Cheltenham Festival Guide For 2024

cheltenham festival guide

You’ll find the Cheltenham Festival races brimming with excitement and heritage. This prestigious event forms a pivotal chapter in the British national hunt racing narrative, held annually in March.

When you think about the Cheltenham Festival you are jumping into the heart of British national hunt racing at the Cheltenham Festival, where Grade 1 races reign supreme. Unravel the intricacies of this prestigious event, spanning 1m7f to 3m7f races, and discover patterns that could hint at the next champion.

With over 200 years of history, Cheltenham’s races are a blend of tradition and enjoyment. Your guide to 2024 selections is steeped in careful analysis, focusing on trends that help identify top contenders amidst the Festival’s 28 races.

What Is the Cheltenham Festival?

The Cheltenham Festival is an annual. It’s a hallmark event in the National Hunt racing calendar. Held at the Cheltenham Racecourse, it’s a culmination of the finest jump racing filled with unmatched suspense and enjoyment.

During mid-March, you get to witness the pinnacle of jumps racing. Across four days, the festival hosts 28 races which include a mix of hurdle and chase events. Each day features a marquee race, with Day One boasting the iconic Champion Hurdle.

Horse racing fans and punters alike fix their eyes on Cheltenham come March. You’re treated to a spectacle where legends are made and betting odds are defied. Whether you’re trackside or tuning in from home, Cheltenham’s electric atmosphere is palpable.

The races start at 1:30 pm each day. Expect to see best in class jockeys and trainers vying for glory in this age-old tradition. The festival isn’t just a sport; it’s a testament to horse racing’s enduring charm and the spirit of competition.

When Is the Cheltenham Festival 2024?

You’ll want to mark your calendar for the Cheltenham Festival 2024. This pinnacle of jump racing kicks off on Tuesday, 12th March, serving up four days packed with adrenaline and excitement. By the time Friday, 15th March rolls around, you’ll have experienced the enjoyment of 28 races, each with its own narrative and chance for glory.

From the moment the starting horn blasts at 1:30 pm on opening day, racing fans around the globe are glued to the spectacle. The Festival hasn’t drifted from its four-day format since evolving in 2005, ensuring that every fan finds satisfaction in this equine extravaganza. Each day, seven races take centre stage, mapping out heroes and tales to recount for years to come.

You’re not just watching races; you’re witnessing legends carve their names into Cheltenham’s history. It’s a chance to witness firsthand the power and grace associated with National Hunt racing, all within the legendary Cheltenham Racecourse. Don’t hesitate to plan for these dates; the Festival awaits your presence.

Day One Races – Champions Day

As the anticipation for the Cheltenham Festival’s inaugural day mounts, punters across the UK are poised to capitalise on the most lucrative betting offers. Cheltenham Day 1 is synonymous with thrilling races, and securing top betting deals is crucial for the savvy punter.

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Kick off the Cheltenham Festival with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the opening race that welcomes a thunderous cheer from the crowd. The race spans 2 miles and 87 yards and is a rite of passage for the 4-year-olds eyeing hurdle glory. With a prize pot of £125,000, this Grade 1 event sets an electrifying tone for the festival. Get your bets ready as future stars hurdle their way to a victorious start.

This race is crucial for spotting leading novices bound for higher contests. It’s all about speed and precision over hurdles, making it a thrilling watch. You’ll see spirited young horses give their all to etch their names into Cheltenham history.

Arkle Novices’ Chase

Following the opener, the Arkle Novices’ Chase showcases jumping prowess over 2 miles. The race honours the legendary Arkle, a three-time Cheltenham Gold Cup winner. With a prize of £175,000, it’s a Grade 1 chase that’s all about agility and quick recovery. It’s a fast-paced event that demands your utmost attention.

Jockeys and their 5-year-old equine partners navigate through fences, aiming for a swift and clean round. The Arkle serves as a proving ground for those stepping up from hurdles to chases and changes the game for many.

Ultima Handicap Chase

Shift gears to the Ultima Handicap Chase, a race where strategy and stamina are key over 3 miles and about 1 furlong. With £110,000 on the line, this Grade 3 event pits seasoned 5-year-old chasers against each other. The race combines the enjoyment of the chase with the unpredictability of handicapping, creating a spectacle of excitement.

Watch as jockeys negotiate a field of cunning competitors, each vying for the lead. The race demands a rhythmic pace and smart navigation to emerge victorious in this long-distance challenge.

Champion Hurdle

The pinnacle of Day One is undoubtedly the Unibet Champion Hurdle. A prestigious 2-mile and 87-yard race, this Grade 1 event boasts a hefty £450,000 prize fund. It attracts veteran hurdlers from diverse backgrounds, all chasing the honour of becoming the Champion Hurdler.

