Horseracing has been at the heart of British popular and sporting culture for centuries and, for many, ‘having a flutter’ is key to the enjoyment of the raceday. At the Cheltenham Festival, a bet can make an already exciting race far more thrilling, backing your selection with cash and watching your chosen horse win is a great feeling.
Tuesday – Champion Day
The Cheltenham Festival race card kicks off on Tuesday with the now-customary curtainraiser that is the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. A cracking contest that can have a huge bearing on future renewals of the Stan James Champion Hurdle, the Grade One contest is a fantastic way to open the first of four days’ top-class action.
Also on the Tuesday, the Grade One ‘The Racing Post Arkle Chase’ – won by many household names – often provides pointers to future seasons’ Champion Chase; while the Champion Hurdle is the undoubted highlight of the opening day, and many notable names have seen their names etched in immortality on the Champion Hurdle Trophy throughout the years.
It is a day not to be missed in its own right; but it also serves to whet the appetite for what is still to come, and Wednesday’s second day of Cheltenham betting offers up further top-class Cheltenham Festival race cards.
Wednesday – Ladies’ Day
‘Ladies’ Day’, the second day of the Cheltenham Festival affords the girls the chance to get on their glad rags and mix and mingle with the best that Cheltenham can offer.
Meanwhile, on the racecourse and featuring such unmissable contests as the RSA Steeple Chase, the Neptune Hurdle and the feature race of the day in the shape of the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, punters will be out in force to play up their day one winnings throughout another top-class afternoon.
Thursday – St Patrick’s Thursday
And the Cheltenham Festival race cards continue in top class fashion into day three – Thursday – where for many it is the best day of the four days’ action, and also St Patrick’s Day so the atmosphere is unforgettable for those lucky enough to be able to attend.
While there is top-class horse racing action on the track, headlined by The Sun Bets Stayer’s Hurdle (formerly known as the Ladbrokes World Hurdle), off the track there will invariably be plenty of pints of Guinness being drunk and a real Irish feel to proceedings as the day takes on a real party feeling.
Backing a few winners will be a definite plus for punters, but win or lose punters are always in for a great day – on and off the track – on day three of The Festival.
Friday – Gold Cup Day
Friday, however, is the biggest day of the four days that make up the fantastic Cheltenham Festival, and the race card on the final day of the Festival is arguably the strongest of the four days. Kicking off with the JCB Triumph Hurdle, the day culminates with what is widely regarded as the biggest race of the jumps racing calendar, and the Gold Cup is the undoubted jewel in the Cheltenham Festival crown and a fitting final day highlight.
For punters the fourth day represents one final push for profit and lightening the loads of the bookmakers, or a chance to recoup losses incurred across the duration of the previous three days. For those attending all four days, it can be a war of attrition to make it through to the end of the top-class festival; but taking in The Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup is just reward for those lasting the distance of not only locking horns with the bookmakers, but also four days’ partying away from the track into the small hours.
Throughout the season prior to the Cheltenham Festival, there are plenty of big races elsewhere across the UK and Ireland that help to shape the Cheltenham Festival race cards come March.
From early season feature races such as Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase and Haydock’s Betfair Chase; the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown, and the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle, through the mid-season highlights of the Christmas Hurdle and the King George VI Chase at Kempton as the Leopardstown Christmas Festival in Ireland, there is plenty of top-class racing action that will go to post throughout the months of the jumps season from the likes of Ascot, Warwick, Cheltenham, Leopardstown and many other venues helping punters to formulate their ante-post wagers in the lead up to the Festival.