All Your Cheltenham Festival Questions Answered

A four-day event spanning from Tuesday 12th March to Friday 15th March 2024, the Cheltenham Festival is an iconic sporting event that can’t be missed. Attracting the leading National Hunt horses from the UK & Ireland, the Cheltenham Festival is the ‘Olympics’ of the horse racing world and we will tell you all about it here. 

There’s a huge amount that goes into putting on an event this size. With more than 250,000 people arriving for the festivities each year, there’s always a question or two that needs to be answered. 

With everything from the dates and times of the races to how much money is earned throughout the event – racing fans can check out our frequently asked questions for the Cheltenham Festival below.

Table of contents

Cheltenham Festival Dates and Time 2024

The dates and times of the Cheltenham Festival are one of the most important parts for horse racing fans to wrap their head around. 

There are a total of seven races per day throughout the 4-day festival with races taking place between 13:30 and 17:30 between the 12th and 15th of March. To avoid missing out on any of the action, racing fans can check out the dates and timings in our FAQ below. 

When is the Cheltenham festival 2024 (dates and time for every day)?

The dates and times of all races of the Cheltenham Festival can be found in the tables below. 

Day 1 – Tuesday 12th March

The first day of this year’s Cheltenham Festival falls on Tuesday the 12th March and boasts the Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy feature race.

The main event gets underway at 15:30 with a hurdle event spanning 2m abt ½f. A full breakdown of the day can be found in the table below.

Start TimesRaceDistanceType
13:30The Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race2m abt ½fHurdle
14:10The Arkle Challenge Trophy abt 2mChase
14:50The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase3m abt 1fChase
15:30The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (feature race) 2m abt ½fHurdle
16:10The Mares’ Hurdle Race2m abt 4fHurdle
16:50The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3)2m abt 4½fChase
17:30The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) (Grade 2)3m abt 6fChase

Day 2 – Wednesday 13th March 

The second day of the Cheltenham Festival, commonly known as Ladies Day, begins with the first race at 13:30. 

Day 2 features the main event of the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase, a 2m chase that gathers the bulk of the attention for the day. A full breakdown of the day can be found in the table below.

Start TimesRaceDistanceType
13:30The Baring Bingham Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)2m abt 5fHurdle
14:10The Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1)3m abt ½ fChase
14:50The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Grade 3)2m abt 5fHurdle
15:30The Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Grade 1) (feature race) Abt 2mChase
16:10The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase3m 6fChase
16:50The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Grade 3)2m abt ½fChase
17.30The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1)2m abt ½fBumper

Day 3 – Thursday 14th March 

The third day of the Cheltenham Festival, known famously as St Patrick’s Thursday, gets underway on Thursday the 14th March.

There’s a pair of Irish-based races in the day with the Ryanair Chase and the Stayers’ Hurdle occurring in the afternoon. A full breakdown of the day can be found in the table below.

Start TimesRaceDistanceType
13:30The Turners Novices’ Chase (Grade 1)2m abt 4fChase
14:10The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Listed)Abt 3mHurdle
14:50The Ryanair Chase (Grade 1) (feature race) 2m abt 5fChase
15:30The Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (feature race) abt 3mHurdle
16:10The Cheltenham Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase) (Grade 3)2m abt 5fChase
16:50The Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2)2m 1fHurdle
17:30Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup (sponsored by the JRL Group) (0-145)3m abt 2fChase

Day 4 – Friday 15th March

The final day of the Cheltenham Festival falls on Friday the 15th of March and boasts the biggest event of the festival. 

The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, scheduled for 15:30, is the feature race of the day and of the festival. A 3m abt 2½ f chase, horse racing fans will be tuning in from around the globe to watch the top jockeys battle it out. A full breakdown of the day can be found in the table below.

Start TimesRaceDistanceType
13:30The Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1)2m abt 1fHurdle
14:10The McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3)2m abt 1fHurdle
14:50The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race (Grade 1)abt 3mHurdle
15:30The Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase (Grade 1)3m abt 2½ fChase
16:10The St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase3m abt 2½ fChase
16:50The Mares’ Chase (Grade 2)2m abt ½fChase
17:30Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (0-145)2m abt 4½ fHurdle

Where is Cheltenham Festival held?

