Can fans go to the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, schedule and TV channel

With just three weeks to go, final preparations are being made for the 2021 Cheltenham Festival.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, fans won't be in attendance and many will watch the action unfold on TV instead.

Usually the four-day meeting has an overall attendance of around 250,000 people, but this year the grandstands will be empty.

The Cheltenham roar, the collective noise from the crowd when the tapes go up for this first race, will also be missed on March 16.

However, there will be extensive broadcasts from the track shown on several channels.

Race schedule

In total there are 28 races during the week.

Of these, 14 are at Grade 1 level, which brings the very best horses together.

The first of seven races on each day is at 1.20pm.

The following feature contests are at 3.05pm:

March 16 – Unibet Champion Hurdle

March 17 – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

March 18 – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

March 19 – WellChild Gold Cup

Charity connection

WellChild, the charity which the Gold Cup is named after, has its headquarters in Cheltenham.

More than 100,000 children and young people are living with serious illness or exceptional health needs across the UK.

Without the type of support WellChild offers, many can spend months or even years in hospital.

The Jockey Club hopes to build significant awareness and inspire donations with the new link-up.

There are plans to launch a series of activities in the build-up to next month’s event and over the four days of racing.

TV channel

ITV will be showing six races each day, for the first time this year.

The coverage starts at 1pm and runs until 4.30pm.

On the morning of racing, The Opening Show previews the races for the day ahead.

Subscription channel Racing TV will be showing all of the action throughout the week.

Irish runners

An Irish travel ban on inward travel from Britain ended on January 8.

Every year there are dozens of Irish runners at the meeting.

Staff who have travelled over with them will have to give a negative PCR test for Covid-19 at the point of re-entry into Ireland, followed by a period of self-isolation.

Irish jockeys will also have separate changing facilities to the home riders on-course.

Gold Cup odds

Al Boum Photo won the race in 2019 and 2020 and he heads the market for the historic hat-trick bid.

Willie Mullins gave fans an update on his preparation, as well as highlighting many of the race favourites, in an online press call on February 22.

At the moment, the best odds with bookmakers for the race are as follows:

Al Boum Photo 3-1

Champ 13-2

A Plus Tard 13-2

Royale Pagaille 10-1

Santini 14-1

Native River 16-1

Minella Indo 16-1

Kemboy 16-1

Frodon 16-1

33-1 bar

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