Whether it’s the FIFA World Cup, World Series or Super Bowl, every sport around the globe has its showpiece event and horse racing is no different.
This week sees the return of the Cheltenham Festival, a phenomenal spectacle which draws in over 200,000 race goers every year, bringing together the best horses that Britain and Ireland have to offer. It’s a meeting where legends are made and hearts are broken, and it carries with it a steep history that only adds to its prestige.
You could argue that Cheltenham Festival has been underway since 1860 when known under its official title of the National Hunt Meeting. After floating between various different courses throughout the intervening years, it finally settled at its current home in 1902 and has been delighting race fans almost every year since.
The Festival was extended to four days in 2005 to allow for one championship race per day meaning that, with a couple of additions since, a whopping 27 races will make up this year’s festival. The undisputed glamour race of the whole event remains the Cheltenham Gold Cup, a 3m 2 ½ furlong chase boasting a total prize pool of £550,000. The list of past winners includes some of the greatest names in horse racing from Arkle and Desert Orchid through to the more recent legends such as Best Mate and Kauto Star.
Although the Gold Cup is the Friday championship centrepiece, let it not detract from the exceptional championship races across the other three days. Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle certainly lives up to its name and stands as the most revered chasing event in the world of racing. Istabraq is the standout name amongst a stream of high-profile, three-time winners of this race.
Wednesday is officially Ladies Day at The Festival with hats of all shapes and sizes on show for the fashion glitterati. Back on the track, the Queen Mother Championship is the feature race of the day and is the leading chase to be run over the minimum distance of two miles. Barry Geraghty has won this race on five occasions and is expected to return this year on Sprinter Sacre. A win would make him the only jockey to win the race six times in the 57 year history of the race.
The third and penultimate day gives us the leading three mile race in the National Hunt calendar, a race that has been dominated in recent years by a certain Big Buck’s. He became the only horse to win the race four times when bringing home the bacon consecutively between 2009 and 2012. As a result, Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh are the most successful trainer/jockey pairing in this race and are always to be feared. Walsh has been crowned top jockey at the festival in eight of the past eleven meetings and is sure to have been in the winner’s enclosure again come Friday evening.
With an incredible few days to look forward to next week, it’s a great opportunity to explore the thrill of racing. From the famous Cheltenham roar as they begin the first race to the swell of noise as champions-to-be hurtle up the hill on the home straight, it bring about an emotive passion that simply don’t exist at any other meet. Whatever your selections for next week, best of luck, and look out for all the latest news and views from our coveted tipsters at BettingGods.com.