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 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 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.
|Day||Race||Grade / Length||Last Winner|
|Tuesday||Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m 4f||Black Tears (2021)|
|Tuesday||Champion Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m ½f||Honeysuckle (2021)|
|Tuesday||Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices’ Chase||Grade 1 / 2m||Shishkin (2021)|
|Tuesday||Supreme Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m ½f||Appreciate It (2021)|
|Wednesday||Champion Bumper||Grade 1 / 2m ½f||Sir Gerhard (2021)|
|Wednesday||Queen Mother Champion Chase||Grade 1 / 2m||Put The Kettle On (2021)|
|Wednesday||Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m 5f||Bob Olinger (2021)|
|Wednesday||Brown Advisory Novices’ Chase||Grade 1 / 3m ½f||Monkfish (2021)|
|Thursday||Ryanair Chase||Grade 1 / 2m 4½f||Allaho (2021)|
|Thursday||Stayers’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 3m||Flooring Porter (2021)|
|Thursday||Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle||Grade 3 / 3m||Mrs Milner (2021)|
|Thursday||Marsh Novices’ Chase||Grade 1 / 2m 4f||Chantry House (2021)|
|Friday||Festival Hunters' Chase||Class 2 / 3m 2½f||Porlock Bay (2021)|
|Friday||Cheltenham Gold Cup||Grade 1 / 3m 2½f||Minella Indo (2021)|
|Friday||Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle||Grade 1 / 3m||Vanillier (2021)|
|Friday||Triumph Hurdle||Grade 1 / 2m 1f||Quilixios (2021)|
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.
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 2021
|13:30||Tuesday||Supreme Novices Hurdle||Old||£93,750|
|14:10||Tuesday||Arkle Novices’ Chase||Old||£131,250|
|14:50||Tuesday||Ultima Handicap Chase||Old||£82,500|
|16:10||Tuesday||Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle||Old||£90,000|
|16:50||Tuesday||Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle||Old||£60,000|
|17:30||Tuesday||National Hunt Challenge Cup||Old||£93,750|
|13:30||Wednesday||Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle||Old||£93,750|
|14:10||Wednesday||Festival Novices’ Chase||Old||£131,250|
|14:50||Wednesday||Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle||Old||£75,000|
|15:30||Wednesday||Queen Mother Champion Chase||Old||£300,000|
|16:10||Wednesday||Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase||X-Country||£48,750|
|16:50||Wednesday||Grand Annual Handicap Chase||Old||£82,500|
|17:30||Wednesday||Weatherbys Champion Bumper||Old||£56,250|
|13:30||Thursday||Marsh Novices’ Chase||New||£131,250|
|14:10||Thursday||Pertemps Final Handicap Hurdle||New||£75,000|
|16:10||Thursday||Stable Plate Handicap Chase||New||£82,500|
|16:50||Thursday||Daylesford Mares Novices’ Hurdle||New||£67,500|
|17:30||Thursday||Kim Muir Handicap Chase||New||£52,500|
|13:30||Friday||JCB Triumph Hurdle||New||£93,750|
|14:10||Friday||Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle||New||£75,000|
|14:50||Friday||Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle||New||£93,750|
|15:30||Friday||Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase||New||£468,750|
|16:10||Friday||St James’ Place Foxhunter Chase||New||£33,750|
|16:50||Friday||Paddy Power Mares’ Chase||New||£90,000|
|17:30||Friday||Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle||New||£52,500|
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 2018 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. There was the a drop to just over £3.5 million for 2021.
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 £33k for the lowest grade race whilst the pinnacle is the Cheltenham Gold Cup which produces almost £470k to be won in 2021 though this stood at £625k in 2020.
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 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.
Day by Day Overview
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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 2020. Tables show the winner of each race, followed by the official places.
Following that 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.
