Cheltenham Festival: Our guide on the Prestbury Park courses

Guests can look forward to four days of exhilarating racing at the most crucial meeting of the National Hunt Racing season. The Cheltenham Festival occurs between Tuesday 12th March and Friday 15th March in 2024.

The top horses, trainers, and jockeys will compete in 14 Grade One races across four seven-racecards at this iconic event. Each of the races below offers something new and exciting for those who attend Prestbury Park.

Cheltenham is well-regarded for providing one of the ultimate tests for horses and jockeys, with much being said about the gruelling nature of its famously still ‘Cheltenham hill’ finish. However, there is much to know about the intricate differences between Prestbury Park’s signature racecourses. 

There are a total of 3 courses used at the annual Cheltenham Festival; these include 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 (12th March) and Wednesday (13th March) with famous showpieces, including the Champion Hurdle, the Ryanair Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase.

The Cross-Country race finishes on the main course but takes place on its specialist racecourse, featuring its array of fascinating obstacles. It provides a unique test for entrants and often requires a specialist to complete it. The old course is renowned for its test of speed, whilst the new racecourse, in contrast, is far more stamina-driven for racing fans. The hurdles course, in particular, has very few hurdles in the latter stages of the race.

The Old Course will be used during the first two days of the racing meeting, with the New Course taking president over the third and final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Please take a look at our handy little guide below.

Cheltenham Festival Day One: Tuesday 12th March 2024: Champion Day

Cheltenham will feature Unibet Champion Hurdle on the first day in 2023, as we welcome four days of thrilling entertainment and racing action. Honeysuckle extended her winning streak to 15 with Rachel Blackmore, seeing off Epatante.





13:30The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)2m abt 1/2f£135,000
14:10The Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase (Grade 1)Abt 2m£98,472
14:50The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3)3m abt 1fTBC
15:30The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)2m abt 1/2f£253,215
16:10The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)2m abt 4f£67,524
16:50The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3)2m abt 4 1/2fTBC
17:30The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) (Grade 2)3m abt 6f£60,387

Cheltenham Festival Day Two: Wednesday 13th March 2024: Style Wednesday/Ladies Day

Day Two opens with the Baring Bingham Novices Hurdle, which Sir Gerhard recently won. We look forward to thousands of racegoers adding a splash of colour to the Home of Jump Racing for Ladies Day, featuring the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase.





13:30The Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)2m abt 5f£75,964
14:10The Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1)3m£98,472
14:50The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Grade 3)2m abt 5fTBC
15:30The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Grade 1)Abt 2m£225,080
16:10The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase (Grade 1)Abt 2mTBC
16:50The Jonny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Grade 3)Abt 2mTBC
17:30The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1)2m abt 1/2fTBC

Cheltenham Festival Day Three: Thursday 14th March 2024: St Patrick’s Day

Day Three is otherwise recognised as St. Patricks Day, featuring two ‘Championship’ races in the Grade 1 Stayers Hurdle and the Grade 1 Ryanair Chase. In recent years, punters have held onto their outstanding record in the Stayers Hurdle with some favourites, including Paisley Park in 2019.





13:30The Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)2m abt 4f£98,472
14:10The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Grade 3)Abt 3mTBC
14:50The Ryanair Steeple Chase (Grade 1)2m abt 4 1/2f£211,082
15:30The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)Abt 3m£182,877
16:10The TrustATrader Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase) (Grade 3)2m abt 4 1/2fTBC
16:50The Ryanair Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)2m 1f£59,083
17:30Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (sponsored by the JRL Group)3m abt 2fTBC

Cheltenham Festival Day Four: Friday 15th March 2024: Gold Cup Day

Day Four is the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, with the highlight being the Cheltenham Gold Cup. With this spectacular finale, guests can savour all the racing action with the Grade 1 Triumph Hurdle and the Grade 1 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.





13:30The JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)2m abt 1f£75,964
14:10The County Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3)2m abt 1fTBC
14:50The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)Abt 3m£75,964
15:30The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase (Grade 1)3m abt 2 1/2f£351,687
16:10The St.James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunter’s Steeple Chase3m abt 2 1/2fTBC
16:50The Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Steeple Chase (Grade 2)2m abt 4 1/2f£67,524
17:30Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)3m abt 2fTBC

Cheltenham Festival History

The first races in the Cheltenham area was a tentative affair of which little was recorded. It took three years to organise the racing meeting, with Cleeve Hill overlooking the current Cheltenham racecourse location. The first racing meeting took place on the 25th August 1818, with five races and the winner Mr E Jones with his five-year-old bay mare, Miss Tidmarsh.

Races were reallocated to Prestbury Park in 1831 after disruption at Cleeve Hill, resulting in the facilities being burnt to the ground! With a 700-seat grandstand for spectators, it was a rather difficult track. Although racing returned to Cleeve Hill, interest soon started to diminish due to the economic depression in the 1840s. As a result, there was no flat racing from 1843 to 1850.

Racing of all kinds was losing popularity as the century drew to a close, and racing at Cheltenham was on its way out. However, 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 racing meeting was held there, which successfully established racing at its current setting. Prestbury Park hosted the debut of the National Hunt Festival four years later.

Frederick Cathcart became a well-known figure in the Cheltenham circle through his work on organising Cheltenham as 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. 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 was still in service for the next 70 years!

Obstacles to look out for

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

One fence that appears to be particularly difficult is the fourth to last fence on the new course, as is the second to last on the old course, which has proven to be equally problematic.

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

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.
  • The most successful jockey in the history of the Cheltenham Gold Cup is Pat Taafe with 4 – Arkle (1964, 1965 & 1966) & Fort Leney (1968)
  • 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.
  • 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 that 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 race day in VIP style with our fabulous Cheltenham Festival Hospitality.

With a stunning array of hospitality facilities to choose from, 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 one of the Silks unique course-facing corporate environments.

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 Ladies Day. With a Champagne reception greeting you from the moment you arrive and the 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. Making its debut in 2022, be the first 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.

Long Run Private Box Hospitality Package

The Long Run Private Box caters for 40 racegoers inside a lavish hospitality suite, perfect for larger groups. Savour views of the Champions Day action on the track with a glass of champagne available throughout the day during the Cheltenham Festival.

Private Grandstand Box Hospitality Package

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

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