The festival is held at the Cheltenham racecourse at Prestbury Park in Gloucestershire. 

When was the first Cheltenham Festival?

Racing has taken place in the Cheltenham area since 1815. In 1860 a festival was held under the name of the National Hunt Meeting. The exact venue changed frequently between 1860 and 1911, when it settled at Prestbury Park. 

What time do the gates open at the Cheltenham Festival?

The gates at the Cheltenham Festival open at 10:30 AM each day with racing beginning at 1:30 PM and finishing at 5:30 PM.

How many days is the Cheltenham Festival?

The Cheltenham Festival spans a total of 4 days from Tuesday the 12th to Friday 15th March. 

What day is Ladies Day at Cheltenham Festival?

Ladies Day is the second day of the Cheltenham Festival and falls on Wednesday 13th March. 

How many races are there a day at Cheltenham Festival?

There are a total of SEVEN races per day at the Cheltenham Festival with the action taking place from 1:30 PM and finishing up at 5:30 PM.

The gates open on the day from 10:30 AM every day and with 28 races in total, it’s not uncommon for guests to arrive later on in the day – before the main feature races. 

Where can I view the Cheltenham Festival race cards? 

The Cheltenham Festival racecards can be found here and gives information about the horses running in each of the events during the festival. 

Cheltenham Festival Racecourse and Getting There

Planning your Cheltenham Festival experience can be a bit of a headache when the logistics are brought front and centre. 

There are a number of ways to get to and from the racecourse, but wallets are likely to take a bit of a kicking, regardless of the method chosen. With car, taxi, bus, train and helicopter options all available (and all taken advantage of during the 4-day event), visitors are spoiled for choice. 

We would recommend avoiding taking a car to the festival and parking throughout the day with a £20 per day parking charge and heavy congestion throughout the event. There is, instead, a number of bus services and a park and ride system that can be used as a car substitute.

Where is the Cheltenham Festival?

The Cheltenham Festival is, as the name suggests, held at Cheltenham Racecourse, located on Evesham Road, Cheltenham, GL50 4SH. 

The racecourse is easy to get to and sits just a 5-minute drive from the centre of Cheltenham town. 

How to get to Cheltenham Festival?

There are a handful of different ways that racing fans can make their way over to the racecourse for the Cheltenham Festival with car, bus, train and helicopter all catered for. 

Car 

Guests can arrive at the Cheltenham Festival by car, although should be warned that parking is expensive at £20 per day. 

Parking should be booked in the days leading up to the festival with dedicated zones for different types of parking. 

Taxi/drop-off 

There is a dedicated taxi rank at Cheltenham Racecourse and all visitors dropped off by a taxi service should ensure that they arrive at the correct location. 

Guests that are being dropped off at the racecourse should follow the green route, allowing guests to be dropped off at the West car park. From here, it is just a 5-minute walk to the racecourse entrances. 

Bus 

The Stagecoach bus service runs from two different locations throughout the Cheltenham Festival – from the train station and the town centre. 

When arriving at the train station, guests will find shuttle buses waiting outside on the forecourt of the station. If catching the bus from the town centre, head to the stop outside of WHSmith on the main street.

Returning from the racecourse, visitors will find buses running every couple of minutes between 3:30 PM and 7:30 PM.

Helicopter

Guests can arrive at the Cheltenham Racecourse via helicopter with the Festival operating the busiest temporary airfield in the UK.

With more than 400 flights throughout the 4-day festival, countless guests are arriving in the air each day. 

What’s the nearest train station to Cheltenham Racecourse?

The nearest train station to the Cheltenham Racecourse is Cheltenham Spa (CNM), located in the town centre of Cheltenham. 

By bus, Cheltenham Racecourse is approximately 30 minutes away. On foot, the racecourse is just over 2.1 miles away and will take approximately 45 minutes. By car or by taxi, the distance can be covered in approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on traffic. 

How far is Cheltenham train station from town?

Cheltenham Spa (CNM) train station is located within 1 mile of the town centre and is just a 20-minute walk or 5-minute drive from the town hall. 

