We’re all a little bit excited about the arrival of Cheltenham 2023 – one of the biggest and best racing events on the calendar. However, if you don’t know much about horse racing and are new to this kind of event, then fear not – we have put together this quick guide of all you need to know to get started…
If you are heading over for some actual real-life action, then you may want to dress the part. Although there isn’t an official dress code for the festival, this is certainly a dress-to-impress kind of event. Most women will be wearing bright-coloured dresses, hats and heels, whereas men will likely be suited and booted. But don’t forget to dress for the weather… We live in Britain and it can be very unpredictable!
Betting at Cheltenham
One of the best parts about Cheltenham, whether you watch it from home or have a track-side seat, is all the betting action. It is no wonder that millions of pounds are spent betting on the assortment of races over the four festival days. There are hugely generous Cheltenham betting offers available such as boosted odds, extra place deals and all sorts. You’ll also find plenty of expert tips up for grabs. If you’re new to horse racing betting, this is the time to get started.
The Major Races
There are 7 races per day over the four days, meaning 28 races in total. If you want to cherry-pick the ones you want to watch or bet on, here are the key races…
Tuesday at 15.30: Champion Hurdle
The big race of the first day is the Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy. This is run over 2 miles and ½ a furlong. It is race number four – right in the heart of the day’s action and has produced some very famous winners including two-time champion Buveur d’Air, who won in both 2017 and 2018.
Trainers to look out for this year include 4-time winners Wille Mullins and Nicky Henderson. You may also want to look for horses owned by JP McManus – who has produced 5 winners in the last 10 years – including the last 3 winners.
Wednesday at 15.30: Queen Mother Chase
Heading into day 2 we have the Queen Mother Champion Steeplechase, run over 2 miles. Again, this is right in the middle of the day’s action and offers the biggest purse – of £400,000. In the last few years, it has been dominated by two-time champion, Altior.
In terms of betting, one trainer you may want to look out for is Nicky Henderson who has trained 5 of the past 10 winners… including 3 of the last 4 winners. Other names worth checking out include Paul Nicholls and Henry de Bromhead who also have decent track records in this event.
Thursday at 15.30: The Stayers’ Hurdle
On day 3, there are two big races – the Ryanair Steeplechase at 14:50 being a good one. However, the biggest race of the day is the 3-mile-long Stayers’ Hurdle at 15:30. This race has brought us some of the sport’s most legendary horses – such as Big Bucks who won it four years consecutively between 2009 and 2012. No one has matched this record ever since.
The most successful trainer in recent years is Wille Mullins, who won it in 2017 and 2018, with different jockeys, horses and owners.
Friday at 15.30: The Cheltenham Gold Cup
This is just the biggest race of the day, this is the biggest race of the festival… the pinnacle of four days of racing. As such, it has the biggest purse – £625,000 and this is the race every trainer and jockey wants to win. There is only one trainer who has won it more than once in the past decade and that’s Nicky Henderson. Willie Mullins has won it just once with the 7-year-old runner Al Boum Photo.
There are no dominant horses, owners, jockeys or trainers – this is all about the best on the day… which makes it the best race of the festival and some even argue, the best of the year.