The Cheltenham Festival is widely regarded as one of the most exhilarating horse race meetings of the year. It’s a chance for trainers to produce their best in class and for the jockeys to go down as legends of the sport, such is the prestige of the event.
The festival is particularly popular with Irish fans 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 four 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 Major Races
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 15th March in 2022 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 have the best of the contests here.
|Day||Race||Grade / Length||Last Winner|
|Tuesday||Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m 4f||Marie's Rock (2022)|
|Tuesday||Champion Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m ½f||Honeysuckle (2022)|
|Tuesday||Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase||Grade 1 / 2m||Edwardstone (2022)|
|Tuesday||Supreme Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m ½f||Constitution Hill (2022)|
|Wednesday||Champion Bumper||Grade 1 / 2m ½f||Facile Vega (2022)|
|Wednesday||Queen Mother Champion Chase||Grade 1 / 2m||Energumene (2022)|
|Wednesday||Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m 5f||Sir Gerhard (2022)|
|Wednesday||Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase||Grade 1 / 3m ½f||L'Homme Presse (2022)|
|Thursday||Ryanair Chase||Grade 1 / 2m 4½f||Allaho (2022)|
|Thursday||Stayers’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 3m||Flooring Porter (2022)|
|Thursday||Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle||Grade 3 / 3m||Third Wind (2022)|
|Thursday||Turners Novices’ Chase||Grade 1 / 2m 4f||Bob Olinger (2022)|
|Friday||Festival Hunters' Chase||Class 2 / 3m 2½f||Billaway (2022)|
|Friday||Cheltenham Gold Cup||Grade 1 / 3m 2½f||A Plus Tard (2022)|
|Friday||Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 3m||The Nice Guy (2022)|
|Friday||Triumph Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m 1f||Vauban (2022)|
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 £45 million and added further 6,500 seats to the capacity.
A more detailed look at the racecourse including maps of the new and old course can be found on our Cheltenham Racecourse guide.
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.
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 Full Schedule of Races in 2022
|13:30||Tuesday||Supreme Novices Hurdle||Old||£135,000|
|14:10||Tuesday||Arkle Novices’ Chase||Old||£175,000|
|14:50||Tuesday||Ultima Handicap Chase||Old||£125,000|
|16:10||Tuesday||Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle||Old||£120,000|
|16:50||Tuesday||Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle||Old||£80,000|
|17:30||Tuesday||National Hunt Challenge Cup||Old||£125,000|
|13:30||Wednesday||Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle||Old||£135,000|
|14:10||Wednesday||Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase||Old||£175,000|
|14:50||Wednesday||Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle||Old||£100,000|
|15:30||Wednesday||Queen Mother Champion Chase||Old||£400,000|
|16:10||Wednesday||Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase||X-Country||£75,000|
|16:50||Wednesday||Grand Annual Handicap Chase||Old||£125,000|
|17:30||Wednesday||Weatherbys Champion Bumper||Old||£80,000|
|13:30||Thursday||Turners Novices’ Chase||New||£175,000|
|14:10||Thursday||Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle||New||£100,000|
|16:10||Thursday||Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase||New||£120,000|
|16:50||Thursday||Parnell Mares Novices’ Hurdle||New||£105,000|
|17:30||Thursday||Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase||New||£75,000|
|13:30||Friday||JCB Triumph Hurdle||New||£135,000|
|14:10||Friday||McCoy County Handicap Hurdle||New||£100,000|
|14:50||Friday||Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle||New||£135,000|
|15:30||Friday||Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase||New||£625,000|
|16:10||Friday||St James’ Place Foxhunter Chase||New||£50,000|
|16:50||Friday||Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase||New||£120,000|
|17:30||Friday||Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle||New||£75,000|
The prize money and schedule above are courtesy of the BHA.
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.
The 2022 festival saw record levels of prize money with £4.815 million up for grabs. This was a significant increase in of over £1.3 million from 2021 which had a total fund of just under £3.5 million. The previous record prize money for the festival was in 2018 when over £4.6 million was paid out.
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 £50k for the lowest grade race whilst the pinnacle is the Cheltenham Gold Cup which produces £625k to be won in 2022.
Great Britain Versus Ireland: The Prestbury Cup
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 15 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.
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.
Ireland won again in 2020 with 17 wins to 10 with a French trained winner in the other race before a record victory for the Irish in 2021 with a landslide 23 wins to Great Britain’s 5. Although there were double the British winners from the previous year in 2022 with 10, Ireland won the Prestbury Cup once more thanks to their 18 wins.
Day by Day Overview
Tuesday / Champion Day
Day one 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. The massive fields means that value can be found.
