Cheltenham Festival 2023: Race times, TV channel and latest odds

·8-min read
Rachael Blackmore riding Honeysuckle - Cheltenham Festival 2023 schedule: Race times, TV channel and latest odds - Getty Images/Adrian Dennis
Rachael Blackmore riding Honeysuckle - Cheltenham Festival 2023 schedule: Race times, TV channel and latest odds - Getty Images/Adrian Dennis

A harbinger of spring and the showpiece event of the National Hunt season, the Cheltenham Festival remains the highlight of the British horse racing calendar.

Dates of the 2023 Cheltenham Festival

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This year's festival runs from Tuesday, March 14 to Friday, March 17. Plans to add a fifth day, on the Saturday, have been shelved because of concerns about damage to the racetrack and Britain's uncertain economic footing. For fans who think you can maybe have too much of a good thing, this has been welcome news.

What TV channel are the races on?

UK TV viewers can watch every race live on ITV 1, or streamed online via ITV X. Racing TV also shows the festival in full. Talksport will host the radio commentary.

Betting on the Cheltenham Festival? Take a look at the best Cheltenham betting offers and free bets.

The full schedule of races for Cheltenham 2023

Feature races in bold

Champion Day, day one, Tuesday March 14

13:30 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle
14:10 Arkle Challenge Trophy
14:50 Handicap Steeple Chase
15:30 Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy
16:10 Mares’ Hurdle
16:50 Juvenile Handicap Hurdle
17:30 National Hunt Steeple Chase Challenge Cup

Ladies Day, day two, Wednesday March 15

13:30 Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle
14:10 Brown Advisory Novices’ Steeple Chase
14:50 Coral Cup Hurdle
15:30 Queen Mother Champion Chase
16:10 Cross-Country Steeple Chase
16:50 Grand Annual Handicap Chase
17:30 Champion Bumper

St Patrick's Day, day three, Thursday March 16

13:30 Turners Novices’ Chase
14:10 Pertemps Network Final Hurdle
14:50 Ryanair Chase
15:30 Stayers’ Hurdle
16:10 County Plate Chase
16:50 Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
17:30 Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup

Gold Cup Day, day four, Friday March 17

13:30 Triumph Hurdle Jump
14:10 Country Handicap Hurdle
14:50 Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle
15:30 Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase
16:10 Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters’ Chase
16:50 Mares’ Chase
17:30 Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

Marcus Armytage's five horses to watch at Cheltenham Festival 2023

Constitution Hill (Unibet Champion Hurdle)

At 1-3, Nicky Henderson’s outstanding six-year-old is not a betting proposition but, bar a fall, looks nailed on for his first championship in open company so sit back and enjoy the show. Apart from his own ability and calm demeanour he has a lot going for him: a jockey with a big race temperament and a trainer who has already won eight Champion Hurdles. Henderson has never seen a horse like this and, one suspects, nor have we.

Honeysuckle (Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle or Champion Hurdle)

The two-time Champion Hurdler and the horse which really set Rachael Blackmore on the road to stardom. Unbeaten in first 16 starts but yet to win this season. This is Honeysuckle's swansong before she goes off to stud. A fourth victory at the Festival would be a great way to go but hard to argue with the fact she looks to have lost a little of her edge.

Editeur Du Gite (Betway Champion Chase)

Has the scalps of both Energumene and Edwardstone (twice) in the bag already and yet still trades as third favourite behind them in the betting. Full marks for connections sticking with young up and coming jockey Niall Houlihan on the front-runner who loves Cheltenham, a huge chance for him to break into the big time.

Gold Tweet (Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle)

Trained in the Loire valley, better known for its chateaux, by relatively unknown (here, at any rate) Frenchman, Gabriel Leenders, hence his generous price based on his recent win at Cheltenham. He trains 90 horses and knows the time of day so should not be lightly dismissed. Great chance for veteran French jockey Jonny Charron to cap a long career.

Noble Yeats (Boodles Gold Cup)

One of the smallest clubs in racing, in terms of membership, are horses which have won a Gold Cup and Grand National. Currently only Golden Miller and L’Escargot are in it but, with cheek-pieces reapplied, no horse in Friday’s race has the stamina depths of last year’s Aintree hero. As long as he does not get outpaced early on, he will be flying up the hill.

