Cheltenham Festival 2021: everything you need to know as racing action kicks off behind closed doors

This year's event will look drastically different to last year's. Credit: PA images

Cheltenham Festival has kicked off but will take place behind closed doors as England's coronavirus lockdown continues.

Thousands of people attended the controversial four-day event last year when the pandemic was in its early stages.

However, government guidance at the time allowed the prestigious meet to go ahead and organisers defended their decision not to cancel, despite heavy pressure to do so.

The following week Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged all people in the UK to avoid pubs, clubs and theatres and stop all non-essential travel and work from home.

This year's festival will look drastically different, with only a handful of people allowed at Prestbury Park for the biggest event in the Cheltenham Racecourse calendar.

In a typical year it's estimated to bring in at least £100m to the Gloucestershire town's local economy and there are concerns about the impact this year's lost revenue will have.

But organisers are determined to make the best of the next four days of racing action and are encouraging supporters to enjoy the festival from "the comfort of your own home".

Photos from last year's event sparked controversy as some racegoers reported developing Covid symptoms at the festival. Credit: PA images

How you can watch the 2021 Cheltenham Festival

For the first time ever, ITV will be broadcasting the first six races at the festival each day.

Live coverage starts at 1pm and runs until 4.30pm, with the feature races on at 3.05pm.

Day One: Tuesday 16 March

13:20 - Sky Bet Supreme Novices Hurdle 2m 87y

13:55 - Sporting Life Arkle Challenge Trophy Novices' Chase 1m 7f1 99y

14:30 - Festival Trophy Ultima Handicap Chase 3m 1f

15:05 - Unibet Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy 2m 87y

15:40 - Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle 2m 3f 200y

16:15 - Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle 2m 87y

16:50 - National Hunt Novices' Chase 3m 5f 201y

Day Two: Wednesday 17 March

13:20 - Ballymore Novices' Hurdle 2m 5f

13:55 - Brown Advisory Novices' Chase 3m 80y

14:30 - Coral Cup Hurdle 2m 5f

15:05 - Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase 1m 7f 199y

15:40 - Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase 3m 6f 37y

16:15 - Johnny Henderson Close Brother Handicap Chase 1m 7f 199y

16:50 - Weatherbys Champion Bumper 2m 87y

Day Three: Thursday 18 March

13:20 - Marsh Novices' Chase 2m 3f 168y

13:55 - Pertemps Handicap Hurdle 2m 7f 213y

14:30 - Ryanair Chase 2m 4f 127y

15:05 - Paddy Power Stayers' Hurdle 2m 7f 213y

15:40 - Paddy Power Plate Handicap Chase 2m 4 127y

16:15 - Daylesford Mares' Novices' Hurdle 2m 179y

16:50 - Kim Muir Handicap Chase 3m 2f

Day Four: Friday 19 March

13:20 - JCB Triumph Hurdle 2m 179y

13:55 - Randox Health County Hurdle 2m 179y

14:30 - Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle - 2m 7f 213y

15:05 - WellChild Cheltenham Gold Cup Chase 3m 2f 70y

15:40 - St. James's Place Festival Challenge Cup Open Hunters' Steeple Chase 3m 2f 70y

16:15 - Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase 2m 4f 127y

16:50 - Martin Pipe Handicap Hurdle 2m 4f 56y

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