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 14th March and Friday 17th March in 2023.
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 (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 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 14th March 2023: 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.
RACE PRIZE MONEY
|13:30||The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)||2m abt 1/2f||TBC|
|14:10||The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase (Grade 1)||Abt 2m||TBC|
|14:50||The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (Grade 3)||3m abt 1f||TBC|
|15:30||The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (Grade 1)||2m abt 1/2f||TBC|
|16:10||The Close Brother Mares’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)||2m abt 4f||TBC|
|16:50||The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3)||2m abt 4 1/2f||TBC|
|17:30||The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amature Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) (Grade 2)||3m abt 6f||TBC|
Cheltenham Festival Day Two: Wednesday 15th March 2023: Ladies Day
Day Two opens with the Ballymore Novices Hurdle, which Sir Gerhard recently won. The weather conditions weren’t favourable for the keen Stage Star, who emptied quickly after the third last. 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.
RACE PRIZE MONEY
|13:30||The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)||2m abt 5f||TBC|
|14:10||The Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1)||3m||TBC|
|14:50||The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Grade 3)||2m abt 5f||TBC|
|15:30||The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Grade 1)||Abt 2m||TBC|
|16:10||The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase (Grade 1)||Abt 2m||TBC|
|16:50||The Jonny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Grade 3)||Abt 2m||TBC|
|17:30||The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1)||2m abt 1/2f||TBC|
Cheltenham Festival Day Three: Thursday 16th March 2023: 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.
RACE PRIZE MONEY
|13:30||The Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)||2m abt 4f||TBC|
|14:10||The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Grade 3)||Abt 3m||TBC|
|14:50||The Ryanair Steeple Chase (Grade 1)||2m abt 4 1/2f||TBC|
|15:30||The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1)||Abt 3m||TBC|
|16:10||The Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase) (Grade 3)||2m abt 4 1/2f||TBC|
|16:50||The Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)||2m 1f||TBC|
|17:30||Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (sponsored by the JRL Group)||3m abt 2f||TBC|
Cheltenham Festival Day Four: Friday 1th March 2023: 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 Nocices’s Hudel.
RACE PRIZE MONEY
|13:30||The JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)||2m abt 1f||TBC|
|14:10||The McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3)||2m abt 1f||TBC|
|14:50||The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)||Abt 3m||TBC|
|15:30||The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase (Grade 1)||3m abt 2 1/2f||TBC|
|16:10||The St.James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunter’s Steeple Chase||3m abt 2 1/2f||TBC|
|16:50||The Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Steeple Chase (Grade 2)||2m abt 4 1/2f||TBC|
|17:30||Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)||3m abt 2f||TBC|
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 Cheltenham Gold Cup has been won 25 times by horses training in Ireland.
- 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 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!