2020 Cheltenham Festival Guide
Drew Goodsell | 4 March 2020
All the info you need ahead of the 2020 Cheltenham Festival
Four days of thrilling racing action, it’s the pinnacle of the National Hunt season. Cheltenham Festival is here again, featuring the very best horses, trained by the very best trainers, ridden by the very best jockeys competing for more than £4m in prize money.
Although all races from the Prestbury Park racecourse are open to entrants from across the globe, it’s an event dominated by owners and trainers from England, Ireland and France.
Paul Nicholls, Gordon Elliott, Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson are four of the most well-respected trainers in the paddock, and they’re names you’ll be seeing a lot of throughout the festival.
Cheltenham 2020 dates
The 2020 Cheltenham Festival runs from Tuesday 10th March until Friday 13th March.
The first race gets underway on Tuesday 10th March, starting at 13:30 with the Grade 1 Supreme Novice’s Chase.
With seven races per day and four days of action, the Festival ends on Friday 13th March at 17:30 with the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle.
Cheltenham 2020 tickets
Cheltenham Festival 2020 tickets are currently still on sale through The Jockey Club website, with tickets still available for all four days of the festival.
With three enclosure tiers on offer, tickets on Tuesday to Thursday ranging from £42 for the Best Mate Enclosure, all the way up to £90 for Club Enclosure tickets. Tattersalls Enclosure tickets are mid-range, with prices starting from £56.
Friday’s tickets see a price increase due to it being Gold Cup Day. Best Mate Enclosure tickets start from £61, with Tattersalls Enclosure tickets rising to £76. Club Enclosure tickets are usually in high demand but are still available with prices starting from £112.
Cheltenham 2020 preview
Previous Cheltenham Festivals have created iconic moments and everlasting legends. From Best Mate’s third Gold Cup win in 2004 and John Francome’s Champion Hurdle win on Sea Pigeon in 1981, to Bryony Frost’s Ryanair Chase win in 2019, there are likely to be more moments to remember in 2020.
It’s not all about the moments though, it’s about those who work so hard to make those moments possible too: The trainers. Willie Mullins is the most successful trainer in the history of the Festival. He has 65 Cheltenham winners so far, can he add to his success in 2020?
He’ll have to find a new formula this year. His formidable partnership with 11-time Top Jockey Ruby Walsh came to an end in 2019 after the Irish jockey stepped down from the saddle.
That hasn’t hampered his chances of coming away from this year’s Festival as Top Trainer, with the Irishman still an odds-on 8/11 favourite. Gordon Elliott is best placed to challenge at 11/4, with Nicky Henderson at 7/2 and Henry de Bromhead out at 14s.
With Walsh no longer staking his claim for Top Jockey Paul Townend is the 15/8 favourite to claim the award this year. He’s just ahead of Davy Russell in the order, with the Irishman at 3/1 to be Top Jockey.
Elsewhere, Rachel Blackmore is 9/2 to become the first female Top Jockey in the history of the Festival, with Barry Geraghty at 6/1 and 2019 winner Nico De Boinville at 8/1 to reclaim the award.
Day One – Champion Day – Tuesday 10th March
It’s not only the racing that is famous among the Cheltenham ranks, but on day one especially, the roar of the crowd which greets the runners at 13:30 for the start of the opening race – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
It’s been a race which has been dominated by Willie Mullins in recent years, with the Irishman training four of the last seven winners. His runner this year is Asterion Forlonge, and is looking like a strong contender, but he could face still competition from Nicky Henderson’s runner, Shishkin.
The Arkle is up next at 14:10, with Notebook and Fakir D’oudairies among the frontrunners this year to take the title from last year’s winner Duc des Genievres.
At 15:30, it’s on to the headline race of day one where the Champion Hurdle takes centre stage. Two-time winner Dubeur d’Air will not be running this year after suffering an injury.
Stablemate Epatante looks to be a challenger at the front this season alongside Bennie Des Dieux, Honeysuckle, Pentland Hills and Sharjah. Could we see another major upset like we saw in 2019 when 16/1 shot Espoir D’Allen ran out as winner?
Day One at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival:
- 13:30: Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 87y, £125,000.
- 14:10: Racing Post Arkle (Grade 1). 1m 7f 199y, £175,000.
- 14:50: Ultima Handicap Chase (Grade 3). 3m 1f, £110,000.
- 15:30: Champion Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 87y, £450,000.
- 16:10: Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 3f 200 y, £120,000.
- 16:50: Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed). 2m 4f 44y, £70,000.
- 17:30: National Hunt Chase (Grade 2). 3m 7f 147y, £125,000.
