How to add more enjoyment to your Cheltenham Festival week
The Cheltenham Festival is one of the mostly hotly anticipated racing events of the year. The four-day extravaganza, which features several Grade 1 races, is second only to the Grand National in terms of prize money, and it attracts more than a quarter of a million people annually.
Whether you have decided to watch the litany of jump racing events from home or are lucky enough to actually visit the beautiful Regency spa town in South West England, the Cheltenham Festival offers ample opportunity for enjoyment and excitement.
Place a bet
Millions of pounds are bet on horse races at the festival over the week as punters from far and wide enjoy some of the most prestigious races on the annual calendar, including the Cheltenham Gold Cup, the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase and the Champion Hurdle.
During a typical schedule, 28 races take place across the four days, and whether you are watching from afar or are actually at the festival, backing a horse can really up the ante and add to your enjoyment.
The best way to place bets before a race is by taking a look at the best betting offers for Cheltenham and then selecting a win or each-way bet on the horse that you want to back. You can do this before the Cheltenham Festival gets underway or you can log in online before a race starts.
If you select the right betting offers, you might also be able to get bonuses and free bets. By doing this, you can back more horses over the racing schedule, which usually pits the best of British breeds against the best of Irish. Putting money on the line, even if it’s only a small amount, can really add to the excitement.
Taking in the four race days and placing a myriad of bets is not the only enjoyment on offer though. The Cheltenham Festival is also renowned for its vast food and drink options with a range of enclosures, restaurants and packages available to racegoers during the week.
There are three main enclosures, all offering a unique spectator experience. The ‘Club’ enclosure offers the best course views with access to all areas. The ‘Tattersalls’ enclosure has grandstand views and a cluster of betting stalls and bars. The ‘Best Mate’ enclosure is best suited to those who want a more casual and relaxed experience with eateries and entertainment to match.
Food and drink
In addition to the enclosures, Cheltenham also boasts several restaurants that cover all budgets and taste requirements. The Chez Roux Restaurant with its champagne and high-end cuisine is perfect for a luxury day out. There is also the Moscow Flyer Restaurant with its buffet-style lunch offerings. For more casual experiences, several takeaways are also available.
In addition to placing bets, having a drink and eating good food is arguably the best way to make the Cheltenham Festival week more enjoyable.
Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day
The Cheltenham Festival week usually coincides with St. Patrick’s Day, the cultural and religious celebration of the foremost patron saint of Ireland. This sees racegoers celebrate in style with Irish-themed fashion and accessories plus copious amounts of Guinness and other food and drink.
If you are watching at home, you can join in the fun in spirit by sporting a green hat and placing bets on some of the finest Irish jockeys and horses that will feature during the day. In 2021, St. Patrick’s Thursday (Day Three) will be headlined by the Ryanair Steeple Chase, a feature race with £350,000 in prize money.
Feel the “roar”
The Cheltenham Festival is noted for its incredible atmosphere during race week, and there is no better way to experience this than being at the front or mixed in among the large crowds when the starter raises the tape to get the festival underway.
Legendary jockey Ruby Walsh believes that the atmosphere is unmatched. He once said: “The Cheltenham roar is like nothing else in National Hunt racing. It’s that bit louder. That bit more boisterous.”
The sense of anticipation for the roar is always prevalent before the Supreme Novices Hurdle on Tuesday, which officially kicks off the festival early in the afternoon. Being present for this moment will make the week more memorable, so make sure that you arrive early to hear the crowd noise in all its glory.
Get dressed up
Day Two of the Cheltenham Festival is when racegoers put on their favourite tweed jackets and don their best attire for Ladies Day. This action-packed race day, which includes the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase, is the perfect occasion to get dressed up and add a touch of class to your on-site adventures.
While there is no official dress code, smart is more preferable than casual on Tuesdays, and the festival recommends preparing suitably for the weather as mid-March can either be unseasonably warm or cold and wet, depending on the week. Colourful hats and splashes of colour are also encouraged.
Watch daily entertainment
The Cheltenham Festival has also started hosting performances on its main ‘Park’ stage during the day after the races, so you can watch folk bands, buskers and live DJ sets to make the experience that bit more memorable.
There is also a Ferris wheel and carousel for traditional entertainment, with the former providing excellent views across the race park. One of the best ways to enjoy a day at the races is to just sit back, relax and take in the atmosphere.
While anticipation for the culmination of the National Hunt season, which concludes with the iconic Gold Cup Day on Friday, is the main reason why horse racing fans come from far and wide to the Cheltenham Festival every year, there are a number of things that you can see and do while in this beautiful location in Gloucestershire to make the four days of festivities that much more enjoyable.