Heralding spring and the flagship of the National Hunt season, the Cheltenham Festival remains the highlight of the British horse racing calendar.
Cheltenham Festival 2023 dates
This year’s festival runs from Tuesday 14th March to Friday 17th March. Plans to add a fifth day on Saturday have been put on hold amid concerns over damage to the circuit and Britain’s uncertain economic base. For fans who think it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, this was welcome news.
What TV channel are the races on?
British TV viewers can watch each race live on ITV 1 or stream online via ITV X. Racing TV also shows the festival in full. Talksport will moderate the radio commentary.
Betting on the Cheltenham Festival? Check out the best Cheltenham betting offers and free bets.
The full race schedule for Cheltenham 2023
Feature Race in bold
13:30 High Novices’ hurdle
14:10 Arkle Challenge Trophy
14:50 Handicap Steeple Chase
15:30 Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
16:10 mare hurdle
16:50 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
17:30 National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup
13:30 Ballymore Novices’ hurdle
14:10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase
14:50 Coral Cup Hurdle
15:30 Queen Mother Champion Chase
16:10 Cross-Country Steeple Hunt
16:50 Grand Annual Handicap Chase
17:30 Champion bumper
13:30 Turner’s novice hunt
14:10 Pertemps Network Last hurdle
14:50 Ryanair pursuit
15:30 hurdle of stayers
16:10 County Plate Chase
16:50 hurdle of the mare candidates
5:30pm Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup
13:30 Triumph Hurdle Jump
14:10 Country Handicap Hurdle
14:50 Novices’ hurdle by Albert Bartlett
15:30 Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
16:10 Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunter Hunt
16:50 mare hunt
17:30 Conditional Jockeys Handicap Hurdle
Marcus Armytage’s Five Horses at the 2023 Cheltenham Festival
Constitution Hill (Unibet Champion Hurdle)
At 1-3, Nicky Henderson’s standout six-year-old isn’t a bet, but barring a fall he’s looking like his first championship in open company, so sit back and enjoy the show. Aside from his own skill and calm demeanor, he has much to offer: a jockey with a great racing temper and a trainer who has won eight hurdle champions. Henderson has never seen a horse like this, and one suspects we haven’t either.
Honeysuckle (Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle or Champion Hurdle)
The two-time hurdle champion and the horse that really put Rachael Blackmore on the road to stardom. Unbeaten in the first 16 starts but still without a win this season. This is Honeysuckle’s swan song before she goes to the deck. A fourth win at the festival would be a great way to go, but hard to argue with that she seems to have lost a bit of her edge.
Publisher Du Gite (Betway Champion Chase)
Has already bagged the scalps of Energumene and Edwardstone (twice) yet still trades as the third favorite behind them in the bets. Full marks for the ties to young up and coming jockey Niall Houlihan on the frontrunner who loves Cheltenham a great chance for him to break into the big time.
Gold Tweet (Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle)
Trained in the Loire Valley, better known for its châteaux, by relatively unknown (here anyway) Frenchman Gabriel Leenders, hence his generous prize, based on his recent win at Cheltenham. He trains 90 horses and knows the time of day, so don’t dismiss him lightly. Great chance for experienced French jockey Jonny Charron to top off a long career.
Noble Yeats (Boodles Gold Cup)
One of the smallest clubs in racing is horses that have won a Gold Cup and Grand National. Only Golden Miller and L’Escargot are currently in contention, but with newly fitted cheek pieces, no horse in Friday’s race has the depth of endurance of last year’s Aintree hero. Unless he’s overtaken early, he’ll fly up the hill.
Forget the controversy and get on the ride
By Marcus Army Days
Even the Irish described the weather at Cheltenham on Monday as “pretty miserable” as Battalions Mullins and Elliott, who had arrived over the weekend, stretched their legs midway through the course as high winds, low cloud and rain with bouts of airy light oscillating sunshine. The start of the 2023 festival is gentle.
