Cheltenham Festival 2020: 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 produce their best of class and for the jockeys to go down in racing folk-law, such is the prestige of the event.

The festival 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 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 Festival Betting Tips For 2020

When March rolls around it means the long wait is almost over for racing fans with the best four days of sporting action of the year almost upon us. The great and the good of the British and Irish National Hunt scene will all descend on Prestbury Park on Tuesday 10th March for what is effectively the World Cup and Olympic Games of this sport all rolled in to one. It’s Cheltenham Festival time!

Four days to look forward to in all then, with no fewer than 28 races to get stuck into. There’s really something for everyone here, from the handicappers to the Grade 1 superstars. We preview the best of the contests here.

RaceDay & DateTimeGrade / LengthTip
Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Tue 10th Mar 13:30 Grade 1 / 2m ½f Chantry House
The Arkle Tue 10th Mar 14:10 Grade 1 / 2m Fakir D’oudairies
Champion Hurdle Tue 10th Mar 15:30 Grade 1 / 2m ½f Epatante
Mares’ Hurdle Tue 10th Mar 16:10 Grade 1 / 2m 4f Honeysuckle
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Wed 11th Mar 13:30 Grade 1 / 2m 5f The Big Getaway
RSA Chase Wed 11th Mar 14:10 Grade 1 / 3m ½f Minella Indo
Champion Chase Wed 11th Mar 15:30 Grade 1 / 2m Defi Du Seuil
Champion Bumper Wed 11th Mar 17:30 Grade 1 / 3m 7f Ferny Hollow
Marsh Novices’ Chase Thu 12th Mar 13:30 Grade 1 / 2m 4f Itchy Feet
Pertemps Network Final Thu 12th Mar 14:10 Grade 3 / 3m The Storyteller
Ryanair Chase Thu 12th Mar 14:50 Grade 1 / 2m 4½f Min
Stayers’ Hurdle Thu 12th Mar 15:30 Grade 1 / 3m Paisley Park
JCB Triumph Hurdle Fri 13th Mar 13:30 Grade 1 / 2m 1f Allmankind
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Fri 13th Mar 14:50 Grade 1 / 3m Ramsees De Teillee
Gold Cup Fri 13th Mar 15:30 Grade 1 / 3m 2½f Lostintranslation
Foxhunter Chase Fri 13th Mar 16:10 Class 2 / 3m 2½f Caid Du Berlais

The Format of the Festival

In total there are 28 races across the four days, with each day having seven races and at least three Grade 1s.

Chart Showing Cheltenham Festival Race Grades by Day

Each day hosts a feature or 'Championship' race. On Tuesday this feature race is the Champion Hurdle, Wednesday it is the Queen Mother Champion Chase and on Friday it is the Gold Cup. Thursday actually has two feature races, the Ryanair Chase and the Stayers' Hurdle.

Cheltenham Festival Races

Tuesday 1 Supreme Novices Hurdle 2 Arkle Chase
3 Ultima Handicap 4 Champion Hurdle
5 Mares' Hurdle 6 Novices Handicap Chase
7 National Hunt Challenge Cup    
Wednesday 1 Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2 RSA Novices' Chase
3 Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle 4 Queen Mother Champion Chase
5 Cross Country Chase 6 Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
7 Weatherbys Champion Bumper    
Thursday 1 Marsh Novices' Chase 2 Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle
3 Ryanair Chase 4 Stayer's Hurdle
5 Stable Plate Handicap Chase 6 Festival Mares Novices' Hurdle
7 Kim Muir Handicap Chase    
Friday 1 Triumph Hurdle 2 County Handicap Hurdle
3 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle 4 Cheltenham Gold Cup
5 Foxhunter Chase 6 Grand Annual Handicap Chase
7 Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle    

Free to Air TV Coverage

 Video Camera Lying on Grass

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

Chart Showing Cheltenham Festival Prize Money Between 2015 and 2019

In 2018 the festival saw record levels of prize money with over £4.65 million up for grabs. This was a significant increase in of over £300,000 from 2017 which had a total fund of over £4.3 million. The 2019 festival had a slightly reduced fund of just under £4.6 million and remained level for 2020.

Previous years had shown a steady increase in across the board with 2016 having £4.17 million and 2015 having a total of £3.9 million respectively. However, 2016 was the first year that there were seven races on each day. Previously, Thursday's card only contained six races, a format which had been in place since the festival switched from three days to four in 2005.

