Hosted in a natural amphitheatre in the heart of Gloucestershire, the Cheltenham Festival is an annual four-day celebration of the finest National Hunt action in the world.
Widely recognised as the pinnacle of jump racing, the Festival is undoubtedly the most exciting equine event of the entire year.
From famous celebrities to the sport’s most fearsome punters, Cheltenham 2017 will attract an average daily attendance of over 60,000 people all eager to see the finest jumps horses and jockeys in action.
The Queen’s granddaughter Zara Phillips often attends Cheltenham with rugby playing husband Mike Tindall, while TV stars Ant and Dec, actress and model Elizabeth Hurley and football star Frank Lampard are other regulars at the Festival.
Pop star Lily Allen, football pundit Jamie Redknapp and TV presenter Clare Balding are others who have sampled the delights of jump racing’s showcase event in recent times.
This year’s Festival will run from 14th to 17th March, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup taking place on the final day.
More than £500 million will be bet on Cheltenham Festival 2017, with some of racing’s richest punters targeting the meeting for their biggest bets of the year.
BuveurD’Air and Yanworth are well fancied to win the Champion Hurdle for McManus, Charli Parcs and Defi Du Seuil are strong contenders in the Triumph Hurdle while Uxizandre will bid to reclaim his Ryanair crown.
Unowhatimeanharry is thought by many experts to be a banker for the Stayers’ Hurdle title and Coney Island should put up a bold showing in the three-mile RSA chase.
The Irishman’s betting exploits most notably came to light back in 2006, when he won £925,000 off bookmaker “Fearless” Freddie Williams.
McManus bet £100,000 on his own horse, Reveillez, at 6-1 and the horse duly delivered under a power-packed ride from the champion jockey Tony McCoy.
He followed up with a £5,000 each wager on Kadoun at 50-1 to relieve Williams of another £325,000.
The Supreme Novices Hurdle is the first race of the meeting with Consul de Thaix offering McManus his best hope of success, although the Willie Mullins trained Melon is likely to prove hard to beat.
Ladies’ Day takes centre stage on Wednesday and will feature ambassadors Roz Purcell and Miss England Elizabeth Grant.
Thursday offers the opportunity to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in style alongside plenty of Guinness and Irish tunes, with the Ryanair World Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase amongst the on-course highlights.
The final day is all about the Cheltenham Gold Cup and whether Cue Card can finally claim racing’s top chasing prize after missing out in 2016 when looking set for victory.
Whether it’s the celebrities, the betting or just the thrill of horse racing that takes your fancy, the Cheltenham Festival 2017 promises to be one the highlights of this year’s sporting calendar.