Cheltenham Festival Guide: Race Fixtures & Prestbury Park Courses

Guests can look forward to four days of exhilarating racing at one of the biggest meetings of the National Hunt Racing season. The Cheltenham Festival gets underway between Tuesday 14th March and Friday 17th March in 2023.

The top horses, trainers, and jockeys will compete across four extraordinary days of racing at this iconic event, with each day guaranteed to offer something new and exciting for those descending upon the Prestbury Park course.

Cheltenham Racecourse is renowned for providing one of the ultimate tests for horses and jockeys, with much to be said about the gruelling nature of the famous “Cheltenham hill”. However, there are, in fact, a total of 3 courses used at the Cheltenham Festival: The Old Course, the New Course and the Cross-Country course.

The Old Course plays host to the lion’s share of the action (bar the Cross Country Chase) on Tuesday (14th March) and Wednesday (15th March) with famous showpieces including the Champion Hurdle, the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The Cross Country Chase finishes on the main course but starts on Cheltenham’s specialist racecourse and features an array of fascinating obstacles, providing a unique test for runners.

Meanwhile, the Old Course is renowned for its test of speed, while the New Course, provides a test of stamina for racehorses. The hurdles track on the New Course places even more emphasis on endurance, with only two flights in place during the last six to seven furlongs.

The Old Course is used during the first two days of the National Hunt meeting, with the New Course taking precedence over the third and final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

For further information on what to expect from the Cheltenham Festival in 2023, take a read of our handy little guide below.

Cheltenham Festival Day One: Tuesday 14th March 2023

Day one of the Cheltenham Festival, also referred to as Champions Day featured the Unibet Champion Hurdle.

Last year, Irish-trained mare and defending champion Honeysuckle lead the market. In 2020, she triumphed by six and a half lengths, beating all that she has come across.

Willie Mullins sent 2021 Supreme winner, Appreciate It, straight to the race without a prep run and 2020 winner Epatante looked to have come back to her old self following her Kempton success at Christmas.

But it was Honeysuckle that romped to glory.

Rachael Blackmore ran a tremendous race, ensuring that Honeysuckle was near the leaders in the early stages before thundering ahead. Epatante and Zanahiyr were on her tail, but Honeysuckle was in a league of her own, pressing ahead to win the Champion Hurdle.

The winning pair was greeted by deafening applause from fans. Honeysuckle is now unbeaten in 15 races, while Rachael Blackmore gained her 11th Grade 1 victory.

RACE TIME

RACES

RACE PRIZE MONEY

13:30 The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race £92,000
14:10 The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase £98,472
14:50 The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase £110,000
15:30 The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy £330,000
16:10 The Close Brother Mares’ Hurdle Race £88,500
16:50 The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race £80,000
17:30 The National Hunt Challenge Cup Novices’ Steeple Chase £74,306

Cheltenham Festival Day Two: Wednesday 15th March 2023

Day Two opened with the Ballymore Novices Hurdle, which British competitors recently won. Britain champion trainer Paul Nicholls drew an unforeseen blank at Cheltenham. However, racing fans hoped that Stage Star would be a strong opponent, as they remain undefeated in three starts over hurdles.

Cheltenham Ladies Day also showcased the rematch between Shishkin and Energumene in the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

But it wasn’t meant to be for Shishkin, as Nico de Boinville pulled the star hurdler up early in the race. It was a race full of shock, with Chacun Pour Soi unseating Paul Mullins, and Envoi Allen giving fans a disappointing jump two out from home.

Willie Mullins-trained Energumene became the race’s hero, adding the Queen Mother Champion Chase to his tally.

RACE TIME

RACES

RACE PRIZE MONEY

13:30 The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race £90,000
14:10 The Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase £175,000
14:50 The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) £75,000
15:30 The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase £300,000
16:10 The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase £65,000
16:50 The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup £70,338
17:30 The Weatherbys Champion Bumper £45,560

Cheltenham Festival Day Three: Thursday 16th March 2023

Day Three, otherwise recognised as St. Patricks Day, featured two ‘Championship’ races – the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle and the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase.

The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle was in for one of the most open renewals in recent times, with its stacked line-up making it one of the most competitive fields at Cheltenham in 2022. Flooring Porter was the favourite but with 2019 winner Paisley Park, Klassical Dream, Champ and Thyme Hill in behind – anything could have happened.

Still, Flooring Porter demonstrated his class, dominating the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle from start to finish. He became the first dual Cheltenham Festival winner for trainer Gavin Cromwell and will no doubt go down in history as one of the most memorable rides at the Festival in recent years.

Meanwhile, Allaho romped to glory in the Ryanair Chase. Although Shan Blue stood out, the speed and accuracy of Allaho’s jumping remained too much of a challenge for Harry Skelton’s charge.

RACE TIME

RACES

RACE PRIZE MONEY

13:30 The Turners Novices’ Chase £98,472
14:10 The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race) £75,000
14:50 The Ryanair Steeple Chase £350,000
15:30 The Paddy Power Stayer’s Hurdle £240,000
16:10 The Cheltenham Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase) £67,524
16:50 The Mares Novice’s Hurdle £105,000
17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup £36,668

Cheltenham Festival Day Four: Friday 17th March 2023

We’ve reached the Festival climax, and Cheltenham Gold Cup Day had plenty to offer punters.

The Cheltenham Gold Cup remained the highlight race of the meeting, and while it didn’t feature the blockbuster contenders of previous years, it remained every bit as exciting!

In 2022, the Cheltenham Gold Cup showcased the highly anticipated rematch between last season’s top three: Minella Indo, A Plus Tard and Al Boum Photo, with the new kid on the block, Galvin, also seen as a strong contender.

