Cheltenham Festival beginners' guide: When is the Gold Cup, when does it start, race card and who should I back on Tuesday?

A brief look ahead to this week's action at the Cheltenham Festival

Jack de Menezes
Monday 09 March 2015 17:01
The Gold Cup takes place on Friday 13 March
The Gold Cup takes place on Friday 13 March


The Cheltenham Festival takes place between Tuesday 10 March and Friday 13 March, with each day featuring a Grade 1 championship race to dominate the action.

On Tuesday, the Champion Hurdle will take centre stage as overwhelming favourite Faugheen, ridden by Cheltenham favourite Ruby Walsh, faces stiff competition from last year’s winner Jezki, The New One and two-time winner Hurricane Fly.

On Wednesday, the Queen Mother Champion Chase will see two of the most successful horses seen in recent times go head-to-head as Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy look to overcome a troublesome year to reign supreme at Cheltenham once again. However, the action on track could well be overshadowed by the scenes off it, as Ladies Day often throws up a glamorous appearance or two – and a not-so-glamorous day out for some.

Thursday’s action sees the three-mile World Hurdle get underway, with the bookmakers’ unable to split co-favourites Annie Power and Zarkandar.

Finally, the fourth and final day of racing sees the famous Gold Cup bring the curtain down on the main races, where the formidable Silviniaco Conti will look to fend off a packed field that contains many of the best hurdlers in the world.

Davy Russell celebrates winning the 2014 Gold Cup with Lord Windermere


This year’s Cheltenham Festival will also represent a last for stalwart jockey AP McCoy, who will bow out from riding after a career that spans over 22 years. During that time, McCoy has won the Gold Cup twice, winning with Mr Mulligan in 1997 and Synchronised just three years ago.

McCoy will be looking to add to the 30 winners he has ridden at Cheltenham over the years, before he final calls it a day at the end of the season.

Tony McCoy triumphs in the 2012 Gold Cup with Synchronised

Another to look out for will be Ruby Walsh, who will team up with trainer Willie Mullins once again to ride Faugheen on the opening day. Such is Walsh’s faith in this horse, Walsh decided to abandon his usual runner Hurricane Fly in order to mount Faugheen, and he will go up against McCoy (Jezki), Sam Twiston-Davies (The New One) and Paul Townend (Hurricane Fly).

Keep an eye out for both Twiston-Davies and Townend, as well as Barry Geraghty.


Paul Nicholls will be gunning for a trainers’ record of five Gold Cup victories with Silviniaco Conti, although the memory of last year’s disastrous finish that saw him become the first horse to lead over the last yet finish unplaced will be all-too-fresh for Nicholls.

Any horse with the name Willie Mullins alongside it will also be one to keep an eye on, although Boston Bob, Djakadam and On His Own stand an outside chance at best in the Gold Cup.

McCoy’s partnership with Jonjo O’Neill is another that has withstood the test of time, while Nicky Henderson will be hoping taste success throughout the week with up to 56 entries set to ride under his name.

The Gold Cup trophy (pictures in 2009)

RACE GUIDE (horses to look out for)

Tuesday 10 March

1.30: Novices’ Hurdle – Douvan, Nichols Canyon, Windsor Park, Outlander

2.05: Arkle Challenge Trophy – Un De Sceaux, Vibrato Valtat, Josses Hill

2.40: Handicap Chase – Pendra, The Druids Nephew, Ned Stark

3.20: Champion Hurdle – Faugheen, The New One, Jezki, Hurricane Fly

4.00: Mares Hurdle – Annie Power, Glens Melody

4.40: National Hunt Chase – Very Wood, Sego Success

5.15: Novices Handicap Chase – Generous Ransom, Thomas Crapper, Bold Henry

Wednesday 11 March

2.05: RSA Chase – Don Poli, Coneygree, Kings Palace

2.40: Coral Cup – Aux Ptits Soins, Activial, Roi Des Francs

3.20: Queen Mother Champions Chase – Sire De Grugy, Sprinter Sacre, Mr Mole

4.00: Cross Country Chase – Any Currency, Sire Collonges

4.40: Handicap Hurdle – Hostile Fire, Arabian Revolution, All Yours

5.15: Champion Bumper – Bordini, Moon Racer, Pylonthepressure

Sprinter Sacre (centre) faces a hotly-anticipated battle with Sire De Grugy

Thursday 12 March

1.30: Novices Chase – Vantour, Ptit Zig

2.05: Pertemps Final – Edeymi, Regal Encore, Call The Cops

2.40: Ryanair Chase – Don Cossack, Ma Filleule, Balder Succes

3.20: World Hurdle – Annie Power, Zarkandar, Saphir Du Rheu

4.00: Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Plate – Monetaire, Buywise, Un Ace

4.40: Kim Muir Handicap Chase – Pendra, Gallant Oscar, As De Ferbet

Friday 13 March

1.30: Triumph Hurdle – Peace and Co, Hargam, Beltor

2.05: Vincent O’Brien Country Handicap Hurdle - Quick Jack, Calipto, Savello

2:40: Albert Bartlett Novice Hurdle – Black Hercules, No More Heroes

3.20: Cheltenham Gold Cup – Silviniaco Conti, Many Clouds, Holywell, Coneygree

4.00: Foxhunter Chase – Paint The Clouds, On The Fringe, Aerial

4.40: Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle – Roi Des Francs, Le Mercurey, Ebony Racism

5.15: AP McCoy Grand Annuel Chase – Ned Buntline, Next Sensation, Monetaire

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