Cheltenham - At The Races

Cheltenham Course Guide

Undisputedly THE home of National Hunt racing, Cheltenham and its four-day Festival represent the pinnacle of the sport. Put simply, no horse can be considered a jumps ‘champion’ without proving itself on the biggest stage of all in the Cotswolds in March.

For most professionally-involved in the sport, leading in or riding a winner at the Festival is an achievement equal or greater than any other, be it in a blue riband event such as the Champion Hurdle or Gold Cup or in one of the clutch of competitive handicaps that are an equal hallmark of the meeting.

Cheltenham’s position at the top of the tree is further boosted by its racing calendar outside of the Festival, which is possible due to the course having two tracks – the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ courses - at its disposal. The opening October meeting is viewed by many as the unofficial start of the season, whilst the standard of the three-day Open meeting a month later is almost as high as the Festival itself. Valuable races are staged at the mid-December and New Year meetings whilst the late January fixture is rightly billed as ‘Trials Day’. After the Festival there is also a popular two-day meeting in April and the season ends with the Hunter Chase evening in early May.

Jumps Racing

Cheltenham Jumps RacingTimeform

Left handed, undulating. Stiff fences; the fourth last comes soon after a turn at the top of the hill and catches out plenty. The last half mile is uphill, although the lead changes hands on the run-in less frequently than expected. Horses who race prominently often fare well on the chase course, especially in races up to 2m 4f 100yds. The hurdles course has just two flights in the last six furlongs, resulting in more emphasis on stamina; large-field races over two miles often go to hold-up horses, as there can be a tendency to go for home too soon.

To the naked eye, or to the layman, Cheltenham looks very stiff, but the two courses are actually totally different and I rate the Old Course much the quicker. So, especially on that, you need a horse that can travel easily within itself. Without one of those, you invariably find yourself snookered, because you’re always trying to get into a position to improve. Ideally, therefore, you need a horse that can get into a gap as soon as one appears, because there’s so little time to manoeuvre. If you have to think about going for a gap, nine times out of ten it’s too late - someone else will have got into it before you. As for the uphill finish, it only rides really testing if you’re on one that’s tying up. Then, it feels like an eternity from the last to the line.

View from the saddle: Mick FitzgeraldMick Fitzgerald


13:30 JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)

(Class 1) (2m 179y)
Mauve, black chevrons on sleeves, black cap (Owners Group 031)
  • Winner: Pentland Hills
  • Jockey: Nico de Boinville
  • Trainer: N J Henderson
  • Owner: Owners Group 031

14:10 Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3)

(Class 1) (2m 179y)
Black, black and pink check sleeves and cap (The Can't Say No Partnership)
  • Winner: Ch'tibello
  • Jockey: Harry Skelton
  • Trainer: D Skelton
  • Owner: The Can't Say No Partnership

14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) (Registered As The Spa Novices' Hurdle)

(Class 1) (2m 7f 213y)
Maroon, yellow stars, maroon sleeves, striped cap (Mr Barry Maloney)
  • Winner: Minella Indo
  • Jockey: Rachael Blackmore
  • Trainer: H de Bromhead
  • Owner: Mr Barry Maloney

15:30 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (Grade 1)

(Class 1) (3m 2f 70y)
Yellow and black check, yellow sleeves, yellow cap, black star (Mrs J Donnelly)
  • Winner: Al Boum Photo
  • Jockey: P Townend
  • Trainer: W P Mullins
  • Owner: Mrs J Donnelly

16:10 St. James's Place Foxhunter Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase

(Class 2) (3m 2f 70y)
Straw, blue and straw quartered cap (Mrs D Williams)
  • Winner: Hazel Hill
  • Jockey: Mr A Edwards
  • Trainer: Phillip Rowley
  • Owner: Mrs D Williams

16:50 Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3)

(Class 1) (2m 62y)
Gold, black sleeves and cap with gold tassel (Lady Jane Grosvenor)
  • Winner: Croco Bay
  • Jockey: Kielan Woods
  • Trainer: B I Case
  • Owner: Lady Jane Grosvenor

17:30 Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle

(Class 2) (2m 4f 56y)
Emerald green, yellow hoops, white cap (Mr John P McManus)
  • Winner: Early Doors
  • Jockey: Jonjo O'Neill Jr.
  • Trainer: Joseph P O'Brien
  • Owner: Mr John P McManus

Address & Contact

Cheltenham Racecourse
GL50 4SH
01242 513014

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