Above: Photo by Lauren Mauldin
The Cheltenham Festival is not just the biggest horse racing event in the UK, it attracts the attention of viewers and gamblers from across the globe. With less than two weeks before the festival gets underway, racing fans are preparing to make the journey through the arctic conditions that are sweeping through Europe and have just hit the UK.
While around 250,000 will attend the historic Prestbury Park racetrack, just outside the small and picturesque town of Cheltenham, millions more will be tuning in on television and watching live feeds online, to catch every minute of the action from the warmth and comfort of their homes.
Dates for your diary
The festival will be broadcast live on UK television channel ITV. There are some clever apps that international viewers can use to stream the races online using a VPN. The action gets underway at 1:30PM UK time on Tuesday March 13, which is 5:30AM Pacific Time, so be sure to get the coffee brewing if you don’t want to miss any of the action! The experts at Cheltenhamfestival.net will be on hand to provide both tips and expert comments on how the festival unfolds, so let’s run through exactly what is happening when.
Each day comprises seven races, with the biggest race of the day taking place right in the middle, at 3:20PM GMT (7:20 PST, 10:20 EDT)
Champions Day – March 13
The first race on the first day is always something special. The Supreme Novices Hurdle gets the festival off to a dramatic start, and with the excitement of what is usually a full and crowded field, anything can happen. The Cheltenham Festival is by and large an event in which the favorites prosper, but this is one race where you should expect the unexpected.
The showcase race on March 13 is the Champions Hurdle. Last year’s winner, Buveur D’Air is a red hot favorite to win the race for a second year in succession. Trained by Nicky Henderson, the most successful racehorse trainer in Cheltenham history, he looks to be in a class of his own.
Ladies Day – March 14
What could be more English than ladies dressed in all their finery, wearing the most fashionable dresses and some outrageous headgear as they sip champagne and watch some top quality horse racing? Add the unpredictable nature of the English weather into the mix, and you begin to see why Ladies Day is something you just can’t miss.
Aside from all the trackside distractions, there will also be the big race of the day to enjoy, the Queen Mother Champion Chase. The favorite is another Henderson-trained horse, Altior, but the tipsters are also keeping a close eye on a horse called Min. Trained by Henderson’s arch rival Willie Mullins, the seven year old looked in great form when he won the Dublin Chase last time out.
St Patrick’s Day – March 15
Cheltenham welcomes a large contingent of Irish racehorses, trainers and fans every year, and the third day of the Cheltenham races 2018 is all about them. The Irish folk music and pints of Guinness trackside will not detract from two of the most anticipated races of the festival.
The JLT Chase, which is the first of the day, is one of the top novice races of the year, while the Stayers Hurdle has three or four horses in with a real chance of winning. The tipsters say it is too close to call.
Gold Cup Day – March 16
The final day is all about serious racing, and is invariably a sell-out, whatever the weather. Will Sizing John repeat last year’s win, or will yet another Nicky Henderson favorite storm to victory? There is only one way to find out, so keep your eyes peeled on what is certain to be an unforgettable week of Cheltenham horse racing.