Whether you’re a hardened race goer with all the inside betting knowledge or have never stepped foot in a racecourse before, the Cheltenham Festival offers a fantastic day out for everyone.
The race is steeped in history with the first meet being held back in 1860. Back then it was known as the National Hunt Chase and was held in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. Throughout the early years, the meet was held at different venues but in 1911 the four-day festival returned to Prestbury Park, Cheltenham due to the significant improvements that had been made, not only to the racetrack but as well to the enclosures, stabling blocks, and spectator stands.
The Cheltenham Festival (https://www.cheltenhamfestival.net/) is the showpiece of the National Hunt Season and features many of the finest jump horses throughout Britain and Ireland. The meet is held in mid-March and normally coincides with Saint Patrick’s Day. The festival is well-attended by a strong Irish contingent as they make the trip across the Irish Sea to enjoy the four days of high-level drama.
65,000 people on average attend the festival across the four days, all of which will no doubt join in the legendary ‘Cheltenham Roar’, one of the greatest phenomena in sport. As the starter raises the white tape for the first race on the first day, the crowd erupt into something that can only be described as a deafening roar, making the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, and must be experienced in the flesh to be believed.
The meet consists of 28 races which will be run over the four-day period. There are four feature races, which are; The Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and the Cheltenham Gold Cup. This year’s prize money on offer totals a staggering £4.59 million pounds over the duration of the meet.
Tickets for Gold Cup Day, this year to be held on Friday 15th March, have already been sold out but tickets remain on sale for the other days and can be bought from as little as £45 from the Jockey Club website: https://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/cheltenham/events-tickets/the-festival/tickets/
There’s not just racing to be enjoyed at the festival, spectators can also enjoy a spot of shopping at The Shopping Village where they will find a diverse range of products including home accessories, hats, artwork, bags, belts and fashionable clothing. Live bands will also play throughout the duration of the festival, with a couple of bars having entertainment until 6.30pm, perfect for those who don’t want to get caught in the mass exodus once racing finishes.
Travelling to and from the racecourse couldn’t be easier. You can either buy a parking ticket and park on the racecourse or alternatively use the dedicated races bus service which operates between Cheltenham Spa Railway Station, Cheltenham Town Centre and the Racecourse itself. For those staying locally you may find booking a local taxi the quickest and easiest option.
There are plenty of accommodation options if you are planning on staying for one night or the duration of the festival. If you’re looking for a luxury hotel in Cheltenham, Ellenborough Park hotel is a five-star hotel that offers extensive facilities which include a spa and fine dining restaurant. For those who prefer to be in the town there are several hotels on offer including the Jury Inn and Holiday Inn Express.