Cheltenham Festival History
The Cheltenham Festival has become synonymous with National Hunt racing and is seen by many trainers, jockeys and punters alike as the most prestigious meeting of the jumps season. Second only to the Grand National in terms of prize money, the Cheltenham Festival consist of four days of top qualifty National Hunt racing, each day having a number of championship races. These championship races are seen as the seasons pinnacle by those entered with many Cheltenham trials taking place in the lead up to the meeting so the horses peak at the right time.
Notable Cheltenham Festival Dates
- 1902 - The first Cheltenham Festival
- 1904 - The first National Hunt Steeplechase run
- 1924 - The first Gold Cup run
- 1927 - First Champion Hurdle
- 1959 - First Champion Chase
- 1972 - First Stayers Hurdle
- 2001 - Festival cancelled due to outbreak of foot and mouth disease
- 2005 - Festival moved from three days to four
- 2008 - Second day abandoned due to high winds
The first Cheltenham Festival was held in 1902 at the Prestbury Racecourse, where it is still run today. In 1904 the first steeplechase race was introduced to the festival, the race which would become known as the Cheltenham Gold Cup from it's first running in 1924. The first winner fo the Gold Cup was a horse called Red Splash. The Gold Cup was the first to be recognised as one of the four main championship races to take place at the festival. In 1927 the Champion Hurdle was the next to be introduced, followed by the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1959. The Stayers Hurdle, now known as the Ladbrokes World Hurdle was the last Championship race to be added to the meeting in 1972.
In the winter of 2001 there was an outbreak of foot and mouth across the whole of the British Isles and despite plans to postpone the festival until April it eventually was abandoned after a case of foot and mouth was discovered close to Prestbury Park.
In 2005 the powers that be decided to expand the festival to a four day meeting instead of three days. As a result, the World Hurdle was given top billing as Thursday's championship race whilst the Gold Cup was moved back to the Friday. To fill out the four days, five extra races were introduced in 2005. There have been two further races introduced since, bringing the grand total to 26 races overall throughout the four day meeting.
Grade 1 Cheltenham Festival Races
- Supreme Novices' Hurdle
- Arkle Challenge Trophy
- Champion Hurdle
- RSA Chase
- Neptune Novices' Hurdle
- Queen Mother Champion Chase
- Champion Bumper
- Ryanair Chase
- World Hurdle
- Triumph Hurdle
- Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle
- Cheltenham Gold Cup