With just 50 days to go until The Roar will be heard once more, we’ve previewed the four days of this world famous event. There are 28 top class races at the 2018 Cheltenham Festival spread out across 4 days of thrilling racing in what is the highlight of the National Hunt season. With over 260,000 people passing through the gates during The Festival, the atmosphere is guaranteed to be superb.
Tuesday 13th - Champion’s Day
The opening day of the festival arguably boasts the highest average quality of racing, with four Grade One races taking place. It all kicks off with the Supreme Novices Hurdle raced at a distance of just over 2 miles. The race is traditionally very competitive, with just three winning favourites since 2004. Indeed, the race was won in 2017 by 25/1 shot Labaik and young Jack Kennedy trained by Gordon Elliot getting the bookmakers off to a great start. However, the punters struck back when Nicky Henderson’s Altior won the Arkle Challenge Trophy at odds of 1/4 and 2nd favourite Buveur D’Air took the feature race of the day, the UniBet Champion Hurdle. The final Grade One is the Mares Hurdle, most famous in recent history for its 2015 enactment which ended calamitously for punters when Annie Power crashed out at the final flight with the race sewn up, saving the betting industry a multi million pound payout.
Wednesday 14th - Ladies Day
Wednesday at The Festival is Ladies Day, providing the perfect opportunity to show off your new Spring wardrobe, with numerous prizes on offer throughout the day for best dressed racegoers.
In terms of racing, Day 2 boasts a further four Grade 1 races, with the feature being the Queen Mother Champion Chase won in 2017 emphatically by Special Tiara and Noel Fehily for Henry de Bromhead. Traditionally a day for punters looking for each way value, 2017 saw longshot winners priced as long as 16/1 & 33/1. The only winning favourite of the day was in fact Might Bite in the RSA Novices’ Chase who won dramatically after hanging badly after jumping the last and nearly throwing victory away.
Thursday 15th - St Patrick’s Thursday
St Patrick’s Thursday guarantees a day full of fun and fantastic racing especially if the Irish are leading in The Prestbury Cup (The competition which keeps count of winning horses trained in the UK vs Ireland). Rather aptly, 2017 saw a day dominated by the resurgence of Irish duo Willie Mullins and Ruby Walsh who produced a fantastic four-timer including landing the feature Stayers’ Hurdle with Nichols Canyon.
The day tends to be a tricky one for punters, with three big field handicaps to digest. With so little between the runners, surprise results are more than possible. This blend of top class handicaps and feature Grade One with the superb atmosphere often distinguishes St Patrick’s Thursday as many people’s favorite race day of the year.
Friday 16th - Gold Cup Day
Cheltenham Gold Cup Day is a massive spectacle, the finale to a great four days of racing and is by far and away the busiest day of the festival. One of the most sought after titles in racing is decided on the Friday by the elite of the sport. In 2017, the race was won by Jessica Harrington and Robbie Power with the 7/1 shot Sizing John who fended off challenges from Native River and Minella Rocco whilst the popular Cue Card fell at the penultimate fence.
If the Gold Cup itself isn’t enough of a draw, there are two further Grade One races preceding it. The Triumph Hurdle looks another enthralling race, with Nicky Henderson’s classy filly Apple’s Shakira currently leading the antepost markets.
Another popular race for punters is the Foxhunter Chase for amateur jockeys. One of the oldest races of the whole festival, the contest is worth a total of £40,000 and is always fiercely contested with all the top stables from the UK and Ireland represented.
Whether you’re planning on attending one day or several, Racing Breaks are delighted to offer packages for all days of the 2018 Festival and what's more you can secure with just a £25 deposit per person!