Cheltenham Racecourse is situated in Prestbury Park, a natural amphitheatre formed below the Cotswold Escarpment, on the outskirts of the town. Today, Cheltenham Racecourse is considered the home of National Hunt racing and its name has become synonymous with the Cheltenham Festival, which takes place in March each year and attracts over 180,000 visitors over four days.
However, although the racecourse moved to its current location in 1831, National Hunt racing didn't take place at Prestbury Park until 1898. The inaugural Cheltenham Gold Cup, for example, was a Flat race, contested over 3 miles on Cleeve Hill, which overlooks the current racecourse, in 1819.
Cheltenham Racecourse Facilities
For race goers, Cheltenham offers a choice of three enclosures, known as the Best Mate Enclosure, Tattersalls Enclosure and Club Enclosure although, for all fixtures other than Paddy Power Gold Cup Day in November and the Cheltenham Festival in March, the latter two combine to form a single enclosure. During the Festival, the so-called Guinness Village, near the final fence, extends the Tattersalls Enclosure. Admission prices vary from £9 for the Best Mate Enclosure at the April Meeting to £90 for the Club Enclosure, with access to the Guinness Village, at the Festival.
In terms of corporate facilities, Cheltenham Racecourse offers a wide range of spaces, suitable for conferences, exhibitions and meetings. The largest of these, known as the Centaur, offers 28,000 square feet of floor space complete with sophisticated lighting and sound capabilities. The smaller Gold Cup room is a popular venue for conferences and small exhibitions and connects to the Festival room, which overlooks the racecourse and can be used as a breakout or dining space. In addition to indoor facilities, Cheltenham Racecourse also offers 360 acres of outdoor space, suitable for outdoor activities or team building exercises.
Travelling to Cheltenham Racecourse
Please follow the recommended routes signed by the AA. There are extensive car parks which are free to use, except at The Festival and on the Saturday of The Open in November. For Sat Nav users the postcode of Cheltenham Racecourse is GL50 4SH.
A shuttlebus runs from Cheltenham Spa Station to the course-starting 2 hours before the first race, returning after the last race, for The Festival and The Open ONLY. For other meetings, you should take a taxi from the station – the racecourse is NOT walking distance from the station!
Stagecoach service D runs every 10 minutes during the day and between 10 minutes and every hour on Monday to Saturday evenings. The service runs hourly on Sundays.
Service 527 also provides a regular service from Cheltenham Centre to Bishops Cleeve and Gotherington via the Racecourse Roundabout. For local Stagecoach information please call 0870 6082608.
At The Festival up to 70 buses will be operating, picking up at Cheltenham Spa Railway Station and outside WH Smith in the centre of town before dropping off at the Racecourse. Return buses pick up from the Racecourse with stops at Pitville Street and then the Station. The charge is £5 return or £3 single.
What Makes Cheltenham Unique?
Prestbury Park is actually home to three racecourses, two conventional courses, known as the Old Course and the New Course and the Cross Country Steeplechase Course, which is only used for three races each year.
Both the Old Course and the New Course are left-handed and the Old Course is the slightly longer of the two, with ten fences to a circuit. The defining characteristics of both conventional courses are their galloping, undulating and testing nature and the stiffness of their fences. The last half mile is uphill and after the final fence runners face a relatively stiff uphill climb for over a furlong. The Cross Country Steeplechase Course is a twisting, turning mixture of banks, ditches and rails and creates a unique spectacle for spectators.
Cheltenham Major Meetings / Races
The Cheltenham Gold Cup
The Cheltenham Gold Cup, run over 3 miles 2½ furlongs on the New Course at Prestbury Park, represents the climax of the entire National Hunt season and, nowadays, forms the highlight of the final day of the Cheltenham Festival. The race has thrown up many memorable performances over the years, but perhaps no more so than in 1983, when Yorkshire trainer Michael Dickinson saddled the first five home. Bregawn, who'd finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup the previous year, made all the running under Graham Bradley to hold off stable companions Captain John, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck and Ashleigh House.
Coincidentally, Wayward Lad, who was ridden by Jonjo O'Neill in 1983, also finished second in the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1986, when O'Neill rode the mare Dawn Run to victory. Dawn Run, who also won the Champion Hurdle in 1984, remains the only horse ever to have won both races.
Top Jockeys and Trainers
Over the last five seasons, John Patrick “J.P.” McManus is the leading owner at Cheltenham, with 25 winners from 228 runners.
The Stewart Family are next best, with 16 winners from 87 runners and David Johnson is third, with 12 winners from 68 runners. In the same period, Ruby Walsh has ridden 56 winners from 242 rides and leads the way from Barry Geraghty, with 47 winners from 213 rides and Richard Johnson, with 30 winners from 222 rides.
The top stables, understandably, tend to dominate at Cheltenham and Paul Nicholls is leading trainer over the last five seasons, with 69 winners from 408 runners. Nicky Henderson, who trained a record-breaking 7 winners at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival, is in second place with 56 runners from 339 runners.
Cheltenham Racecourse on Social Media
Cheltenham Frequently Asked Questions
What's the Dress Code at Cheltenham Races?
The official dress code at Cheltenham is “There is no dress code” – Bear in mind though that most racedays at Prestbury Park take place in the winters months, so you should dress accordingly for the weather. During the Festival in March, Ladies usually wear a hat, and Gentlemen are encouraged to wear a suit or similar in the Club enclosure.
Do Cheltenham Racecourse offer voucher codes?
Racedays at Cheltenham usually sell out well in advance, so it is unlikely that any discount or voucher codes will be issued.
When are the car boot sales held?
Car boot sale and market is held every Sunday from 9am to 1pm in the main car park, with the exception of Sunday racedays and the Sunday prior to the Festival in March. Sellers pay on entry – there's no need to book.