28 races, 14 Grade 1’s, four days of endless excitement and the return of fans. Bring on the festival!
The prize pot this year will exceed £4 million across the week, therefore attracting the very best horses to the festival.
Following the controversial events of 2020 on the eve of the Coronavirus outbreak, the festival last year took place completely behind closed doors.
Fans and even racehorse owners were unable to attend in 2021, leaving an eerie silence across the famous hills.
Fast forward 12 months and 250,000 fans will descend on Cheltenham over the next four days to witness the pinnacle of the sport.
The festival will start on Tuesday March 15 and will run through to Friday March 19, ending the week with a bang on Gold Cup day.
As the line drops and the horses are released, a tremendous roar from the stands will echo around the Cheltenham hills, goosebumps for anyone watching on.
It’s the noise that unquestionably hits you, hooves smashing against the ground over and over again.
As the horses come thundering down the famous hill into the back straight, the noise gets louder and louder, vibrating around the towering stands.
Unquestionably the highlight of the festival last year, was the brilliance of Rachael Blackmore.
Blackmore, pictured above, rode six remarkable winners across the festival becoming the first female jockey to win the ‘Ruby Walsh leading rider award’.
Gordon Elliott returns to the festival this year, having served his ban which saw the Irish based trainer miss last years success.
Elliott was pictured sitting aboard a horse carcass while making a ‘peace sign’ in March 2021, a shocking image for the sport.
Ban served, Elliott is back better than ever with his “savage team” and is optimistic for the week.
“The horses are flying, I’m telling you. When you see ordinary horses running well, horses running to their full potential, that’s when you know the team are in form,” boasted Elliott to the RacingPost.
The festival 12 months ago was an embarrassment for the UK, Ireland pumped in winners left right and centre.
The Prestbury Cup is awarded to the nation with the most winners over the week. Ireland ran out victorious 23-5.
Ireland remain strong favourites to reclaim their prize, Willie Mullins and Henry de Bromhead lead the line with Elliott for Ireland.
The betting suggests the big three Irish trainers are favourites to win the ‘top trainer’ award for the festival.
Nicky Henderson leads the way for GB but a long shot of 20/1. Evidence suggests another drubbing for GB is closing in.
The Gold Cup highlights the week, taking place on the Friday.
Last year saw an Irish 1, 2, this year could be more Irish dominance, boasting the three favourites.
Away from the racing however, the spectators will be the winners of the week, returning after two years away from the magnificent, Cheltenham.
(Featured image under creative commons licence by Carine06 on WikiCommons)