Dubbed 'The Olympics of Horse Racing' this four day event is the most anticipated National Hunt Races meeting of the year. Taking place in the third week of March each year, the Cheltenham Festival attracts enormous crowds and sees millions of pounds exchange hands in a lively betting scene. No matter whether novice or seasoned jumper, every available great chaser and hurdler aspires to make his or her mark in Cheltenham.
The first day's feature race is the Stan James Champion Hurdle, which is run over a distance of two miles and 110 yards with eight hurdles. The Stan James Champion Hurdle is arguably the most prestigious hurdles race of the British Jump Racing season with winners such as Hatton’s Grace, Persian War and Istabraq all considered legends of the sport. Paul Nicholls-trained Rock on Ruby was victorious in the race in 2012 and will be back to defend his title this year.
The second day of the Cheltenham Festival is known as Ladies Day and features the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is run over the famous Old Course at Cheltenham with a distance of two miles. The race is generally targeted by all the leading steeple chasers who don’t have the stamina to compete in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The headline act in the 2013 Queen Mother Champion Chase will be Nicky Henderson-trained Sprinter Sacre who is undefeated in his last six starts and has filled the shoes of Kauto Star as the equine face of the Cheltenham Festival.
In 2013, day three of the Cheltenham Festival will have a real Irish flavour as they celebrate St Patricks Day a few days early. Day three features duel main events with the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and Ryanair Chase both taking place. The World Hurdle is run over a distance of three miles, including twelve hurdles, and is considered one of the most grueling races in the entire Cheltenham Festival as well as the leading long-distance race on the National Hunt Calendar. The Ryanair Chase was first contested in 2005 but has quickly become one of the most popular races of the festival.
The fourth day of the Cheltenham Festival is the climax of the entire Jump racing season and is headlined by the running of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is a true test of stamina run over a distance of 3 miles and 2.5 furlongs with the horses having to negotiate an incredible twenty-two hurdles. The race is known as the Blue Riband event of jump-racing and has been won by many legendary horses. Equine superstars Kauto Star, Denman, Golden Miller, Arkle and College Mate all made their name by winning the prestigious event. The 2013 Gold Cup is expected to be an open affair with leading jumpers Bobs Worth, Sir Des Champs, Long Run and Silviniaco Conti all being set for the race.
As well as these features races each day of the Cheltenham Festival is rounded out by some other excellent racing action
Day One Champion Hurdle Day
Day Two Ladies Day
Day Three St. Patrick's Thursday
Day Four Cheltenham Gold Cup Day