The Cheltenham Festival is a hugely popular horse racing event that takes place over the course of four days in the second week of March each year. The National Hunt meeting is second only to April’s Aintree Festival (which features the Grand National) in terms of prize money.
Over the four days, the entries compete over various obstacles including fences, water jumps and ditches. The event attracts over a quarter of a million visitors each year and more than £300 million is wagered in total.
The Festival features nearly 30 races including 11 Grade 1 races and four Championship class races. The best-known and most popular race is the Cheltenham Gold Cup which takes place on Friday and could stake a claim for being the most prestigious National Hunt race in the world.
Over the years, the Gold Cup has produced many famous winners including Arkle, Golden Miller, Kauto Star, Best Mate and Mill House. The race is held over 3 miles 2½ furlongs (5,331 m) and features 22 fences. Each year, competitors battle it out for a prize fund in excess on £500,000. Last year, the race was won by the Gordon Elliott-trained Don Cossack who came home in six minutes and 35 seconds.
2017 Race Schedule:
- 13:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race- 2m 1/2f
- 14:10 Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase – 2m
- 14:50 The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase – 3m 1f
- 15:30 The Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy – 2m 1/2f
- 16:10 The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle Race 2m 4f
- 16:50 The J T McNamara National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup 4m
- 17:30 The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase – 2m 4 1/2f
Feature race: Champion Hurdle
- 13:30 The Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle Race – 2m 5f
- 14:10 The RSA Steeple Chase – 3m 1/2 f
- 14:50 The Coral Cup Hurdle – 2m 5f
- 15:30 The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase – 2m
- 16:10 The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase – 3m 6f
- 16:50 The Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race – 2m 1/2f
- 17:30 The Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m 1/2f
Feature races: RSA Chase and Champion Chase
- 13:30 The JLT Novices’ Chase – 2m 4f
- 14:10 The Pertemps Network Final – 3m
- 14:50 The Ryanair Steeple Chase – 2m 5f
- 15:30 The Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle – 3m
- 16:10 The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate – 2m 5f
- 16:50 The Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle – 2m 1f
- 17:30 The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase – 3m 2f
Feature race: The Stayers’ Hurdle
- 13:30 The JCB Triumph Hurdle – 2m 1f
- 14:10 The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Race – 2m 1f
- 14:50 The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race – 3m
- 15:30 The Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase – 3m 2 1/2 f
- 16:10 The St. James’s Place Foxhunter Steeple Chase Challenge Cup – 3m 2 1/2 f
- 16:50 The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Race – 2m 4 1/2 f
- 17:30 The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup – 2m 1/2f
Feature race: The Gold Cup
The honour of top jockey is awarded to the jockey with the most wins over the course of the four-day festival. Over the last 13 years, Ruby Walsh has claimed the title on 10 occasions.
Willie Mullins has won the top trainer crown in five of the last six years. Prior to that the event had been dominated by trainer Paul Nicholls.
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