Prize money starts at around £45,000 for the lowest grade race whilst the pinnacle is the Cheltenham Gold Cup which produces £625,000 to be won.

Great Britain Versus Ireland: The Prestbury Cup

Great Britain and Ireland Flags Overlapping

The Prestbury Cup is a side competition between Great Britain and Ireland, and works in a similar manner to that of Ryder Cup in golf.

Basically, the first country to get 14 or more wins in the festival takes the cup, starting from the Supreme Novices Hurdle on the Tuesday.

The cup is named after the village situated next to the racecourse. The winning team gets presented with the trophy once the festival has been completed. For 2019, the cup remains sponsored by Betbright, and is therefore known as the Betbright Prestbury Cup.

In 2018, Ireland completed a hattrick of Prestbury Cup wins taking the contest by 17 wins to 11. This after the Irish had a record 19 wins in 2017 and a narrow 15-13 victory in 2016.

The 2019 festival saw a 14-14 draw between British and Irish trained horses. This was a first draw since 1978 when the final day was abandoned due to snow, with only 12 races being run.

Cheltenham Racecourse

Aerial View of Cheltenham Racecourse Grandstands
Chris Homer, flickr

The course is one of the most beautiful tracks in the world. As it’s set within the Cotswolds, you get panoramic views of the countryside from higher viewpoints. Not only that, you are able to see a huge amount of the course given its undulations towards the far side.

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

There are actually two main courses used within the confines of Prestbury Park throughout the festival. They are split into the Old Course and the New Course, both with distinctive characteristics. 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 cross-country race, one of the toughest at the festival, follows a course constructed within the inner track which joins the old course to finish at the usual winning line.

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, trainers and riders a more pleasurable one. One of the latest additions has been the Princess Royal Stand which was completed in 2015. It cost £45million and added further 6,500 seats to the capacity.

Day by Day Highlights & Latest Results

Tuesday / Champion Day

Grass Number One

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, but as it’s run over fences, 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.

2019 Day One Results

RaceResult (SP)Trainer / JockeyPrize Money
1. Klassical Dream (6/1) W P Mullins / R Walsh £70,338
2. Thomas Darby (28/1) O Murphy / R Johnson £26,500
3. Itchy Feet (25/1) O Murphy / G Sheehan £13,263
1. Duc Des Genievres (5/1) W P Mullins / P Townend £102,772
2. Us And Them (14/1) J P O'Brien / J J Slevin £38,720
3. Articulum (25/1) T O'Brien / D Mullins £19,378
1. Beware The Bear (10/1) N Henderson / J McGrath £61,897
2. Vintage Clouds (16/1) S Smith / D Cook £23,320
3. Lake View Lad (25/1) N W Alexander / H Brooke £11,671
4. Big River (28/1) L Russell / D Fox £5,830
1. Espoir D'Allen (16/1) G Cromwell / M Walsh £253,434
2. Melon (20/1) W P Mullins / P Townend £95,619
3. Silver Streak (80/1) E Williams / A Wedge £47,964
1. Roksana (10/1) D Skelton / H Skelton £70,563
2. Stormy Ireland (7/1) W P Mullins / P Townend £26,585
3. Good Thyne Tara (25/1) W P Mullins / R Blackmore £13,305
Close Brothers
1. A Plus Tard (5/1F) H De Bromhead / R Blackmore £39,389
2. Tower Bridge (6/1) J P O'Brien / J J Slevin £14,840
3. Ben Dundee (33/1) G Elliot / K Donoghue £7,427
4. The Russian Doyen (20/1) C Tizzard / H Cobden £3,710
1. Le Breuil (14/1) B Pauling / J J Codd £75,403
2. Discorama (9/2) P Nolan / B O'Neill £24,553
3. Jerrysback (16/1) P Hobbs / D G Lavery £12,916

Wednesday / Ladies Day

Grass Number Two

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.

