2021 Guide To The Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is one the biggest events in the UK sporting calendar, with thousands descending on Cheltenham for the famous four-day meeting.

As the feature event of the National Hunt season, the Festival is famous in more than just the UK, with the Irish flocking over in huge numbers as some of their best equine talent battles it out with the best of the British.

This year’s event is set to look slightly different with racing currently taking place behind closed doors, meaning both spectators and owners are unable to watch the racing live at the track. There are hopes that a limited number of spectators will be allowed in time for the Festival, which gets underway on March 16th, but that is likely to be restricted to owners, trainers, stable staff, and racecourse officials.

For the punters, that means a seat at home, so we’re going to guide you through the races that are on the card, how the racecourse will be set up, where you can view the action and how to place those all-important bets on races like the Champion Hurdle and the Gold Cup.

The Races

The Cheltenham Festival now contains 28 races across the four-day meeting, with seven different races each day from Tuesday until Friday. Included in those races are several Grade One affairs, which include the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, and the Stayers’ Hurdle, along with the Ryanair Chase which was memorably won by Bryony Frost and Frodon back in 2019.

Here are some of the other races to look out for:

Tuesday, March 16 – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, Arkle Chase, Champion Hurdle, Mares’ Hurdle

Wednesday, March 17 – RSA Chase, Champion Chase

Thursday, March 18 – Ryanair Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle

Friday, March 19 – Triumph Hurdle, Cheltenham Gold Cup

As well as those top-class races, there are a number of ultra-competitive handicaps that contain some of the biggest prize money on offer. There is also the unique Cross Country race, which normally takes place on the Thursday of the meeting. Tiger Roll has won that race twice in the last three seasons and is hoping to taste success again in what is expected to be his last campaign as a racehorse.

The Racecourse

The racecourse at Cheltenham is known to horse racing fans as Prestbury Park, and it contains two different courses within it – both of which are set to be used for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the action is run on the new course, which offers a test of speed and a shorter run-in, which is why the Champion Hurdle is run on an opening day.

On Thursday and Friday, the action switches to the new course, which is much more of a stamina test thanks to taking full advantage of the famous Cheltenham hill, which is on the almost vertical ascent to the winning line, hence the grueling test of the Gold Cup.

There is also a third-course layout that is used for the Cross Country race and is situated in the centre of the racecourse, featuring banks, cheese wedge fences and even a replica of the canal turn that is jumped during the Grand National at Aintree.

Where To Watch

This year’s meeting will be fairly unique for most spectators in that they won’t be able to attend the meeting. Thankfully in the UK, you’ll be able to grab all the feature races on terrestrial TV through ITV Racing, or you can enjoy every single race by purchasing a subscription to Racing TV.

How To Bet On The Cheltenham Festival

Millions are bet on the Cheltenham Festival each year, and 2021 will be no different despite people having to watch on from home. Some bookmakers on the freebets.com Cheltenham betting offers list are already giving non-runner, no bet terms on their ante-post markets for the big races, while others are already offering free bet packages for new customers.

In terms of the Gold Cup, which is the feature race of the meeting, Al Boum Photo is aiming to win the race for the third time in a row and is the best price of 4/1 to land the hat-trick this year. Elsewhere in the betting for the Gold Cup, Santini and Minella Indo can be backed at 9/1, with A Plus Tard now 10/1.

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