Tuesday 10th March 2020 Results (Day 1)
|Supreme Novice||1st||Shishkin||6/1||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|Supreme Novice||2nd||Abacadabras||11/4||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|Supreme Novice||3rd||Chantry House||15/2||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|Arkle Chase||1st||Put The Kettle On||16/1||Henry De Bromhead||Aidan Coleman|
|Arkle Chase||2nd||Fakir D’oudairies||3/1||Joseph O’Brien||Mark Walsh|
|Arkle Chase||3rd||Rouge Vif||9/1||Harry Whittington||Gavin Sheehan|
|Ultima Handicap||1st||The Conditional||15/2||David Bridgwater||Brendan Powell|
|Ultima Handicap||2nd||Kildisart||10/1||Ben Pauling||Daryl Jacob|
|Ultima Handicap||3rd||Discorama||11/2 JF||Paul Nolan||Bryan Cooper|
|Ultima Handicap||4th||Vinndication||11/2 JF||Kim Bailey||David Bass|
|Champion Hurdle||1st||Epatante||2/1 F||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|Champion Hurdle||2nd||Sharjah||16/1||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
|Champion Hurdle||3rd||Darver Star||17/2||Gavin Cromwell||Jonathan Moore|
|Mares’ Hurdle||1st||Honeysuckle||9/4||Henry De Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|Mares’ Hurdle||2nd||Benie Des Dieux||4/6 F||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Mares’ Hurdle||3rd||Elfile||16/1||Willie Mullins||Danny Mullins|
|Novices’ Handicap||1st||Imperial Aura||4/1 JF||Kim Bailey||David Bass|
|Novices’ Handicap||2nd||Galvin||4/1 JF||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|Novices’ Handicap||3rd||Hold The Note||10/1||Mick Channon||Jonathan Burke|
|Novices’ Handicap||4th||Whatmore||14/1||Henry Daly||Tom O’Brien|
|National Hunt Cup||1st||Ravenhill||12/1||Gordon Elliot||Jamie Codd|
|National Hunt Cup||2nd||Lord Du Mesnil||11/2||Richard Hobson||Sam Waley-Cohen|
|National Hunt Cup||3rd||Lamanver Pippin||33/1||Colin Tizzard||William Biddick|
Wednesday 11th March 2020 Results (Day 2)
|Ballymore Hurdle||1st||Envoi Allen||4/7||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russel|
|Ballymore Hurdle||2nd||Easywork||12/1||Gordon Elliot||Rachael Blackmore|
|Ballymore Hurdle||3rd||The Big Getaway||9/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|RSA Chase||1st||Champ||4/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|RSA Chase||2nd||Minella Indo||3/1||H. De Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|RSA Chase||3rd||Allaho||5/2||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Coral Cup||1st||Dame De Compagnie||5/1||Nicky Henderson||Barry Geraghty|
|Coral Cup||2nd||Black Tears||12/1||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|Coral Cup||3rd||Thosedaysaregone||10/1||Charles Byrnes||Kevin Brouder|
|Coral Cup||4th||Cracking Smart||33/1||Gordon Elliot||Gavin Brouder|
|Champion Chase||1st||Politologue||6/1||Paul Nicholls||Harry Skelton|
|Champion Chase||2nd||Dynamite Dollars||7/1||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|Cross Country||1st||Easyland||3/1||David Cottin||Jonathan Plouganou|
|Cross Country||2nd||Tiger Roll||8/11 F||Gordon Elliot||Keith Donoghue|
|Cross Country||3rd||Out Sam||33/1||Gordon Elliot||Jamie Codd|
|Fred Winter Hurdle||1st||Aramax||15/2||Gordon Elliot||Mark Walsh|
|Fred Winter Hurdle||2nd||Night Edition||16/1||David Pipe||Tom Scudamore|
|Fred Winter Hurdle||3rd||Saint D’oroux||14/1||Gordon Elliot||Daryl Jacob|
|Fred Winter Hurdle||4th||Recent Revelations||14/1||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|Champion Bumper||1st||Ferny Hollow||11/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Champion Bumper||2nd||Appreciate It||15/8 F||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
|Champion Bumper||3rd||Queens Brook||6/1||Gordon Elliot||Jamie Codd|
Thursday 12th March 2020 Results (Day 3)
|Novices’ Chase||1st||Samcro||4/1||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|Novices’ Chase||2nd||Melon||14/1||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
