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Some facts and figures about the festival

Every year, in the middle of March, more than 200,000 racing enthusiasts from all around the world, and almost 500 horses, descend on Prestbury Park in Cheltenham for the climax of the National Hunt season, competing for 25 prizes, including the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle.

  • Racing in Cheltenham dates back to 1815, when the first meeting was held on Nottingham Hill. Three years later, the first races took place on Cleeve Hill.

  • In total, 800 feet of temporary bar counters are built for the festival. The longest bar at Cheltenham is the 110 foot-long Pavilion Bar in the Best Mate enclosure.

  • The Festival is worth an estimated €60m to the local economy and has the largest tented village of any kind at a sporting event.

  • Race fans are expected to drink more than 18,000 bottles of Champagne, 220,000 pints of Guinness, 30,000 bottles of wine, 120,000 bottles of beer and cider, and 8,000 gallons of tea and coffee.

  • Prize money at Cheltenham exceeds €7m throughout the season, with €4.2m on offer at the Festival alone, making it the most valuable and prestigious fixture in jump racing.

  • The racecourse employs more than 60 permanent staff, which rises to approximately 1,000 for a race meeting and more than 5,000 for the Festival itself.

  • The Cheltenham Festival betting markets are the biggest for any race meeting of the year, with punters laying down more than €180m in bets.

  • The Festival has only been cancelled once since the end of the Second World War. In 2001 the government took the step of cancelling in response to a massive foot-and-mouth disease outbreak.

  • The Cheltenham Gold Cup boasts the biggest prize fund of any race at the Cheltenham with almost €500,000 shared among the top three horses. The next richest is the Champion Hurdle, with a prize fund of over €420,000.

  • Up to 10,000 Irish people cross the Irish channel each March to attend.