Undoubtedly one of the biggest racing festivals in the UK, the Cheltenham Festival is a huge event. Held over four days in March every year, the best trainers, jockeys and horses compete for the biggest prizes and the prestige that comes with being a Cheltenham winner.
So what date will the Cheltenham Festival begin in March 2021?
The meeting will take place on Tuesday 16th March 2021 through to Friday 19th March 2021.
For those not familiar with the set-up, each day has it’s own themed day and set of races. Opening Day is always on a Tuesday and in 2021 it will be no different.
Cheltenham Festival 2021 Opening Day
The lead up to the Cheltenham Festival is huge. This is where the best chasers and hurdlers are aimed for most of the season. By the time the opening day rolls around, 70,000 will have made their way to Prestbury Park.
As the first race gets underway, the Cheltenham roar goes up, the starting tape comes down and Champion Day has begun.
At 13.30pm, the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race is first up and with £125,000 in the prize fund, it’s all to race for.
That is followed by The Arkle, names after the great horse that won three consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups in 1964, 1965, 1966.
Following The Arkle is the Ultima Handicap Chase. This is where a lot of the runners are testing the waters over the longer distance before making a decision on the Grand National. So expect plenty of dual runners in those two races.
The feature of the day takes place at 15.30pm and that is the Champion Hurdle. With a prize fund of £450K up for grabs, this is a Grade 1 race run on the old course.
Three more races – the Mare’s Hurdle, the Novices’ Handicap Chase and the National Hunt Steeple Chase – round off the day.
Day 2 of the Festival
Known as Ladies Day, Day 2 of the Cheltenham Festival is a celebration of women in racing. In 2021 it will take place on Wednesday 17th March.
In between the racing action are competitions for the ‘best dressed’ as well as style awards with incredible prizes for the women who win.
As for the racing, that doesn’t slow down. The first race of the day is The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle. That is followed by the prestigious RSA Chase which was won by the JP McManus chaser ‘Champ’ in 2020. Interestingly, he was named after the legendary AP McCoy.
40 minutes later the Coral Cup gets underway before the feature race of the day which is the Queen Mother Champion Chase. With £400K in the prize pot, this is the biggest race of the day.
It was won by Altior in 2018 and 2019. In 2020 the great chaser was supposed to compete again but a late injury ruled him out of contention. The race was then won by the Paul Nicholls trained Politologue.
Following the Champion Chase is the Glenfarclas Chase. It is one of the longest races at the meeting and is known for being the stomping ground of Tiger Roll who narrowly lost out to Easysland in 2020.
Day 2 is then rounded off with the Juvenile Handicap Hurdle and the Champion Bumper.
Day 3 Of The Cheltenham Festival 2021
This is the day known as ‘St. Patrick’s Day’ at the festival. It was so named to celebrate the huge impact that the Irish have on the festival. Boosting the Irish connection even further is the fact that the feature race is the Ryanair Chase.
But before that race takes place, the action begins with the Grade 1 Marsh Novices’ Chase. After that is the Pertemps Network Final before the big line-up for the Ryanair Chase.
The race itself has only been going since 2005 when jockey Ruby Walsh won it on Thisthatandtother. He is also the most successful jockey in the race with four wins.
In keeping with the Irish theme of the day, the next race is the Stayers’ Hurdle which was recently sponsored by Paddy Power. With £325K in the prize pot, it is the second most valuable race of the day.
Rounding off Day 3 of the festival in 2021 will be the Stable Plate, the Grade 2 Mares Novices’ Hurdle and the Kim Muir Challenge Cup.
2021 Festival Day 4
The Cheltenham Festival in 2021 will come to a close on Friday 19th March. By far the biggest day of racing, this is when the Gold Cup winner will be crowned.
Al Boum Photo became the first back-to-back winner of the £625,000 Grade 1 Cheltenham Gold Cup since Best Mate in 2002, 2003 & 2004. 68,000 people were in attendance to witness the occassion and no doubt the team will be back in 2021 with a treble in their sites.
But before the big event there are still some great races to look forward to. Racing gets underway with the JCB Triumph Hurdle and is followed by the County Handicap Hurdle.
The incredibly popular Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle gets underway as the third race of the day. And then it’s on to the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 15.30pm.
And while for some this will mark the end of a terrific race meeting, it’s not actually the last race of the day.
Three more races take place and they are the Foxhunter Steeple Chase, the Grand Annual Handicap Chase and the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
All in all, it looks like it will be another spectacular Cheltenham Festival in 2021. There will be plenty of big winners and outsiders who rock up as winners and we can’t wait.