The Cheltenham Festival is one of the world’s most anticipated racing spectacles. The event brings out not only the best horses in the business but also the most successful trainers and the owners.
When Did the Cheltenham Festival Begin?
Using Wikipedia as a source, the festival originated in 1860 when the National Hunt Chase was first held at Market Harborough. It was initially titled the Grand National Hunt Meeting that staged the National Hunt Chase, the four-miler for amateur riders. The festival regularly changed venue, finally settled at Prestbury Park in 1911, where it has remained ever since.
Frederick Cathcart is the man who made Cheltenham the headquarters of jump racing. Cathcart was the most influential racecourse official of the 20th century, the Racing Post named him at number 11 in the list of 100 Makers of 20th Century Racing.
What Is the Cheltenham Festival?
The Cheltenham Festival takes place annually in March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, UK.
The meeting has 28 races, split reasonably fairly over the week with Grade I events including the Champion Bumper, Triumph Hurdle, Ryanair Chase, Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle, Arkle Challenge Trophy, RSA Chase, World Hurdle, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the feature race, the Gold Cup.
Cheltenham Festival has grown from a two-day meeting to a four-day meeting over the years of its existence. The event has continued to gain prominence both from an entertainment perspective as well as on the betting tips forefront.
The festival is the UK’s biggest single revenue-earning event, generating an estimated £50M for local hotels, shops, pubs, and clubs.
Around a quarter of a million people arrive at the heart of the English Cotswolds to watch the racing during the meeting, making it one of the most popular in the country.
Large amounts of money are gambled at Cheltenham. Every year before Cheltenham fans keep their ears open for the latest gossip, trying to uncover who’s looking good in the stables, looking for the finest free bets, and the latest horse racing odds.
The Irish and the Festival
Thousands of Irish horse racing fans travel to the annual Cheltenham Festival in March. The festival usually coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day (celebrated on March 17) and is particularly popular with Irish visitors.
The Irish have been traveling to Cheltenham for generations, about 8,000 people travel from Ireland to the Gloucestershire countryside every year.
Ireland has produced some of the world’s best jockeys, race horses and trainers. Irish-trained horses won a record 19 out of 28 races at the Cheltenham Festival in 2018, topping the previous mark of 15 in 2017.
For most Irish racegoers, a win against the English at the festival outweighs most other sporting contests.
Fashion of Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival is a highlight of the National Hunt season but the festival isn’t just about the races.
Unlike events such as Ascot, there is no strict dress code for the event. The organizers suggest that clothing should reflect the inclement weather. Cheltenham is not about fashion, despite this, racegoers put on their most fashionable looks, including some incredible hats!