The Cheltenham Festival is the most prestigious jumps meeting in the sport. There are 28 races over four days in the second week in March. In the lead up to the 2020 meeting there are some key Cheltenham Festival trials.

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A number of Cheltenham trials take place at the Cheltenham November meeting. At the end of January the course stages a Trails day meeting. Some of the leading contenders for the championship races and handicaps will take part in Cheltenham Festival trials.

The Cheltenham Festival is also the biggest betting meeting of the year. In fact, more than half the top 20 turnover races on the Flat and over jumps take place at the Festival. There is a feature championship race each day. In 2020 the following races will be the highlight of each day from Tuesday to Friday:

  • Champion Hurdle
  • Champion Chase
  • Stayers’ Hurdle
  • Cheltenham Gold Cup.

This article examines the Cheltenham Festival trials for these four races and others.

Name Date Grade/Distance Racecource Trial for Bet on the Race
Charlie Hall Chase 2nd November 2019 Grade 2 - 3m Wetherby Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
BetVictor Gold Cup 16th November 2019 Grade 3 Handicap - 2m4f Cheltenham Ryanair Chase Top Sites
Cheltenham November Meeting 16th-18th November 2019 19 races Cheltenham Key Cheltenham Meeting Top Sites
Greatwood hurdle 17th November 2019 Grade 3 - 2m1/2f Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Top Sites
Betfair Chase 23rd November 2019 Grade 1 - 3m1f Haydock Park Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Long Distance Hurdle 29th November 2019 Grade 2 - 3m Newbury Ladbrokes World Hurdle Top Sites
Ladbrokes Trophy 30th November 2019 Grade 1 - 2m Newbury Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Fighting Fifth Hurdle 30th November 2019 Grade 1 - 2m Newcastle Champion Hurdle Top Sites
Morgiana Hurdle N/A Grade 1 - 2m Punchestown Champion Hurdle Top Sites
Name Date Grade/Distance Racecource Trial for Bet on the Race
Royal Bond Novices Hurdle 1st December 2019 Grade 1 - 2m Fairyhouse Supreme Novices Hurdle Top Sites
Tingle Creek Chase 7th December 2019 Grade 1 - 2m Sandown Queen Mother Champion Chase Top Sites
Cheltenham International Meeting 13th-14th December 2019 14 races Cheltenham Key Cheltenham meeting Top Sites
International Hurdle 14th December 2019 Grade 2 - 2m1f Cheltenham Champion Hurdle Top Sites
Long Walk Hurdle 21st December 2019 Grade 1 - 3m1f Ascot Stayers' Hurdle Top Sites
Christmas Hurdle 26th December 2019 Grade 1 - 2m Kempton Park Champion Hurdle Top Sites
Kauto Star Novices Chase 26th December 2019 Grade 1 - 3m Kempton Park RSA Chase Top Sites
King George VI Chase 26th December 2019 Grade 1 - 3m Kempton Park Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Future Champions Novice Hurdle 27th December 2019 Grade 1 - 2m Leopardstown Supreme Novices Hurdle Top Sites
Savills Chase 28th December 2019 Grade 1 - 3m Leopardstown Ryanair Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Ryanair Hurdle 29th December 2019 Grade 1 - 2m Leopardstown Champion Hurdle Top Sites
John Durkan Chase N/A Grade 1 - 2m4f Punchestowm Ryanair Chase, Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Name Date Grade/Distance Racecource Trial for Bet on the Race
Clarence House Chase 18th January 2020 Grade 1 - 2m1f Ascot Queen Mother Champion Chase Top Sites
Cleeve Hurdle 25th January 2020 Grade 2 - 3m Cheltenham Stayers' Hurdle Top Sites
Cotswold Chase (Cheltenham Trials Day) 25th January 2020 Grade 2 - 3m1f Cheltenham Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Triumph Hurdle Trial (Cheltenham trials day) 25th January 2020 Grade 2 - 2m1f Cheltenham JCB Triumph Hurdle Top Sites
Ballymore Novices Hurdle Trial (Cheltenham trials day) 25th January 2020 Grade 2 - 2m4f Cheltenham Ballymore Novices Hurdle Top Sites
Cheltenham Festival Trials Day 25th January 2020 7 races Cheltenham Cheltenham Festival Top Sites
Name Date Grade/Distance Racecource Trial for Bet on the Race
Irish Champion Hurdle 1st February 2020 Grade 2 - 2m Kempton Park JCB Triumph Hurdle Top Sites
Irish Arkle Chase 1st February 2020 Grade 1 - 2m1f Leopardstown Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Dublin Chase 1st February 2020 Grade 1 - 2m Leopardstown Queen Mother Champion Chase Top Sites
Irish Gold Cup 2nd February 2020 Grade 1 - 3m Leopardstown Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Ascot Chase 15th February 2020 Grade 1 - 2m5f Ascot Ryanair Chase Top Sites
Denman Chase 15th February 2020 Grade 2 - 3m Newbury Cheltenham Gold Cup Top Sites
Adonis Hurdle 22nd February 2020 Grade 2 - 2m Kempton Park JCB Triumph Hurdle Top Sites

