Winner Al Boum Photo (right) clears the final fence in the 2020 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup (Image: Getty)
Never miss an update on schools, pubs and coronavirus cases with our free newsletter
Sign up!When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. OurPrivacy Noticeexplains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy noticeInvalid EmailSomething went wrong, please try again later.
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.
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
Fans watch the 2020 Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup won by Al Boum Photo (right)
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.
ITV will be showing six races each day, for the first time this year.
The coverage starts at 1pm and runs until 4.30pm.
In 2020 Shishkin won the first race of the meeting, the Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hurdle (yellow colours)
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.
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.
Paul Townend and Willie Mullins after winning the 2020 Gold Cup with Al Boum Photo
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
A Plus Tard 13-2
Royale Pagaille 10-1
Native River 16-1
Minella Indo 16-1