Cheltenham Festival: Betting Tips, Stats & History

Cheltenham Raccourse Finishing Post

The Cheltenham Festival is widely regarded as one of the most exhilarating horse race meets of the year. It’s a chance for trainers to produced their best of class and for the jockeys to go down in racing folk-law, such is the prestige of the event.

The event is particularly popular with the Irish as it takes place in March, coinciding with St Patrick’s day. Each year it’s held at the now iconic Cheltenham Racecourse and with it tens of thousands of punters flock to the event over the course of the 4 days.

It’s one of the most significant meetings of the year, mainly because of the calibre of horses that are on show. There are multiple Grade 1 races (often several per day) throughout the meeting, but not only that, it’s one of few that extends to the wider horse racing community, rather than just the diehard fanatics.

Cheltenham Betting Tips For 2018

At long last the wait is over. Four days. 28 races. 12 Grade 1s. £4,590,000 in total prize money. It can only be the Cheltenham Festival. The jewel in the crown of the National Hunt racing year, and for trainers, jockeys and punters alike the meeting around which the whole season hinges. All roads lead to this and the countdown is finally almost over!

The preparations are over, the plots and sub-plots have been set. Who will be the heroes and villains of 2018? Let’s take a look at what each of the magical four days has in store in 2018 and see if we can’t find a winning bet or two. Or 28!

Day One – Tuesday 13th March 2018 – Champion Day

Kicking off with the famed Cheltenham roar that greets the beginning of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the most talented two mile hurdling newcomers in the game get the ball rolling once again. That roar was quickly turned into stunned silence 12 months ago as outsider Labaik came home in front for Gordon Elliott. Will it be more of the same this year? Or will the likes of hot favourite Getabird or the well fancied Kalashnikov make it first blood to the punters?

Those looking for a good thing to get their punting week off to a flyer are well served on the opening day. Nowhere more so than in the day’s major contest of the Champion Hurdle. Nicky Henderson’s Buveur D’air won the race in excellent style last year, has been in imperious form this term, and with few serious challengers emerging he looks like taking an awful lot of beating.

Arkle favourite, Footpad has put in some monstrous performances for one so inexperienced over fences but has been on the drift in the betting. Can Petit Mouchoir turn the tables from their latest clash? Or will the soft ground turn things firmly in favour of Harry Whittington’s impressive Saint Calvados? For many though the safest bet on the card will be defending champion Apple’s Jade in the Mares’ Hurdle. Too good for the boys at times already this season, are there any amongst her own sex who can lower her colours? We doubt it but time will tell.

TimeRaceGrade / LengthTip
13:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Grade 1 / 2m ½f Getabird
14:10 Arkle Chase Grade 1 / 2m Footpad
14:50 Ultima Handicap Chase Grade 3 / 3m 1f Beware The Bear
15:30 Champion Hurdle Grade 1 / 2m ½f Buveur D’Air
16:10 Mares’ Hurdle Grade 1 / 2m 4f Apple's Jade
16:50 National Hunt Challenge Cup Grade 2 / 4m Jury Duty
17:30 Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase Listed / 2m 4½f Mister Whitaker

Day Two – Wednesday 14th March 2018 – Ladies Day

The stars are certainly out in force on day two, with the card featuring a runner who as recently as last year was thought to be the best thing since Arkle, another who looks to be the best in training on current form, and an emerging Irish superstar taking to this stage for the first time.

It is the new kid on the block Samcro who’s up first in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Labelled as something just a little bit special by his trainer Gordon Elliott from a very early stage, he has done nothing to dispel that notion in winning his six starts under rules to date with consummate ease. Currently odds on across the board, Samcro’s enormous engine is expected to leave the rest toiling in his wake here. Don’t forget about Nicky Henderson’s On The Blind Side though. He may not have been hyped up to the extent of his Irish rival, but has nevertheless racked up an impressive sequence of his own. Unbeaten in three, he may at least make a race of it.

It wasn’t so long ago that defeat for the Willie Mullins runner Douvan was hard to contemplate. Unbeaten in 13 starts for the Irish champion trainer headed into this race last year, there were many who deemed him a cracking bet even at odds of just 2/9. And then it all fell apart. Trailing home in seventh, something was clearly not right, and he hasn’t been seen at the track since. Douvan returns here but what shape will he be in? For many it is Altior who is the current king of the hill amongst all chasers. Having recently bounced back from problems of his own with an emphatic win at Newbury, even a peak form Douvan may struggle to live with him on that evidence and he looks like being the Day Two “good thing”.

