For many horse racing fans, Cheltenham Festival is the must-see event of the year. If you’ve already checked out the local races, and you’re looking to visit an emblematic horse racing event next year, then the Cheltenham Festival is a great option. Cheltenham Racecourse, located at Prestbury Park, has been established as a fantastic jump racing course since 1831. However, Cheltenham’s love of horse-racing goes back even further, with the first flat race was run way back in 1815 on Nottingham Hill. Steeplechasing was transferred from nearby Andoversford to Prestbury Park at the end of the 19th century.
The celebrated Gold Cup was introduced in 1924, and the first winner has kept the trophy in a bank vault since the 1970s. This year was actually the first time Cheltenham Racecourse was able to present the 1924 original to the 2019 Gold Cup winner. The coveted cup consists of nearly 650 grams of nine-carat gold and is plated in 18-carat gold.
“It’s a beautiful, decorative trophy, dating back almost 100 years and it will sit perfectly on the winner’s podium come March next year, when we crown the next Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup champion.” said Ian Renton, the Cheltenham and South West Regional Director of The Jockey Club. Seeing next year’s winner presented with this trophy treasure would certainly be a sight to see.
Internationally renowned for some of the best jump racing courses in the world, and attracting the best of international talent, Cheltenham is one to try out for racing fans. Set in a lea of the rolling Cotswolds Hills in Gloucestershire, the racecourse boasts 350 acres of land dedicated to the equestrian sport.
The 2020 festival, sponsored by Magner’s Irish cider, promises again to be one of the greatest jump racing events of the year, one which is expected, as usual, to be filled to the brim with emotion and excitement. So why not don your most creative hats and attire and head over to Cheltenham for the races?
How to get to Cheltenham from Essex
In under three hours, you can drive from Essex to the Cheltenham Racecourse, which is located to the north of the town centre. National Express is also offering a service direct to the racecourse from various locations across the UK. Some coach companies put on special coaches from Essex for the big race meetings too.
If you’re arriving to Cheltenham town by public transport, route D buses run to the racecourse from Clarence Street every 10 minutes.
So what can we expect from the March 2020 event?
Perhaps the most prestigious race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup takes place on the last day of the festival. The 2019 winner Al Boum Photo, owned by Mrs J Donnely and ridden by Paul Townend, picked up the trophy earlier this year, much to the delight of trainer Willie Mullins. Recent successes on the racetrack have seen Lostintranslation become a highly tipped favourite to pick up the trophy, with Kemboy following close behind.
The prominently named Queen Mother Champion Chase, so-named to celebrate the royal figure’s 80th birthday, is another of the fans’ favourites. This year’s Cheltenham winner was Altior, the nine-year-old who recently experienced a setback when Cyrname beat the champion at the Ascot Chase a few days ago. However, many expect the gelding, trained by N J Henderson to hit back and come out in front for the Cheltenham Festival.
The National Hunt Chase is a piece of horse-racing history, as it’s Cheltenham’s second-oldest race and has been run the most number of times. After a recent review, the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham has been slightly altered. In 2020, the race will be run over three miles and six furlongs, and the number of fences will be reduced from 25 to 23. Champagne Classic is the odds-on favourite to win the National Hunt Chase in 2020, with Sam Spinner and Battleoverdoyen nipping hooves close behind. The eight-year-old gelding will be hoping to share a glass of bubbly or two with his trainer G Elliott and owner Gigginstown House Stud by beating the competition to the line in 2020.
What facilities can I expect from Cheltenham Racecourse?
If you’re part of the Club Enclosure during the Cheltenham Festival, you can try out a number of luxury brands as a racegoer. This year’s racegoers could sample a tipple at the Glenfarclas Whisky bar, or an English sparkling wine with Nyetimber at The Orchard. Those interested in luxury cars could also feast their eyes on the smooth lines of a Bentley for their centenary anniversary.
Restaurants and hospitality at the racecourse offer award-winning cuisine which uses local fresh produce and features top-class service.
As Magners are sponsoring the event, they have also put on live music for each of the three enclosures. Some acts include the Wickerman, Hipcats, the Lucky 15’s. Various DJs will fill the slots in-between events.
Why not make a trip of it?
As if revelling in the excitement of the races isn’t enough, the surrounding area also has a great deal to offer. Step back in time and take strolls through the quaint villages and hills of the Cotswolds, with their honey-coloured stone houses and laid back atmosphere. With thousands of miles of footpaths, local farm produce to sample, and even castles to discover, this could prove a welcome addition to your time at the races. Why not treat yourselves to a country hotel or rent a manor house to really appreciate your time here?
What else is going on during the festival?
The Irish contingent will most likely be making the most of the craic leading up to Saint Patrick’s day on March 17th, which will no doubt provide a great atmosphere if you’d like to extend your trip. On the 12th of March, you could be tempted to see the comedy star Milton Jones at the Imperial Square for some rib-tickling humour. If you’re a Michael Jackson and musical fan, then this is great timing to see Thriller Live at Cheltenham Theatre.
Where to buy tickets
You can buy tickets online from The Jockey Club, which offers early bird discounts. Here you can purchase tickets for your needs such as for the Club Enclosure, Tattersalls Enclosure, Private Boxes or even a car parking pass.
Photo by Carine06m CC Licence.