Festival each year!
There are five races here which stand head and shoulders above the rest at the Cheltenham Festival! These are :
- Unibet Champion Hurdle
- The Betway Queen Mother Championship Chase
- The Ryanair Chase
- The Paddy Power Stayer’s Hurdle Race
- The Cheltenham Gold Cup
Unibet Champion Hurdle. This is a third grade-one race on Tuesday. This is, of course, a hurdle race with a length of two-miles. The prize fund for this race reaches £450k, helping it attract some of the biggest names in the world!
The Betway Queen Mother Championship Chase. Taking place on day two of the festival; the Queen Mother Championship is a grade one two-mile chaser. It comes with a top prize of £400k and is the featured race of that day.
The Ryanair Chase. There are two significant races which take place on day three, and this is the first. The Ryanair Chase is a grade one steeplechase over a distance of two and a half miles. Horses must be five or older to enter this event with a rating over 130. The winner of this event will take around £200k.
The Paddy Power Stayer’s Hurdle Race. This is the long-distance race of the group. It’s a grade one race that lasts 3 miles and comes with a £325k prize pool.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup. The is the most prestigious steeplechase in the world. It’s another grade one race with a distance of around three miles, two furlongs! The prize fund for this race stands at an impressive £650k, with £350k going to the winner!