History was rewritten again as Rachel Blackmore provided fans with a spectacular finish, overtaking pack leader Minella Indo in the final stages. She dominated headlines after becoming the first female jockey to take the Cheltenham Gold Cup home.

RACE TIME

RACES

RACE PRIZE MONEY

13:30 The JCB Triumph Hurdle £95,000
14:10 The McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle Race £70,000
14:50 The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race £75,964
15:30 The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase £351,688
16:10 The St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase £45,000
16:50 The Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Steeple Chase £120,000
17:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle £70,000
Cheltenham Festival Runners and Riders Lining Up

Cheltenham Festival History

Little has been recorded about the first races staged in the Cheltenham area. The first meeting took place on 25th August 1818 and included five races, with the first winner being Mr E Jones with his five-year-old bay mare, Miss Tidmarsh.

It took three years to organise the next meeting, staged on Cleeve Hill, which overlooks the current Cheltenham racecourse. Races were reallocated to Prestbury Park in 1831 after disruption at Cleeve Hill, resulting in the facilities being burnt to the ground! Although racing returned to Cleeve Hill, interest diminished during the economic depression in the 1840s, halting racing between 1843 to 1850.

In 1881, Mr W.A Baring Bingham, the owner of Cheltenham Racecourse, sold Prestbury Park to a racing enthusiast who wanted to relive the golden days of racing. However, it wasn’t until 1893 that a race meeting was held at the course, which successfully established racing at its current setting. The National Hunt Festival debuted at Prestbury Park four years later.

Frederick Cathcart became a well-known figure in the Cheltenham circle following his efforts to make Cheltenham the headquarters of jump racing. Cathcart was the most powerful racecourse official of the twentieth century, managing various racecourses, including Prestbury Park.

Prestbury Park hosted the first Cheltenham Festival in 1911, and the Steeplechase Company allowed The National Hunt Meeting to remain at Cheltenham year after year rather than continuing its annual touring. A new stand was built during that year, and Cathcart presided over a “Luncheon and Private View to Press and Official” on the course. With today’s standards of Cheltenham, the stand could be considered relatively small and quaint, but it remained in service for the next 70 years!

Obstacles to Look Out For at Cheltenham Racecourse

Falls and unseats can occur anywhere at Cheltenham, even over the hurdles course (does Annie Power ring any bells?).

Fences that appears to be particularly difficult is the fourth to last fence on the New Course, while the second to last fence on the Old Course has proven to be equally problematic.

At the Festival, Champion jockey Ruby Walsh has been the unlucky recipient of several high-speed falls, one of which he suffered from while riding Voix Du Reve on his approach to the finish line.

Cheltenham Dress Code - Cheltenham Raceourse

Annie Power with Willie, Jackie and Maureen Mullins and Ruby Walsh after the Champion Hurdle Cheltenham 15.3.16 Pic: Edward Whitaker

Cheltenham Festival Fun Facts:

  • In 2019, the record prize money for the Cheltenham Festival was over £4,590,000. Over £1,000,000 each day, the most of any Jump Festival globally.
  • Rachael Blackmore became the first female jockey to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup last year.
  • Katie Walsh made history by being the first female jockey to win a Grade 1 race when she won The Weatherby’s Champion Bumper.
  • Ruby Walsh has the most wins for a jockey in 2016.
  • The prize money for the Cheltenham Gold Cup was £625,000.
  • On-site, there are 350 chefs.
  • During the Cheltenham Gold Cup, 22 jumps are jumped.
  • Every season, 5,000 birch bundles are used.
  • The festival’s shortest race distance is 2 miles.
  • During the Cheltenham Festival, guests consume 9,000+ gallons of tea & coffee.
  • 2001 was the only year the festival was cancelled, except for World War 1 and 2.
  • Approximately 20,000 consumers will fly Ryanair over the Festival period, as the airline will operate 30 more flights on the Dublin to Birmingham route.

Thinking of Visiting Prestbury Park? Enjoy a Day at the Races in VIP Style With Official Cheltenham Festival Hospitality

With a stunning array of hospitality facilities, including our Silks restaurant, The Venue and our private Grandstand Boxes, there is undoubtedly something to satisfy every racing fan.

Discover our horseracing hospitality packages for Cheltenham below:

Silks Hospitality Package

Our flagship facility at Cheltenham provides a comfortable base for all four days of the Festival. Guests can enjoy magnificent views of the racetrack from start to finish in Silks’ unique course-facing corporate environment.


The Venue Hospitality Package

If you are looking for world-class facilities and a luxury experience, The Venue is the perfect package for all horse racing fans. The facility is located in the Official Festival Hospitality Village’s private courtyard area.


The Champions Club Hospitality Package

Enjoy some of the finest views of the track with delicious food and drinks on offer during the Cheltenham Festival. With a Champagne reception from the moment you arrive and a four-course lunch, luxury is not an issue with this hospitality package.


Four Eighty Restaurant Hospitality Package

Take a look at the newest addition to the Cheltenham Festival’s world-class hospitality packages. Four Eighty makes its debut last year and you could be the next to revel in this three-course fine dining experience from your very own private tables.

This hospitality package will provide guests with an amazing experience with spectacular views from the second level of the course.


Private Grandstand Box Hospitality Package

Entertain guests and racing fans in a private Level 4 Grandstand Box. Savour all the action from an exclusive viewing balcony overlooking the winning line. This Cheltenham hospitality package allows racing fans to feel like Champions!


Cheltenham Festival The Venue Guests
Cheltenham
Cheltenham Festival Four Eighty Hospitality Facility
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