When does Cheltenham Festival start? Race schedule, times and TV information

The 2021 Cheltenham Festival is almost upon us

The 2021 Cheltenham Festival is almost upon us with one of the biggest meetings in the British racing calendar.

Last year’s meet was one of the last major sporting events before the Covid-19 pandemic forced the UK into lockdown.

Al Boum Photo, with Paul Townend, created history last year to retain the Gold Cup, a first since Best Mate did so 16 years earlier.

A three-peat is on the cards, but Willie Mullins announced that the horse needs “a big bit of work” to move into contention to join Cottage Rake, Arkle and Best Mate in winning the blue riband three times.

“I thought I’d never feel anything like the feeling I had here last year, (but) I think this is even better. It’s all about this, it’s all about this lad,” Townend said in tribute to the two-time champion. “Unreal, it’s a credit to Willie. To come here with one run (this season), the man’s a genius. I went out with a plan to get in a rhythm, but he missed a few fences, luckily he always found his feet. At the top of the hill he started to jump better – I ended up in front sooner than I wanted, but I was able to hang on and he produced at the last. It was completely different to last year, but most importantly it was the same result. He’s a legend, he has everything – guts along with class.”

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  • Cheltenham Festival 2021 day one tips and best bets as Champion Hurdle takes centre stage

The festival will have a different look though, with amateurs not permitted to race under UK guidelines on participation on sport.

Here’s everything you need to know about the meet:

When is it?

The Festival will begin on Tuesday, 16 March with The Champion Hurdle fronting up the day’s racing on Day One.

Fans will look to the Queen Mother Champion Chase and The Stayers’ Hurdle in the two following days before the iconic Gold Cup on Friday, 19 March.

Racing begins at 1:20pm GMT each day, with a schedule of seven races.

How can I watch the racing?

ITV and ITV 4 will broadcast each day’s coverage.

The broadcaster has announced that six races will be shown live each day within their live slot between 1pm and 4.30pm. There will now be 35 minutes between races.

Will there be fans?

There was widespread criticism for allowing the event to go ahead with fans last year, but this year there will be no fans at the legendary race course.

So the festival will go ahead behind closed doors due to the current guidelines in the UK over Covid-19.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s road map out of lockdown revealed that step three will see stadiums with a capacity of 40,000 or more can welcome back up to 10,000 no earlier than 17 May.

Smaller stadiums will be permitted to host up to 25 per cent of their capacities, but with Cheltenham Festival before the UK can possibly enter step three, no fans will be allowed at the 2021 Festival.

A Cheltenham Racecourse statement read: “Based on current Government restrictions, professional sport is able to continue under stringent health and safety protocols, without spectators present.

“In horseracing’s case this is vital to support the livelihoods of the many thousands of people who rely on the industry and for the welfare of the thousands of thoroughbred racehorses who live and train in Britain.

“This means that under current restrictions, The Festival will take place as a televised event, but sadly without spectators at the course. We continue to monitor Government guidance and should this change in advance of The Festival we will act accordingly.”

Schedule 2021

Day One

1:20pm – The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle Race (2m abt ½f) – Hurdle

1:55pm – The Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeple Chase (abt 2m) – Chase

2:30pm – The Ultima Handicap Steeple Chase (3m abt 1f) – Chase

3.05pm – The Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy (2m abt ½f) – Hurdle

3:40pm – The Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle Race (2m abt 4f) – Hurdle

4:15pm – The Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Race (Grade 3) (2m abt 4½f) – Chase

4:50pm – The National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Steeple Chase) (Grade 2) (3m abt 6f) – Chase

Day Two

1:20pm – The Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle Race (2m abt 5f) – Hurdle

1:55pm – The Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase (Grade 1) (3m abt ½ f) – Chase

2:30pm – The Coral Cup Hurdle (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Grade 3) (2m abt 5f) – Hurdle

3:05pm – The Betway Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase (Grade 1) (Abt 2m) – Chase

