2020 Cheltenham Festival Guide: Everything you need to know

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There’s nothing National Hunt fans look forward to more than the Cheltenham Festival. Held over four fabulous days every March, it features the very best horses, trainers and jockeys from the world of jump racing taking each other on for more than £6m in prize money.

All 28 races at the Prestbury Park course are open to entrants from around the world. But with the prominence of National Hunt racing in Europe, the meeting is dominated by England, Ireland and France. 

Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson and Paul Nicholls are four of the most prominent trainers in the game. They’ll lead the charge when the 2020 Cheltenham Festival gets underway with the famous roar in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 1:30pm on Tuesday 10th March.

Then it’s full steam ahead with over 250,000 fans packing into the Gloucestershire grandstands for Champion Day, Ladies Day and St Patrick’s Day before the Cheltenham Gold Cup takes centre-stage on the Friday.

Dates

The Cheltenham Festival is held annually in March. And this year’s Festival is no different. The four-day event will begin with the Supreme at 1:30pm on Tuesday 10th March 2020.

Each day will contain seven races before the greatest show on turf draws to its conclusion at 5:30pm on Friday 13th March 2020 with the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.

Tickets

Want to witness Cheltenham in the flesh? Tickets are available for all four days, starting at £42 for the Best Mate Enclosure on Champion Day, Ladies Day and St Patrick’s Day.

You can also buy tickets for the Tattersall’s Enclosure and the Club Enclosure, the latter of which allows you to stand in line with the winning post to witness the Cheltenham Gold Cup being won.

Hospitality is available via Private Boxes, the Panoramic Restaurant and with a Cheltenham Restaurant Package. While some are sold out, a Restaurant Package on Day Three will set you back £505.

On Gold Cup Day you can pay up to £650.00 for a Champions Walk Restaurant Package, while it’s £112 for general admission into the Club Enclosure, £76 for the Tattersalls and £61 for the Best Mate Enclosure.

Day One – Champion Day – Tuesday 10th March

The Champion Hurdle is the headline race on Day One. But it’s the famous Cheltenham roar that greets the runners at the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at 13:30 which really gets things going. 

Asterion Forlonge is Willie Mullins’ leading contender in the race this year. Nicky Henderson and Shishkin provide the main danger. 

Then it’s on to the Arkle, which has been won by the likes of Flagship Uberalles in the past. Duc des Genievres took the prize last year, while Notebook and Fakir D’oudairies are among the frontrunners this time around.

Notebook with Rachael Blackmore on board.
Jockey Rachael Blackmore aboard Notebook at Leopardstown.

However, the big race on Day One is the Champion Hurdle. Two-time winner Buveur d’Air is injured and will not reoppose this time, which means he won’t be able to put his name alongside three-time winners Persian War, See You Then and Istabraq.

Stablemate Epatante looks likely to head the market instead, with Pentland Hills and Sharjah among the other contenders.

Day One at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival:

  • 1:30pm: Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 87y, £125,000.
  • 2:10pm: Racing Post Arkle (Grade 1). 1m 7f 199y, £175,000.
  • 2:50pm: Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3). 3m 1f, £110,000.
  • 3:30pm: Champion Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 87y, £450,000.
  • 4:10pm: Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 3f 200 y, £120,000.
  • 4:50pm: Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed). 2m 4f 44y, £70,000.
  • 5:30pm: National Hunt Chase (Grade 2). 3m 7f 147y, £125,000.

Day Two – Ladies Day – Wednesday 11th March

After the drama of Day One it’s onto Day Two. And it all begins again with the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, which Closutton trainer Mullins has won on six occasions, although not since 2016.

2019 Champion Bumper winner Envoi Allen is widely expected to land the 2020 Ballymore for Irish rival Gordon Elliott, although Sporting John and The Big Getaway will prove solid opposition.

Envoi Allen ridden by Davy Russell
Envoi Allen in the hands of Davy Russell.

