The hugely popular Cheltenham Festival is held every year in the month of March at Prestbury Park. It is the most highly anticipated horse racing event in the whole UK. All the best British and Irish trained horses gather at Cheltenham which is relatively rare during the rest of the season. Its prize money is second only to the Grand National. Cheltenham Gold Cup is its most popular race while the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Champion Hurdle and World Hurdle are also well-known races.
Compared to the Grand National it is a little new, but still its history goes back to the 1860s when the event used to take place at the Market Harborough under the title Grand National Hunt Meeting. The event continued to be held at various locations. After 1911 though, the location of the festival has not been changed and it is taking place at Cheltenham to this day.
Now the festival is very near again and will start from the 13th of March. It is the best place for all the bookmakers, punters and horeracing fans who wait most anxiously for this event during the rest of the year. For 4 days, all the best British and Irish horses and jockeys gather at the Prestbury Park for a huge £4.3 million in prizes. An average of about 62,000 people come to attend the festival every day. If you have a punter’s interest to the races, then you can choose freebets and navigate through the whole betting forest of Cheltenham and make your fortune.
The leading bookmakers are offering the best free bets for Cheltenham to make your punting experience the best. 10Bet is offering a bonus that could go up to £200. If you wager £10, SkyBet will give you £30 in free bets. While BetStars offers a £20 bonus to its new customers. With Coral, you can avail from a £20 risk free bet and with 888Sport, you can enjoy the generous Bet £10 Get £30 free bets.
The first Cheltenham Festival took place at the Prestbury Racecourse in 1902. Two years later in 1904, the festival introduced the first steeplechase race which would later be named as the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1924. That race originally was a supporting race for the main County Hurdle. However in the subsequent seasons, these things started changing and it became a championship race soon. Red Splash became the first horse to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
From all the championship races, the Stayers Hurdle is the oldest race from the festival which was first run in 1912. Unlike the Stayers Hurdle and the Gold Cup, both the Queen Mother Champion Chase and the Champion Hurdle were championship races from the time when they were introduced. The Champion Hurdle was first started in 1927 while the Queen Mother Champion Chase was started in 1959.
In 2001, the whole of the British Isles saw an outbreak of foot and mouth which forced the authorities to postone the festival initially. However when a case of foot and mouth was discovered in the very close vicinity of the Prestbury Park, the festival was abandoned that year.
The festival remained a meeting of three days until 2005 when it was expanded to four days. Also, five new races were added in that year. Since then, two further races have been introduced for the mega festival. Now there are 26 total races in the 4-days festival.
Ruby Walsh is the most well known Cheltenham jockey with the record of riding 56 winners at the festival. While Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins are the leading trainers of the Cheltenham Festival.