Cheltenham Racecourse Guide

Cheltenham racecourse is one of the most famous sporting arenas in the world. Prestbury Park has been staging National Hunt action since the turn of the 20th century and Cheltenham is affectionately known as the home of jumps racing.

Along with the Grand National and Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival is one of British racing's premier meetings, and that takes place at the Gloucestershire venue every year in the middle week of March.

Cheltenham Festival Tips

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Cheltenham Major Meetings

Cheltenham racecourse stages the most important meeting in all of jumps racing, the Cheltenham Festival. For four days during March, around 250,000 spectators will flock to Gloucestershire, ready to enjoy prestigious races like the Champion Hurdle, the Champion Chase and the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

Several important meetings are run at Cheltenham earlier in the National Hunt season. The Showcase Meeting, Open Meeting and International Meeting take place during the first half of the season. Cheltenham stages an excellent card on New Years Day, with Festival Trials Day taking place at the end of January.

Cheltenham Racecourse Characteristics

There are three racecourses housed inside Prestbury Park: The Old Course, the New Course, and the Cross Country Course. 

The first two days of the Cheltenham Festival are held on the Old Course. Day three and four of the Cheltenham Festival take place on the New Course. 

Both the Old and New Courses climb early until the runners reach the top of Cleeve Hill. Both tracks then descend sharply downhill, before turning sharply into the uphill home straight.

The Cross Country course winds for several miles across the whole Cheltenham estate and is only used for Cross Country races.

Cheltenham Track Bias

Cheltenham is a left-handed, undulating track, which horses either love or hate. The fences are stiff, which suits the more accurate jumpers in the field. Given the run to the line climbs steeply uphill, proven stamina is often vital around Cheltenham.

The Old Course is much tighter than the New Course and the home straight is much shorter, so speedy front-runners are often better suited by the Old Course.

The New Course suits more galloping sorts and strong stayers. As the home straight is longer on the New Course, hold-up horses have more time to make their late charge.

Cheltenham Leading Trainers

In the last five years, no trainer has saddled more winners around Cheltenham than Nicky Henderson. Henderson, however, only boasts a 13% strike rate around the track, a percentage which is matched by local trainer, Fergal O'Brien.

Irish Champion Trainer, Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in the history of the Cheltenham Festival. Fellow Irish trainer, Gordon Elliott does particularly well in the handicap races during that famous meeting.

Cheltenham Leading Jockeys

Paul Townend, stable jockey to Willie Mullins, has won with almost 20% of his rides at Cheltenham since 2017, making him the most successful jockey in terms of strike rate.

Both Nico De Boinville and Harry Skelton have ridden more winners than Townend during that time period. Paddy Brennan and Sam Twiston-Davies also ride Cheltenham particularly well.

Cheltenham Track History

Racing in Cheltenham dates back to the early 1800s, when unsanctioned races took place on Cleeve Hill. Prestbury Park was first used for flat racing in the 1830s. The first steeple chase took place at Cheltenham in 1898 and the racecourse has dedicated itself to National Hunt racing ever since. 

The first Cheltenham Festival took place in the early 1900s. Historic races like the National Hunt Chase and the Grand Annual Handicap Chase, which had been run at other venues, were moved to Cheltenham so they could take place during the Festival.

The oldest of the four Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival is the Stayers' Hurdle, which was first run at Prestbury Park in 1912. The Gold Cup was created in 1924, the Champion Hurdle in 1927 and the Champion Chase in 1959.

Cheltenham Racecourse Address

The Racecourse
Prestbury Park
GL50 4SH

Cheltenham Racecourse Directions

By Road - Prestbury Park is around a mile-and-a-half north of Cheltenham town center, which is accessed via the A435 and Junctions 10 or 11 off the M5.

By Rail - Cheltenham Station may show up as Lansdowne Station on some rail schedules. A shuttle bus service runs to take racegoers from the station to Cheltenham racecourse during major meetings.

By Air - The nearest airport to Cheltenham is Birmingham (BHX) Airport, which is around 41 miles away from the racecourse. Bristol airport is around 45 miles away.