What makes the Cheltenham Festival such an exclusive meeting?

14 Feb 2021 | Sport
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The Cheltenham Festival is an annual National Hunt meeting in horse racing which is seen as the most important week of the year in the sport. 28 races take place across four days, all of which have a huge amount of importance.

Here is a look at what makes the meeting in Gloucestershire, UK, so exclusive.

Best of The Best Meet In Their Respective Divisions

Unlike many other horse races around the world, in order for an owner to enter their horse at the Cheltenham Festival, they must meet strict qualification requirements. This ensures that the very best horses from each division meet for a great spectacle.

Although the majority of the runners are from the UK, Ireland, France and Australia all tend to have representation. This ensures there is global interest in the meeting. A great example of this was in the 2020 Cheltenham race results as Easysland, trained in Chantilly, France, by David Cottin, won the Cross Country Chase.

There have been calls for Cheltenham to extend the meeting to five days, however, the racecourse has been reluctant to do that as they fear it would dilute the quality of the Festival.

Prestige and Tradition

 

In each of the four days at the meeting, there is one feature contest known as the Championship race. These include the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup. The latter is the Blue Riband event of the meeting and has been won by Al Boum Photo in each of the last two years.

All four of these Championship contests are steeped in history. They date back to the early 20th century. Some of the best horses ever bred in the sport have their names engraved on the honors boards of those races, including Best Mate who is a three-time Gold Cup winner.

Success in these big contests can often define a season for a jockey, trainer and owner. If they are able to land one of them, they feel like it has been a very successful campaign for them.

Hospitality

The hospitality on offer at Cheltenham is regarded as one of the best in the world of horse racing. Various packages for the Festival include private boxes, restaurant seats, marquee entry and seats in the best stand on the course.

These hospitality tickets make the experience at the racecourse even more enjoyable. They allow you access to private parts of the course, which, if you like to avoid large crowds, allow you to move around freely.

Some of the best chefs in the world are on the site making delicious food which is so different to what you would normally find at a racecourse. This luxurious experience makes the day feel much more than just about the racing.

Cheltenham aim to deliver the best experience possible, whether that is with their main meals, desserts, drinks and viewing platforms. If you are lucky enough to attend, you are likely to go away wanting to go back the following year.

This year’s Cheltenham Festival begins on March 16. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is scheduled to take place on the final day, March 19 in what will be the 93rd edition of the chase contest.