Elsewhere on the card Cheltenham specialist Cause Of Causes goes for a fourth Festival win in the Cross Country Chase and Joseph O’Brien bids for a first with Rhinestone and Alighted in the closing Champion Bumper.

TimeRaceGrade / LengthTip
13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Grade 1 / 2m 5f Samcro
14:10 RSA Chase Grade 1 / 3m ½f Presenting Percy
14:50 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 / 2m 5f Royal Vacation
15:30 Queen Mother Champion Chase Grade 1 / 2m Altior
16:10 Glenfarclas Chase Cross Country / 3m 6f Bless The Wings
16:50 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 / 2m ½f Mitchouka
17:30 Champion Bumper Grade 1 / 2m ½f The Big Bite

Day Three – Thursday 15th March 2018 – St Patrick’s Thursday

It’s back to the hurdlers for the day three centrepiece as the stamina laden performers line up for the Stayers’ Hurdle. This hasn’t proved the greatest of challenges in recent years, but we fully expect the front running Sam Spinner to make this a stern test in 2018. Jedd O’Keefe’s massively improving five year old will have the likes of Yanworth and Festival scorers Supasundae and Penhill in behind waiting to pounce and will need to be at his very best if he is to burn them all off.

The Stayers’ Hurdle may be the official feature race of the day, but it is the Ryanair Chase which looks set to capture the imagination more than any other. The bold jumping Un De Sceaux is a delight to behold every time he takes to the track, including when taking this contest in breathtaking style last year.

The opposition isn’t too bad either though. Nothing has managed to beat Ruth Jefferson’s Waiting Patiently in six starts over fences to date and the seven year old took the step up to Grade 1 company in his stride when winning the Betfair Chase last time. This will demand more, but he may well be up to it. Then of course we have everyone’s favourite old boy, Cue Card. Back to something like his best when second in that Betfair Chase, he foregoes the Gold Cup for one last shot at Cheltenham glory here. He’s a big price to deliver but if he can it could be one of the most well received victories of the Festival.

The third Grade 1 on the card is the opening JLT Novices Chase, which this year looks set to provide a classic Britain vs Ireland confrontation as Willie Mullins’ Invitation Only tackles the Nicky Henderson runner Terrefort. In the Mares’ Novice event all eyes will be on Laurina. Mullins has yet to be beaten in one of the newest Festival races and this one is strongly fancied to extend that run.

TimeRaceGrade / LengthTip
13:30 JLT Novices’ Chase Grade 1 / 2m 4f Invitation Only
14:10 Pertemps Network Final Grade 3 / 3m Louis' Vac Pouch
14:50 Ryanair Chase Grade 1 / 2m 5f Cue Card
15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle Grade 1 / 3m Yanworth
16:10 Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable Plate Grade 3 / 2m 5f Tully East
16:50 Troll House Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle Grade 2 / 2m 1f Maria's Benefit
17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Class 2 / 3m 2f Pendra

Day Four – Friday 16th March 2018 – Gold Cup Day

Anyone hoping for easy pickings – if such a thing exists at Cheltenham – headed into the final day will likely be disappointed, as Day Four looks to be just about the most competitive of the lot.

Nicky Henderson’s Apple’s Shakira in the opening Triumph Hurdle looks like being as close to a good thing as we get. Clearly held in the highest regard by her trainer, she is already a three time winner at the track, but is meeting some stiff opposition here in the form of Alan King’s impressive flat recruit, Redicean and a clutch of more than capable Irish challengers.

The big race of the day is of course the main event of the Festival, the Cheltenham Gold Cup itself. The general consensus seems to be that if there is one runner here who may prove a class apart, it is most likely to be last season’s RSA king, Might Bite. Already a winner of the King George this year, he will likely go off favourite on the day, but will find his stamina tested like never before here.

Soft ground would enhance the claims of the likes of last year’s third Native River and Definitly Red from the yard of Brian Ellison, whilst Road To Respect looks just about the best of the Irish. That’s to mention just a few in with chances though in what looks a wide-open year. The ground could well feature the word “heavy” so this is clearly going to be a real stamina-sapping affair and we might perhaps see an upset.

