The Cheltenham Festival is the pinnacle of National Hunt Racing across Britain and Ireland. Staged amongst the rolling hills of Gloucestershire, the four-day extravaganza brings together the best equine athletes with victory at the meeting always highly sought after. We’ve previewed this year’s event with everything you need to know about the action, how and where you can all of the sport and which names to keep a look out.

What is the Cheltenham Festival?

Put simply, the Cheltenham Festival is the highlight of the National Hunt season. Always held in March, the meetings consists of 28 races, with seven races on each of the four days. The action gets underway at 1.20pm, with the finale at 4.50pm. 14 of the 28 races are Grade One events which are the highest grade of action in the sport.

There are five championship races across the four days which essentially are the headline events of the week. They are the Champion Hurdle (Tuesday), Champion Chase (Wednesday), Stayers’ Hurdle and Ryanair Chase (Thursday) before the Gold Cup, Cheltenham’s most iconic race, takes centre-stage on the Friday.

The most famous race of the meeting is the Cheltenham Gold Cup which for the first time in history is supported by the charity WellChild and will be known as the WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup. The contest has been won by many of the sport’s most famous names including Arkle, Desert Orchid, Best Mate, Kauto Star and Denman.

How can I watch this year’s meeting?

Amidst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s meeting is being held behind closed doors for the first time in history. Only those deemed necessary to ensure the meeting can safely go ahead will be in attendance and this includes medical staff, stewards, jockeys, trainers and selected members of the media.

In terms of watching the action, ITV will for the first time in history be showing six races from the meeting every day, whilst Racing TV (Sky Channel 426) are broadcasting all 28 races live. You can also watch the action on a betting app of your choice as long as you have a betting account with thar bookmaker.

Who are the trainers and jockeys to watch out for?

Undoubtedly, Willie Mullins is a trainer to follow across the week. He is winning-most trainer in Cheltenham Festival history with 72 winners and has also been crowned the meeting’s leading trainer seven times in the last 10 years, a phenomenal record. Mullins saddles seven winners at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival and he has a number of leading hopes for this year’s meeting including Gold Cup favourite Al Boum Photo, Champion Chase market leader Chacun Pour Soi as well as the likes of Min, Allaho, Kilcruit and Appreciate It.

Seven Barrows maestro Nicky Henderson has recorded 62 Cheltenham Festival winners and his team is headed by defending Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante, Gold Cup contender Champ and four-time Cheltenham Festival hero Altior.

Britain’s champion trainer Paul Nicholls has registered 46 winners at the Cheltenham Festival and has trained some of the sport’s most familiar names such as Kauto Star, Denman and Big Buck’s. His team for this year’s meeting is headed by defending Champion Chase winner Politologue, Gold Cup contender Frodon and Bravemansgame, a leading player for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.

In terms of jockeys to follow, four-time British champion jockey Richard Johnson has registered 22 winners at the meeting and his rides this year include the progressive Thyme Hill who is a leading player for the Stayers’ Hurdle.

Paul Townend has only ridden 12 Cheltenham Festival winners, but is a man to follow given he is the stable jockey to Willie Mullins. His rides this year therefore include a number of favourites including Al Boum Photo, Appreciate It, Concertista and Chacun Pour Soi.

What horses should I be looking out for?

Two horses at this year’s meeting have long, unbeaten records on the line. Honeysuckle is the 9/4 favourite for Tuesday’s Champion Hurdle and has won all 10 of her starts under Rules. She captured the Mares’ Hurdle at last year’s meeting and looks sure to go close for Henry De Bromhead and Rachael Blackmore in the two-mile hurdling championship.

Envoi Allen is unbeaten in 11 runs and looks one of the supposed bankers of the week in the Marsh Novices’ Chase on Wednesday. He has won all three of his starts over fences in easy fashion and is already being earmarked as the sport’s latest superstar.

The Nicky Henderson-trained Altior is bidding to etch his name into sporting folklore by recording a fifth win at the Cheltenham Festival. He is chasing a remarkable third win in the Champion Chase on Wednesday, but faces a tough ask to create history with the exciting Chacun Pour Soi lying in wait. He has won all three of his starts in easy fashion this term for Willie Mullins.

Al Boum Photo is another Mullins-trained inmate and would become the first horse since Best Mate to win three renewals of the Gold Cup if successful on Friday.

A best bet for the week?

Kilcruit created a big impression when scoring at Leopardstown in February and looks one of the most exciting prospects in the sport. He is the 15/8 market leader for the Champion Bumper, the final race on Wednesday and can provide trainer Willie Mullins with an 11th victory in the event.

For the best daily tips and analysis for the Cheltenham Festival, head to Betting Expert 18+ please gamble responsibly.