It is the most important festival in the calendar of the United Kingdom. In this festival 26 horse races are organized and prize money is given to the winners. Around 500 horses compete during the festival. This festival takes place in the month of March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. Huge money is involved in betting. The festival is celebrated for four days from 10th to 13th March of the every year starting from Tuesday to Friday. The best Britishand Irish trained horses are seen in the festival which is beyond comparison.
The first festival was celebrated in 1902 at Prestbury Park, Cheltenham. The first National Hunt Steeplechase was introduced to the festival in 1904. The race gain popularity as the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1924 when it was run by a horse named Red Splash. Out of four championships Gold Cup was the first introduction race of champion hurdle in 1927. In 1959 the Queen Mother Champion chase was introduced followed by the last of the championship namely Stayers Hurdle in 1972.
Throughout 1960’s achievement of Cheltenham fiesta, and the acquisition of the Cheltenham Racecourse through Jockey Club saw the location enter into the sustained period of development as conveniences were raised to provide accommodation the massive public attention in the event.
Once developments started they assembled an impetus of their own, and throughout the next 4 decade of the Cheltenham Festival narration the racecourse changed into one of the top horseracing facilities in Europe. And Today Cheltenham Racecourse possesses not only multimillion pounds showboat developments, other than also the world class turf and outstanding hospitalityfacilities.
And in the year of 2005 the expansion of the Cheltenham Festival into a four day long event escorted in a novel period in Cheltenham Festival history. And The Cheltenham Festival shows off a number of the most keenly estimated steeplechase and snag races in racing calendar, and also in 2007 drew a horde of almost 200,000 viewers to Prestbury Park.
It is very sad that the festival was cancelled due to outbreak of disease called foot and mouth in Britain in 2001. In 2008, the second day of the festival was cancelled due to heavy storms. The runs were postponed to Thursday and Friday of the Festival.
Initially, the festival was traditionally started for three days. But in 2005 the fourth day was added to the festival. The festival comprises of 25 races with Grade one event. The races includes Champion Bumper, Triumph Hurdle, Ryaniar Chase, Supreme Novices’Hurdle, Ballymore Properties Novices’ Hurdle, Arkle Challenge Trophy, RSA Chase, Champion Hurdle, World Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the feature race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. This festival also includes two biggest Hunter Chases namely the Foxhunter’s. This race is run on Friday over the same course as the Gold Cup. It is also called as the Amateurs’ Gold Cup.
There is lot of criticism due to increasing number of injuries and death of horses. In 2006, 11 horses were died during the festival. To combat the fatalities of horses, racecourse decreased the number of runners in certain races and avoided one of the most difficult fences.
The jockeys who win the most races over the four days are put in the list of Top Jockey.
The names of the few are – Ruby Walsh (2008), robber Thornton (2007), ruby Walsh (2006), Graham Lee (2005), Ruby Walsh (2004), Bary Geraghty (2003), Richard Johnson (2002).