The Cheltenham Festival is the highlight of the National Hunt calendar, with no less than 28 high quality races over four sensational days. The festival has a number of Grade 1 races, including the Champion Hurdle, the World Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and of course, the most prestigious of them all, the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Ruby Walsh certainly enjoys coming to The Cheltenham Festival, winning the Top Jockey prize in ten of the last 13 years, and trainer Willie Mullins will also have a soft spot for the Festival, having been top trainer in five of the last six years. But if you’re coming to Cheltenham, what should you look out for to make it a winning visit for you? Here are the runners and riders for your Cheltenham Festival day.
Getting there and getting in
Entrance to the Cheltenham Festival costs from £40 on the first three days, and £100 on Gold Cup Day, although Gold Cup Day is selling out fast so you might not get in even at that price.
There are vast swathes of parking at Cheltenham available at £8 in advance or £15 on the day, but bear in mind there are a quarter of a million people attending over the four days, so you may be better off coming by train and grabbing a shuttle bus from Cheltenham town centre. Busses run regularly, with 80,000 trips taken over the four days last year.
Dining and hospitality
There are plenty of catering outlets around the course to keep you fed and watered throughout the Festival, but if you want to really treat yourself, book a hospitality package at one of the main restaurants. The Final Fence, Champions Walk, the great value Gold Cup and Chez Roux all offer superb packages, with the unrivalled views of the Panoramic Restaurant hard to beat.
With St Patrick’s Day falling on the Thursday of the Festival, there will be a few pints of Guinness drunk to say the least. Head for the Guinness Village to hear traditional Irish bands and enjoy the authentic Paddy’s Day craic. The Final Flight Bar is also a popular race day venue, with live music, cocktails and post race partying until 7.30pm.
Cheltenham is famous for providing live bands to keep you entertained between the big races, and this year is no different. From headline act Hothouse Flowers, to jazz, folk and your favourite covers, there is something for every mood and musical taste.
This year’s line up includes Thrill Collins, Taylor & The Masons, The Lucky 15’s, Cheltenham favourites The Chip Shop Boys, Tommy and The Fuse,
The Wickermen, The Hipcats and Murphy’s Marbles.
Racing enthusiasts can relive the glory of Festivals past with a number of attractions around Cheltenham Racecourse. Pose for a picture with legends like Best Mate and Arkle, cast in bronze and immortalised forever. Check out the silverware that is up for grabs in the Trophy Room, including the Gold Cup itself. Or take a look back in time and explore the history of the Cheltenham Festival in the Hall of Fame, including an incredible hologram of Desert Orchid.
Cheltenham also boasts free WiFi for all racegoers, so you can have a flutter on the big race without giving missing any of the action or up your prime place on the rail of the final furlong.
Whichever day you choose, Cheltenham will always deliver a day to remember, packed with world beating racing and top class hospitality. Good luck!