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Cheltenham Trials During The Season

In addition to the Cheltenham trials at the Cheltenham November meeting, during that month and on trials day in January, there are a number of important prep races over the course of the season. The biggest race at the Festival is the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Al Boum Photo won the race in 2019. The horse is trained in Ireland by Willie Mullins so will probably have a prep race in that country over Christmas or at the Dublin Racing Festival in February.

King George VI Chase

The second most prestigious chase in Britain is the King George VI Chase, which is run at Kempton Park on Boxing Day. The race is the most important of the Cheltenham trials.

There is a million pound bonus for any horse that wins the Betfair Chase in November, the King George and Gold Cup. Clan Des Obeaux won the Kempton race last season but was only fifth in the Gold Cup. The horse will be trying to win the bonus this season.

Christmas Hurdle

The Champion Hurdle is the most important hurdle race in the sport. It is run over two miles on the first day of the Cheltenham Festival. Sadly last year’s winner, Espoir d’Allen, has passed away so there will be a new champion or a former winner can prevail. Buveur D’air won the race in 2017 and 2018. The horse will probably run in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton which is one of the key Champion Hurdle Cheltenham Festival trials.

Champion Chase Trials

Altior is the second highest rated chaser in Britain and won the Champion Chase last season. The horse will be targeted at the race at the 2020 Cheltenham Festival. There is no appropriate prep race for the horse at the Cheltenham November meeting. Altior will run in one of the recognised Cheltenham Festival trials. The major prep races for the meeting that matters most are run at Sandown and Ascot but other courses stage Cheltenham trials suited to Altior.

The Stayers’ Hurdle Trials

The Stayers’ hurdle is the championship race for long distance hurdlers. Paisley Park won the race in 2019 and is the favourite for the next renewal in March 2020. The owner of the horse is registered as blind and follows sport through the atmosphere and audio commentary. Paisley Park will probably run in the key Cheltenham trials for the stayers’ hurdle at Ascot and Newbury. An impressive run in either race will make Paisley Park a big favourite at the Festival.

Cheltenham November Meeting

The highlight of the Cheltenham November meeting is the BetVictor Gold Cup. It is a handicap chase but not one of the most important Cheltenham Festival trials. However, a horse that runs well in a competitive handicap at the track will enter calculations for a similar race at the Festival.

There are a number of hurdle races at the Cheltenham November meeting that can provide pointers for the big races at the Festival. There is also a cross country race which is becoming more significant as one of the informative Cheltenham Festival trials.

Other Cheltenham Trials In November

November is an important month for steeple chasing in Britain. In addition to the Cheltenham November meeting, there are several chases that often prove to be good Cheltenham trials. Here are the key races over fences during the month:

  • Betfair Chase at Haydock.
  • Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
  • Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury.

These three races are now established as important Cheltenham Festival trials. However, the three winners in 2018 did not win a race at the Cheltenham Festival the following March. In recent years Cue Card has performed best in these races which have been Cheltenham trials for the horse. Bristol de Mai has won two of the races but not won at the Cheltenham Festival.

January Cheltenham Trials Day

Six weeks before the main meeting the course stages Cheltenham Festival trials day. The Cotswold Chase is significant prep race for the Gold Cup. Frodon won the race in 2019 but did not contest the Gold Cup. The horse ran in the Ryanair Chase and was an impressive winner. The horse’s regular jockey is Bryony Frost who is the famous female jumps jockey in the sport. Frodon is expected to run in one of the Cheltenham trials before the end of the year.

The Cleeve Hurdle is a race over the smaller obstacles and a distance of about three miles. In the last four years two of the winners have won The Stayers’ hurdle at the Festival. Thistlecrack and Paisley Park achieved the double. Big Buck’s has won two Cleeve Hurdles and is a four-time winner of the stayers’ hurdle. Inglis Drever also won both races. The results of the Cleeve Hurdle since 2008 make the race one of the most information Cheltenham Festival trials of the season.