We expect Max Dynamite will prove popular in the County Hurdle having been nominated as a horse to look forward to by owner Rich Ricci, but will the potentially soft ground blunt his speed? Duc Des Genieves is another to look out for from the Mullins yard. Second to Samcro last time, he appears to be a horse of untapped potential and should be followed in either the Albert Bartlett or National Hunt Chase.

TimeRaceGrade / LengthTip
13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle Grade 1 / 2m 1f Apple's Shakira
14:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 / 2m 1f Whiskey Sour
14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Grade 1 / 3m Chef Des Obeaux
15:30 Cheltenham Gold Cup Grade 1 / 3m 2½f Might Bite
16:10 St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase Class 2 / 3m 2½f Unioniste
16:50 Martin Pipe Conditional Handicap Hurdle Class 2 / 2m 4½f Mr Big Shot
17:30 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase Grade 3 / 2m ½f North Hill Harvey

The Format of the Festival

In total, there are 28 races across the 4 days, with each day having 7 races. As mentioned each day has at least 1 Grade 1 race and usually what you will find is that they are all able to host their own ‘top race’ of that day as well.

Free to Air TV Coverage

For many years the festival has been hosted by long-time horse racing broadcaster, Channel 4. But, as of 2017 the festival was able to secure a new TV deal, shifting the rights to their rivals, ITV in a deal worth £30million spread across a number of meetings and races throughout the next couple of years.

The deal to move to ITV has been highly welcomed within the horse racing industry, mainly because of the money that ITV have pledged to put back into the sport. ITV actually paid 50% more (£30million from £20million) for the rights and it’s much hoped that this fresh approach to racing, including new presenters for the most part, will inject some much needed life into the sport.

Prize Money

In 2017, the festival saw a significant increase in prize money of around £200,000, to see the overall figure reach £4,305,000. This increase in money across the board has been pretty in-keeping with previous years at the festival, with 2016 having £4,115,000 and 2015 having a total of £3,900,000, respectively. Prize money starts at around £65,000 for some of the lower graded races, whilst the pinnacle is that of the Gold Cup, producing £575,000 in prizemoney.

Great Britain Versus Ireland: The Prestbury Cup

The Prestbury Cup is a bit of side competition between that of Great Britain and Ireland, and works in a similar manager to that of Ryder Cup in golf. Basically, the first country to get 14 or more wins in the festival is the winner, starting from the Supreme Novices Hurdle on the Tuesday.

The cup is actually named after the village next to the racecourse and then the winning team gets presented with the trophy once the festival has been completed. For 2017, the cup is sponsored by Betbright, and is therefore known as the Betbright Prestbury Cup.

Cheltenham Racecourse

The course is one of the most beautiful and iconic tracks in the world. As it’s set within the Cotswolds, you get panoramic views of the country side from high up viewpoints, and not only that, you are able to see a huge amount of the course given its undulations towards the back.

It holds over 67,500 spectators in total and you can expect every day to be sold out throughout the festival, but especially on Gold Cup and St Patricks day, where tickets are often at a premium compared to the other two.

There are actually two courses within the grounds, of which both are sued throughout the festival depending on the race. They are split up as the Old Course and the New Course, both with distinctive characteristics between the two. The New Course is quite a bit longer than the old and also has a tricky downhill section which is often tough for horses to then judge jumping distance given the speeds they run at down the hill. The two courses do combine for the cross-country race though, which is argued as one of the toughest tests in horse racing.

As part of the continued growth of the racecourse, they are constantly updating and improving both the track and the facilities to make the experience for both punters and riders a more pleasurable one. One of the latest additions has been that of the Princess Royal Stand that was completed in 2015 costing £45million and adding a further 6,500 seats to the capacity.

Day by Day Highlights

Tuesday / Champion Day

Day 1 of the festival is usually the most anticipated, just because of the 12 month wait since the last race. It’s a day that the organisers have really thought about in terms of hitting the ground running and there are some monster races straight from the off.

The day kicks off with the Supreme Novices Hurdle and is one of the fastest races of the whole meeting. It’s a highly excitable race and whilst not always the easiest to call it’s a great curtain raiser for the four days. Its massive field means that value is to be found, if you can work your selections well enough.

The next race is the Arkle, named after one of the festivals most iconic horses. This 2-miler isn’t the longest race by any means, by as it’s run over hurdles, it offers a demanding first look at some of the jumps that the riders can expect to navigate over throughout the week.

