The Cheltenham Festival takes place in March each year and is regarded as the Premier National Hunt meeting of the year. It has a huge following and at least a third of crowd travel over from Ireland for the four day racing extravaganza. There are 26 races in all, with the feature being the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which takes place on the final day. That race is discussed below as are the other main feature races of the Festival.
Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the most prestigious steeplechase in the National Hunt year. The winner is very often regarded as the best chasing horse in the UK and Ireland. It is raced over 3 miles and there are some tough fences to negotiate. Past winners have included the formidable Arkle, the popular Desert Orchid, Dawn Run and Best Mate to name just a few, along with the mighty Kauto Star.
The Champion Hurdle is a two mile race for the top Hurdlers in Europe and decides who is the champion hurdler of the year. It is the main feature race on the first day of the Festival and attracts huge betting interest. It was won last year by the Paul Nicholls-trained Rock On Ruby.
The Arkle Trophy Chase is named after the great Arkle and it is a race ran over 2 miles for top class novice chasers. Very often the winner goes on to run in either the Queen Mother Champion Chase or even the Gold Cup. It was won in 2012 by the mighty Sprinter Sacre.
Ladbrokes World Hurdle
The Ladbrokes World Hurdle is a championship race to establish the best staying hurdler in the land. It is raced over 3 miles of the Cheltenham Hurdle course and very often attracts a big field. It has been won for the three out of the last four years by the incomparable, late lamented Inglis Drever. However, Big Buck's has now become the star performer racking up four successive victories in the 3m blue riband event.
Queen Mother Champion Chase
The Queen Mother Champion Chase is the big feature on day two of the Festival and it is the most prestigious race for chasers over 2 miles. It always attracts a top class field and has had some of the greatest horses in racing on its roll of honour. It was won in 2008 and 2009 by the brilliant Master Minded, but Sizing Europe bagged the race in 2011 with aplomb, before Finian's Rainbow sparkled in 2012.
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