England's biggest day of National Hunt Racing, Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Day on March 16, is already sold out, but if you don't have tickets or can't make it across the water, Aqueduct will offer its fans the opportunity to watch and wager on the race and other stakes events on the same card. The Big A will present live coverage of the Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeplechase for 5-year-olds and up at 26 1/2 furlongs; the Cheltenham Grand Annual Steeplechase Challenge Cup for 5-year-olds and up at 16 1/2 furlongs; and the Cathcart Challenge Cup Steeplechase at 21 furlongs for 5-year-olds and up.
Aqueduct, which will offer past performances to the public for these races, will commingle into an international pool through South Africa. Win, Place, Exacta and Trifecta wagering will be offered, with 18% takeout on win and place and 25% takeout on exacta and trifecta. "Place" wagering in England (and Dubai for this year) is actually the American version of Show wagering: there is payout if your horse finished first, second or third.
One horse to watch is Jim Lewis' 9-year-old Irish-bred Best Mate, who is going for a record third win in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He is trained by Henrietta Knight, who never watches her horses run.
Parking lots at Aqueduct will be open at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 18, with admission gates open at 9:45. There will be free clubhouse admission until 11 a.m. Eastern.
Wagering on the Cheltenham races, which will be commingled with South Africa, will be available by SAM machine only on the first floor, clubhouse. The Tote Cheltenham Gold Cup, worth $625,000, will be run at 10:15 a.m. ET; the $135,000 Cheltenham Annual Challenge Cup will be run at 11:35 a.m.; and the $140,000 Cathcart Challenge Cup will be run at 12:10 a.m.
There will be advance wagering on the Gold Cup only on Wednesday, March 17.
First race post for Aqueduct's regular live race card will be 1 p.m. ET.
For more information on the Cheltenham Festival, visit http://www.cheltenham.co.uk/.