Witness the perfect blend of speed and skill as 4-year-olds jump with precision at one of the most anticipated races. The Champion Hurdle is not just a race; it’s a legendary battle that has seen the likes of Istabraq and more recently, Constitution Hill, become icons.

Mares’ Hurdle

The Mares’ Hurdle brings a touch of elegance to the course, as female horses race over 2 miles, 3 furlongs, and 200 yards. This Grade 1 hurdle with a £120,000 prize is a testament to the prowess and grace of mares in National Hunt racing.

It’s a showcase of the finest mares, who leap hurdles with finesse and power. This race is more than a contest; it’s a celebration of the best of female jump racing.

Boodles Juvenile Fred Winter Hurdle

The Boodles Juvenile Fred Winter Hurdle stands as a pivotal Grade 3 race, unique to four-year-olds, known for its unpredictability and excitement. This race tests young talent, often showcasing future stars who defy the odds.

Get expert insights into navigating the complexities of the Boodles Juvenile Fred Winter Hurdle. Highlighting key patterns and standout performers from past races, our guide focuses on refining your betting strategies to identify potential winners. Understanding the dynamics of this race is essential for anyone looking to engage with it successfully.

National Hunt Challenge Cup

Cap off the day with the National Hunt Challenge Cup, a race that tests the limits over 3 miles and 6 furlongs. Offering a slice of the £125,000 prize fund, it highlights the best of Grade 2 action. This is no ordinary race—it’s an epic journey where only the toughest 5-year-olds prevail.

As the day turns to dusk, watch jockeys and their companions take on the ultimate endurance test. It’s a mix of strategy, persistence, and heart—a fitting end to a day of magnificent racing feats.

Day Two Races – Ladies’ Day

Day 2 at Cheltenham is known as Ladies Day and is packed with first-class horse racing. Listed below are the most notable races featured on Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival.

Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

Horses gallop over 2 miles 5 furlongs in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. You’ll witness novices, aged 4 and over, jump hurdles to grab a piece of the £125,000 prize.

Competitors that conquer the Ballymore often become stars. It’s a clear signpost to future Cheltenham Gold Cup heroes.

Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase

The Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase is a battle over 3 miles 80 yards. Here, 5-year-old novice chasers take on challenging jumps, competing for a £175,000 prize.

This event has a history of producing legends, so keep your eyes peeled. Winners here are potential future Cheltenham legends.

Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

4-year-olds dash across 2 miles 5 furlongs in the Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle. With varied hurdles, racers vie for their share of the £100,000 prize.

This race is a thriller. Punters love the unpredictability as horses aim to clinch victory.

Queen Mother Champion Chase

Next up, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, a pinnacle for 2-mile chasers. With 12 fences, it’s a chance to see speed and precision combine for the Grade 1 prize.

Champion sprinters shine here, making it a magnet for betting fans. Don’t miss these superstars.

Cross Country Chase

The Cross Country Chase—an epic over 3 miles 6 furlongs 37 yards—tests endurance. Horses navigate a tapestry of obstacles, including banks and ditches.

It’s unique and unpredictable, attracting those eager to see horses and jockeys adapt.

Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle

The Fred Winter Juvenile Hurdle sees younger horses leap over hurdles. It’s a chance for 4-year-olds to prove themselves on a big stage.

With smart betting, it’s possible to spot the next hurdling superstar. Keep a close watch on emerging talent.

Champion Bumper

To cap off the day, the Champion Bumper, a 2-mile 87-yard race, offers a glimpse into the future of horse racing. Here, novices race without any jumps, relying solely on speed.

It’s the perfect ending to Ladies’ Day, as the flat race requires a different kind of strategy. Watch for tomorrow’s champions today.

Day Three Races – St Patrick’s Day

Marsh Novices’ Chase

Experience the enjoyment of the Marsh Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham. This Grade 1 race is a proving ground for novice chasers stepping into the spotlight. Irish-trained horses have dominated here, making their mark on St Patrick’s Day with stunning performances.

At 2m4f, this race witnesses horses leap over fences, showcasing both agility and power. Remember Vautour’s impressive win and Galopin Des Champs’ shocking last-minute fall? These moments capture the essence of the intense competition you’ll witness.

Pertemps Handicap Hurdle

Get ready for the Pertemps Handicap Hurdle, a Grade 3 race that tests endurance over a 3m distance. It’s a race where strategy and stamina come into play, with horses aged 5 years and older battling for a £100,000 prize fund.

