The countdown to the Cheltenham Festival is well and truly on and all eyes will be on Prestbury Park come March. It’s the biggest festival on the racing calendar but how many races are at the Cheltenham Festival and which are the most important? With 28 races over four days, it’s a fast and furious week of top class horse racing action. In this ultimate Cheltenham guide, we take a closer look at every race over the Festival to make sure that you’re well and truly ‘Cheltenham ready’. So, without further ado, here is your guide to the Cheltenham Festival races 2021.
Cheltenham Festival races 2021
Tuesday, 16th March
The traditional curtain-raiser to the Cheltenham Festival, the Supreme is a hurdles race run over 2 miles that’s been won over the years by top quality horses such as L’Escargot and Sprinter Sacre.
Irish trainer Willie Mullins has won the race six times but last year Shishkin took the honours for the UK and Nicky Henderson.
Previous winner: Shishkin (6/1)
Run over 2 miles, the Arkle is for novice chasers with many winners of the race going on to run in the Champion Chase the following year.
Willie Mullins once more leads the way with six winners but he hasn’t lifted the Arkle since 2018 when Footpad hacked up by 14 lengths.
Previous winner: Put The Kettle On (16/1)
Ultima Handicap Chase
The Ultima is run over 3 miles and 1 furlong and is used by some as a preparation for the Grand National.
UK entries have dominated this race in recent years and there have been no Irish trained winners since 2006.
Previous winner: The Conditional (15/2)
The feature race of day one at the Festival, the Champion Hurdle is run over 2 miles and has previously been won by legends such as Istabraq, Persian War, and Hurricane Fly.
Owner JP McManus has landed the race nine times, including the last three renewals with Buveur d’Air, Espoir d’Allen, and Epatante.
Previous winner: Epatante (2/1f)
Run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs, the Mares’ Hurdle is for female horses only and has been won 11 times by Irish trained horses since its inception in 2008.
Leading the way was the wonder mare Quevega who landed the race six consecutive times from 2009 to 2014.
Previous winner: Honeysuckle (9/4)
Traditionally known as the Fred Winter, the Boodles is a juvenile novice hurdles race for horses aged four-years-old.
Trainers Paul Nicholls and Gordon Elliott have both saddled the winner of the race three times with Elliot taking it last year with Aramix.
Previous winner: 15/2
National Hunt Chase
The final race on day one of the Festival, the National Hunt Chase, is the first in the week where amateur jockeys get to shine – it’s run over 3 miles and 5 furlongs, and 23 fences jumped.
The race regularly sees smart staying chasers taking the victory, dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll won the race in 2017.
Previous winner: Ravenhill (12/1)
Wednesday, 17th March
The Ballymore kicks off day two of the Festival and is a novice hurdle run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs.
Irish trained horses have won the race six times out of the last seven, including last year when the Gordon Elliott superstar Envoi Allen took the glory.
Previous winner: Envoi Allen (4/7f)
Run over 3 miles, the RSA Chase is a novice chase for horses aged five-years-old and up with 20 fences to jump.
Several winners of the RSA go on to compete in the Gold Cup the following year and Lord Windermere was the last horse to do the RSA-Gold Cup double in 2013 and 2014.
Previous winner: Champ (4/1)
Traditionally one of the most competitive races at the Festival, the Coral Cup is a handicap hurdle run over 2 miles and 5 furlongs.
Trainer Nicky Henderson has landed the race four times, including the last two years with William Henry and Dame De Compagnie.
Previous winner: Dame De Compagnie (9/2f)
Queen Mother Champion Chase
Wednesday’s feature race is the Champion Chase which has seen greats such as Moscow Flyer, Sprinter Sacre, and Altior all previously lifting the trophy.
Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson have trained the last three winners of the race – Henderson with Altior in 2018 and 2019, and Nicholls with Politologue in 2020.
Previous winner: Politologue (6/1)
Cross Country Chase
This unique race is run over the cross country course and sees 32 obstacles being jumped.
Despite being dominated by Irish trained horses in recent years, 2020 saw the French-trained Easyland take the glory for trainer David Cottin.
Previous winner: Easysland (3/1)
The Grand Annual is the oldest race at the Cheltenham Festival and is a handicap chase run over 2 miles and half a furlong.
Paul Nicholls tops the charts with 4 winners in the race but Gordon Elliott and Davy Russell landed it last year with Chosen Mate.
Previous winner: (7/2f)
The only race at the Cheltenham Festival run on the flat, the Champion Bumper is a fast and frenetic end to day two.