2019 Day Two Results

RaceResult (SP)Trainer / JockeyPrize Money
1. City Island (8/1) M Brassil / M Walsh £70,338
2. Champ (9/2) N Henderson / B Geraghty £26,500
3. Bright Forecast (25/1) Ben Pauling / N de Boinville £13,263
RSA Chase 1. Topofthegame (4/1) P Nicholls / H Cobden £98,473
2. Santini (3/1) N Henderson / N de Boinville £37,100
3. Delta Work (15/8F) G Elliot / D Russell £18,568
Coral Cup
1. William Henry (28/1) N Henderson / N de Boinville £56,270
2. Wicklow Brave (28/1) W P Mullins / P W Mullins £21,200
3. Ballyandy (14/1) N Twiston-Davies / S Twiston-Davies £10,610
4. Brio Conti (10/1) P Nicholls / H Cobden £5,300
1. Altior (4/11F) N Henderson / N de Boinville £225,080
2. Politologue (11/1) P Nicholls / H Cobden £84,800
3. Sceau Royal (16/1) A King / D Jacob £42,440
Cross Country
1. Tiger Roll (5/4F) G Elliot / K Donoghue £40,235
2. Josies Orders (15/2) E Bolger / M Walsh £11,947
3. Urgent De Gregaine (17/2) E Clayeux / F De Giles £5,974
Fred Winter
1. Band Of Outlaws (7/2F) J P O'Brien / J J Slevin £45,016
2. Coko Beach (14/1) G Elliot / J Kennedy £16,960
3. Ciel De Neige (17/2) W P Mullins / R Walsh £8,488
4. King D'argent (25/1) D Skelton / H Skelton £4,240
1. Envoi Allen (2/1F) G Elliot / J J Codd £42,203
2. Blue Sari (7/2) W P Mullins / B Geraghty £15,900
3. Thyme Hill (20/1) P Hobbs / R Johnson £7,958

Thursday / St Patrick's Thursday

Grass Number Three

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.

2019 Day Three Results

RaceResult (SP)Trainer / JockeyPrize Money
JLT Novices'
1. Defi Du Seuil (3/1F) P Hobbs / B Geraghty £88,209
2. Lostintranslation (4/1) C Tizzard / R power £33,233
3. Mengali Khan (9/1) G Elliot / J Kennedy £16,632
Network Final
1. Sire Du Berlais (4/1F) G Elliot / B Geraghty £56,270
2. Tobefair (40/1) D Hamer / T Bellamy £21,200
3. Not Many Left (16/1) Mrs J Harrington / M Walsh £10,610
4. Cuneo (12/1) H De Bromhead / R Blackmore £5,300
1. Frodon (9/2) P Nicholls / B Frost £196,945
2. Aso (33/1) V Williams / C Deutsch £74,200
3. Road To Respect (9/2) N Meade / S Flanagan £37,135
1. Paisley Park (11/8F) E Lavelle / A Coleman £182,878
2. Sam Spinner (33/1) J O'Keefe / J Colliver £68,900
3. Faugheen (4/1) W P Mullins / R Walsh £34,483
Stable Plate
1. Siruh Du Lac (9/2) N Williams / L Kelly £61,897
2. Janika (3/1F) N Henderson / D Jacob £23,320
3. Spiritofthegames (6/1) D Skelton / H Skelton £11,671
4. Eamon An Cnoic (10/1) D Pipe / T Scudamore £5,830
1. Eglantine Du Seuil (50/1) W P Mullins / N Fehily £50,643
2. Concertista (66/1) W P Mullins / D Mullins £19,080
3. Tintangle (40/1) G Elliot / J Kennedy £9,549
Kim Muir
Challenge Cup
Handicap Chase
1. Any Second Now (6/1) T M Walsh / D O'Connor £41,510
2. Kilfilum Cross (7/1) H Oliver / A Andrews £13,034
3. The Young Master (22/1) N Mulholland / S Waley-Cohen £6,517
4. Crievehill (40/1) N Twiston-Davies / Z Baker £3,255

Friday / Gold Cup Day

Grass Number Four

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.

