The Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious meeting in the National Hunt racing calendar in the United Kingdom, and has race prize money second only to the Grand National. It is an event where many of the best British and Irish trained horses race against each other, the extent of which is relatively rare during the rest of the season.
Cheltenham Festival takes place annually in March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. The meeting is often very popular with Irish visitors, mostly because of that nation's affinity with horse racing, but also because it usually coincides with Saint Patrick's Day, a national holiday in celebration of the patron saint of Ireland. Huge amounts of money are bet during festival week, with hundreds of millions of pounds being gambled over the four days. Cheltenham is often noted for its atmosphere, most notably the "Cheltenham roar", which refers to the enormous amount of noise that the crowd generates as the starter raises the tape for the first race of the festival.
The official title of the Cheltenham Festival is the National Hunt Meeting. This originated in 1860, when the National Hunt Chase was first held at Market Harborough and titled the Grand National Hunt, featuring the one race alongside other steeplechases. After taking place at a number of locations, including Cheltenham in 1861, the race returned to Cheltenham in 1904 and 1905. It was staged over a new course established at Prestbury Park, Cheltenham in 1902, although racing had taken place in the park previously. The National Hunt Meeting was held at Warwick from 1906 to 1910, but returned to Prestbury Park in 1911 and has remained there to this day. The earliest traceable reference to a "Festival" is in the Warwick Advertiser of 1907.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup, established in 1924, was the original Championship race staged at the Festival, with the Champion Hurdle being introduced in 1927, the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 1959, and finally the Stayers Hurdle, which was first run in 1972.
In 2001 the Cheltenham Festival was cancelled due an outbreak of foot and mouth disease in Britain. The meeting had initially been postponed to April, but when a case of foot and mouth was confirmed locally, putting the racecourse within an exclusion zone, all racing had to be called off. In 2008 the second day of the festival was cancelled due to heavy storms which hit Britain during the week. The races scheduled for that day were instead run on the Thursday and Friday of the Festival.
Until 2005, the Cheltenham Festival had traditionally been held over the course of three days, but this changed with the introduction of a fourth day, meaning there would be one championship race on each day, climaxing with the Gold Cup on Friday. To ensure each days would still have six races, five additional races were also introduced. Two further races have since been added bringing the total to 26 races overall, with Grade One events including the Champion Bumper, Triumph Hurdle, Ryanair Chase, Supreme Novices' Hurdle, Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle, Arkle Challenge Trophy, RSA Chase, Champion Hurdle, World Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the feature race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Cheltenham Festival also includes one of the two biggest Hunter Chases of the season, the Foxhunters', which is run on the Friday over the same course as the Gold Cup, and is sometimes referred to as the amateurs' Gold Cup.
Unlike Royal Ascot and many other top Flat racing events in Britain and Ireland, the Cheltenham Festival does not have a history of attracting many international contenders though French-trained horses have done well - Baracouda being perhaps the most well-known, having landed the World Hurdle twice. In 2010 Australian trainer Anthony Cosgriff, a former vet to Mark Johnston, plans to bring his staying novice hurdler Gorge, to run in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle.
The 2010 Cheltenham Festival had the first ever running of the Ladies Charity Flat Race on Thursday 18 March at 17:15 in aid of Cancer Research UK. The race was contested over 1m 5F and all twelve amateur jockeys were female. The race was won on a photo finish in front of a packed Cheltenham grandstand by Ms Orna Madden from Dublin, Ireland riding Prince Picasso finishing just ahead of fellow Irish rider Ms Katie Doyle riding Devil To Pay with Ms Helen Needham riding on Mr Wall Street in third.
Cheltenham Festival is back in 2011. It will be four days event consisting on Centenary Day, Ladies Day, St Patricks Day and finally Gold Cup Day. Cheltenham Festival will start on March 15, 2011 in Cheltenham Racecourse. Sold Out Ticket Market is ideal for Cheltenham Festival Tickets at nominal rates. Sold Out Ticket Market provides its customers with Cheltenham Festival 2011 Tickets for all four days of festival. Get your Cheltenham Festival Tickets from our safe and secure system and watch horse racing in UK.