One of the tougher races of the week, never mind day, is that of the Festival Handicap Chase. It’s another big field to work through, except this time they are often much more experience than that of the Arkle, which should give punters a good insight as to which horse could be on the shrewd pick. The race is often seen as a good measuring stick in the lead up the Grand National just a month or so later.

The highlight of the day is undoubtedly the Champions Hurdle, one of three Grade 1 listed races that day. It’s run over 2 miles and showcases some of the best hurdlers in the world. To give you an idea of the calibre of horses, previous winners have included Istabraq, See You Then, Annie Power, Hurricane Fly, Binocular and the list just keeps going on.

The final three races for the day include the Mares’ Hurdle, National Hunt Chase and the Novices’ Handicap Chase.

Race2017 ResultTrainer / JockeyPrize Money
Supreme Novices'
Hurdle
1.
2.
3.
Labaik
Melon
River Wylde
G Elliot / J Kennedy
WP Mullins / R Walsh
N Henderson / N de Boinville
£71,188
£26,713
£13,375
Arkle Chase 1.
2.
3.
Altior
Cloudy Dream
Ordinary World
N Henderson / N de Boinville
M Jefferson / B Hughes
H de Bromhead / D Russell
£99,663
£37,398
£18,725
Ultima
Handicap Chase
1.
2.
3.
4.
Un Temps Pour Tout
Singlefarmpayment
Noble Endeavor
Buywise
D Pipe / T Scudamore
T George / AP Heskin
G Elliot / D Dussell
E Williams / A Wedge
£59,798
£22,439
£11,235
£5,597
Champion Hurdle 1.
2.
3.
Buveur D'Air
My Tent Or Yours
Petit Mouchoir
N Henderson / N Fehily
N Henderson / A Coleman
H De Bromhead / BJ Cooper
£227,800
£85,480
£42,800
OLBG Mares’ Hurdle 1.
2.
3.
Apple's Jade
Vroum Vroum Mag
Limini
G Elliot / BJ Cooper
WP Mullins / P Townend
WP Mullins / R Walsh
£61,897
£23,320
£11,671
Challenge Cup 1.
2.
3.
Tiger Roll
Missed Approach
Haymount
G Elliot / Ms L O'Neill
W Greatrex / Mr N McParlan
WP Mullins / Mr PW Mullins
£71,952
£22,476
£11,232
Close Brothers
Novices’ Handicap
1.
2.
3.
4.
Tully East
Gold Present
Two Taffs
Powersbomb
A Flemming / D O'Regan
N Henderson / J McGrath
D Skelton / D Russell
BM McMahon / Mr JJ Codd
£39,865
£14,959
£7,490
£3,731

Wednesday / Ladies Day

Day 2 of the festival sees another highly competitive line up of races and horses. The day is topped off by the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This race basically decides who the best 2-miler in the world and again, attracts a star-studded line-up.

One of the toughest races of the whole week is that of the Coral Cup, which has a massive field. It’s not a particularly long race at 2m 5f, but the pace is rapid and it often comes down to which horse has the biggest heart, which isn’t easy to predict given the field size. If ever there was a race where the form book tends to go out the window, this would be it!

The Cross Country Chase is favoured by horse racing fans for betting on for the exact opposite of reasons. The Irish have long time been dominated in this race and due to its field size and the calibre of horse racing, the formbook is going to be your friend with the Cross Country.

Another competitive but tough race to call is the Fred Winter Hurdle, which is made up of juveniles that are aged 4+. The race is another that has a strong field, but as the horses are still fairly young, they often have little pedigree of form to call up on. Plus, given the fact it includes 20+ horses per race, makes that little bit tougher again.

