When is Cheltenham Festival 2021? Start time, trials, Gold Cup runners and can fans go

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Racing fans are continuing the countdown to the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

The four-day event, which takes place in March, features the Magners Gold Cup, which has been won by many top class horses over the years.

Al Boum Photo has taken the past two renewals of the prestigious race and bids to become only the fourth horse to land a hat-trick.

If successful he will join all-time greats Best Mate, Arkle, Cottage Rake and Golden Miller – the chaser with five victories to his name.

It is not known yet who will be at the track to watch the record bid, as coronavirus restrictions continue at sporting events.

The meeting normally has an attendance figure of around 250,000 – and last year it was one of the final major events before the coronavirus lockdown.

Although the meeting is not too far away, final arrangements are yet to be confirmed.

When is the 2021 Cheltenham Festival?

It is scheduled to take place from March 16-19.

The feature Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (3.30) is run on the fourth and final day.

Gold Cup day 2020

The other championship races are the Unibet Champion Hurdle (Tuesday), Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase (Wednesday) and Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle (Thursday).

What time does each day start?

The first race is usually on the programme at 1.30pm.

On the Tuesday, the meeting begins with the Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.

In a normal year, fans in the grandstands would cheer when the tapes go up, which is known as the ‘Cheltenham roar.’

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When are the Cheltenham trial races?

The final meeting at the track before the main event is Festival Trials Day at the end of January.

It had to abandoned on this occasion due to waterlogged ground.

Heavy rain made the ground unfit for Trials Day in January 2021

Sandown are in talks to save some of the races, including the Cotswold Chase and Cleeve Hurdle, which could be added to their February 6 card.

The British Horseracing Authority said: “We’ll provide a further update after the weekend when the situation with the weather and the condition of racecourses will be more clear.”

It is also the Dublin Racing Festival on February 6-7, a major fixture for horses trained in Ireland.

Rachael Blackmore, who could be crowned champion jockey this season, expects to ride several leading Cheltenham contenders including star mare Honeysuckle.

Gold Cup runners

A total of 41 horses have been entered for the race.

Joe and Marie Donnelly’s star Al Boum Photo is one of 17 Irish horses in the potential line-up, with Henry de Bromhead’s Savills Chase victor A Plus Tard and his stablemate Minella Indo among them.

Paul Townend celebrates winning the 2020 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup on Al Boum Photo

The six horses behind Al Boum Photo in last year’s race; Santini, Lostintranslation, Monalee, Delta Work, Real Steel and Kemboy could renew rivalry.

Other key contenders include Nicky Henderson’s Champ, King George VI Chase winner Frodon and Colin Tizzard’s 2018 hero Native River.

Will fans be allowed to attend?

That depends on the current government restrictions at the time.

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Before the current lockdown, fans had returned to some meetings in line with the UK tier arrangements.

Speaking to ITV at the end of January, managing director Ian Renton said: “If we were racing today we’d be racing behind closed doors, but (in) December we were allowed owners present and a few loyal racegoers, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens through February and March.”

The fixture normally boosts the local economy by £100 million, as fans stay and spend in nearby areas.

TV channel

ITV and Racing UK will be providing coverage throughout the week, with top presenters and pundits.



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