Home to the pinnacle of British jump racing, the Cheltenham Festival is where many of the world’s best horses and jockeys come together to tackle this demanding National Hunt circuit. The festival, held in March, features many top-class Grade 1 races including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the World Hurdle.
The spectacular setting – set in the natural amphitheatre of Prestbury Park – has played host to some of the greatest names in jump racing history; from Kauto Star and Denman to Long Run and Best Mate.
Horse racing has been present in Cheltenham since 1815 and became a national attraction following the establishment of its four-day festival back in 1902. Approximately half of all 26 races at the festival are Group 1 events which makes it one of the highest-quality racing spectacles throughout the year.
The most successful jockey at Cheltenham is Ruby Walsh, who enjoyed 31 winners at the festival between 2004-2014.
There are three separate courses at Cheltenham – the old and new courses – which run alongside each other and a cross-country circuit in the middle. The new course features a tricky downhill fence and a longer run-in for steeplechases than the old course. Another interesting quirk of the new course is that hurdle races over two miles tend to include the majority of the hurdles in the early stages of the race, with only two jumped in the final seven furlongs.
Geegeez says: “The new hurdles track has a tough uphill finish, so be mindful that the majority of winning horses on this course are blessed with exceptional finishing power and stamina. The ability to stay the trip is a necessity for any horse.
“Both the old and new courses offer the ultimate test for chasers with some of the toughest fences in the country. Those with form around similar circuits such as Hexham and Newcastle could be in with a shout of prevailing here.”
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