With no obstacles to be jumped, flat jockeys regularly ride in the race and it was won in 2002 by flat jockey Jamie Spencer on Pizarro.
Previous winner: Ferny Hollow (11/1)
Thursday, 18th March
A novice chase run over 2 and a half miles, the Marsh is one of the newest races at the Cheltenham Festival.
UK trained horses have only won the race twice since its inception in 2011 and they could have another year to wait for success – the Irish trained Envoi Allen is a short price favourite for the Cheltenham Festival 2021 renewal.
Previous winner: Samcra (4/1)
The Pertemps is a handicap hurdle run over 3 miles with horses only eligible to race if they have placed in the top 6 of specific qualifying races throughout the season.
Irish trainer Gordon Elliott has farmed the race in recent years, winning the last thee runnings with his horse Sire Du Berlais landing the race in both 2019 and 2020.
Previous winner: Sire Du Berlais (10/1)
Run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs, the Ryanair is a chase that is an alternative to the Champion Chase and Gold Cup for high-class chasers.
The Willie Mullins-trained Min landed the race in 2020 and is current favourite to do so again in 2021.
Previous winner: Min (2/1)
The highlight of day three’s Cheltenham Festival races, the clue is in the name for the Stayers’ Hurdle – it’s a hurdle race over the 3-mile trip.
Lisnagar Oscar upset the odds last season, landing the race at a massive 50/1 for trainer Rebecca Curtis.
Previous winner: Lisnagar Oscar (50/1)
The Plate is a handicap chase run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs that regularly throws up large priced winners.
Empire of Dirt won the race in 2016 at 16/1, while Road to Respect won the race in 2017 at 14/1 – will there be another shock at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival?
Previous winner: Simply The Betts (10/3)
Introduced in 2016, this race is for female novice hurdlers and is run over 2 miles with eight hurdles jumped.
Willie Mullins has won the race every year since its introduction, with Concertista landing it in 2020.
Previous winner: Concertista (9/2)
Kim Muir Challenge Cup
Another race for amateur jockeys only, the Kim Muir is a handicap chase run over 3 miles and 2 furlongs and is the finale of day three at the Festival.
Irish jockey Jamie Codd has won the race a record four times so far – in 2009, 2011, 2015, and 2016.
Previous winner: Milan Native
Friday, 19th March
The Triumph kicks-off Gold Cup day and is the premier novice hurdles race for four-year-old juveniles.
In recent years it’s been won by top-class horses such as Defi du Seuil and Tiger Roll, and last year’s race saw Goshen fall at the final hurdle with the race at his mercy.
Previous winner: Burning Victory (12/1)
A betting minefield, the County is fast and furious – it’s run over 2 miles with eight hurdles to be negotiated.
Over the years, the County has thrown up some huge priced winners such as Silver Jars at 50/1 in 2008 and Mohaayed at 33/1 in 2018.
Previous winner: Saint Roi (11/2)
Albert Bartlett Novices’
Another relatively new race, the Albert Bartlett was introduced in 2005 and is a novice hurdles race run over 3 miles.
One of the most iconic winners of the race was Brindisi Breeze in 2012 – the horse and jockey Campbell Gillies both sadly lost their lives in the months following the race.
Previous winner: Monkfish (5/1)
Cheltenham Gold Cup
Cheltenham Festival races don’t come bigger than this. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the premier race of the national hunt season.
Run over 3 miles and 2 furlongs, the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the Everest of the jumps racing scene – legends of the sport such as Arkle, Best Mate, and Kauto Star have all lifted the gold trophy.
Al Boum Photo has won the race the last two years and is looking to add himself to the Cheltenham Festival history books in 2021 as a three-time winner.
Previous winner: Al Boum Photo (10/3f)
The Foxhunters has been dubbed the ‘amateur Gold Cup’ – it’s run over the same course and distance as the Gold Cup but only amateur jockeys are allowed to ride.
Paul Nicholls has saddled the winner of the race four times but it was the Irish-trained It Came To Pass who won in 2020.
Previous winner: It Came To Pass (66/1)
A new race for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, the Mares’ Chase will be run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs and is exclusively for female horses. Which of the early Cheltenham Festival contenders could contest this one?
Previous winner: n/a
Martin Pipe Conditional
The finale of the Cheltenham Festival 2021, the Martin Pipe, is a handicap hurdle run over 2 miles and 4 furlongs with only conditional jockeys allowed to ride.
A conditional jockey is the jumping equivalent of apprentice jockeys on the flat, and each jockey is given a weight allowance dependent on the number of winners they have ridden.
Previous winner: Indefatigable (25/1)
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