The highlight of the National Hunt racing calendar, the festival always provides plenty of winners and losers and inevitably becomes a British v Irish trained horse’s event and this year’s was great.
Held over four days, 13th – 16th March, hundreds of millions of pounds are bet over the week and Cheltenham is noted for its atmosphere, the “Cheltenham roar”, which refers to the enormous noise the crowd generates as the starter raises the tape to start the first race.
The first big race of the week is the 2m½f Champion Hurdle worth £256,275 in which eleven started and was won by Buveur D’Air ridden by Barry Geraghty and trained by Nicky Henderson. In second place came Melon with Mick Jazz coming third.
My late wife Gillian’s 1976 oil painting of the great Night Nurse with Paddy Broderick up who won the Champion Hurdle twice and has been acclaimed amongst the greatest ever hurdlers.
The main race of the whole event is the Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase run over 3m2½f, and worth around £370,000 to the winner. This year with fifteen runners at the start it proved to be a classic head-to-head duel from the start with eventual winner Native River ridden by Richard Johnson and trained by Colin Tizzard just beating Might Bite into second with Anibale Fly coming third.
From another era, Midnight Court and John Francome winning the Gold Cup in 1978, a painting by my late wife Gillian, best known for her Red Rum paintings and drawings, some of which are in my book, click the Link above to see it.
The winning Jockey for the 2018 festival was Davy Russell who rode four winners and the winning trainer was Gordon Elliott who saddled eight winners.
2018 has been a great year for the Cheltenham Festival and also for jump racing!