2019 Day Four Results

RaceResult (SP)Trainer / JockeyPrize Money
1. Pentland Hills (20/1) N Henderson / N de Boinville £70,338
2. Coeur Sublime (20/1) G Elliot / D Russell £26,500
3. Gardens Of Babylon (9/1) J P O'Brien / B Geraghty £13,263
1. Ch'tibello (12/1) D Skelton / H Skelton £56,270
2. We Have A Dream (14/1) N Henderson / D Jacob £21,200
3. Countister (18/1) N Henderson / B Geraghty £10,610
4. Whiskey Sour (5/1F) W P Mullins / R Walsh £5,300
Albert Bartlett
1. Minella Indo (50/1) H De Bromhead / R Blackmore £73,506
2. Commander Of Fleet (4/1F) G Elliot / J Kennedy £27,694
3. Allaho (8/1) W P Mullins / R Walsh £13,860
Gold Cup 1. Al Boum Photo (12/1) W P Mullins / P Townend £351,688
2. Anibale Fly (22/1) A J Martin / B Geraghty £132,500
3. Bristol De Mai (18/1) N Twiston-Davies / D Jacob £66,313
Challenge Cup
1. Hazel Hill (7/2F) P Rowley / A Edwards £26,685
2. Shantou Flyer (7/1) R Hobson / D Maxwell £8,379
3. Top Wood (33/1) K Morgan / T Worsley £4,190
Grand Annual
Challenge Cup
1. Croco Bay (66/1) B Case / K Woods £61,897
2. Bun Doran (11/1) T George / P Brennan £23,320
3. Brelan D'As (8/1) P Nicholls / B Frost £11,671
4. Forest Bihan (33/1) B Ellison / D Cook £5,830
Martin Pipe
Conditional Jockeys'
1. Early Doors (5/1) J P O'Brien / J O'Neill Jr £43,330
2. Dallas Des Pictons (7/2F) G Elliot / D Meyler £12,866
3. Defi Bleu (14/1) G Elliot / C Brassil £6,433
4. Champagne Court (14/1) J Scott / R Dingle £3,206


 Horse and Jockey With Green and Gold Silks Jumping Fence

With the world of National Hunt racing descending on Cheltenham for the week, there is a whole host of numbers to crunch once the dust hast settled on another festival. Below we look at who were the top trainers and jockeys at the latest running of the event as well who are the most successful of all time.

Top Trainers from 2019

The 2019 festival saw Irish trainers Gordon Elliot and Willie Mullins joined by Nicky Henderson in the battle for top trainer. In the end it was Mullins who regained the top trainer award which he last won in 2016 with four wins, five second places and four third place finishes. This was narrowly in front of Henderson who also had four winners but only four second places and a single third place finish.

Champion trainer for the last two festivals, Gordon Elliot, had to settle for third place in 2019 with three wins to his name.

Mullins got off to a flying start winning the opening two races on the first day with Klassical Dream taking the Supreme Novices Hurdle followed by Duc De Genievres triumphing in the Arkle. Henderson did go into the lead on the final day when Pentland Hills took the Triumph Hurdle but victory in the big one, the Gold Cup, with Al Boum Photo sealed the top trainer award for County Carlow based Mullins.

Joseph O'Brien, son of flat trainer Aiden, had his first and second Cheltenham festival winners with Band Of Outlaws winning the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle and Early Doors taking the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle. There was also first festival wins for trainers Martin Brassil, Ben Case and Philip Rowley.

The most impressive first win however came for former farrier Gavin Cromwell when Espoir D'Allen won the Champion Hurdle by a resounding 15 lengths.

Former Grand National winning trainer Ted Walsh, father of jockeys Ruby and Katy, ended a 22 year wait for his second festival win when Any Second Now won the Kim Muir. His only other festival win came back in 1997 when Commanche Court won the Triumph Hurdle. Emma Lavelle had her first Cheltenham Festival win since 2010 when favourite Paisley Park took the Stayers' Hurdle.

Dan Skelton won his third County Hurdle in four years with Ch'tibello taking the Grade 3 contest, ridden by his brother Harry. The duo also combined for a win in the Mares' Hurdle with Oksana.

Top 7 Cheltenham Festival Trainers in 2019

TrainerWins by Day
Willie Mullins (Ire) 4 2 0 1 1
Nicky Henderson 4 1 2 0 1
Gordon Elliot (Ire) 3 0 2 1 0
Joseph O'Brien (Ire) 2 0 1 0 1
Paul Nicholls 2 0 1 1 0
Dan Skelton 2 1 0 0 1
Henry de Bromhead (Ire) 2 1 0 0 1

Top Jockeys from 2019

The leading jockey at the 2019 was Nico de Boinville who's three wins landed him the award for the first time. It's the first English Cheltenham Festival Top Jockey since Robert 'Choc' Thorton's four wins gained him the accolade back in 2007. All three wins came riding for Nicky Henderson with back to back wins on Wednesday in the Coral Cup with William Henry and the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Altior followed by the Triumph Hurdle success on the Friday on Pentland Hills. Altior's win was a record equalling eighteenth in a row, fifteen of which have been under Nico de Boinville.

