Why we’re excited to go to Cheltenham
Whether you’re a hardened wax jacket-wearing race-goer with all the inside knowledge or a complete novice in the world of horse racing, Cheltenham’s The Festival™ has something for everyone.
This year in particular has us giddy with anticipation, so here’s why you should attend.
The perfect storm
We’re a sports-mad nation, but of all the global sports, horseracing is ours. There are few things that we do in which we can claim to be truly world-leading, but racehorses is definitely one of them. With the best bloodstocks and some of the best trainers and jockeys in the world, horseracing is a sport where we can be proud to stand among the very best.
Cheltenham always proves fertile hunting ground for Irish punters and every year sees a mass migration of Irishmen and women crossing the Irish Sea to gather in Gloucestershire for four days of revelry and sporting drama.
For Irish sports fans The Festival™ 2018 is shaping up to be the perfect sporting storm. For a start, we’re coming to Cheltenham off the back of a most intriguing Jump racing season so far. Over the Christmas period we’ve seen shock after shock, we’ve seen favourites pull up and outside bets romp home making the form cards virtually useless.
However, with The Festival™, the highlight of the Jump racing calendar, we’ll see the stakes raised and horses peaking. Will The Festival™ see order restored or will the unpredictability continue into March? There’s no way of knowing but it promises to be an absolutely thrilling ride.
Of course The Festival™ lands right at the climax of the NatWest Six Nations Championship. With Ireland set to take on England on St. Patrick’s Day in Twickenham for a potential title decider, you’d be forgiven for thinking that four days of Jump racing followed by the biggest rugby match of the year would be sporting nirvana.
The Festival™ at Cheltenham has something for everybody and there’s a price range to suit every type of punter. For those who value a little exclusivity the Club Enclosure provides the best views of the action. At just £85.00 (£110 on Gold Cup Day) the Club Enclosure gives you full access to all other parts of the racecourse so you can vary your experience as much as you like. The Tattersalls (£55.00 - £75 on Gold Cup Day) is the next tier for punters which provides grandstand views of the racing, access to plenty of bars and restaurants and access to the parade ring. For those on a budget, the Best Mate ticket (£40.00 - £60 on Gold Cup Day) is the cheapest option and allows you great views from the far side of the grandstand. Good value it is, but not lacking on atmosphere or facilities.
Enjoy your stay
Typically, hotel accommodation sells out in advance of The Festival™ so if you’re planning on going move quickly to ensure you’re not staying too far away. The good news is, that, after the racing is done, the hotels in the area are usually heaving with punters looking to take their revelry into the wee hours. In recent years Airbnb has become a popular option with visitors. There are plenty of locals wiling to open their homes for the four days of The Festival™ and you never know, they might have some descent tips for you as well.
The Cheltenham Roar
The Cheltenham Roar is one of the greatest phenomena in sport and it really has to be experienced to be believed. On the first race of Champion Day, 13th of March, the tape will rise to kick off the four day festival and the crowd will erupt. Famed for getting the hair on the back of your neck standing like nothing else in sport, it’s one of those “I was there” moments.
The racing highlight on the opening Champion Day will be the Unibet Champion Hurdle. BuveurD’Air, trained by Nicky Henderson won the race in 2017, and this year he looks set to return to defend his title. Race organisers have committed to a 48 hour declaration before all races, meaning you’ll have more time to study form and place your bets accordingly. Cheltenham racing has always been a bit wild because you never knew who would race until 24 hours before, but not anymore.
The next day’s racing Ladies Day will be sporting grace and glamour giving ladies the chance to really shine. The weird, wonderful and downright glamorous creations that are on display add a touch of opulence to the day’s proceedings. The exclusive Ladies Day Competition – known as #ColourMeMarch – is guaranteed to add even more style to an already exciting event with a MINI ONE up for grabs.
St. Patrick’s Thursday
Get in the mood for the real St. Patrick’s Day with this day’s racing and The Festival honouring all things Irish. With the Guinness flowing and the sounds of Irish music everywhere, you’ll feel right at home. The main race on St Patrick’s Thursday will be the Sun Bets Stayer’s Hurdle.
Gold Cup Day
At Cheltenham, all roads lead to the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup, the most important race. This is where history is made and where the most money is won and lost. While over 260,000 punters pass through the gates of The Festival over the four days, the Gold Cup is the biggest draw.
Racing at Cheltenham has been Irish racing fans’ spring pilgrimage since 1860. The Irish are an integral part of the four day festival and this year, they’ll be there, as always in full force, in full-throated in the very best of humour. Make this year the year you do Festival™ at Cheltenham. Buy your tickets here.