Race2017 ResultTrainer / JockeyPrize Money
Novices' Hurdle 1.
2.
3.
Willoughby Court
Neon Wolf
Messire Des Obeaux
B Pauling / D Bass
H Fry / N Fehily
A King / D Jacob
£71,188
£26,713
£13,375
RSA Novices' Chase 1.
2.
3.
Might Bite
Whisper
Bellshill
N Henderson / N de Boinville
N Henderson / D Russell
WP Mullins / R Walsh
£99,663
£37,398
£18,725
Coral Cup 1.
2.
3.
4
Supasundae
Taquin Du Seuill
Who Dares Wins
Monksland
Mrs J Harrington / R Power
J O'Neill / A Coleman
A King / W Hutchinson
N Meade / D Meyer
£54,103
£20,302
£10,165
£5,064
Queen Mother
Champion Chase
1.
2.
3.
Special Tiara
Fox Norton
Sir Valentino
H De Bromhead / N Fehily
C Tizzard / A Coleman
T George / P Brennan
£208,300
£78,163
£39,136
Glenfarclas Cross
Country Chase
1.
2.
3.
Cause Of Causes
Bless The Wings
Cantlow
G Elliot / Mr JJ Codd
G Elliot / D Russell
E Bolger / AP Heskin
£40,235
£11,947
£5,974
Fred Winter
Handicap Hurdle
1.
2.
3.
4.
Flying Tiger
Divin Bere
Nietzsche
Project Bluebook
N Williams / R Johnson
N Henderson / N Fehily
B Ellison / D Cook
J Quinn / B Hughes
£45,560
£17,096
£8,560
£4,264
Champion Bumper 1.
2.
3.
Fayonagh
Debuchet
Claimantakinforgan
G Elliot / Mr JJ Codd
Ms M Mullins / D Mullins
N Henderson / N de Boinville
£42,713
£16,028
£8,025

Thursday / St Patrick's Thursday

Another bumper day at the festival, and often St Patrick’s Day, the 3rd day of the meeting is kicked off with the JLT Novices’ Handicap. It’s one of the most popular races of the meeting, often with the Irish lumping on due to their dominance in the race in recent times.

The Ryanair Chase is another that is hotly contested and run over 2m5f. The race is contested by 5 year olds and above and is often made up of horses who probably aren’t quite ready for the step up in class to bigger race such as the Gold Cup. But, the horses on show are likely ones to watch for the future, so bear that in mind when looking at previous results of this race.

The Stayers hurdle is probably the highlight of Day 3 and with comes to strongest hurdlers in the industry at the minute. This race is followed by the Plate Handicap Chase, which just so happens to be another tricky pick for punters, mainly down to the size of the field but also that horses are aged just 5 years and over.

Finally, the day finishes off with the Mares’ Novices Hurdle and the Challenge Cup to cap a fine days racing.

Race2017 Result Trainer / JockeyPrize Money
JLT Novices' Chase 1.
2.
3.
Yorkhill
Top Notch
Disko
WP Mullins / R Walsh
N Henderson / D Jacob
N Meade / BJ Cooper
£89,275
£33,500
£16,773
Pertemps Network Final 1.
2.
3.
4.
Presenting Percy
Barney Dwan
Jury Duty
The Tourard Man
PG Kelly / D Russell
F O'Brien / P Brennan
G Elliot / J Kennedy
A King / K Dowling
£54,103
£20,302
£10,165
£5,064
Ryanair Chase 1.
2.
3.
Un De Sceaux
Sub Lieutenant
Aso
WP Mullins / R Walsh
H De Bormhead / D Mullins
V Williams / C Deutsch
£170,850
£64,110
£32,100
Stayers' Hurdle 1.
2.
3.
Nichols Canyon
Lil Rockerfeller
Unowhatimeanharry
WP Mullins / R Walsh
N King / T Whelan
H Fry / N Fehily
£170,850
£64,110
£32,100
Stable Plate 1.
2.
3.
4
Road To Respect
Baron Alco
Bouvreuil
Thomas Crapper
Noel Meade / BJ Cooper
G Moore / J Moore
P Nicholls / S Twiston-Davies
R Dickin / C Poste
£59,798
£22,439
£11,235
£5,597
Mares Novices' Hurdle 1.
2.
3.
Let's Dance
Barra
Dusky Legend
WP Mullins / R Walsh
G Elliot / BJ Cooper
A King / W Hutchinson
£45,560
£17,096
£8,560
Kim Muir Amateur
Riders Handicap Chase
1.
2.
3.
4.
Domesday Book
Pendra
Premier Bond
Potters Legend
S Edmunds / G Andrews
C Longsdon / D O'Connor
N Henderson / S W'y-Cohen
L Wadham / M Legg
£40,233
£12,568
£6,281
£3,140

Friday / Gold Cup Day

The 4th and last day of the meeting, is, let’s face it all about the Gold Cup. But, there is still a world class day of racing ahead, kicked off with the Triumph Hurdle. The Triumph has a cracking field usually and with it trainers are looking to set up potential future stars from this race.

The County Hurdle follows this race and is renowned as one of the hardest races all week to pick a winner from. It’s big field and a lot of unknown horses involved, but the flip side is that the winner is usually a healthy payout, so money to be won!

