Thursday February 1, 2018
The drama, the races, the photo finish… it’s all there at the Cheltenham Festival. From 13th March this year, thousands of people will be ready to attend this year’s Festival to see whether they can pick the lucky runners and riders who’ll win the major races.
The four-day event begins with Champion Day on Tuesday 13th March, which includes the exciting Champion Hurdle race. Wednesday is Ladies Day, where one of the highlights is, as ever, the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This is the day when all eyes are on the horses… and on the ladies in attendance! The fashion stakes are as high as the stakes on the races on this day.
This is followed by St Patrick’s Thursday, where the Cheltenham Festival receives an Irish makeover in celebration of the big day. The Festival is typically organised to make sure it falls in the same week as the Irish day of celebration. But there are plenty of races to cast your eye over if you’re looking to apply some of that good old Irish luck when placing your bets. This applies whether you’re intending to be there or not.
Finally, the Festival ends with Gold Cup Day, where the Gold Cup itself will be contested. This is not merely the most exciting race and competition at Cheltenham; it ranks as one of the most exciting races of the year. Meanwhile, visitors can also enjoy hurdle races and steeple chase races throughout the day. These are the two staple events in the National Hunt racing calendar, as displayed at Cheltenham every year.
The gates open three hours before the first race, so if you’re eager to attend in person, make sure you get there early. Booking tickets as soon as possible is vital too, to ensure you don’t miss out. If you aren’t intending to go, you can easily place bets online for all the races.
It’s hard to believe the event has been running since 1860, although it looks very different today to how it looked then. Some of the races have been around for longer than others, with the World Hurdle (formerly called the Stayers’ Hurdle) first being contested in 1912. The famous Gold Cup race, meanwhile, has been around since 1924. Who will win this year? Only time will tell.