Can you park overnight at Cheltenham Racecourse?

A public car parking place at Cheltenham Racecourse will cost £20 per day, although cars are not permitted to remain parked overnight in the car park. 

There is, however, a racecourse park and ride scheme offered at the South of the Racecourse that offers a cheaper parking solution. Again, parking overnight is not recommended as the car park will be locked between 20:00 and 07:00.

Can you walk the course at Cheltenham?

Yes, Cheltenham Racecourse is one of the most picturesque globally and many horse racing fans join jockeys and trainers in walking the course.

Naturally, this cannot be completed during times of racing. 

What is Cheltenham known for?

It’s no surprise that Cheltenham is best known for its horse racing, but the town is far from a one-trick pony. 

The town is located just outside of the Cotswolds, one of the most stunning national parks in the UK. The idyllic location is fantastic for spotting gorgeous architecture, heading out for a walk in the countryside and settling down in a good pub. 

Cheltenham Festival Statistics

With a history stretching back as far as 1860, there are a huge amount of facts, figures and statistics that history buffs get excited about. 

From the horse that has run the most times at Cheltenham Festival to the most successful jockey in the history of the event. Below you’ll find some of the best pub-quiz statistics about the top horse racing event.  

Which horse has won the most races at Cheltenham Festival?

The most number of wins achieved by any horse at the Cheltenham Festival is Quevega with a total of six wins in the Mares’ Hurdle.

The horse is closely matched in the top list with Golden Miller achieving a total of five wins in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and Big Buck’s winning a total of four times in the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Who is the most successful jockey at the Cheltenham Festival?

Ruby Walsh is the most successful all-time jockey at the Cheltenham Festival with a total of 59 winners spanning from 1998 to 2019. 

Walsh is in good company on the all-time podium with Barry Geraghty, who accrued a total of 43 wins and Sir A.P. McCoy, who managed a total of 31 Cheltenham winners.

What is the capacity of Cheltenham racecourse?

Cheltenham racecourse can hold up to 74,000 fans. However, the capacity has been capped at 68,500. 

How to Watch The Cheltenham Festival

Those of us who are not lucky enough to be able to view the action from the grandstands and the hospitality boxes at Cheltenham are still able to view the events live. 

With showing both on live television and an audio option broadcasted on the radio, fans are unlikely to miss out on the event.

Where can I watch the Cheltenham Festival?

The Cheltenham Festival can be widely viewed and will be broadcasted on ITV with the majority of the events covered. 

Bettors that are looking to wager on the event may also be able to find live streaming options through their chosen sportsbooks. This allows bettors to view the actions whilst cheering on for their selection on the desktop or through the betting app. 

What radio station is the Cheltenham Festival on?

Horse racing fans that prefer to listen to the broadcast will be able to tune into BBC Radio 5 Live to hear the events of the Festival unfold on the day. 

Cheltenham Festival Hospitality and Accommodation

The Cheltenham Festival is a huge event and the hospitality and accommodation packages offer an impressive selection.

Where to stay during Cheltenham Festival?

The Cheltenham Festival website highlights a number of local hotels and country homes recommended to visitors staying for the event. 

Examples include Collin House, Ellenborough Park, The Lygon Arms, Hatton Court, The White Hart Inn and the Thatch Inn.  

How much is a pint at Cheltenham Festival?

A pint of Guinness at the Cheltenham Festival is a whopping £7.50. So, it’s not cheap to buy a beer at the meeting!

How many pints of Guinness are sold at Cheltenham Festival?

Depending on the year, there are more than 250,000 pints of Guinness sold during the 4-day festival. That’s more than 60,000 pints of the stout per day. 

Can you take alcohol into Cheltenham races?

During the Festival, visitors are not permitted to bring their own alcohol and alcohol purchased must not be taken off-site. 

Guests will be limited to a maximum of four alcoholic drinks in any single purchase. 

