2023 Cheltenham Festival guide: race-by-race schedule and how to watch it
The 2023 Cheltenham Festival is nearly upon us. Jump racing's greatest meeting sees the best horses compete against each other across four fantastic days at Prestbury Park.
There are 28 races in total with the best jockeys and trainers from Britain and Ireland also taking part. The first day kicks off with four Grade 1s, including the Champion Hurdle, while the headline act of day two is the Champion Chase. The Stayers' Hurdle and Ryanair Chase share the limelight on Thursday's third day before the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the highlight of the final day.
Read on to get all the information you need for a spectacular week of racing.
When and where does the Cheltenham Festival take place?
The Cheltenham Festival takes place at Cheltenham racecourse in Gloucestershire. This year, the Cheltenham Festival takes place from Tuesday, March 14 to Friday, March 17, with seven races on each day.
Last year's meeting saw the return of spectators following the Covid-19 pandemic and more than 250,000 people attended across the four days.
Why is the meeting so important?
Often regarded as the Olympics of jumps racing, the Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of the season in that sphere, with trainers and owners usually targeting the prestigious meeting months or years in advance.
It is guaranteed that the very best will take each other on at the festival, bringing together the season's most talented horses from Britain and Ireland in a thrilling clash between the sport's brightest stars.
The festival is also a crucial week for bookmakers as punters flock to place bets on trying to find big-race winners, or bidding to land one of the ultra-competitive handicaps that are on offer.
What are the main races and horses to look out for?
Day one: Tuesday, March 14
The opening-day feature is the Unibet Champion Hurdle (3.30), in which superstar Constitution Hill will be fancied to slam his rivals. Last year's brilliant Supreme Novices' Hurdle winner has looked better than ever this season, easily landing both the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdle. The Willie Mullins-trained State Man, successful in the Matheson and Irish Champion Hurdle this season, rates the chief threat.
Opening the day's action is the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (1.30), which usually unearths the season's best two-mile novice hurdler. Facile Vega remains the favourite despite his heavy defeat at the Dublin Racing Festival. His challengers are headed by Barry Connell's unbeaten Marine Nationale.
The day's other fascinating novice race is the Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase (2.10). The Nicky Henderson-trained Jonbon is unbeaten over fences but could face a formidable Mullins team, headed by runaway Irish Arkle winner El Fabiolo.
The final Grade 1 on the day is the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle (4.10), for which last year's winner Marie's Rock remains on course again. Last year's Mares' Novices' Hurdle winner Love Envoi and 2020 Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante could also form part of a strong British team. Headlines are likely to be drawn towards Honeysuckle, however, who bids for a fourth Cheltenham Festival win on what is very likely to be her final racecourse appearance.
Day two: Wednesday, March 15
The Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30) is the highlight of day two and last year's winner Energumene will bid to become the fifth dual winner of the Grade 1 two-mile contest this century. Edwardstone and Editeur Du Gite, both ahead of the reigning champion in the Clarence House Chase, provide strong opposition.
Willie Mullins landed the Grade 1 that kicks Wednesday's action off, the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle (1.30), with Sir Gerhard 12 months ago and has another leading hope in Gaelic Warrior, although the Paul Nicholls-trained Hermes Allen may be hard to beat after his impressive Challow Hurdle victory.
The 3m½f Brown Advisory Novices' Chase (2.10) and the Weatherbys Champion Bumper (5.30), in which It's For Me could attempt to give Mullins an incredible 13th winner, are the other top-level races on the day.
The Glenfarclas Chase (4.10) is the only race of the week on the cross-country course and Delta Work could be another of last year's winners to go back-to-back, particularly given Tiger Roll is no longer in the picture.
Day three: Thursday, March 16
The feature on day three is the Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle (3.30), in which Flooring Porter could bid for a third consecutive success.
2019 winner Paisley Park could be poised to strike after finishing third in the race for the past two years. Victory would see the popular stayer become the first 11-year-old to win in 37 years, but he must face a formidable Irish challenge from leading hopes Blazing Khal, Teahupoo, Home By The Lee and Klassical Dream.
One horse who will not be bidding for a festival hat-trick is Allaho, who has been forced to withdraw from the Ryanair Chase (2.50). Stablemate Blue Lord could replace him, while Shishkin is another potential runner.
Last year's Turners Novices' Chase (1.30) attracted just four runners but threw up one of the most surprising results of the festival after odds-on favourite Galopin Des Champs fell and left Bob Olinger free to capitalise on his heartbreak.
It could be a match between Mullins and Gordon Elliott this year, with Grade 1 winners Appreciate It and Mighty Potter likely to clash.
The Ryanair Mares' Novices' Hurdle (4.50) is the final Graded race of the day and the in-form Allegorie De Vassy could provide Willie Mullins with success in the 2m1f contest.
Day four: Friday, March 17
Gold Cup day could turn into another all-Irish affair following Mullins' remarkable five-timer on the final day of the festival last year.
One of the few races he did not claim was the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase (3.30), which went the way of A Plus Tard, who led home a one-two for trainer Henry de Bromhead.
However, Mullins could make amends this year with leading Gold Cup hope Galopin Des Champs, last year's star novice who has looked imperious since his error at the meeting 12 months ago.
Grand National hero Noble Yeats could also seek to land a blow against last year's winner, while Bravemansgame and Protektorat lead the British charge after L'Homme Presse was ruled out.
Mullins and Rich Ricci teamed up last year for victory in the JCB Triumph Hurdle (1.30) with Vauban and the pair seek to repeat the feat with exciting hurdler Lossiemouth. Stablemates Gala Marceau and Blood Destiny are likely to join the filly in the 2m1f contest.
The Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle (2.50) is the other top-level contest of the day and was claimed last year by 18-1 shot The Nice Guy. The 3m test is known to throw up big-priced winners and has gone to Irish trainers for the last four years.
The St James's Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Chase (4.10) is run over the same trip as the Gold Cup and immediately follows the feature Grade 1 contest. Mullins claimed the amateurs' race last year with son Patrick on Billaway before sealing his five-timer with Elimay in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase (4.50).
A third success in the Grade 2 contest could come courtesy of Allegorie De Vassy, with JP McManus's Impervious her strongest possible rival.
How can I watch the racing and can I attend?
The majority of races each day of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival will be broadcast live on ITV's main channel throughout the week, while the entire card will be shown on Racing TV for those with a subscription.
This can be accessed through Sky and Virgin Media, or streamed online. Virgin Media One will be the first port of call for viewers in Ireland.
You can also watch the races on your phone, tablet or computer by logging on to a bookmaker account and streaming via the Racing Post website or mobile app.
Tickets are available through the Jockey Club website for each of the first four days, although there are only hospitality tickets remaining for Gold Cup day on Friday. Tickets, hospitality packages and car park spaces are available to purchase here.
Cheltenham Festival: race-by-race schedule
Who should I bet on at the Cheltenham Festival?
Upping The Ante Johnny Dineen has had his say on the big four championship races – you can read that here.
Alternatively, have a look at the cards and check out our free bet offers to start with, then stay up to date with the Racing Post website, mobile app and newspaper for our expert betting advice and all the latest news in the run-up to the big week.
2023 Cheltenham Festival: best betting offers
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- Commercial notice: This article contains affiliate links. Offers are handpicked and come from operators that our experts have first-hand experience of. Opening an account via one of these links will earn revenue for the Racing Post, which will be used to continue producing our award-winning coverage of horseracing.
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Festival subscription offer | 50% off three months
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