It was familiar surroundings for Facile Vega, last year’s record winner and hot favorite, to lead the meeting to a flyer for Willie Mullins in the Sky Bet Supreme, all new to El Fabiolo, his stable companion vying for favoritism in sporting life Arkle.
The first Irish coached winner at Cheltenham was Be Careful the 1920 Foxhunters, four years before the first Gold Cup, seven before the first Champion Hurdle and he was not coached by Willie Mullins. But 103 years later, Irish dominance is all but complete and the extent of that will surely be a big topic of conversation again when Friday night’s meeting concludes.
But if a day of 95 runners in seven races is really just about one horse, it’s an English-trained horse, Constitution Hill, who might even have ridden Lion Courage (1935), Sir Ken (1954) and Istabraq (1999). himself casts perch as the winner of the shortest prize race at 4-9.
Of all the major championships at the meeting, the Champion Hurdle is the best for favourites, 40 heats out of 92, and it’s hard to see the 43 percent hit rate being lowered despite the six-year-old’s relative inexperience, five unbeaten starts over hurdles. Nothing has come closer to him than 12 lengths.
Quite apart from the skills to match his sanity, he is in the hands of the race’s most successful exponent with eight wins in Nicky Henderson and in Nico de Boinville he has a jockey with a great racing temperament to match that of the horse.
The caveat, of course, is that this is an eight-hurdle horse race when even the best can misjudge a top bar by half an inch, the unlucky ones can be tripped, and horses free as much as men Days do, but while 1-3 doesn’t look like a good bet offer, you’d struggle to find stocks on the London Stock Exchange that would give you a 33 percent return in less than four minutes.
So far, Constitution Hill has been all about his potential for being what he can be and this is undoubtedly his toughest test yet. He won against ‘Sandown heavy’ so ‘Cheltenham soft’ should have no fear and it will take something extraordinary to inflict him with a first loss but let’s save the applause for later.
The top two mares, Honeysuckle and Epatante, both past winners of the race, have been looking for easier prey in the mares’ hurdle, leaving State Man, who was also unbeaten in two seasons save for a first hurdle fall, alongside last year’s main competitor is triumphant Vauban and I Like To Move It. But beating Constitution Hill? It will be like trying to catch Quicksilver.
The normally sharp outline of Cleeve Hill, the limestone outcrop that forms the famous backdrop to this amphitheater and horse shrine, was blurred by clouds yesterday, but it’s back in high definition for the first time.
It’s been a few years since a Class 1 Flutterhorse, rated 119 at his best, has hurdleed, and if High Definition can get his jumps together – he retired after a mile at Leopardstown – he can Upset Facile Vega’s fan club by winning by double digit odds for Joseph O’Brien.
The Arkle recaps the UK v Ireland match with Jonbon taking on El Fabiolo but beware of races billed as matches with more than two runners. You will not hang around in this race. Leader Dysart Dynamo is likely to have his throat cut by Effernock Fizz, but Mullin’s runner-up Saint Roi, a County Hurdle winner who finished third in last year’s Champion Hurdle, has a good chance.
Win, lose or draw, it looks like we’re saying goodbye to Honeysuckle, the two-time champion hurdler in the Close Brothers Mares Hurdle, and if she regains her form she’ll be an emotional winner for Henry de Bromhead, but Henderson is given up by bullying this race and his third string Theater Glory puts on a good show.
Over the summer, the Jockey Club finally kicked off an extra day at the Cheltenham Festival, but on day five of this special festival, the Whip Review Panel will meet next Tuesday to go through the list of breaches of the new, stricter whip rules at Cleeve Hill between now and Friday under Cleeve Hill.
The jockeys, British, Irish and amateurs must understand that rules are rules and there is no point in bitching about them. So, let’s get on with one of the biggest shows in esports.
Who won the Prestbury Cup in 2022?
The Prestbury Cup is the competition between British and Irish coaches held during the Cheltenham Festival. Ireland dominated last year’s competition, winning 18 races versus the UK’s 10 races. With the Mullins at the helm, Ireland are 1-20 wins this year so it has to be said that the home team needs snooker.