The next race is the Arkle Chase, named after one of the festival’s most iconic horses. This two-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 Trophy Handicap Chase. It has another big field to work through, except this time they are often much more experienced than that of the Arkle, which should give punters a good insight as to which horse could be 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 races that day. It is again run over two miles and showcases some of the best hurdlers in the world. To give you an idea of the calibre of horse, 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 are the David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle, Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and the National Hunt Challenge Cup.
Wednesday / Ladies Day
Day two of the festival sees another highly competitive line-up of races and horses. The day opens with the Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle and is followed by the Broadway Novices’ Chase.
Next is one of the toughest races of the whole week, the Coral Cup, which has a massive field of 20+ runners. 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 key race of the day is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This race basically decides who the best two-mile chaser in the world and again, attracts a star-studded line-up.
The Cross Country Chase is favoured by horse racing fans for betting on for the exact opposite of reasons to the Coral Cup. The Irish have long 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 Grand Annual Chase, which is actually the oldest race running at the festival having first been contested in 1834. The race is named after Johnny Henderson, father of trainer Nicky, who was a key figure in securing the course’s future during the 1960’s. The race is another that has a strong field, given the fact it includes 20 or more horses, making it that little bit tougher to call.
The final race on Wednesday is the meeting’s only flat race, the Champion Bumper.
Thursday / St Patrick’s Thursday
Another bumper day at the festival, and often St Patrick’s Day, the third day of the meeting switches to the New Course and is kicked off with the Golden Miller Novices’ Chase. It is one of the newest races at the meeting, formed in 2011, and is named after Golden Miller, the five-time Gold Cup winner. This is also one of most popular races of the meeting and has been dominated by Irish trainers Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott.
The second race is the three-mile Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle, a contest with a number of qualifying events throughout the season.
The Ryanair Chase is another that is hotly contested, run over 2m 5f. The race involves horses that are 5 years old and above and is often made up of horses who probably aren’t quite ready for the step up in class to bigger races such as the Gold Cup. But, the horses on show are likely to be ones to watch for the future, so bear that in mind when looking at previous results.
The Stayers Hurdle is probably the highlight of day three, bringing together the strongest long distance hurdlers in the industry at the time. 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 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices Hurdle and the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup to cap a fine days racing.
Friday / Gold Cup Day
The fourth and final 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 by the Triumph Hurdle. This has a cracking field usually and with it trainers are looking to establish potential future stars of jump racing.
The County Hurdle follows this race and is renowned as one of the hardest races all week to pick a winner from. It has a big field and a lot of unknown horses involved, but the flip side is that the winner is usually a very healthy price.
The Spa Novices Hurdle’ is one of the newer races to the Festival, although it has been about since 2005. It offers a very strong field and with it it’s often one that finds the fancied horses taking the spoils.
The Gold Cup is run next and is regarded as one of the biggest and most important jump races in the world, let alone at the Cheltenham Festival. It’s has been won by some of the most recognisable names in the sport and has some of the most exhilarating races to boot.
Three races follow the main event, seeing off the festival for another year. These are the Hunter Chase, run over the same distance as the Gold Cup, the Liberthine Mares’ Chase, and the Martin Pipe Hurdle for conditional jockeys.
Results & Statistics
When the world of National Hunt racing descends on Cheltenham for the week, there is a whole host of numbers to crunch once the dust hast settled on another festival. Below we have all the results from the latest Cheltenham Festival in 2022. Tables show the winner of each race, followed by the official places. We will then 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.
