The Cheltenham Festival is the highlight of the jump season, providing four days of top class racing featuring the best jockeys, trainers and horses of the day, culminating in the prestigious Gold Cup race. Holders of the top jockey accolade for most wins at the festival include such legendary racing names as Ruby Walsh, A.P McCoy and Peter Scudamore. Just as well known as the names is the Cheltenham Festival atmosphere as thousands of fans gather to watch the series of races each day. With live bands, bars, plenty of food options and an increasingly popular shopping village, Cheltenham Festival tickets offer a complete day out.
Cheltenham Festival and Gold Cup History
The festival has its origins in the 1860s and was staged on a number of different sites before settling at Cheltenham in 1911. Until 2005 the festival was a three day event, before a fourth day was added to the program with a feature race on each of the days supported by grade one races and handicaps.
The Gold Cup is the most prestigious non-handicap race in the UK and is the climax to the jump season. First run in 1819 as a flat race at a location not far from the present course, the race in its current version over the jumps was first run in 1924. In recent times one of the best loved horses of all, Best Mate, won three consecutive Gold Cups from 2002 to 2004, before another famous name, Kauto Star, became the first horse to regain the Gold Cup in 2009 having won it previously in 2007.
Four Days of Exciting Racing
The Cheltenham Festival continues to grow in popularity with around 250,000 spectators attending across the four days. Champion Day kicks off the festival, with Ladies Day, St Patrick’s Thursday and Gold Cup day completing the high quality schedule. For Cheltenham Festival ticket holders Ladies Day is an event in itself as racegoers let their inner fashion designer loose when attending in an array of stylish outfits and the occasional outlandish hat. There are prizes to be won for best dressed, best hat and best accessories.
Women have made their mark just as impressively on the course at Cheltenham. Gee Armytage won on two consecutive days in 1987 to become the first female jockey to record a victory at the festival. The Prestbury Cup meanwhile allows for a little friendly national rivalry between the British trained runners and their Irish counterparts. Named after the village nearest the course it is awarded to the trainers and jockeys of the victorious nation with the most wins over the festival. This adds another degree of competitive edge to an already high quality field.