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Horse racing
Savvy Travel Tips

Have You Heard Of The Cheltenham Horse Racing Festival?

Cheltenham Festival races can provide you with the perfect introduction to the world of horse racing. The Cheltenham Festival throws up some fantastic races, with the main event being the Gold Cup. This is a 3 miles 2 ½ furlongs Grade 1 National Hunt horse race, which has 22 fences to be jumped. In 2015, the Gold Cup was won by Coneygree, making it the first time a novice won the event in over 40 years. Other races to note throughout the festival include the Triumph Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the World Hurdle, and the Arkle Chase.

National Hunt Racing’s Home

Cheltenham Racecourse is significant because it is the home of National Hunt racing, otherwise known as jump racing. Not very known in America, National Hunt racing is incredibly popular in the UK and Ireland. Horses are tasked with jumping over hurdles or fences, depending on the race, and the distances are much further as well. 

Unknown And Known Factors At The Cheltenham Festival 

It can often seem like there is a lot to take in when attending or watching the Cheltenham Festival races for the first time. You are not going to become an expert overnight! The most important thing to recognize is the fact that there are unknown factors and known factors. As much as we research the latter, unknown factors can get in the way, and this occurs on the rare occasions when we see the favourite have an off day and an unfancied horse cross the line first. 

The unknown factors are the luck in running during the race and the form of the horse on the day. These two things can never be predicted. What you need to focus on are the known factors, which will help you understand what horses may perform well. 

The known factors are the ground, the track, the class, the trainers, the male and female jockeys, and the distance. The ground is one of the most significant factors because a horse might perform better on firm, which is very dry, or good (dry), while another may perform best on soft, which describes the ground after rainfall. 

What Is The Cheltenham Gold Cup?

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious chase on the horse racing calendar, which is why it is often called the Blue Riband of jump racing. It takes place during the Cheltenham Festival in March, which is an annual weeklong horse racing event. The race is a 3 miles 2 ½ furlongs Grade 1 National Hunt and there are 22 fences for the horses to jump over. It is open to horses that are five years old and above, and it has been sponsored by Timico, Magners, and other brands over the years. Read on to discover more about some of the most famous Cheltenham races on Gold Cup day. 

Famous Cheltenham Races 

Over the years, the Cheltenham Gold Cup has not disappointed. There have been some fantastic contests, and you don’t have to roll the clock back far to find one. In 2015, Coneygree won the Gold Cup, which was incredible considering the horse had only had three previous starts over fences. It was the first time a novice had won the Cheltenham Gold Cup race in more than 40 years. 

The most successful Gold Cup winner was Golden Miller. The horse won the race five times consecutively between 1932 and 1926. In more recent times, Best Mate and Kauto Star have impressed. The latter won the Gold Cup in 2007 and 2009, having been beating by stalemate Denman in between. He won the race by 13 lengths in 2009, which a lot of people described as one of the best performances since Arkle, who won three Gold Cups from 1964 to 1966. Notably, Kauto Star is also the only horse to have won the King George VI Chase at Kempton four consecutive times. 

Best Mate impressively won the Gold Cup in 2002, 2003, and 2004. Sadly, the horse had to pull out of the race in 2005 with a burst blood vessel, or who knows what could have happened? Later that year, the horse died, and Best Mate’s ashes were buried in Cheltenham beside the winning post. 

A Day At Cheltenham Races

If you are looking to experience a fun day-out, which you will remember for a long time, a trip to Cheltenham Racecourse certainly makes a lot of sense. Plus, it is based in the beautiful county of Gloucestershire, so there is plenty to see and do here as well. The natural beauty in the area is remarkable, so you will have a lot of fun enjoying the scenery here too. Plus, there are some great local pubs and restaurants. 

There are a number of different race meetings throughout the year, with the first taking place toward the end of October (first in terms of the National Hunt calendar, which begins in the fall), and then the final race meeting taking place in April. The Cheltenham Festival always occurs in March, typically during the second week. 

When you go to the Cheltenham Festival meeting, you will see that there are a lot more facilities and different entertainment options when compared with your typical race meeting. There is the Guinness Village, which is a part of the course that has live music and lots of Guinness, surprise, surprise! As the Irish come over every year, they need to be catered to with their favorite drink!

You will also find that there is a Shopping Village, where you can find lots of bespoke stalls and stores. From traditional tweed clothing to beautiful works of art, there is something for everyone here. There are also more eateries during Festival Week, as well as a number of different hospitality packages if you want to enjoy something really special on one of the days of the festival. After all, who doesn’t want to be treated like royalty when at the races?

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