The Novices Hurdle’ is one of the newer races to the Festival, although has been about since 2005 now. It offers a very strong field and with it it’s often one that you need to get your money in with the bigger horses to get the best price.

Finally, the Gold Cup is run and it’s regarded as one of the biggest and most iconic races in the world, let alone at the Cheltenham Festival. It’s had some of the most iconic horse in history race in it and some of the most exhilarating races to boot.

Race2017 ResultTrainer / JockeyPrize Money
Triumph Hurdle 1.
2.
3.
Defi Du Seuil
Mega Fortune
Bapume
P Hobbs / R Johnson
G Elliot / D Russell
WP Mullins / R Walsh
£71,188
£26,713
£13,375
County Hurdle 1.
2.
3.
4.
Arctic Fire
L'Ami Serge
Ozzie The Oscar
Air Horse One
WP Mullins / P Townend
N Henderson / D Jacob
P Hobbs / T O'Brien
H Fry / N Fehily
£54,103
£20,302
£10,165
£5,064
Albert Bartlett
Novices' Hurdle
1.
2.
3.
Penhill
Monalee
Wholestone
WP Mullins / P Townend
H De Bromhead / D Mullins
N Twiston-Davies / D Jacob
£71,188
£26,713
£13,375
Cheltenham
Gold Cup
1.
2.
3.
Sizing John
Minella Rocco
Native River
Mrs J Harrington / R Power
J O'Neill / N Fehily
C Tizzard / R Johnson
£327,463
£122,878
£61,525
Foxhunter Chase 1.
2.
3.
Pacha Du Polder
Wonderful Charm
Barel Of Laughs
P Nicholls / B Frost
P Nicholls / Ms K Walsh
P Rowley / Mr A Edwards
£26,982
£8,429
£4,212
Martin Pipe Conditional
Jockeys' Hc Hurdle
1.
2.
3.
4.
Champagne Classic
Verni
Runfordave
Coo Star Sivola
G Elliot / JJ Slevin
P Hobbs / T Cheeseman
G Elliot / D Meyler
N Williams / L Kelly
£40,664
£12,012
£6,006
£3,003
Grand Annual 1.
2.
3.
4.
Rock The World
Gardefort
Theinval
Dandridge
Mrs J Harrington / R Power
V Williams / D Jacob
N Henderson / J McGrath
ALT Moore / D Russell
£59,798
£22,439
£11,235
£5,597

Statistics

Top 5 trainers from 2017

The 2017 season was one of the most competitive in recent history and with it saw a plethora of new trainers and even new jockey burst onto the scene. But, at the top of the pile for trainers were that of Gordon Elliot and Willie Mullins. The latter is no novice when it comes to be right at the very top, with Mullins being crowned Champion trainer in 5 of the last 7 years.

Gordon Elliot however had never previously won the accolade, until 2017 where his 6 winners were enough to win him the crown. In fact, Mullins and Elliot were both tied on 6 wins a piece, but as Elliot had the most recent win within the festival, it was he who got the nod over the king of Cheltenham.

  1. Gordon Elliot – 6 wins
  2. Willie Mullins – 6 wins
  3. Nicky Henderson – 3 wins
  4. Jessica Harrington – 3 wins
  5. Henry de Bromhead – 1 win

Top 5 Jockeys from 2017

The champions jockey was again another hotly contested race, with Ruby Walsh coming out on top for the 10th time in the last 12 years. It will come as little surprise to hear that it is Walsh who rides a good number of Mullins’ best horses, hence the link between the two.

But, Walsh had a pretty slow start to the festival in 2017 and failed to pick up a win until the 3rd day. He then managed to go on to win 4 of the 7 races that day, a feat which was enough to win him the overall title of champion jockey.

  1. Ruby Walsh – 4 wins
  2. Robbie Power – 3 wins
  3. Noel Fehily – 2 wins
  4. Bryan Cooper – 2 wins
  5. Paul Townend – 2 wins

The winners of the Betbright Prestbury Cup in 2017 was Ireland, beating Great Britain by 19 wins to 9.

Top Trainers (All Time)

Over the last decade or so it’s been Willie Mullins that has been the top trainer to beat at Cheltenham. Since 2011, Mullins has won the award 6 times in total, taking his overall winners tally at Cheltenham to 48.