Day Two – Ladies Day – Wednesday 11th March
The action on Ladies Day gets underway with the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at 13:30. It’s another race dominated by Mullins, although he’s not seen a winner since Yorkhill in 2016.
After winning the 2019 Champion Bumper, Envoi Allen is expected to be a frontrunner for the 2020 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle, although there’ll be plenty of competition, namely from Sporting John and The Big Getaway.
The RSA Chase follows at 14:10, where last year’s runner-up in the Ballymore, Champ, is the favourite. He’ll look to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Bobs Worth and Denman, as horses who later go on to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup, as well as continue his rise.
At 14:50, our attention turns to the biggest Handicap of the Festival, with the Coral Cup, before the main attraction on day two, the Champion Chase. With Altior being reported lame, he won’t be running to defend his title and will miss out on a potential hat-trick.
Defi Du Seuil is favourite to take the crown, but he’ll face stiff competition from the Willie Mullins-trained Chacun Pour Soi.
It’s Tiger Roll’s time to step into the spotlight at 16:10 for the Cross Country Chase, where the 2018 and 2019 Grand National winner continues to step up his preparations for the 2020 Grand National.
Day Two at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival:
- 13:30: Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 5f, £125,000.
- 14:10: RSA Novices’ Chase (Grade 1). 3m 80y, £175,000.
- 14:50: Coral Cup (Grade 3). 2m 5f, £100,000.
- 15:30: Queen Mother Champion Chase (Grade 1). 1m 7f 99y, £400,000.
- 16:10: Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase. 3m 6f 37y, £65,000.
- 16:50: Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3). 2m 87y, £80,000.
- 17:30: Weatherbys Champion Bumper (Grade 1). 2m 87y, £75,000.
Day Three – St. Patrick’s Day – Thursday 12th March
On St. Patrick’s Day at Cheltenham Festival, it’s all about the Irish, starting in the 13:30 Marsh Novices’ Chase where Willie Mullins will be hoping for another victory.
His 12-year-old veteran Faugheen should be among the frontrunners, but Itchy Feet, Allaho and Samcro are likely to provide a threat.
But casting our minds back to 2019, we move on to two races that provided last Festival’s golden hour. In the Ryanair Chase, Bryony Frostrode Frodon to an emotional success before Paisley Park reduced owner Andrew Gemmell to teams in the Stayers’ Hurdle in the following race.
Both will return to race again this year and defend their crowns, with Paisley Park expected to follow up for Emma Lavelle and record an eighth straight win over fences. A Plus Tard and Min are likely to cause Frodon issues in the 14:50.
Day Three at the Cheltenham Festival:
- 13:30: Marsh Novices’ Chase (Grade 1). 2m 3f 166y, £150,000.
- 14:10: Pertemps Network Final (Grade 3). 2m 7f 213y, £100,000.
- 14:50: Ryanair Chase (Grade 1). 2m 4f 127y, £350,000.
- 15:30: Stayers’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 7f 213y, £325,000.
- 16:10: Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate (Grade 3). 2m 4f 166y, £110,000.
- 16:50: Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2). 2m 179y, £90,000.
- 17:30: Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase. 3m 2f, £70,000.
Day Four – Gold Cup Day – Friday 13th March
We’re on to Friday, where it’s all about one race: the Gold Cup. A race which has created legends in the form of Golden Miller, Arkle, Norton’s Coin, Best Mate, Kauto Star and last year’s winner Al Boum Photo, who will be this year’s champion?
We can’t choose, but this year’s renewal also looks to be a thriller, where it’s likely to be a wide-open contest with a handful of contenders priced at 8/1 or shorter, including Kem Boy, Losintranslation, Delta Work and Santini.
There’s a lot that goes in to winning a Gold Cup, from the training to the strategy of the race, plus class and stamina. We’re excited to see who puts in the perfect performance to win on the day, with action also coming from the Triumph Hurdle and the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle.
Day Four at the Cheltenham Festival:
- 13:30: Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 179y, £125,000.
- 14:10: County Handicap Hurdle (Grade 3). 2m 179y, £100,000.
- 14:50: Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 1). 2m 7f 213y, £125,000.
- 15:30: Cheltenham Gold Cup (Grade 1). 3m 2f 70y, £625,000.
- 16:10: St. James’s Place Foxhunter Chase. 3m 2f 70y, £45,000.
- 16:50: Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase (Grade 3). 2m 62y, £110,000.
- 17:30: Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle (0-145). 2m 4f 56y, £70,000.
View the latest Cheltenham Festival odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication.