How to watch Cheltenham Festival on TV: your armchair viewing guide

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  • If you can’t make it to the Cheltenham Festival (15-18 March) in person, there is no need to miss the action, as every single race from the meeting will be shown on TV.

    Here’s our full TV guide so you don’t miss a moment of the action…

    Cheltenham Festival on TV: how to watch

    The Festival at Cheltenham is the Olympics of jump racing but, how can you watch the Cheltenham Festival from the comfort of your armchair?

    The Cheltenham roar is something not to miss, and for racing fans and amateur punters alike, it couldn’t be easier to submerse yourself in all the action.

    So here it is, your armchair viewing guide to the Cheltenham Festival — and now is definitely the time to invest in that 85inch Ultra HD TV you’ve been hankering after. Grab your remote, a family pack of snacks and a tipple of your choosing because you needn’t leave your armchair for four days.

    Where can I watch it?

    Those of you with a Racing TV subscription can enjoy all the races live but for everyone else in the country, tune in to ITV1 where the brilliant ITV Racing team will take you right to the heart of the action. They expanded their coverage to show six of the seven races every day in 2021, and 2022 will be no different, meaning you won’t miss the six races on the card every day. The live Festival coverage will also be simulcast on the ITV Hub, on web and app for viewers to watch online or if you’re on the move you can still keep up to date by listening to BBC Radio 5 Live.

    What time does it start?

    ITV Racing coverage starts at 1pm every day, broadcasting live till 4.30pm. In a departure from the norm and to allow for ITV Racing’s extended coverage, the tapes go up for the first race at 1.20pm every day, rather than the traditional 1.30pm, while the seventh and final race of the day is now at the earlier time of 4.50pm.

    What if I’m too excited to wait until 1pm?

    After you’ve picked up your copy of the Racing Post — every Cheltenham Festival viewer’s bible — and checked out the latest news on the H&H Festival hub page, join Oli Bell and his special guests on the Opening Show from 9.30-10.30am where you’ll hear from special guests and experts ready to point you towards some big winners (hopefully).

    Who are the experts?

    You’ll very quickly discover that everyone’s an “expert” during Cheltenham Festival week and everyone from your farrier to the postman will be offering you their Festival “banker”. Our tip is to stick with what you know and if it’s too good to be true, it usually is. The ITV Racing team is an encyclopedia of racing facts and figures and usually pretty good with tips. The main presenters are Ed Chamberlin and Francesca Cumani alongside Alice Plunkett, Mick Fitzgerald, Matt Chapman and Luke Harvey with legendary former jockeys Sir Anthony McCoy and Ruby Walsh on hand for their expert opinion. If you enjoy a bit more interaction, Oli Bell and Chris Hughes will be manning the “social stable”, which will be linked to the channel’s Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

    When is the big race?

    Racing fans are treated to a “championship” race every day, beginning on Tuesday with the Unibet Champion Hurdle, Wednesday features the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase, on Thursday it’s the Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle and it all culminates on Friday with the Wellchild Cheltenham Gold Cup. Each showpiece race is run at 3.05pm. But each of the 28 races over the four days offers something to savour with 14 Grade One (top level) races in total.

    Speed is my thing, which race will I enjoy the most?

    The shortest races at the Cheltenham Festival are just shy of two miles in length and with the best horses, trainers and jockeys battling it out for top honours, they are always breathtakingly fast and furious. Over the fences (the larger obstacles), the Queen Mother Champion Chase is a real sprint and where you’ll find the fastest chasers.

    How about if I enjoy a stamina test?

    Wednesday’s Glenfarclas Cross Country Steeple Chase is a brilliant spectacle as the field comes away from the racecourse to face the challenge of a course of 32 obstacles that twists and turns, including a mix of timber, brush and drops over a gruelling 3m6f-plus.

    Where can I spot future stars?

    The Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle is greeted by the deafening yet spine-tingling Cheltenham roar from spectators, and this race is always a hotspot for future talent with past winners including Altior, Brave Inca and 2020’s victor, the Nicky Henderson-trained Shishkin. Likewise on Friday, the JCB Triumph Hurdle for four-year-olds is the big target for the country’s best juvenile hurdlers – the dual Grand National winner Tiger Roll was first past the post in the race in 2014 and has since repeated that success twice.

    Can I buy tickets?

    Yes, tickets are available in 2022, and you can find out everything you need to know here.

    What is the Prestbury Cup?

    As well as the head-to-heads between the leading horses, jockeys and trainers, one of the greatest rivalries is between Great Britain and Ireland for the total number of Festival winners, otherwise known as the Prestbury Cup. In 2021, Irish trainers took the advantage, with 23 winners over the four days versus Great Britain’s five.

    Who are the top jockeys to follow?

    The incredible Irish jockey Rachael Blackmore recorded an outstanding six winners at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, becoming the first female jockey to top the jockey standings over the four days. Also travelling from across the Irish Sea will be Paul Townend, who was leading jockey at the Festival in 2020. Nico De Boinville usually enjoys a tremendous strike rate at Cheltenham, while the current champion jockey in Great Britain is Brian Hughes, and he will be joined in the weighing room by Harry Cobden and Harry Skelton, who are chasing Brian Hughes in this year’s title race.

    Who is likely to be the leading trainer?

    It’s hard to look beyond leading Irish trainer Willie Mullins, who really is a mighty force in the sport and has been crowned top trainer at the Festival for eight of the past 11 years, breaking the former dominance of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson. Irish trainer Henry de Bromhead also clocked the same amount of Cheltenham Festival winners in 2021, but Willie had more horses in the top three places throughout the week.

    How do I bet?

    Online betting companies will be clamouring for your custom during Cheltenham so look out for some of their promotional deals for new customers which include everything from a free bet to giving your money back if your horse loses. You’ll need to deposit some money into your betting account, choose a race, select your horse (you could study the form, or you could simply pick your lucky number of favourite colour from the jockeys’ silks) and the type of bet — then get ready to cheer!

    Keep up to date with all the latest news and updates from the Cheltenham Festival via the Horse & Hound website and read the full report in the 24 March issue of the magazine

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