But, it’s not Mullins who holds the overall record, with long-time rival Nicky Henderson holding that mantel with 55 wins to his name. Below is a list of the top 5 all-time leading trainers from Cheltenham Festival:

  1. Nicky Henderson – 55 wins
  2. Willie Mullins – 48 wins
  3. Paul Nicholls – 40 wins
  4. Jonjo O’Neil – 26 wins
  5. Philip Hobbs – 18 wins

Festival History

The Cheltenham Festival has been running since 1860, making it one of the oldest race meeting in the world. Interestingly, it’s actually been held at a couple of different racecourses within that time, originally being held at Market Harborough, with the running of the first National Hunt chase.

At the turn of the 20th Century, the home of the meeting was mostly at the Warwick Racecourse and eventually moved to Cheltenham on more permanent basis in 1904, due to the expansion of the Prestbury Park. Over the coming decade or so the location flicked back between Cheltenham and Warwick, before in 1911, due to significant upgrade in facilities and the courses that were on offer, it was switched to Cheltenham on a permanent basis and has been held here ever since.

Gold Cup

The Gold Cup is one of the most iconic races in the world and has been running since 1924. But, the first inauguration of the Cheltenham Gold Cup was actually run in 1819, but back then it was run over a 3m flat race. It wasn’t until 1924 when it made its first appearance over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival and has been a stable figure ever since.

Initially the race wasn’t considered to be one of the bigger ones for both spectators and trainers. It was actually seen as a warm up to the Grand National, allowing trainers to see if horses had progressed enough over the winter to run in what was renowned as the most prestigious race of the time. Both the National Hunt Chase and the County Handicap Hurdle were held in higher regard, with higher purses for both, compared with the Gold Cup.

Moving into the modern era, the Gold Cup switched from the Old Course to the New Course in 1959. The race has seen and created some of the most iconic racehorses of all time, including Arkle, Best Mate, Kauto Star, Desert Orchid and Denman.

Arkle

Throughout the sixties there were few racehorses that were as successful as Arkle. The Irish born thoroughbred won pretty much everything that you could do in that time and from his 35 races, lost only 3 times, highlighting just how successful he was.

His rating of 212 was and still is the highest rating of any steeplechaser in the history of the sport. To put that into perspective, the popular Kauto Star only ever reached that of 191, some 21 point short of Arkle’s record.

But, it was at Cheltenham where the horse really stood out from the crowd and in particular, the Gold Cup. He managed to win the race on three separate occasions, but what was even more impressive was that it was in 3 consecutive seasons, highlighting the dominance of this magnificent horse in the mid-sixties.

Aged 13, Arkle was laid to rest, but his legacy still lives on with his skeleton being on show at the Irish National Stud Museum and the naming of the Arkle Chase at Cheltenham after him.

Desert Orchid

Another iconic name in the horse racing industry is that of Desert Orchid. Whilst he won one Gold Cup back in 1989, he was probably more famed for his 4 wins in the King George VI Chase. But, his resume is one that has to be admired and undauntedly one of the best of all time.

The horse was always the peoples favourite and they loved the fact that he was as honest when racing as you could get, giving 110% each time he raced. Throughout the eighties and early nineties there wasn’t much that he didn’t win, but what was more impressive is that his wins came from different styles of races and different lengths, making him a true all-rounder.

It was his appearances after his retirement that really caught the heart both inside and outside of the sport. He attended several charity events, raising thousands of pounds in doing so. Few horses have left such a legacy both on and off the course.

Kauto Star V Denman

Throughout the decades of Cheltenham there have been several rivalries between a plethora of horses, but none have been able to reach the heights of the Kauto Star v Denman story. They will both go down as two of the true greats of the sport and their ability to bring the best out of each other was unparalleled.

The pair were essentially stable mates, but for long periods owner, Paul Nicholls, was keen to keep the pair apart. By the time that Denman had started to compete with Kauto Star, it was the latter that was the established name and had already won the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 2007.

A year later it was Denman’s chance to earn the crown, which he duly took, beating Kauto Star by 7 lengths in one of the most impressive performances that race had ever seen. But, it was just a year alter when Kauto Star reasserted his dominance over Denman, winning by an impressive 13 lengths, an almost nod to say, nice try, but better luck next time!

Both horses ended their careers with impressive figures. Denman having 12 wins from just 13 runs and Kauto Star 15 wins from 25 runs, but earning almost 3 times in prize money than his stable mate.

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