The biggest races to watch at this year’s Cheltenham Festival
The Cheltenham Festival, held annually at the picturesque Prestbury Park, is one of the most prestigious and highly anticipated events in the world of horse racing. Over the course of four days, some of the finest horses, jockeys, and trainers from around the world compete for top honours in a series of high-stakes races.
While the horses may be the stars of the show, it is the crowd that truly makes the Cheltenham Festival an unforgettable experience. Back for the first time since 2020 last year, you could truly feel their significance after a year’s hiatus, and this time around we will hopefully see more of the same.
Whether it’s the roar of the crowd as they check the latest Gold Cup betting odds, or the horses thunder down the final stretch, the festive atmosphere in the stands, or the sense of community that permeates the event, the crowd at the Cheltenham Festival is an integral part of what makes this event so special.
Each day there is a key race to keep an eye on. Whether it’s due to the deep history the race holds or for the rivalries created between some of the best horses around, read on, as we look at the biggest races at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Tuesday – Champion Hurdle
The curtain-raiser for Cheltenham’s biggest races is often the Champion Hurdle, and it will be interesting to see if the imperious Honeysuckle can make it a hat-trick of victories. One of the stars of Henry de Bromehad’s stable, the nine-year-old’s lengthy unbeaten run came to an end in December at Fairyhouse, and a disappointing second-place finish to State Man at Leopardstown means Rachael Blackmore has it all to do. Constitution Hill is the favourite here alongside Willie Mullins-trained Vauban.
Wednesday – Queen Mother Champion Chase
Last year’s Champions Chase was all about the battle between Energumene and Shishkin, and served as one of the most anticipated races at the whole Festival. However, with Shishkin pulling up and now not entering this year, Energumene and Paul Townend had the last laugh. The nine-year-old still faces stiff competition to win in successive years, with Edwardstone coming in at 15/8, whilst stablemate Blue Lord and Dan Skelton-trained Nube Negra boast plenty of experience at Prestbury Park.
Thursday – Ryanair Chase
St Patricks Day always feels extra special at Cheltenham, and the Ryanair Chase is the race to keep an eye on for Thursday. Chacun Pour Soi will be looking to rediscover top form here after failing to win a race since February last year, whilst last year’s winner Shiskin and Gordon Elliott’s Conflated are amongst the favourites. Elliott returned from his ban last year and will be looking to add to the 34 Cheltenham winners he has so far.
Friday – Gold Cup
The most prestigious event at the Festival, the Gold Cup is the pinnacle of success for anyone at Cheltenham. Rachael Blackmore made history last year when A Plus Tard helped her become the first female jockey to win the Gold Cup. However, stablemate Minella Indo will be looking to run her close once again, and with the addition of Grand National winner Noble Yeats in the mix, it certainly looks to be an exciting race.