Tuesday 15th March 2022 Results (Day 1)
Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (13:30): 9 Ran
|1st||Constitution Hill||9/4 Fav||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|2nd||Jonbon||5/1||Nicky Henderson||Aidan Coleman|
|3rd||Kilcruit||6/1||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
Sporting Life Arkle Novices’ Chase: 14:10 (11 Ran)
|1st||Edwardstone||5/2 Fav||Alan King||Tom Cannon|
|2nd||Gabynako||25/1||Gavin Cromwell||Keith Donoghue|
|3rd||Blue Lord||4/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
Ultima Handicap Chase: 14:50 (24 Ran)
|1st||Corach Rambler||10/1||Lucinda Russell||Derek Fox|
|2nd||Gericault Roque||9/1||David Pipe||Tom Scudamore|
|3rd||Oscar Elite||22/1||Colin Tizzard||Harry Cobden|
|4th||Tea Clipper||12/1||Tom Lacey||Stan Sheppard|
Unibet Champion Hurdle: 15:30 (10 Ran)
|1st||Honeysuckle||8/11 Fav||Henry de Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|2nd||Epatante||16/1||Nicky Henderson||Aidan Coleman|
|3rd||Zanahiyr||28/1||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle: 16:10 (12 Ran)
|1st||Marie’s Rock||18/1||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|2nd||Queens Brook||4/1||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
|3rd||Mrs Milner||14/1||Paul Nolan||Bryan Cooper|
Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle: 16:50 (21 Ran)
|1st||Brazil||10/1||Padraig Roche||Mark Walsh|
|2nd||Gaelic Warrior||13/8 Fav||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|3rd||Bell Ex One||28/1||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|4th||HMS Seahorse||8/1||Paul Nolan||Bryan Cooper|
Ukraine Appeal National Hunt Chase: 17:30 (6 Ran)
|1st||Stattler||2/1||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
|2nd||Run Wild Fred||15/8 Fav||Gordon Elliott||Jamie Codd|
Wednesday 16th March 2022 (Day Two)
Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle: 13:30 (9 Ran)
|1st||Sir Gerhard||8/11 Fav||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2nd||Three Stripe Life||8/1||Gordon Elliott||Davy Russell|
|3rd||Whatdeawant||18/1||Willie Mullins||Danny Mullins|
Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase: 14:10 (9 Ran)
|1st||L’Homme Presse||9/4 Fav||Venetia Williams||Charlie Deutsch|
|2nd||Ahoy Senor||4/1||Lucinda Russell||Derek Fox|
|3rd||Gaillard Du Mesnil||11/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle: 14:50 (23 Ran)
|1st||Commander Of Fleet||50/1||Gordon Elliott||Shane Fitzgerald|
|2nd||Fastorslow||18/1||Martin Brassil||Darragh O’Keeffe|
|3rd||Ashdale Bob||14/1||Jessica Harrington||Jack Foley|
|4th||Camprond||10/1||Philip Hobbs||Aidan Coleman|
Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase: 15:30 (7 Ran)
|1st||Energumene||5/2||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2nd||Funambule Sivola||40/1||Venetia Williams||Charlie Deutsch|
Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase: 16:10 (16 Ran)
|1st||Delta Work||5/2 Fav||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
|2nd||Tiger Roll||3/1||Gordon Elliott||Davy Russell|
|3rd||Plan Of Attack||25/1||Henry de Bromhead||Darragh O’Keeffe|
Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase: 16:50 (16 Ran)
|1st||Global Citizen||28/1||Ben Pauling||Kielan Woods|
|2nd||Andy Dufresne||10/3 Fav||Gordon Elliott||Mark Walsh|
|3rd||Frero Banbou||6/1||Venetia Williams||Charlie Deutsch|
|4th||Editeur Du Gite||15/2||Gary Moore||Joshua Moore|
Weatherbys Champion Bumper: 17:30 (20 Ran)
|1st||Facile Vega||15/8 Fav||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
|2nd||American Mike||5/2||Gordon Elliott||Jamie Codd|
|3rd||James’s Gate||16/1||Willie Mullins||Sean O’Keeffe|
Thursday 17th March 2022 (Day Three)
Turners Novices’ Chase: 13:30 (4 Ran)
|1st||Bob Olinger||6/5||Henry de Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
Pertemps Network Final Hurdle: 14:10 (22 Ran)
|1st||Third Wind||25/1||Hughie Morrison||Tom O’Brien|
|2nd||Alaphilippe||11/2 CF||Fergal O’Brien||Paddy Brennan|
|3rd||Mill Green||33/1||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|4th||Winter Fog||11/2 CF||Emmet Mullins||Paul Townend|
Ryanair Chase: 14:50 (7 Ran)
|1st||Allaho||4/7 Fav||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2nd||Janidil||12/1||Willie Mullins||Mark Walsh|
Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle: 15:30 (10 Ran)
|1st||Flooring Porter||4/1||Gavin Cromwell||Danny Mullins|
|2nd||Thyme Hill||11/2||Philip Hobbs||Tom O’Brien|
|3rd||Paisley Park||17/2||Emma Lavelle||Aidan Coleman|
Craft Irish Whiskey Plate Handicap Chase: 16:10 (15 Ran)
|1st||Coole Cody||22/1||Evan Williams||Adam Wedge|
|2nd||Imperial Alcazar||7/2 Fav||Fergal O’Brien||Paddy Brennan|
|3rd||Spiritofthegames||12/1||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
Ryanair Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle: 16:50 (19 Ran)
|1st||Love Envoi||15/2||Harry Fry||Jonathan Burke|
|2nd||Ahorsewithnoname||50/1||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|3rd||Grangee||13/2||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Handicap Chase: 17:30 (20 Ran)
