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The Cheltenham Festival 2020

One of the UK's most prestigious horse racing events, Cheltenham Festival 2020, starts today (10th March) at historic Cheltenham Racecourse, in the heart of the Cotswolds countryside. The national hunt event runs until 13th March and will attract a capacity crowd of around 68,000 spectators each day.

There will be a total of 28 races and the world's leading jockeys, horses, trainers and owners will converge at a location which has been home to horse racing since 1815. The festival today is one of the biggest meetings on the annual horse racing calendar, second only to the Grand National.

Its most popular races include the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase on 11th March, the Ryanair Chase on 12th March and the highlight of the meeting, the Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup, on the final day. The total prize money for the Gold Cup is £625,000 - making the Grade 1 National Hunt race one of horse racing's richest purses.

Cheltenham Festival

© Lesley Rigg / Shutterstock.com

 

History of Cheltenham

Cheltenham has come a long way since the early years, when it hosted flat racing, rather than jump races. The first Cheltenham Gold Cup was held for three-year-olds in July 1819 and was won by Spectre. In 1860, Cheltenham Festival - then known as the National Hunt Meeting - was already an annual event, attracting 50,000 spectators.

The meeting was first held at the current course in 1911. Over the years, some of racing's most famous horses have won at the Cheltenham Festival, including Desert Orchid, who enjoyed a legendary victory in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1989, when he was ridden by Simon Sherwood.

Cheltenham Festival has long links with the royal family, with the Queen Mother having a race named in her honour. Other royal visitors have included Olympic medal-winning showjumper Zara Tindall - the Queen's granddaughter - and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall.

 

Bookies' favourites

In modern times, Cheltenham Festival's top jockey has been Irishman Ruby Walsh, 40, who has ridden an amazing 59 winners there since his first victory in 1998, on Alexander Banquet. He has now retired, after winning his final leading jockey award at the festival in 2017.

This year, the bookies' favourites include Henry de Bromhead’s Notebook in the Arkle Challenge Trophy, with odds of 5/2. In the Irish Arkle, held at Leopardstown, he dug deep to beat Cash Back by three-quarters of a length.

Gordon Elliott's Envoi Allen is 5/4 favourite in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, after producing his best performance of the season by beating Abacadabras in the Royal Bond, at Fairyhouse Racecourse, Ballybin, County Meath, in December 2019.

Emma Lavelle's Paisley Park is 4/6 on to win the Stayers' Hurdle, after his flawless campaign last year, which included comfortably winning the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury in November. He has shown plenty of pace and doesn't seem to have any chinks in his armour.

 

Coronavirus decision

There was talk that Cheltenham Festival 2020 may have to be cancelled, as a result of the challenges posed by the current coronavirus outbreak. While other countries - including France, Italy and Switzerland - have suspended major sports gatherings in an effort to contain the virus, events in the UK have so far escaped suspension.

The organisers of Cheltenham Festival said it was "full steam ahead" for the meeting. In the run-up to the festival, bookies had been taking bets on whether it would be cancelled. The Betfair market reported £4.1 million had been wagered on whether Cheltenham would be on or not.

Make sure your horse has only the best products, whether you ride professionally, or just for fun. Coruba stocks a wide range of horse, stable and animal matting, which improves comfort in the stables and saves on bedding costs.

We also supply animal transporter ramp mats and horse box partition rubber skirt for improved safety and comfort in transit. Contact us on 01702 560194 for further details of our equine products.



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