The race attracts a mix of experienced and promising hurdlers, all eyeing the considerable prize. Every leap and sprint is a display of the raw talent that defines the Cheltenham Festival races.

Ryanair Chase

Take your Cheltenham experience to new heights with the prestigious Ryanair Chase. This Grade 1 chase extends over 2 miles, 4 furlongs, and 127 yards. It’s a true test of speed and skill with 17 fences standing between the horses and victory.

With a hefty £350,000 prize pot, it’s not just a race; it’s a spectacle of the finest in National Hunt racing. This key event captures the essence of Cheltenham, bringing together the best chasers in a display of elite athleticism.

Stayers’ Hurdle

Immerse yourself in the excitement of the Stayers’ Hurdle, another Grade 1 event that commands attention. Horses run a grueling 3m, hurdling towards glory. It’s not just a race; it’s a testament to the enduring spirit of Cheltenham.

With £325,000 on the line, it draws a field of elite hurdlers, each with eyes on the prize. Their resilience and power create a spectacle that is both breathtaking and inspiring.

Stable Plate Handicap Chase

The Stable Plate Handicap Chase presents a dynamic race over 2m4½f. As a Grade 3 chase, it offers a unique mix of seasoned and upcoming chasers who face off in a battle of speed and agility.

With a prize fund of £110,000, the race is not only a competition for monetary reward but also a showcase of honed skills and unyielding determination.

Mares’ Novice Hurdle

Witness the emerging talent in the Mares’ Novice Hurdle, a Grade 2 hurdle race over 2m1f. It’s a site where the future stars among mares shine, leaping towards success.

A purse of £90,000 underscores the importance of this race at Cheltenham, with each jump and dash bringing spectators to the edge of their seats in anticipation of who will reign supreme.

Kim Muir Challenge Cup

The Kim Muir Challenge Cup caps off the day with a gripping Class 2 chase over an impressive 3m2f. It’s a true endurance challenge for the horses, demanding both mental and physical prowess.

With £70,000 at stake, it’s a highlight for amateur jockeys and seasoned horses alike, providing a thrilling conclusion to an unforgettable day of racing at the Cheltenham Festival.

Day Four Races – Gold Cup Day

Triumph Hurdle

The Triumph Hurdle kicks off Gold Cup Day with a bang. Catering to four-year-old hurdling novices, it’s a Grade 1 race over 2 miles and 1 furlong. With a prize fund of £125,000, it’s a lucrative start to the day’s events. Here, horses prove their skills over the jumps, and betting fans eye emerging talents.

Remember, the Triumph Hurdle is distinct; it began away from Cheltenham, making its history rich and the race respected. Watch these young horses tackle hurdles and take note of the frontrunners, they’re the future stars of jump racing.

County Handicap Hurdle

Next up is the County Handicap Hurdle. Another thrilling Grade 3 race, this one spans 2 miles and 1 furlong too, but welcomes horses aged five and older. The £100,000 prize pot attracts a competitive field. This race demands speed and agility over the jumps.

Betting on this race? Look at horses that perform well under the pressure of a big field. It’s a sprint to the finish, where strategy plays a key role. Your betting slip could feature the next champion.

Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Don’t overlook the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle. This is a test of endurance over 3 miles. Young horses, four years old, compete for their share of another handsome £125,000 prize. Stamina and jumping ability are put under the microscope here.

For those keen to observe future stars, this Grade 1 hurdle is your crystal ball. The equines that excel here often have impressive careers in longer, tougher races in the years that follow.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

The crown jewel is undoubtedly the Cheltenham Gold Cup. A prestigious Grade 1 chase, it’s over 3 miles 2½ furlongs, with a staggering £625,000 in prize money. Only the best five-year-old and older horses compete, solidifying legacies as they thunder across the finish line.

It’s a highlight for bettors and fans alike. This race defines careers, and the winner etches their name in history. Picking the victor here requires understanding form and the horses’ ability to endure the demanding Gold Cup course.

Foxhunter Chase

For the amateur jockeys and the fans of underdog stories, there’s the Foxhunter Chase. This Class 2 race echoes the Gold Cup’s distance but opens the field to experienced horses aged five and up vying for £45,000. It’s often called the ‘amateur Gold Cup,’ and the excitement parallels the professional races.

Strategy pays dividends in the Foxhunter. Keep an eye on seasoned horses with proven stamina and a calm hand from the jockey guiding them.

Grand Annual Chase

The Grand Annual Chase adds a dash of speed to the day. This Grade 3 chase, over 2 miles and ½ a furlong, has £110,000 on the line. Five-year-old and older horses take on this brisk race, and it’s a spectacle of agility and pace.