Catering At the Cheltenham Racecourse

Racecourse caterers Letheby & Christopher serve some 20,000 bottles of champagne, 30,000 bottles of wine, 240,000 bottles of beer & lager, and 220,000 pints of Ireland’s national drink, Guinness, as well as 10,000 gallons of tea and coffee to Cheltenham Festival racegoers. Whilst around 12,000 people each day sit down to three or four-course lunches in the various restaurants and hospitality areas, the remainder of the crowd eat into a pile of burgers, hot dogs and sandwiches that if laid end to end, would stretch almost three miles!

Shopping

Being at The Festival is not just about racing. There are 80 stands selling everything from wellies to wine, silverware to Spanish property and books to binoculars. You could even treat yourself to a handmade rocking horse. With hundreds of thousands of pounds changing hands at the Festival, this is a four-day micro-economy in its own right at the Cheltenham enclosures.

Cheltenham Festival Tickets

Getting your hands on Cheltenham Festival tickets is one of the best feelings – knowing that you’re in for a day (or four) of high-quality horse racing. 

If you have a question about finding tickets for the Cheltenham Festival that you’re looking for the answer to, check out the FAQ below. 

Does Cheltenham Festival sell out?

Yes, Cheltenham Festival is known for selling out – especially during the Friday for the Gold Cup. To avoid disappointment, tickets should be purchased in advance.

How much is hospitality at Cheltenham Festival?

The hospitality prices at Cheltenham vary according to the day chosen with the cheapest hospitality option available at £325 and it goes up to beyond £1000 for a suite package on Cheltenham Gold Cup day.

Guests are required to enquire directly when looking to book a box at the festival. 

How much are tickets to the Cheltenham Festival?

The ticket prices for Cheltenham Festival vary depending on the days chosen and the level of hospitality opted for. 

Ticket prices can start as low as £57 for the first day of the Festival and be as much as £131 for the Club Enclosure on Gold Cup day.

Can I download my tickets or do I have to print them out?

Fortunately, as with most major sporting events, you can use your mobile to get into races by showing your tickets on the entry in PDF format.

If you wish to have a physical copy and print them out, you can do that too – the choice is yours!

Do I get a refund if the race meeting is abandoned?

If a race is abandoned before the first meeting of the day has taken place, then yes, a full refund will be in order. However, only a 50% refund will be given if the race is abandoned before the third race or feature race.

These Cheltenham tickets and refunds will take place online, as regrettably no cash refunds can be given on the day by Cheltenham services.

How many attend the Cheltenham Festival?

Similar to the number of pints of Guinness sold, the Cheltenham Festival brings in approximately 250,000 visitors each year. 

The number of people each day does vary with the most arriving on the Friday of the four days. This is, in no small part, thanks to the Gold Cup.

Cheltenham Festival Dress Code and Style

The dress code and style of the Cheltenham Festival is one of the most talked-about facets of the event. 

Visitors should note that there is actually no dress code enforced at the event and organisers simply dress for the weather. Fancy dress is permitted at the festival, although any offensive costumes will not be tolerated. Fancy dress is not, however, permitted in the Club enclosure.

What to wear to Cheltenham Festival?

The dress code at Cheltenham is not strict, but that doesn’t mean that guests don’t put the effort in and dress up for the occasion. 

Visitors typically dress to impress with smart clothing chosen by the majority of festival-goers. Suits, trousers, tweed jackets, shirts and hats make up the usual uniform worn by most of the guests. 

Can you wear jeans to Cheltenham Festival?

There is no enforced dress code at the Cheltenham Festival and visitors are able to wear jeans if they would like to. 

Typically, visitors do choose to wear smart trousers over a pair of jeans. Guests should dress however they feel the most comfortable. 

How do men dress for Cheltenham?

Men are able to dress as they feel most comfortable at the Cheltenham Festival without a dress code enforced at the event. 

Typically, men tend to opt for a smart outfit with a full suit standing as the most popular choice during the festival. A comfortable shoe is also worn with men occasionally choosing a wellington boot, depending on the conditions. 

Cheltenham Festival Money

If there’s one common theme that runs throughout the length of the Cheltenham Festival, it’s money. 

Wherever you look throughout the 4-day event, the topic of money springs to mind and with guests dressed in the smartest gear, all placing bets on their favourite selections, it’s hard to avoid the topic. 