Barry Geraghty, the top jockey in 2003 and 2012 was joined in second place on two victories by Paul Townend, Mark Walsh, Jamie Codd, Rachel Blackmore and Harry Skelton. The top jockey in 2018, Davy Russell finished the 2019 festival winless. Another former top jockey with a disappointing four days in 2019 was Ruby Walsh. His one win in the opening Supreme Novices' Hurdle was his fewest festival wins since 2003.

Perhaps the story of the meeting came when Bryony Frost became the first female jockey to land a Grade 1 race over jumps at the Cheltenham Festival when she rode Frodon to victory in the Ryanair Chase for Paul Nicholls. This was Frost's second festival win after winning the Foxhunter Chase with Pacha Du Polder in 2017.

The first Grade 1 chase win by a female jockey was swiftly followed by the first grade 1 win over hurdles for a female jockey, when Rachel Blackmore took the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle the next day on Minella Indo for Henry de Bromhead. On day one, Blackmore also had victory in the Close Brothers Novices' Handicap Cap Chase with A Plus Tard, again for de Bromhead.

The 2019 Cheltenham Festival was the joint best ever for female jockeys. Lizzie Kelly's win in the Stable Plate on Siruh Du Lac along with the Frost and Blackmore victories meant four in total for the meeting. This equalled the previous year, 2018, where there were wins for Lizzie Kelly, Bridget Andrews, Harriet Tucker and Katie Walsh. Walsh's win in the National Hunt Flat Race was a first festival Grade 1 win for a female jockey and Kelly's the first for a professional female jockey.

Keith Donoghue won the Cross Country Chase for the second year in a row aboard Grand National Hero Tiger Roll and Rachel Blackmore was joined by Alex Edwards, Jonjo O'Neill Jr and Kielan Woods in gaining their first wins at The Festival.

Top 7 Cheltenham Festival Jockeys in 2019

JockeyWins by Day
Nico de Boinville 3 0 2 0 1
Barry Geraghty 2 0 0 2 0
Paul Townend 2 1 0 0 1
Mark Walsh 2 1 1 0 0
Jamie Codd 2 1 1 0 0
Rachel Blackmore 2 1 0 0 1
Harry Skelton 2 1 0 0 1

Top Trainers & Jockeys of All Time

Over the last decade or so it’s been Willie Mullins that has been the trainer to beat at Cheltenham. Since 2011, Mullins has won the top trainer award six times. In 2019 his 4 wins extended his total number of victories to 65, maintaining his one win lead over British trainer Nicky Henderson as the festival's winning most trainer.

Long-time rival Henderson is a clear second on the list of all time Cheltenham festival trainers with 64 wins to his name, with Paul Nicholls back in third with 45.

Despite just one win in 2019, Ruby Walsh is still the most successful jockey at the festival by some distance with a total of 59 wins. Second is fellow Irishman Barry Geraghty on 38, followed by the legendary Sir Anthony McCoy with 31.

All Time Cheltenham Festival Top Trainers & Jockeys

Willie Mullins 65 Ruby Walsh 59
Nicky Henderson 64 Barry Geraghty 38
Paul Nicholls 45 A P McCoy 31
Fulke Walwyn 40 Pat Taaffe 25
Martin Pipe 34 Richard Johnson 23

History of the Cheltenham Festival

Bench Overlooking Cheltenham Racecourse

The Cheltenham Festival has been running since 1860, making it one of the oldest race meetings 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

Gold Trophy

The Gold Cup is arguably the most important jumps race in the world and has been running since 1924. But, the first inauguration of the Cheltenham Gold Cup was actually in 1819, but back then it was 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 legendary racehorses, including Arkle, Best Mate, Kauto Star, Desert Orchid and Denman.


Throughout the sixties there were few racehorses that were as successful as Arkle. Named after the Scottish mountain (shown in image), 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

Close Up of Light Grey Horse

Another famous name in jumps racing 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 Versus Denman

Chess Knights Facing Each Other

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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