The Cheltenham Festival – What You Should Know

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Cheltenham 2024 is just a few months away and the anticipation and excitement is now beginning to gain momentum. Pundits and punters alike are now beginning to speculate about which horse will do well in the Festival next year.

Before things really get underway, this is a good time to take a quick step back and really find out about the Cheltenham Festival.

What is the Cheltenham Festival?

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The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most eagerly awaited events in the horse racing calendar year. It is held at the Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, in the month of March, usually around St. Patrick’s Day.

It is a part of the UK’s National Hunt racing circuit and has the second biggest prize money after the Grand National.

It features some of the most prestigious races in the Grade 1 category – the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle, and the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Just so you know, in 2018, the Gold Cup prize money was a massive £625,000, and the prize money for all the races during the Festival totaled a whopping £4,590,000!

Ever heard of the Cheltenham Roar? It’s that tsunami of sound that comes from the crowd of spectators when the starter raises the tape for the first race of the Festival!

A Little Bit of History

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According to Cheltenham Festival, racing in the area is more than 200 years old, however, the Festival as we know it was first held in 1911 at Prestbury Park. The person largely responsible for this was Frederick Cathcart, the senior partner at Messrs. Pratt & Co., the firm that managed numerous racecourses across the country, including Prestbury Park.

Initially, it was a two-day event, but Cathcart’s direction made the event so popular that it soon grew to a three-day event in 1923. In 1924, the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup was introduced, and The Champion Hurdle followed in 1927.

Since those early days, the Cheltenham Festival has only grown in importance and popularity, and it now stands as one of UK’s premier events, rubbing shoulders with other sporting events like Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the British Open and the FA Cup Finals.

It was in 2005 that the Festival became the massive 4-day event that we now know and love, with hundreds of thousands of people attending it. In fact, in 2018, a record 262,637 people attending the Festival, with 70,684 attending the final day of the races.

Betting During the Festival

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During the 4-day festival, huge amounts of money are wagered by millions across the world. In fact, bookmakers the world over up their game specifically for this event, and updates on the event take place as the races take place.

The latest news, betting tips, betting offers from Cheltenham, free bets, enhanced odds, as well as predictions from the pundits, are starting pouring in as the races draw closer. Punters from all over the world attend the Cheltenham festival.

Today, thanks to the magic of the internet, those that cannot be physically present at the Festival can still make their bets through online bookmakers. And if you want to place a few bets, find here.

What to Expect at Cheltenham 2024?

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In 2024, the Cheltenham Festival will be held from March 10 to March 13.

On Day 1, you will get to witness The Champion Hurdle, which has a prize of £450,000. The gates will open at 10.30 am, and the first race will begin at 1.30 pm. The last race will be held at 5.30 pm.

On Day 2, the main race will be The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, which is the Grade 1 championship race for the 2-mile chasers.

On Day 3, The Stayers’ Hurdle will take place, as will the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase.

On Day 4, the big race takes place – The Cheltenham Gold Cup!

Changes to Cheltenham 2024

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While horse racing is the second-most viewed sport in the UK, there has been a growing protest by animal rights activists about how the horses – the stars of the sport – are being treated.

Since 2019, there have been numerous changes made in racing policies to increase the safety of horses. The BBC published the 17 recommendations that had been made – and implemented – to increase the welfare of the racehorses.

Fatality rates of horses have dropped significantly in the last 20 years, but the Cheltenham administration continues to increase safety measures for the runners.

According to Gloucestershire Live, further changes will be made in the Cheltenham 2024 Festival to ensure that horses running the longest race, The National Hunt Chase, would suffer fewer injuries and that no fatalities occur – for the horses as well as the jockeys.

These changes have all been approved by the Amateur Jockey Association.