Forget the controversies and settle in for the ride

By Marcus Armytage

Even the Irish described Monday's weather at Cheltenham as ‘fair miserable’ as the Mullins and Elliott battalions, which had arrived over the weekend, stretched their legs in the middle of the course as high winds, low cloud and rain oscillated with bouts of breezy bright sunshine. Soft going it will be for the start of the 2023 Festival.

It was familiar surroundings for Facile Vega, last year’s bumper winner and red hot favourite to get the meeting off to a flyer for Willie Mullins in the Sky Bet Supreme, all new to El Fabiolo, his stable companion, vying for favouritism in the Sporting Life Arkle.

The first Irish trained winner at Cheltenham was Be Careful the 1920 Foxhunters, four years before the first Gold Cup, seven before the first Champion Hurdle and it was not trained by Willie Mullins. But 103 years later Irish domination is all but complete and the extent of that will, surely, be a major talking point again when the meeting concludes on Friday night.

But if one day boasting 95 runners across seven races can, really, be all about one horse it is an English trained one, Constitution Hill who may even knock Lion Courage (1935), Sir Ken (1954) and Istabraq (1999) off their perch as the shortest priced winners of the race at 4-9.

Of all the meeting’s major championships the Champion Hurdle is the best for favourites, 40 from 92 runnings and it is hard to see that 43 percent strike rate being lowered despite the six-year-old’s relative inexperience, five unbeaten starts over hurdles. Nothing, so far, has got within 12 lengths of him.

Quite apart from ability matched by his mind, he is in the hands of the race’s most successful exponent with eight wins in Nicky Henderson and in Nico de Boinville he has a jockey with a big race temperament to match the horse’s.

The caveat is, of course, that it is a horse race with eight flights of hurdles to negotiate when even the best can mis-judge a top bar by half an inch, the unlucky can get brought down and horses have off days just as humans do but while 1-3 does not look a good betting proposition you would struggle to find shares in the London Stock Market which would give you a 33 percent return in under four minutes.  

Thus far Constitution Hill has all been about potential, what he can be, and this is unquestionably his toughest examination yet. He has won on ‘Sandown heavy’ so ‘Cheltenham soft’ should hold no fears and it will take something extraordinary to inflict a first defeat on him but let’s save the plaudits for afterwards.

The two best mares, Honeysuckle and Epatante, both previous winners of the race, have sought easier pickings in the mares’ hurdle leaving State Man, also unbeaten in two seasons except for a maiden hurdle fall, as his main rival, along with last year’s Triumph winner Vauban and I Like To Move It. But beating Constitution Hill? It is going to be like trying to catch quicksilver.

The usually crisp outline of Cleeve Hill, the limestone escarpment which forms the famous backdrop to this amphitheatre and equine shrine, was blurred by cloud yesterday but it can be restored to High Definition in the first.

It is a good few years since a Group One class Flat horse rated as high 119 at his best, has gone hurdling and if High Definition can get his jumping together - he unseated after a mile at Leopardstown - he can upset the Facile Vega fan club by winning at double figure odds for Joseph O’Brien.

The Arkle encapsulates the Britain versus Ireland with Jonbon up against El Fabiolo but beware of races billed as matches with more than two runners. They will not be hanging around in this race. The front-running Dysart Dynamo is likely to have his throat cut by Effernock Fizz but the Mullin’s second string Saint Roi, a County Hurdle winner who went on to finish third in last year’s Champion Hurdle, appeals at good odds.

Win, lose or draw it appears we will say goodbye to Honeysuckle, the two-time Champion Hurdler, in the Close Brothers Mares Hurdle and if she can recover her form she will be an emotional winner for Henry de Bromhead but Henderson is mobbed handed in this race and his third string Theatre Glory can put up a good show.

Back in the summer the Jockey Club finally kicked an extra day at the Cheltenham Festival into touch but the fifth day of this particular Festival will be when the Whip Review Panel sits next Tuesday to go through the list of infringements to the new tighter whip rules incurred under Cleeve Hill between now and Friday under Cleeve Hill.

The jockeys, British, Irish and amateur need to understand that rules is rules and that bleating about it is now pointless. So, let’s get on with one of the greatest shows in sport.

Who won the Prestbury Cup in 2022?

The Prestbury Cup is the competition between British and Irish trainers, running for the duration of the Cheltenham Festival. Ireland dominated last year's competition, winning 18 races to the UK's 10. With the Mullins contingent leading the charge, Ireland are 1-20 to win in this year so the home side, it's fair to say, are needing snookers.