Last year’s Ballymore runner-up, Champ, named after legendary jockey AP McCoy, is the favourite for the RSA Chase. Punters then turn their attention to the biggest Handicap of the Festival in the Coral Cup before the headline act on Day Two; the Champion Chase.

This year’s contest is shaping up to be the best in many years, with young pretenders Defi Du Seuil and Chacun Pour Soi going head-to-head in the absence of Altior. All eyes will then be on 2018 and 2019 Grand National winner Tiger Roll as he continues his 2020 Grand National preparations in the Cross Country Chase.

Day Two at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival:

  • 1:30pm: Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 5f, £125,000.
  • 2:10pm: RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1). 3m 80y, £175,000.
  • 2:50pm: Coral Cup (Grade 3). 2m 5f, £100,000.
  • 3:30pm: Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1). 1m 7f 99y, £400,000.
  • 4:10pm: Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. 3m 6f 37y, £65,000.
  • 4:50pm: Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3). 2m 87y, £80,000.
  • 5:30pm: Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1). 2m 87y, £75,000.

Day Three – St Patrick’s Day – Thursday 12th March

Thursday at Cheltenham is all about the Irish invasion. And Willie Mullins will be hoping his veteran 12-year-old Faugheen can bring the house down with victory in the Marsh in her debut season as a chaser.

Then it’s on to the two races which provided Cheltenham with its golden hour in 2019. Frodon gave Bryony Frost an emotional success in the Ryanair 12 months ago before Paisley Park reduced owner Andrew Gemmell to tears in the Stayers’ Hurdle little over 40 minutes later.

Aidan Coleman and Paisley Park.
Aidan Coleman gives a thumbs up after winning the 2019 Stayers’ Hurdle.

Both will return in the same races this year, with the latter widely expected to follow up for Emma Lavelle and record an eighth straight win over fences. Frodon will face a tougher task up against A Plus Tard and Min.

Day Three at the Cheltenham Festival:

  • 1:30pm: Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1). 2m 3f 166y, £150,000.
  • 2:10pm: Pertemps Network Final (Grade 3). 2m 7f 213y, £100,000.
  • 2:50pm: Ryanair Chase (Grade 1). 2m 4f 127y, £350,000.
  • 3:30pm: Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 7f 213y, £325,000.
  • 4:10pm: Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Grade 3). 2m 4f 166y, £110,000.
  • 4:50pm: Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2). 2m 179y, £90,000.
  • 5:30pm: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase. 3m 2f, £70,000.

Day Four – Gold Cup Day – Friday 13th March

There might be another seven races on Day Three at the Festival but in truth it’s all about one contest; the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Who will follow in the footsteps of legends such as Golden Miller, Arkle, Norton’s Coin, Best Mate, Kauto Star and 2019 winner Al Boum Photo, who gave Willie Mullins a first win in the race?

We wouldn’t like to say. This year’s renewal looks wide-open with a number of contenders priced at 16/1 or shorter, including Santini, Delta Work, Kemboy and 2019 Ladbrokes King George winner Clan Des Obeaux.

Paul Townend and Al Boum Photo.
Paul Townend celebrates winning the 2019 Gold Cup on Al Boum Photo.

It takes class, stamina and a top training performance to win a Gold Cup. And we can’t wait to find out who does enough on a day which also includes the Triumph Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett.

Day Four at the Cheltenham Festival:

  • 1:30pm: Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 179y, £125,000.
  • 2:10pm: County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3). 2m 179y, £100,000.
  • 2:50pm: Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 7f 213y, £125,000.
  • 3:30pm: Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1). 3m 2f 70y, £625,000.
  • 4:10pm: St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase. 3m 2f 70y, £45,000.
  • 4:50pm: Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3). 2m 62y, £110,000.
  • 5:30pm: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (0-145). 2m 4f 56y, £70,000.

View the latest Cheltenham Festival odds

All odds and markets correct as of date of publication

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Nick Murphy

Nick is a graduate of the UEA where he doubled up as the sports editor of the student newspaper. He supports Dagenham & Redbridge and previously edited the matchday programme at Victoria Road. Darts and Horse Racing are among his other favourite sports.