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2 Mar 2020

Why the Cheltenham Festival is a sporting occasion to savour

Some sporting events have a unique ability to capture the attention of the British public. Whether it’s the FA Cup in football, the Wimbledon Championships in tennis, or The Open in golf, some occasions cause us to stop what we’re doing and revel in the joys of sporting entertainment and excitement. The buzz of the crowd, the talent of our sporting heroes, and the aura of importance these events carry mean we can’t take our eyes off them for a second. 

Horse racing boasts a number of events with a similar appeal. Royal Ascot is a date many people put in their calendars each year, a chance to glam up and enjoy a classy day at the races. The Grand National is also a much-loved sporting occasion, where the public come together to watch the big race whether you’re a fan of horse racing or not. 

Another of these is, of course, the Cheltenham Festival. Taking place in March each year, the Festival attracts thousands of racing fans keen to soak up the unique atmosphere, witness the famous Cheltenham roar, and tip their favourite horses based on the Cheltenham Festival odds. What is it that makes the Festival such a great sporting occasion? We’ve listed a few reasons… 

The venue 

Cheltenham Racecourse at Prestbury Park is one of the best horse racing venues in the country. With the ability to host thousands of spectators, including the 6,500 capacity Princess Royal Stand, it’s one of the best places in the world to soak up the unique horse racing buzz and enjoy a day at the races with your friends. 

The Cheltenham roar is one of the most famous sporting atmospheres, and for the big races Prestbury Park seems to rock to its core, with everyone willing on their favourites towards victory. For the more discerning racing fan there are plenty of opportunities for fine dining and hospitality, meaning that there is something for every kind of visitor to the famous racecourse. 

The races 

Of course, it’s the races themselves that spectators flock to Cheltenham every year to see. Cheltenham has several showpiece Grade One races, including the Champion Hurdle, the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Ryanair Chase, the Stayers’ Hurdle, and of course, the Gold Cup. 

It’s the Gold Cup that always attracts most interest each year. As one of the most historic races in the horse racing calendar, there is always a huge buzz around who the favourites are and which horse can emulate legends like Best Mate and Kauto Star. 

Last year’s Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo earned over a whopping £350,000, so you can see why there is so much interest and intrigue around this famous old race. 

The personalities 

Cheltenham Festival always attracts the cream of the crop as far as horses, jockeys and trainers go. Legendary jockeys like Ruby Walsh and AP McCoy have graced the Prestbury Park turf, while trainers such as Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson are big characters and always good for a quote. 

Irishman Willie Mullins has been the most successful trainer at Cheltenham in recent years, and he’ll be hoping for another stellar meeting in 2020. With so much on the line, it’s no wonder why trainers and jockeys give so much effort to preparing their horses for Cheltenham, all in the hope of being victorious amidst the iconic roar of the Cheltenham crowd.