|1st||Chambard||40/1||Venetia Williams||Lucy Turner|
|2nd||Mister Coffey||5/1 JF||Nicky Henderson||Sam Waley-Cohen|
|3rd||Didero Vallis||66/1||Venetia Williams||James King|
|4th||Fakir D’alene||33/1||Gordon Elliott||Harry Swan|
Friday 18th March 2022 (Day Four)
JCB Triumph Hurdle: 13:30 (12 Ran)
|1st||Vauban||6/4 Fav||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2nd||Fil Dor||11/2||Gordon Elliott||Davy Russell|
|3rd||Pied Piper||7/2||Gordon Elliott||Jack Kennedy|
McCoy Contractors County Hurdle: 14:10 (26 Ran)
|1st||State Man||11/4 Fav||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|2nd||First Street||16/1||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|3rd||Colonel Mustard||13/2||Lorna Fowler||Conor Orr|
|4th||West Cork||13/2||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle: 14:50 (16 Ran)
|1st||The Nice Guy||18/1||Willie Mullins||Sean O’Keeffe|
|2nd||Minella Cocooner||9/2||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|3rd||Bardenstown Lad||20/1||John McConnell||Sean Bowen|
Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup: 15:30 (11 Ran)
|1st||A Plus Tard||3/1 Fav||Henry de Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|2nd||Minella Indo||7/1||Henry de Bromhead||Robbie Power|
|3rd||Protektorat||10/1||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
St James’s Place Hunters Chase: 16:10 (19 Ran)
|1st||Billaway||13/8 Fav||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
|2nd||Winged Leader||9/2||David Christie||Barry O’Neill|
|3rd||Mighty Stowaway||33/1||Gordon Elliott||Jamie Codd|
Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Chase: 16:50 (8 Ran)
|1st||Elimay||9/4||Willie Mullins||Mark Walsh|
|2nd||Pink Legend||33/1||Venetia Williams||Charlie Deutsch|
|3rd||Scarlet And Dove||28/1||Joseph Patrick O’Brien||Bryan Cooper|
Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Hurdle: 17:30 (23 Ran)
|1st||Banbridge||12/1||Joseph Patrick O’Brien||Mark McDonagh|
|2nd||Cobblers Dream||12/1||Ben Case||Jack Andrews|
|3rd||Hollow Games||9/2||Gordon Elliott||Jordan Gainford|
|4th||Freedom To Dream||20/1||Peter Fahey||Liam Harrison|
Top Trainers from 2022
Irish trainer Willie Mullins was named as leading trainer at the Cheltenham Festival for the ninth time in 2022. His ten victories left him seven clear of fellow Irishman Henry de Bromhead, who was second with three wins over the four days.
Despite a modern record haul of wins, Mullins had to wait until the final race on the first day to get off the mark, landing the spoils in the National Hunt Cup with Stattler. Another victory followed in the first race on day two with Sir Gerhard claiming the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. Win number three came in the big race on Wednesday with Energumene taking the Queen Mother Champion Chase by 8½ lengths. Willie Mullins saw the day out in familiar fashion winning his twelfth Champion Bumper with Facile Vega.
Just one win came on Thursday but that was in the most valuable race of the day when Allaho was victorious in the Ryanair Chase. After day 3, Mullins was three clear in the standings, the final day proved to be a spectacular feat of training.
Friday started with a hattrick of wins with Vauban in the Triumph Hurdle, State Man in the County Hurdle and The Nice Guy in the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle. After disappointment in the Gold Cup, Mullins was quickly back to winning ways with Billaway in the Festival Hunters’ Chase, followed by Elimay in the Mares’ Chase to seal a memorable 1519/1 five-timer for the County Carlow based trainer.
Top Jockeys from 2022
Paul Townend became Cheltenham Leading jockey for the second time in 2022, thanks to his five wins and six places over the four days.
All five wins for Townend came for trainer Willie Mullins. After drawing a blank on day one, the Irish jockey had two victories in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase on day two. Day three brought win number three with Allaho in the Ryanair Chase with Townend landing a brace of victories at the beginning of day four when taking the Triumph Hurdle and the County Hurdle.
Townend finished two clear in the standings ahead of last year’s champion, Rachael Blackmore and amateur rider Patrick Mullins.
All Time Top Trainers & Jockeys
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 nine times. In 2022 his ten wins brought his total number of victories to 88, extending his 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 72 wins to his name, with Paul Nicholls back in third with 46.
The now retired 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 43, followed by the legendary Sir Anthony McCoy with 31.
History of the Cheltenham Festival
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.
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 three 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.
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 four 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
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 three times in prize money than his stable mate.