The opening day of the famous four-day meeting sees four Grade One races contested, starting with the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle over two-miles for novice hurdlers. The Supreme is renowned for being the loudest curtain-raiser to any racing festival in Europe. The ‘Cheltenham Roar’ as the runners set off for the week’s first contest is one of deafening noise. It is a great symbol of the passion that dominates the jump racing game and sets the bar for what is renowned for being four days of pulse-raising action.
Headlining Tuesday of the Cheltenham Festival is the Champion Hurdle over two-miles for hurdlers aged four and older. In recent years, legendary hurdlers such as See You Then, Dawn Run, Istabraq and Hurricane Fly have all graced the Cheltenham turf on route to securing the Champion Hurdle, making it one of the festival’s most prestigious races.
Day two showcases the leading two-mile chase division as the Grade One Champion Chase takes to centre-stage. The race has been home to some of the most memorable moments in jump racing history, most notably in 2016 when Sprinter Sacre produced a spine-tingling performance to regain his Champions chase crown. Wednesday at Cheltenham also sees the Grade One Champion Bumper raced for the young horses of the future. Recent victors have featured Cue Card and Champagne Fever who progressed on to enjoy great success over larger obstacles.
The third day of the Cheltenham Festival is allocated to the staying hurdlers and the World Hurdle. A Grade One over three-miles for horses aged four and older as the division’s leading contenders from across Britain and Ireland do battle for supremacy. A horse testament to such status is the Paul Nicholls-trained Big Bucks who won the World Hurdle on four occasions from 2009 and 2012, cementing his name amongst the greatest stayer hurdlers of all time.
Assisting the World Hurdle on a day of tremendous jump racing in the Grade One Ryanair Chase over 2m4f for horses suited more to the intermediate chase distance. Since its introduction in 2005, the Ryanair has seen a number of high-profile horses claims its prize, none more so than Vautour in 2016 who put together a sensational jumping performance to win the Grade One contest by a convincing six-lengths.
Despite the Cheltenham Festival offering three fantastic days of National Hunt action, the week is built up to a mouthwatering final fourth day on Friday where the blue riband Cheltenham Gold Cup is contested over 3m2f. The Grade One chase is widely-regarded as the greatest race of the jump racing campaign and one in which each trainer strives to one day win.