Which is the longest race run at the Cheltenham Festival?
Traditionally, the National Hunt Challenge Cup, run over a distance of 3 miles, 7 furlongs and 170 yards – and known, colloquially, as the ‘four miler’ – was the longest race of the week at the Cheltenham Festival. However, the last time that race was run over its original distance was in 2018, when it was won by subsequent Grand National third, Rathvinden, trained by Willie Mullins.
In 2019, 18 horses contested the National Hunt Challenge Cup, but only four finished, with 47 lengths between the third and fourth horses home. Following a review by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), the distance of the race was shortened to 3 miles, 5 furlongs and 201 yards, such that, from 2020 onwards, the Glenfarclass Cross Country Chase became the longest race run at the Cheltenham Festival.
Inaugurated, as a handicap, in 2005, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase is run over a distance of 3 miles, 6 furlongs and 37 yards on the specialist Cross Country Course, which features both natural and artificial obstacles, including banks, ditches, water and timber rails. Unlike the National Hunt Challenge Cup, which is restricted to horses that have not won over fences at the start of the current season, and amateur jockeys, the Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase has raised no welfare concerns, so seems likely to remain the longest race run at the Cheltenham Festival for the foreseeable future.