Below we’ve dived into the details around the money made, won and lost throughout the festival. Check out everything from the amount the Festival makes to how much the jockeys are able to win during the event. 

How much money does Cheltenham Festival make?

The exact figures that the Festival makes are unknown, however, it is reported that over £20 million is earned throughout the four day period thanks to ticket sales, sponsorship, and hospitality. 

A total of £4 million from this total is paid out as prize money with the remaining funds invested into British horse racing. 

How much is the Cheltenham Gold Cup worth?

The prize fund for Cheltenham Gold Cup offers a huge prize fund of £625,000 and is one of the largest prize funds in the UK.

The fund is second only to the £1 million prize fund earned from the Grand National.

How much do jockeys win at Cheltenham?

The exact figures of how much jockeys win at Cheltenham is unknown, but it is estimated that jump jockeys will earn 9% of the winning prize and 4% of the place prize.

Is the Cheltenham Gold Cup real gold?

The Cheltenham Gold Cup is real gold. The cup is made from 9-carat gold and is plated with 18-carat gold to allow for a richer colour. 

On Course Betting

As with every racecourse during a big meeting, there are plenty of bookmakers who will set up stalls in front of the grandstand. Punters will be spoilt for choice ahead of the big races, ensuring you can shop around for the best prices for your chosen horse in any given race.

Similarly, Tote stalls will be set up both inside and outside should punters want a different experience for a certain race.

Cheltenham Festival Sponsors

A large event such as Cheltenham attracts all kinds of sponsorship from a variety of different markets and backgrounds.

There are so many different sponsors, the likes of which can be found online with the long list including the following:

  • Boodles 
  • Unibet 
  • Betway
  • Ryanair
  • Paddy Power
  • Albert Bartlett
  • Brown Advisory

Sponsorship is offered in different forms with some companies opting to sponsor an entire race, such as the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle, whereas others are simply featured throughout the event. 

Who sponsors the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup?

The largest sponsorship opportunity arrives on Friday with the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup.

This year, it’s Boodles, a privately held British luxury jeweller and jewellery designer group, that has claimed the main event.

Cheltenham Festival Facts

There are countless facts and figures that surround the Cheltenham Festival with everything from the big race to the Queen’s attendance grabbing headlines in the tabloids. 

Below we’ve listed some of the top facts and information surrounding the Cheltenham Festival. 

What is the big race at Cheltenham?

The biggest race at Cheltenham is one the Friday of the event and is the Cheltenham Festival Gold Cup. 

This is one of the most prestigious events in the horse racing calendar, with more than 70,000 people in attendance for the race. 

Is Cheltenham Festival flat or jumps?

The Cheltenham Festival predominantly offers jumps with a split between hurdles and chase. 

There is, however a bumper race in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper, which sees horses run a flat race with the rules of hurdles. This gives horses that have not raced on the flat the chance to gain experience. 

Cheltenham is so popular as it is one of the largest horse racing events in the UK and holds a high reputation with both horse racing professionals and the general public.

The whole event is recognised as an experience and visitors are able to enjoy 4 full days of racing as well as the hospitality offered by the event. With over 13 high-quality restaurants among other top hospitality options, Cheltenham is a social event – it’s not just for horse racing fans. 

How many handicap races at Cheltenham?

For the 2024 Cheltenham Festival, racing fans will spot a total of 8 different handicap races throughout the event. The full list of the handicap races at the event can be found below:

  • Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase
  • Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race
  • The Coral Cup Hurdle
  • The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup
  • The Pertemps Network Final
  • The Cheltenham Plate
  • The McCoy Contractors County Handicap Hurdle Race
  • Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Is Cheltenham festival the biggest horse race in the UK?

Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest and most prestigious horse racing events in the UK calendar year. 

The Gold Cup is one of the biggest horse races, but it is not the single largest in the UK. It’s the Grand National that stands as the biggest event and is scheduled at Aintree in April. It’s this event that those that do not typically place sports bets or have interest in any other horse racing make an effort. 

Has Cheltenham Festival ever been cancelled?

In 2001 Cheltenham Festival was called off due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Britain. Initially, the festival was delayed until April however a case of the disease was discovered in the local area resulting in a complete cancellation of the event that year.