Horse racing fans who follow the sport closely will be familiar with the Cheltenham Festival which takes place next month in the UK. The national hunt meeting is the biggest in the sport anywhere in the world, with a number of championship races taking place during the week, therefore it often throws up some breathtaking battles as the best in each division clash to be crowned the number one at the distance.
Comparisons can obviously be made with the Breeders’ Cup in the USA, as both meetings have huge significance on the international scale. Here is a close look at how the two compare and contrast.
The prize money at the Breeders’ Cup stands at $30,000,000, making it one of the richest sports events in the world. The Breeders’ Cup Classic, which is the feature race of the meeting, has a purse of $6,000,000 with $3,300,000 going to the winner. At the Cheltenham Festival, the prize money is much less as at the 2017 meeting, there was a total of £4,300,000 on offer across the week. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is considered as the Blue Riband event of the meeting and the winner of that race will land £327,462 next month, where Might Bite is the +250 favourite in the gold cup betting as he has had an impressive campaign heading into the Festival.
Although there is less prize money on offer at the Breeders’ Cup, there are more races for fans to enjoy at the Cheltenham Festival. The latter is spread out across four days and always takes place from Tuesday through to Friday in the middle of March. 27 races feature on those days, in which there is one championship race each day. The Champion Hurdle is the feature race on the Tuesday, the Queen Mother Champion Chase takes centre stage on the Wednesday, it is the Stayers’ Hurdle which is the highlight on day three, while the meeting concludes with the Cheltenham Gold Cup on the Friday. In the Breeders’ Cup, there are two long days of action. At the end of day one, the Breeders’ Cup Distaff for the fillies and mares concludes the action and on the final day, the Breeders’ Cup Classic caps off the meeting.
Unlike the Cheltenham Festival, where the racecourse remains the same each year, the Breeders’ Cup Classic is held at various different racecourses across North America. In 2017, Del Mar in California played host to the meeting where Gun Runner claimed the Breeders’ Cup Classic, beating the defending champion Arrogate. In 2018, Churchill Downs, in Louisville, Kentucky, has the pleasure of holding the annual event for the ninth time which is a joint record it holds with Santa Anita.
The other big difference between the two meetings is the surface in which the contests are run on. At the Cheltenham Festival, all 27 races take place on turf, while at the Breeders’ Cup, they are mixed between turf and dirt, with the majority occurring on the latter.
Despite the difference, every jockey, trainer and owner are desperate to have a winner at the meeting as their name is then cemented in history as being a Breeders’ Cup or Cheltenham Festival winner.