The four-day Cheltenham Festival is a much-anticipated racing and social gathering on the National Hunt calendar. Among the attendees at the 2013 edition were Prince William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

The Cheltenham Festival 2014 at Cheltenham Racecourse will be commence on March 11 and conclude on March 15. Post time for the first of six or seven races each day is 1:30 PM and the last race of the day goes off at 5:15 PM. Cheltenham is located in Gloucestershire in southwest England.

March 11 is called Champion Day and features the most important hurdle race of the season, the Stan James Champion Hurdle. March 12 is Ladies Day and highlights the two-mile Queen Mother Chase. March 13 is St. Patrick’s Thursday and combines racing with Irish entertainment. The St. Patrick’s Derby is a charity race held that day to benefit Cancer Research UK. March 14 is Cheltenham Gold Cup Day and includes three grade 1 races.

The £550,000 (about $919,000) Grade I Cheltenham Gold Cup will be run over a 22-jump course of 3 miles, 2 furlongs, and 110 yards. The race has 26 entries including last year’s winner, Bobs Worth. The defending champion is trained by Nicky Henderson, who has been the leading National Hunt trainer three times. Bobs Worth most recently won the Lexus Chase at the Leopardstown 2013 Christmas Festival in Ireland. His impressive performance is why he is currently the favorite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup at odds of about 2/1.

Silviniaco Conti is the second choice at odds of around 7/2. The Paul Nicholls-trained entry comes to the Cheltenham Gold Cup off a win in the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day 2013. Nicholls has strong credentials, as he trained the winners of four Cheltenham Gold Cups.

At the other end of the betting spectrum are horses like Vino Griego and Teaforthree whose odds are over 80/1.

The last 14 winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup had previously prevailed in one or more Grade I races. Favorites or near favorites have done exceptionally well—five favorites have won in the past 11 years and 11 of the past dozen winners have come from the top three horses in the betting.

One concern with Bobs Worth is his age. Only one winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup since 1992 has been older than nine. At 9-years-old, Bobs Worth is right on the line.

While the Cheltenham Gold Cup is the feature of the Festival, the four-days of racing offer a diverse portfolio of the best in steeplechase events.

Copyright © 2014 Horse Racing Business