|Novices’ Chase||3rd||Faugheen||3/1 F||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Pertemps Final||1st||Sire Du Berlais||10/1||Gordon Elliot||Barry Geraghty|
|Pertemps Final||2nd||The Storyteller||11/2 JF||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|Pertemps Final||3rd||Tout Est Permis||12/1||Noel Meade||Eoin Walsh|
|Pertemps Final||4th||Third Wind||12/1||Hughie Morrison||Tom O’Brien|
|Ryanair Chase||1st||Min||2/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Ryanair Chase||2nd||Saint Calvados||16/1||Harry Whittington||Gavin Sheehan|
|Ryanair Chase||3rd||A Plus Tard||7/4 F||Henry De Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|Stayers’ Hurdle||1st||Lisnagar Oscar||50/1||Rebecca Curtis||Adam Wedge|
|Stayers’ Hurdle||2nd||Ronald Pump||20/1||Matthew Smith||Bryan Cooper|
|Stayers’ Hurdle||3rd||Bacardys||33/1||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
|Plate Handicap||1st||Simply The Betts||10/3 F||Harry Whittington||Gavin Sheehan|
|Plate Handicap||2nd||Happy Diva||20/1||Kerry Lee||Richard Patrick|
|Plate Handicap||3rd||Mister Whitaker||22/1||Mick Channon||Adrian Heskin|
|Plate Handicap||4th||Oldgrangewood||11/1||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
|Dawn Run Hurdle||1st||Concertista||9/2||Willie Mullins||Daryl Jacob|
|Dawn Run Hurdle||2nd||Dolcita||9/1||Willie Mullins||Robbie Power|
|Dawn Run Hurdle||3rd||Rayna’s World||100/1||Philip Kirby||Thomas Dowson|
|Challenge Cup||1st||Milan Native||9/1||Gordon Elliot||Robert James|
|Challenge Cup||2nd||Kilfilum Cross||8/1||Henry Oliver||Alex Edwards|
|Challenge Cup||3rd||Bob Mahler||16/1||Warren Greatrex||Noel McParlan|
|Challenge Cup||4th||Plan Of Attack||10/1||Henry De Bromhead||Barry O’Neill|
Friday 13th March 2020 Results (Day 4)
|Triumph Hurdle||1st||Burning Victory||12/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Triumph Hurdle||2nd||Aspire Tower||5/1||Henry De Bromhead||Rachael Blackmore|
|Triumph Hurdle||3rd||Allmankind||7/2||Dan Skelton||Harry Skelton|
|County Hurdle||1st||Saint Roi||11/2 F||Willie Mullins||Barry Geraghty|
|County Hurdle||2nd||Aramon||8/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|County Hurdle||3rd||Embittered||14/1||Joseph O’Brien||J J Slevin|
|County Hurdle||4th||Buildmeupbuttercup||16/1||Willie Mullins||Danny Mullins|
|Albert Bartlett||1st||Monkfish||5/1||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Albert Bartlett||2nd||Latest Exhibition||9/2||Paul Nolan||Bryan Cooper|
|Albert Bartlett||3rd||Fury Road||5/1||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|Gold Cup||1st||Al Boum Photo||10/3 F||Willie Mullins||Paul Townend|
|Gold Cup||2nd||Santini||5/1||Nicky Henderson||Nico de Boinville|
|Gold Cup||3rd||Lostintranslation||10/1||Colin Tizzard||Robbie Power|
|Foxhunter Chase||1st||It Came To Pass||66/1||Eugene O’Sullivan||Maxine O’Sullivan|
|Foxhunter Chase||2nd||Billaway||11/4 F||Willie Mullins||Patrick Mullins|
|Foxhunter Chase||3rd||Shantou Flyer||3/1||Rose Loxton||David Maxwell|
|Grand Annual||1st||Chosen Mate||7/2 F||Gordon Elliot||Davy Russell|
|Grand Annual||2nd||Eclair De Beaufeu||13/2||Gordon Elliot||Sean O’Keeffe|
|Grand Annual||3rd||Us And Them||10/1||Joseph O’Brien||J J Slevin|
|Grand Annual||4th||Greaneteen||5/1||Paul Nicholls||Harry Cobden|
|Martin Pipe Hurdle||1st||Indefatigable||25/1||Paul Webber||Rex Dingle|
|Martin Pipe Hurdle||2nd||Pileon||9/1||Philip Hobbs||Ben Jones|
|Martin Pipe Hurdle||3rd||Great White Shark||40/1||Willie Mullins||Donal McInerney|
|Martin Pipe Hurdle||4th||Happygolucky||25/1||Kim Bailey||Stan Sheppard|
Top Trainers from 2020
Irish Trainers Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliot dominated the 2020 winning half of the 28 races between them. The battle for the top trainer award between the two couldn’t have been closer, with both earning 7 wins and second places though it was Mullins who pipped Elliot to the title with 6 third places to Elliot’s 4.