Your bets here should factor in both a horse’s turn of foot and their proficiency at navigating fences smartly. The horses that come out on top are usually quick-footed and flawless jumpers.

Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle

Rounding off the racing for the day is the Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle. In this Class 2 hurdle race over 2 miles 4½ furlongs, horses aged four and older face a challenging distance with a tidy £70,000 available in prize money. It’s a race where strategy really comes into play.

In this handicap, every pound matters, and horses carrying less weight have an advantage. It’s a race where up-and-coming trainers showcase their skills. For bettors, it’s a final chance to spot value and round off the festival with a win.

Cheltenham Festival Experience

Planning Your Visit

Visiting the Cheltenham Festival is about more than just horse racing. It’s a complete experience that takes careful planning. You’ll want to make sure your trip is as smooth as the racehorses you’ve come to see.

First off, check the dates: The festival runs from 12 to 15 March. Then think about where you’ll stay. Cheltenham bursts to life during the festival, with accommodations filling quickly. Book a room early to ensure you’re close to the action.

Booking Tickets

Securing your spot at the races is your next move. Tickets for the festival sell like hotcakes, and prices vary. You’ve got options from the Best Mate Enclosure at £37 to the Club Enclosure at £86.

Remember, each enclosure offers different vibes and views. Ensure you pick the one that suits what you’re after, whether it’s a laid-back atmosphere or a luxurious experience.

Dress Code and Etiquette

Cheltenham is as much about fashion as it is about furlongs. The dress code adds to the prestige of this storied event. Ladies often don hats, and gentlemen are advised to put on their best, especially if you’re in the Club Enclosure or hospitality areas.

Mind your manners, too. It’s a posh event where etiquette matters. Cheer on the jockeys and enjoy the races, but don’t forget to be courteous to your fellow racegoers.

Recommended Attractions in Cheltenham

There’s plenty to do in Cheltenham when the last horse has crossed the finish line. Sightseeing in this historic town is a must. You could tee off with a round of golf or unwind at a spa.

Don’t miss a chance to visit local landmarks like the Cotswolds or take a stroll in the Imperial Gardens. Whatever you choose, wrap your race day with a touch of local charm.

Betting and Odds

Understanding Betting Options

When you jump into the world of Cheltenham Festival betting, you’re greeted with various options. Single bets are the most straightforward; you simply pick a winner for any race. If you’re after bigger returns, consider an each-way bet, where you win if your horse finishes in the top places.

For a bit more excitement, accumulator bets or accas give you the chance to win big by combining multiple predictions.

Another option at your fingertips is the Cheltenham Free Bet offer, an incentive provided by bookmakers. Free Bets involve staking a minimum amount, often with certain odds requirements, and receiving a bet token in return. For example, bet365‘s offer requires a 10 deposit, and you get 30 in Free Bets, echoing a 300% bonus on your initial stake.

Popular Betting Strategies

As you hone your Cheltenham Festival betting tactics, strategies become vital. One popular approach is Bankroll Management, ensuring you only bet what you can afford to lose.

Value Betting is another strategy where you seek out bets that have higher odds than their real chance of winning. Pacing your bets over the festival’s duration allows you to spread risk.

Matching betting, a technique leveraging Free Bets offered by bookmakers, is a common choice among punters. This involves placing opposite bets on a single event with different bookmakers to secure a guaranteed win from the free bet stakes.

Keep an eye on offers from Sky Bet and SBK, which provide 30 in Free Bets to new customers, perfect for employing this strategy.

Tips for Choosing Winners

Identifying winners at Cheltenham requires knowledge and a keen eye. Form Guides are your bible here, detailing past performances and offering clues about potential champions. Factor in the Horse’s History, especially its experience on the track and under similar conditions. Jockey expertise and their Success Rates also play a crucial role in a horse’s chances.

The Trainer’s Record can’t be overlooked; a trainer like Nicky Henderson, with numerous Cheltenham victories, is often a safe bet. Also, Market Movements offer insight into public and expert opinions, affecting odds and indicating a horse’s prospects. Always remember to compare Odds across various bookmakers; websites like BetMGM and BoyleSports often have competitive offers to increase your edge.

History of Cheltenham Festival Races

Early Origins

Frederick Cathcart, the visionary behind the Cheltenham Festival, transformed the town into a mecca for jumps racing, establishing dominance much like Newmarket did in flat racing. Cheltenham’s racing legacy dates back over 200 years, beginning as a modest gathering and quickly becoming an event showcasing jumps racing prowess.

