Cheltenham Racecourse at Prestbury Park, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England, hosts National Hunt horse racing. Its most prestigious meeting is the Cheltenham Festival, held in March, which features several Grade I races including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase and the Stayers’ Hurdle.
The racecourse has a scenic location in a natural amphitheatre, just below the escarpment of the Cotswold Hills at Cleeve Hill, with a capacity of 67,500 spectators. Cheltenham Racecourse railway station no longer connects to the national rail network, but is the southern terminus of the preserved Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.
The Racecourse, seen from Cleeve Hill
The main racecourse has two separate courses alongside each other, the Old Course and the New Course. The New Course has a tricky downhill fence and a longer run-in for steeplechases than the Old Course. Hurdle races over two miles on the New Course also have a slight peculiarity in that most of the hurdles are jumped early on in the race with only two hurdles being jumped in the last seven fongs. There is also a cross-country course which is laid out inside the main racecourse and is used for cross-country steeplechases.
The racecourse is the home of The Centaur, one of the largest auditoria in the South West of England. This multiple-use complex seats over 2,000 people for conferences and around 4,000 standing for concerts. It is also home to the Steeplechasing Hall of Fame. From 1999 to 2013, the racecourse was the venue for the annual Greenbelt festival and remains the venue for the Wychwood Music Festival. The University of Gloucestershire holds its graduation ceremony and summer ball at the racecourse.
From 2008, the racecourse and The Jockey Club were in talks with Cheltenham Town F.C. about a possible move to the racecourse. This would have meant the building of a new stadium with a double-sided stand, one side in the stadium and the other for watching the races. In 2011, Cheltenham Town F.C. decided against the move for financial reasons.
In 2015, Cheltenham Racecourse opened the ?45m 6,500-capacity Princess Royal Stand, which completed the redevelopment of the course.