The inaugural Cheltenham Festival was staged, as a two-day affair, in 1911, under the auspices of W.A. Baring Bingham, who owned the land at Prestbury Park, and Frederick Cathcart, Clerk of the Course at Cheltenham Racecourse. Cathcart would go on to create the Cheltenham Gold Cup in 1924 and the Champion Hurdle in 1927, but even before the addition of those two races, in 1923, the Cheltenham Festival had been extended to a three-day meeting. Various races came and went over the years, but the Festival remained a three-day meeting until 2005, when it was extended to four days, with the addition of several new races, including the Ryanair Chase and the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase.
The Cheltenham Festival continues to evolve and, nowadays, consists of 28 races, including twelve at Grade One level. One of the four main ‘championship’ races – namely the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup – is the feature race on each of the four days and is complemented by two, or three, other Grade One races each day, plus a selection of lesser Graded races, Listed races and competitive handicaps.