The week is upon us! The Cheltenham Festival.
Each March around a quarter million people descend upon the South-West of England race course to spectate some of the best jump racing in the world. Taking place over four days, each day with an amazing atmosphere. The Cheltenham Gold Cup (THE race of the week) takes place on the penultimate day (Friday). I write this post with a slight bitter sweetness as this will be the first time I have missed going to The Festival since my first time in 2013.
1) The Irish: During The Festival week airline Ryan Air puts on an extra 30 flights between Dublin-Birmingham to accommodate the volume of passengers going to the Festival. Horses and Irish just goes hand-in-hand. Plus excellent craic, you are guaranteed to see numerous fancy dress Leprechauns.
Click here for a gallery of pictures from last years festival (pardon use of Daily Mail).
2) The fact that St.Patricks Day is always falling within (or close to) the dates of The Festival. Need I say more? To continue the Irish link, the Festival every year has St. Patricks Thursday. Plus there is the Guinness Village where around 256 000 pints are sunk during the week.
3) Cheltenham itself just turns into one big party: Every nook and cranny of Cheltenham is full during the week, restaurants to kebab shops. Pubs/Clubs/Bars-rammed. Hotels-booked. It’s fantastic to see. Plus the economic impact on Gloucestershire itself is that of around £100 million pounds!
4) TWEED: You either love it or hate it (love it). It just has that country fashion element to it and both men & women can work it. There is no shortage at Cheltenham. As seen last year a three piece tweed suit was tailored to horse ahead of The Festival. Bookies William Hill being behind the stunt.
5) However a more relaxed dress code. You can go dressed to the nines or just in usual get up. As a female never have I attended The Festival in the full dress/hat/heels combination. I usually go for the smart casual which is the recommended code. But that is the beauty of the Festival, you are not questioned as to whether you are overdressed or under dressed. I’ve seen men in joggers, I’ve seen men in full three piece suits.
6) The racecourse has a great atmosphere plus the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside surroundings. The Gloucestershire countryside is beautiful. And the view of the course on a clear day is pretty breathtaking. On average each day around 62 000 people attend the racecourse. Cheltenham is that bit more ‘serious’ and attracts the more invested racing fans. Making it so that most of the people there are there for the same reason. To witness some great racing.
7) The Cheltenham ‘Roar’: Mostly heard towards the beginning and the end of each race, I personally think the Cheltenham Roar is up there with one of sports greatest atmosphere boosters. You can sense an excitement and a strong tension in the air. The hope in peoples eyes (and voices) as they cheer on their horse in hopes of winning.
8) The chance of winning a bet*: In addition to the economic impact on Gloucestershire, around £150 million is bet over the course of 4 days. Stakes are high and it adds to the whole experience. Clinching a winning betting slip after a tight win is quite a feeling.
*Betting can be fun but, please be responsible. To quote the Campaign. When the fun stops, stop.
9) Organised-Transport: Over the course of the four days Cheltenham Spa station sees over over 100 000 people go through. Cheltenham being pretty well connected to cities like: Cardiff, London and Birmingham. Plus the bus connection between the train station and race course is fantastic. Not saying that is doesn’t cause Cheltenham to become a bit of a nightmare for those who live there. But as a consumer and spectator the experience as a hole is smooth and so much easier.
Thanks to stats from The Jockey Club.