Initially a two-day event, the Festival was envisioned to rival and eclipse other race meets, setting itself apart as a venue for top-class thoroughbreds and jockeys. The early 1900s saw the birth of what would evolve into an iconic spectacle in British horse racing.

Growth and Popularity

The Cheltenham Festival witnessed exponential growth from its inception. 1923 marked a significant expansion as the third day of racing was introduced, and by 2005, the Festival had evolved into a four-day event with seven-race cards. This growth reflected the Festival’s increasing popularity and status within the racing community.

Competition during the Festival rapidly turned into a highlight for both spectators and participants, with the number of races swelling to 28 scheduled contests. Diversity in race distances and obstacles became a hallmark of the event, drawing a crowd that revelled in the tactical nuances and sheer enjoyment of the races.

Notable Moments

Throughout its history, the festival has been sprinkled with remarkable feats. In the 1983 Gold Cup, trainer Michael Dickinson made history when the top five finishers were all trained by him—a feat unparalleled to this day. Kauto Star’s remarkable comeback to reclaim the Gold Cup in 2009 after a previous win in 2007 and loss in 2008 also stands etched in the memories of racing lovers.

Not just the races, but the atmosphere and accompanying events have etched notable moments in the minds of those who experience them. The spine-tingling Cheltenham Roar at the start of the race week or Dawn Run’s historic Champion Hurdle-Gold Cup double in the 1980s are just snippets from the rich tapestry of Cheltenham’s storied legacy.

Famous Jockeys and Horses

Legendary Jockeys

When you’re eyeing the Cheltenham races, it’s clear that jockeys make the difference. Legendary Jockeys enhance a horse’s performance with skill, strategy, and an innate connection with their mounts. Rachael Blackmore stands out as a leading figure with multiple wins that cement her status in Cheltenham history. Betting on a horse also means betting on the jockey, and stars like Blackmore have shown they can tip the odds in your favour.

Cheltenham’s rich past brims with talented jockeys whose finesse turned races into spectacles. Names like AP McCoy and Ruby Walsh resonate with fans for their superb tactics and impressive win records. Engage with the festival by recognising the flair and prowess these jockeys bring to the track.

Iconic Horses

Jump into the history of horseracing, and you’ll encounter iconic horses whose names are etched in Cheltenham glory. Horses like Arkle and Kauto Star didn’t just race; they dominated, creating legacies. Kauto Star’s ability to clinch the Gold Cup not just once but making a historic comeback to reclaim victory is the stuff of legends. These thoroughbreds were not mere participants – they were champions that transcended the sport.

The tales of horses like Istabraq resonate with punters and fans alike. With three consecutive wins in the Champion Hurdle, the horse became synonymous with triumph and resilience. Potential betters analyse past victories, as these iconic steeds offer insights into the makings of a winner.

Memorable Duels

Cheltenham is no stranger to edge-of-your-seat showdowns, where Memorable Duels unfold. Recall Dawn Run’s historic win as the mare showcased sheer will and skill. The battle for supremacy between Kauto Star and his stablemate Denman exemplifies the tight clashes that capture audiences. Such thrilling encounters are not just races; they are narratives of power, tactics, and the will to win.

Anticipate the nail-biting tussles at the Cheltenham track that see talented horses and equally matched jockeys pit their strengths against each other. It’s these very duels that make betting exhilarating, with every jump, sprint, and turn holding the potential to write a new page in the annals of Cheltenham lore.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you pay on the gate at Cheltenham Racecourse?

Ticket sales on the gate are available, barring Gold Cup Day. However, it’s recommended to book in advance to take advantage of early bird discounts, which expire at midnight before each race day.

What is the most famous Cheltenham race?

The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious race of the event, with past winners like Best Mate, Kauto Star, and Denman becoming icons of the jumping world.

How many races are at the Cheltenham Festival 2024?

The Cheltenham Festival 2024 features 28 races spread across four days, from Tuesday, March 14 to Friday, March 17, with seven races scheduled for each day.

What should I wear to Cheltenham?

Though there is no official dress code, Cheltenham Festival attendees are encouraged to dress for the weather, comfort, and the rural setting, with a matching tweed suit being a popular choice.


As you’ve discovered, the Cheltenham Festival’s final day is a thrilling culmination of best in class racing and strategic prowess. Whether you’re captivated by the raw talent on display or the intricate betting landscape, there’s no denying the electric atmosphere of Gold Cup Day.

Remember, success at the festival often hinges on knowledge and preparation, so use the insights you’ve gained to enhance your experience.

Cherish the rich history, the legendary figures, and the unforgettable duels that set the pulse racing. With each visit or bet, you’re not just a spectator but a part of the storied legacy of Cheltenham.