3:40pm – The Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase (3m 6f) – Chase

4:10pm – The Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Steeple Chase Challenge Cup (Grade 3) (2m abt ½f) – Chase

4:50pm – The Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open NH Flat Race) (Grade 1) (2m abt ½f) – Bumper

Day Three

1:20pm – The Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1) (2m abt 4f) – Chase

1:55pm – The Pertemps Network Final (A Handicap Hurdle Race) (Listed) (Abt 3m) – Hurdle

2:30pm – The Ryanair Steeple Chase (Grade 1) (2m abt 5f) – Chase

3:05pm – The Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1) (abt 3m) – Hurdle

3:40pm – The Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (A Handicap Steeple Chase) (Grade 3) (2m abt 5f) – Chase

4:15pm – The Mares Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) (2m 1f) – Hurdle

4:50pm – The Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Steeple Chase (0-145) (3m abt 2f) – Chase

Day Four

1:20pm – The JCB Triumph Hurdle (2m abt 1f) – Hurdle

1:55pm – The County Handicap Hurdle Race (2m abt 1f) – Hurdle

2:30pm – The Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle Race (abt 3m) – Hurdle

3:05pm – The WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeple Chase (Grade 1) (3m abt 2½ f) – Chase

3:40pm – The St. James’s Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Steeple Chase (3m abt 2½ f) – Chase

4:15pm – The Mrs Paddy Power Mares’ Steeple Chase (2m abt ½f) – Chase

4:50pm – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (2m abt 4½ f) – Hurdle


Via Betfair

Champion Hurdle

Honeysuckle 9/4

Epatante 3/1

Goshen 10/3

Abacadabras, Silver Streak 12/1

Aspire Tower, Concertista, Sharjah 14/1

Buveur D’air, Song For Someone 20/1

James Du Berlais 25/1

Sceau Royal, Verdanda Blue 33/1

Not So Sleepy, Saldier 50/1

Ballyandy, Buzz, Jason The Militant 66/1

Coeur Sublime 80/1

For Pleasure, Petit Mouchoir, Winston C 100/1

Champion Chase

Chacun Pour Soi 4/6

Altior 7/1/

Nube Negra, Politologue 8/1

Fakir D’oudaries, First Flow, Min, Put The Kettle On, Sceau Royal 12/1

Samcro 16/1

Greaneteen, Rouge Vif 20/1

Notebook, Tornado Flyer 25/1

Battleoverdoyen, Cilaos Emery, Duc Des Genievres, Fanion Destruval, Ibleo 33/1

Bun Doran, Magic Saint 66/1

Stayers’ Hurdle

Paisley Park 3/1

Thyme Hill 7/2

Roksana 7/1

Sire Du Berlais 8/1

Champ 10/1

Kemboy, McFabulous, The Storyteller 12/1

Flooring Porter 14/1

Fury Road, If The Cap Fits, Lisnagar Oscar, Next Destination, Sams Profile 16/1

Beacon Edge, Diol Ker, Itchy Feet, Thomas Derby, Vinndication 20/1

Bachasson, City Island, Emitom 25/1

Imperial Alcazar, Main Fact, Paul Saga 33/1

Great White Shark, Lil Rockerfeller, Sam Spinner 40/1

Bacardys, Reserve Tank 50/1

The Mighty Don, Tobefair, Younevercall 66/1

Captain Zebo, Donnas Diamond, Heaven Help Us, Jacamar 100/1

Gold Cup

Al Boum Photo 5/2

A Plus Tard, Champ 5/1

Royale Pagaille 8/1

Kemboy 10/1

Frodon, Minella Indo 12/1

Native Rive, Santini 14/1

Allaho 20/1

Imperial Aura 25/1

Lostintranslation, Melon, Samcro 33/1

Burrows Saint, Vinndication 40/1

Battleoverdoyen, Real Steel, Saint Calvado, Shattered Love 50/1

Aso, Black Op, Magic of Light 66/1

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