The Cheltenham Festival is one of horse racing’s most anticipated events, drawing spectators from around the globe.

Held annually in March at Cheltenham Racecourse in England, it features some of the best British and Irish-trained horses.

Spanning four days, each is packed with seven races, including several Grade 1 events, culminating in the prestigious Gold Cup on the final day.

However, the Cheltenham Festival is not just about the races. With plenty of betting, fashion, and socialising it is a major event in the racing calendar.

Betting on the Cheltenham Festival

Betting is integral to the Cheltenham experience, with options ranging from simple win bets to complex accumulators.

Like all horse racing betting, bookmakers offer competitive odds, plenty of specials, and even more promotions and offers throughout the four days of action.

Except to see free bets, best odds, money back if the favourite loses as well as a host of combined offers such as multiple favourites all winning their respective races.

There are a lot of options when it comes to the Cheltenham Festival betting markets. From straightforward to more complex bets, everything is on the table.

The most common form of betting is where you bet on a horse to win or place. Place means they must finish in one of the top positions, which varies depending on the race and the number of runners).

For those looking for potentially larger returns, accumulators are the order of the day. This is where several bets are combined, and all must win for a return.

There are also options like multiples including doubles and trebles, and more complex bets like the Lucky 15. These are only for punters who want a high-risk, high-reward betting strategy.

And don’t forget that bookmakers often offer special bets unique to the Cheltenham Festival, such as betting on the number of winners a trainer will have during the festival or the winning distance of a specific race.

Daily Race Breakdown

Day 1: Champions Day

The opening day kicks off the festival with the Champion Hurdle as its centerpiece.

The Champion Hurdle is the most prestigious hurdling event on the calendar, attracting seasoned hurdlers from across the UK and Ireland.

Names like Istabraq, who won three consecutive times from 1998 to 2000, and more recent champions such as Epatante and Honeysuckle, highlight the caliber of horses competing in this race.

Other notable races include the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle and the Arkle Challenge Trophy, showcasing emerging talents.

Day 2: Ladies Day

Ladies Day is not just a fashion spectacle but also features the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the festival’s leading minimum-distance chase, attracting speedsters from across the racing spectrum.

This is a Grade 1 National Hunt steeplechase, covering a distance of about 2 miles (3.219 km). It’s designed for horses aged five years and older and is the premier minimum-distance chase at the festival.

The course includes 13 fences, testing the agility and quickness of the competitors, and winning it is a huge achievement.

Named in honour of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was a passionate supporter of horse racing, this year’s favourite is El Fabiolo (currently odds on) with Jonbon next in line as the horse most likely to challenge for the win.

While the Queen Mother Champion Chase is the centerpiece, Ladies Day encompasses much more.

Attendees take this opportunity to showcase their fashion sense, with the day known for its vibrant hats, elegant dresses, and sophisticated suits.

It’s a day when the style on the grandstand can be as competitive as the action on the course.

Day 3: St. Patrick’s Thursday

St. Patrick’s Thursday at the Cheltenham Festival is a special day that combines horse racing with the celebration of Irish culture.

It is a nod to the significant contribution of Ireland to the world of horse racing and is filled with Irish-themed entertainment, including music and dancing to complement the high-stakes racing action.

The two major races on St. Patrick’s Thursday are the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase.

The Stayers’ Hurdle is a Grade 1 National Hunt hurdle race, covering a distance of about 3 miles (4,828 meters).

It tests endurance and jumping ability over a longer distance than most hurdle races. With 12 hurdles to clear, it demands consistency and stamina.

The Ryanair Chase is also a Grade 1 covering about 2 miles and 5 furlongs (4,225 meters). With 17 fences to navigate, it strikes a balance between the minimum-distance speed of the Champion Chase and the endurance challenge of the Gold Cup.

Day 4: Gold Cup Day

When it comes to betting on the Cheltenham Festival, Gold Cup Day is the grand finale of the whole event. The highlight of this day, and indeed the entire festival, is the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

It is the pinnacle of National Hunt racing, attracting the best steeplechasers from around the UK and Ireland to compete for one of the sport’s most prestigious titles.

Covering a distance of approximately 3 miles and 2½ furlongs, it is a supreme test of both stamina and jumping ability.

With 22 fences to be cleared, winning the Cheltenham Gold Cup is a momentous achievement, marking a horse, jockey, and trainer in the annals of racing history.

The Gold Cup is a symbol of excellence in the world of National Hunt racing and can define a career.

Names like Arkle, Best Mate, and more recently, Al Boum Photo, are etched in Gold Cup lore, celebrated for their remarkable achievements on this very course.

Most Successful Names at the Festival

Irish Champion trainer Willie Mullins and British trainer Nicky Henderson have become legends, with Mullins holding the record for most festival wins.

Ruby Walsh stands out with the most wins at the festival, a testament to his skill and understanding of the Cheltenham course. Following closely are other notable jockeys like Barry Geraghty and AP McCoy.

Facilities for Attendees

If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the Festival in 2024, you are in for a treat.

The racecourse boasts exceptional facilities from grandstand seating with panoramic views to hospitality suites offering fine dining.

The festival village is a hub of activity, with shopping stalls, food and drink options, and betting booths.

In fact, there is so much to do, that it will be difficult to fit it all in!