Cheltenham Festival

At around noon on Tuesday 12th March, upwards of 50,000 people will descend on the outskirts of Cheltenham for four days of the highest quality jumps racing seen anywhere in the world. However the Cheltenham Festival is not just about the racing even though the twenty seven races run over four days includes twelve Grade 1 events.

Cheltenham Festival, inside rail It’s about “The Craic” as the legions of British racing fans are joined by their counterparts from across the Irish Sea to do battle to find the Champion racehorses of the season, where lifetime friendships are forged, folklore is created and copious amounts of Guinness are consumed.

Held each spring at Prestbury Park just outside the spa town of Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the Cheltenham Festival is one of the most illustrious racing meetings in the British racing calendar and has the second largest prize fund in the country, after the Grand National.

Over four days, the best owners and trainers from far and wide pit their horses against each other for some of the most prestigious prizes in National Hunt racing.

The Cheltenham Festival, 'the jewel in horse racing's crown' is unique as it showcases the best British and Irish race horses in one spectacular four day event, which is why it draws so many spectators. The Cheltenham Races are famed for having an electric atmosphere with the 'Cheltenham roar' being echoed throughout the festival with each new race, as millions of pounds are gambled away by spectators on their favourite horses.

The annual event is the seasonal target for the cream of National Hunt horses as nothing compares to a winner at the Prestbury venue in March. Glowing reputations can be enhanced or sunk and dreams are either made or shattered.

Day One - Tuesday 12th March
The festival gets off to a flyer with The Supreme Novices Hurdle, a fantastic opener to Champion Day. This is followed by the Arkle Challenge Trophy, which sees a top class field of Novice Chasers battle it out to be the best. The feature race of Day One is, of course The Champion Hurdle which is the fourth race in the seven race card.
Cheltenham Festival, winner

Day Two - Wednesday 13th March
Ladies Day is another seven race card and opens with the oldest race in the festival, The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, an excellent start to Day Two. The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the feature race of the day - a firm favourite and is seen as the race of the festival by many people.

Day Three - Thursday 14th March
The Festival will have an Irish theme on Thursday to celebrate St. Patrick's Day ( St. Patrick's Day falls on Saturday 17th of March in 2012). St. Patrick's Thursday has six quality races including The Ryanair Chase and The Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle. The feature race of Day Three is The World Hurdle - can Big Bucks win this race for the fourth time in a row and keep up his unbeaten record over hurdles ?

Cheltenham Festival, photo finish Day Four - Friday 15th March
Friday is the highlight of the week, Gold Cup Day - seven races of the highest quality, opening with The Triumph Hurdle, which may uncover some future Champion Hurdle contenders. Day Four also features The Foxhunter Steeple Chase Challenge Cup - the big race for amateur jockeys, sometimes referred to as the ' amateur Gold Cup ', and the final race of the festival, The Grand Annual Chase.

The race of the day and the race of The Cheltenham Festival is The Cheltenham Gold Cup - the final race in the National Hunt season and the most prestigious of all National Hunt races. The two main contenders, Long Run and Kuato Star could battle it out for the cup but three or four others in the field have chances on their day.

Whatever the results over these four days of top races it will be one of the most exciting sporting events in the calendar where fortunes will be won and lost, and legends created. The festival is so infectious that as the crowds make their way home on Friday evening and Saturday morning, they will already be planning their visit to The Cheltenham Festival for the following year.

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