Racing’s favourite fixture returns from 13-16 March 2018. The atmosphere buzzes, crowds roars, drinks clink and bands play, but this week is NOT Ascot, folks. This is a race-fanatic’s festival, not the fashionista’s. Be prepared to spend a lot of time in the cold. For the masses who aren’t in a box rubbing shoulders with royalty, think long coats, boots and warm polo necks (there’s always margin for some fashionable chic hats and cashmere scarves).
Don’t worry, you can drink plenty to keep warm – the racing crowd love nothing more than enjoying their first drink at 10am. Speaking of which, the race is popular among the Irish as St. Patrick Day falls during the festivities. You can hardly walk two feet without bumping into a tweed-clad, horse-mad Irishmen waving ten betting slips, gripping a pint of Guinness…Here’s our break-down of the four-day extravaganza that boats prize money second only to the Grand National.
What’s On Guide to the Cheltenham Festival
Tapes rise for the opening race and so marks the return of one of racing’s biggest events.
13.30; The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race; 2m abt ½f; Hurdle
14.10; The Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase; abt 2m; Chase
14.50; The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase; 3m abt 1f; Chase
15.30; The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy; 2m abt ½f; Hurdle
16.10; The OLBG Mares’ Hurdle Race; 2m abt 4f; Hurdle
16.50; The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase); Abt 4m; Chase
17.30; The Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase; 2m abt 4½f; Chase
The Duchess of Cornwall, honorary Member of the Jockey Club, will attend the second day of the festival. Not to mention, Her Royal Highness will present the trophy to the winning owner, jockey and trainer of The Queen Mother’ Champion Chase. Stylish hats, shoes, scarves and gloves are encouraged and prizes will be awarded to the best dressed for #ColourMeMarch.
3.30; The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race; 2m abt 5f; Hurdle
14.10; The RSA Steeple Chase; 3m abt ½f; Chase
14.50; The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race); 2m abt 5f; Hurdle
15.30; The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase; Abt 2m; Chase
16.10; The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase; 3m 6f; Chase
16.50; The Boodles Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race; 2m abt ½f; Hurdle
17.30; The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race); 2m abt ½f; Bumper
St Patrick’s Thursday
Celebrate St Patrick’s Day on Day Three of the festival. Plenty of Guinness will be going (in the Guinness Village) and Irish music will play around the course throughout the day.
13.30; The JLT Novices’ Chase; 2m abt 4f; Chase
14.10; The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race); Abt 3m; Hurdle
14.50; The Ryanair Steeple Chase; 2m abt 5f; Chase
15.30; The Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle; abt 3m; Hurdle
16.10; The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase); 2m abt 5f; Chase
16.50; The Trull House Stud Mares Novices’ Hurdle; 2m abt 1f; Hurdle
17.30; The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase (0-145); 3m abt 2f; Chase
Gold Cup Day
One of the most sought after titles in racing is decided on the final day of the festival The Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup race, where horses charge up the famous hill, is considered an event for the sport’s most elite.
13.30; The JCB Triumph Hurdle; 2m abt 1f; Hurdle
14.10; The Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Race; 2m abt 1f; Hurdle
14.50; The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race; abt 3m; Hurdle
15.30; The Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase; 3m abt 2½f; Chase
16.10; The St. James’s Place Foxhunter Steeple Chase Challenge Cup; 3m abt 2½f; Chase
16.50; The Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle Race (0-145); 2m abt 4½f; Hurdle
17.30; The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup; 2m abt ½f; Chase
In the Know…
For all your race (watching) fuel needs, a wide array of food & drink options is available including fish and chips, hog roasts, burgers and hot dogs, sandwiches, teas and coffees and doughnuts. Food & Drink details.
A line-up of musical performances is planned for the festival. Bands performing include Taylor & The Mason, The Lucky 15’s, The Chip Shop Boys, The Wickermen, The Fureys. Full line up and schedule.
The race is special-occassion friendly and has a slew of ways to enjoy the festival in style and comfort. Hospitality details.
There are a number of ways to get there. Useful travel information.
The festival offers a betting guide, too.
Tickets starting at £40, bookable at Cheltenham Tickets. Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 4SH.