Cheltenham Festival: A decorated history of England’s most prestigious horse racing event



The most definitive race meeting of the National Hunt Season is swiftly approaching, and punters will be eagerly anticipating landing some big winners at Cheltenham Festival. The four-day event is the most prestigious event in the British racing calendar, with some of the biggest prizes up for grabs and some of the finest horses in the business competing for a place in the record books. Here, we take a look back at the history of the world famous event and explore the roots of Cheltenham Festival. 
The early days: According to, the Festival was originally known as the National Hunt Meeting and was staged at Market Harborough in 1860. It wasn’t until 1911 that Cheltenham became the permanent fixture for the National Hunt Meeting, Prestbury Park being the exact location. 
The famous track had held the festival in 1904 and 1905, in fact, but it took a further six years to become established as the home of the National Hunt Meeting. From 1911, the event was known as Cheltenham Festival and has remained that way to this very day, with much owing to Fredrick Cathcart. Cathcart was the Clerk of the Course and Chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse until his death in 1934, with much of his life’s work being based around making Cheltenham what it is today and establishing the Gloucestershire town as the headquarters for National Hunt racing. 
Growing reputation: Cheltenham Festival’s popularity continued to grow year on year and Cathcart was the vocal point behind it. In 1923, the two-day event changed to three and the Gold Cup was introduced in 1924. Three years later, the Champion Hurdle announced with the former race remaining the most famous in the British racing calendar.
The Festival began to take shape as to what it is known as in present day, with the Queen Mother Hurdle being established in 1959, quickly establishing itself as one of the main races at Cheltenham. Furthermore, Cheltenham Festival manufactured its first “global star”, if you like, in the shape of Golden Miller. The British thoroughbred made the Gold Cup his own when he won it five years in a row. Funnily enough, this feat hasn’t been equalled or bettered since and Golden Miller is the only horse to win both the Gold Cup and the Grand National in the same season. 
Modern times: Not only content with being racing’s most famous event in England, Cheltenham Festival is perhaps as prominent as the FA Cup Final and Wimbledon. A vast array of jockeys, horses, owners and trainers have all generated some kind of fame and success after winning at Cheltenham. Desert Orchid, Dawn Run, Kauto Star, Best Mate and Arkle are household names in the horseracing world and much of that owes to their famous wins at Cheltenham. 
Year after year, attendances continue to rise with the popularity soaring of Cheltenham Festival from not just those associated to horse racing, but from all over the world to marvel in the unprecedented atmosphere that Cheltenham Festival produces. The Gold Cup is the most eagerly anticipated event ahead of each event, and the 2019 Cheltenham Festival odds on Betfair are available here, with Presenting Percy the current favourite @ 5/1. 

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