Going into the final day of the meeting, it was actually Gordon Elliot who was leading in the standings with 6 wins ahead of just 3 for Mullins. Willie Mullins had an extraordinary Friday however, winning the first four races on the card with Burning Victory winning the Triumph Hurdle, Saint Roi in the County Hurdle, Monkfish Taking the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle and Al Boum Photo winning his second Gold Cup in succession.
Nicky Henderson was once again the best of the British based trainers in 2020 win 4 wins, ahead of another Irishman, Henry De Bromhead, who was the fourth best trainer with a brace of victories.
There were first festival wins for David Bridgewater (Ultima Handicap Chase), Paul Webber (Stable Plate Handicap Chase) and French trainer David Cottin who won the Cross Country Chase.
Kim Bailey picked up just her second win in 20 years with Imperial Aura in the Northern Trust Handicap Chase. Eugene O’Sullivan picked up his second Cheltenham Festival win some 29 years after his first with a victory for It Came To Pass in the Foxhunter Chase.
There were also single wins for Paul Nicholls, Rebecca Curtis and Harry Whittington. Nicholls’ win came with Politologue in the Queen Mother Champion Chase. This was his sixth victory in the race, making Paul Nicholls the two-miles chase’s joint leading trainer alongside Nicky Henderson and Tom Dreaper.
Top Cheltenham Festival Trainers in 2020
|Trainer||Wins||Wins By Day||Seconds||Thirds|
|Willie Mullins (IRE)||7||(0-1-2-4)||7||6|
|Gordon Elliot (IRE)||7||(1-2-3-1)||7||4|
|Henry De Bromhead (IRE)||2||(2-0-0-0)||2||1|
|David Cottin (FRA)||1||(0-1-0-0)||0||0|
|Eugene O’Sullivan (IRE)||1||(0-0-0-1)||0||0|
Top Jockeys from 2020
Paul Townend and Barry Geraghty both had five wins in 2020 but it was Townend who picked up his first Ruby Walsh Trophy thanks to two second place finishes and three third places. All five of Townend’s wins came for Willie Mullins including a three-timer on day four with wins in the Triumph Hurdle, Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle and the big one, the Gold Cup, onboard Al Boum Photo.
Barry Geraghty had three of his wins for Nicky Henderson with the Champion Hurdle, the RSA Chase and the Coral Cup. His other victories came in the Pertemps Final for Gordon Elliot and the County Hurdle for Willie Mullins.
In third place was 2018 Leading Jockey Davy Russell who had three wins, all for Gordon Elliot. They were Wednesday’s Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, Thursday’s March Novices’ Chase and Fridays Grand Annual.
Fifteen jockeys all picked up single wins with first victories at the festival for Maxine O’Sullivan, Rex Dingle, Robert James, Jonathan Ploganou and Adam Wedge. O’Sullivan’s victory was a real family affair, winning on It Came To Pass in the Foxhunter Chase, who was trained by her father Eugene. Adam Wedge’s maiden victory came onboard Lisnagar Oscar as the Rebecca Curtis trained runner upset the odds in the Stayers’ Hurdle to win at 50/1.
Amateur jockey Jamie Codd reached the milestone of 10 Cheltenham Festival wins as he rode Ravenhill to victory in the National Hunt Challenge Cup for Gordon Elliot. In 2019, Rachael Blackmore became the first female rider to win a Grade 1 Hurdle at Cheltenham. She followed this up in 2020 with a second Grade 1 at the Cheltenham Festival, winning the Mares’ Hurdle with Honeysuckle.
Top Cheltenham Festival Jockeys in 2020
|Jockey||Wins||Wins By Day||Seconds||Thirds|
|Nico de Boinville||1||(1-0-0-0)||1||0|
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 seven times. In 2020 his 7 wins brought his total number of victories to 72, extending his lead over British trainer Nicky Henderson as the festival’s winning most trainer by four wins.
Long-time rival Henderson is a clear second on the list of all time Cheltenham festival trainers with 68 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 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.
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
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.