There is now less than a month till the Cheltenham Festival gets underway. With the runners and riders confirmed and the bookmakers studying the form book and how the odds are affected by the latest run outs at Newbury, there is nothing for it but to count down the days till Champions Day kicks everything off on 13 March. To get everyone in the mood, we have assembled the following facts and figures relating to the Cheltenham Festival.
Ask the average punter what event in the horse racing calendar attracts the most betting, and chances are they will say the Grand National. But of course, that is only one race. The four days and 28 races that encompass the Cheltenham Festival will have more people going online than ever before to place a wager. The Gambling App Store provides a list of Cheltenham horse racing apps where you can bet from your mobile phone. Some of the sites listed will even let you place a bet while the race is underway!
So how much will be wagered this year? Organisers expect it to be in the region of £600 million – that’s well over double the amount wagered on the Grand National.
The Festival attracts a global audience, with TV coverage across Europe, Asia and the Americas. With online streaming to boot, it is no exaggeration to say the eyes of the world will be on Cheltenham. But there is nothing quite like being there in person.
Around 250,000 will visit the racetrack at Prestbury Park over the course of the festival, with the Cheltenham Cup itself expected to attract a capacity crowd of 67,500.
There is one trainer who has made the Cheltenham Festival his own. Nicky Henderson has had an incredible 55 winners here over the years. Might Bite, Altior and Buveur D’Air are all trained by Henderson and are among the most fancied runners in the showcase races. With plenty of others in the support races, don’t be surprised if he takes the tally to more than 60 this year.
Henderson’s closest rival is Willie Mullins, with 48 winners. The battle between these two training legends is always one of the most compelling stories of the festival.
The Cheltenham festival is one of the most enduring events in horse racing. It has taken place every year at Prestbury Park since 1911, the only exceptions being during the two World Wars and on one other occasion in 2001, when the foot and mouth epidemic meant the event had to be cancelled.
Cheltenham employs more than 3,000 hospitality staff to keep the refreshment flowing, including 350 chefs who will be working flat out to get the food served piping hot. Over the course of the four days, racegoers will enjoy 18,000 bottles of champagne, 265,000 pints of Guinness, 245,000 pints of beer and cider, 30,000 bottles of wine and 8,000 gallons of tea and coffee.