From 10th-13th March around 70,000 people will descend on the leafy Gloucestershire town of Cheltenham for the annual Cheltenham Festival. It’s just over two hours drive away from London, and you would expect plenty of racing fans to escape the city for a couple of days to witness arguably the biggest equine event in the UK.
Below, we will give you a breakdown of the event, looking at how to go, how to watch on tv or online, and what the biggest stories are leading up to the festival:
Tickets and Hospitality
Tickets are still widely available for each day of the festival, and we would advise you to go directly to the official route of the Jockey Club Website as Cheltenham can be tough on ticket touts. It costs just over £40 for a standard ticket, but you can get hospitality tickets for a few hundred pounds if you wish to splash out.
Trains regularly leave from Euston Station and Paddington Station, with the usual journey time coming in at around 2 hours and 10 minutes. The National Express runs up to 15 direct coaches to Cheltenham per day, departing from London Victoria Station.
Television and Streaming Coverage
ITV broadcasts each day of the festival, with coverage of the first five races. The last two races of the day must be accessed through a specialist racing channel, or you can simply catch Cheltenham live streaming for free through your mobile or PC.
The Big Stories
Most racing fans are talking about Altior and his attempt to win a record-equalling third Queen Mother Champion Chase. He’s 2/1 (William Hill) to complete the feat, which would surely see him go down as the best chaser of the 21st century. Elsewhere, the sensational Tiger Roll is 4/5 for the Cross Country Chase, in what will be seen as a warm-up for his Grand National bid in April.
The Gold Cup
Of course, the Gold Cup is naturally the biggest story of the week. It will take place on Friday 13th at 3.30 pm. It’s always a race packed with talent, but this year there is a host of class-acts with an opportunity to win. Al Boum Photo and Santini lead the way in the betting at 7/2 with Bet365. But there are others like Delta Work (9/2), Kemboy (7/1) and Clen Des Obeaux (7/1) in with a shout. Regardless, it is shaping up to be a terrific race.
What Else to Know
Obviously, people are crossing their fingers about the outbreak of coronavirus. It has caused postponements of sporting events in Europe, and one should not rule out a cancellation. It would be a shame, as one of the best parts of the festival is seeing the 1000s of Irish fans make the trip across the Irish sea to cheer on their local trainers and jockeys. If travel is disrupted, then that would be a massive loss to a festival that sizzles with atmosphere.
Top Tips for the Festival
If you are having a flutter on the races, then keep an eye out on these horses (please bet responsibly):
Asterion Forlonge – Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, 4/1 Coral
Benie Des Dieux – Mares’ Hurdle, 4/5 Ladbrokes
Altior – Champion Chase, 2/1 various
Envoi Allen – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, 6/4 Betway
Paisley Park – Stayers’ Hurdle, 8/11 Bet365
Santini – Cheltenham Gold Cup, 7/2 Bet365