Cheltenham Festival the best week’s horseracing

This is a self indulgent piece of writing about what I have always reckoned is the best horseracing week of the year anywhere in the world. It doesn’t take place at Flemington, Riccarton, Ascot or Aintree, but in a magnificent amphitheatre just below the Cotswold Hills on the edge of Cheltenham inEngland.Cheltenhamhas the finest steeplechase course in the world, bar none.

 

The Cheltenham Festival, featuring the Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle over four days of top class jumps racing, always takes place in the middle of March when 60,000 racing fans, half of them Irish, crowd into this corner of the Cotswolds. It’s no coincidence it is scheduled to happen on or around St Patrick’s Day, because the Irish regard this as their second home and traditionally produce many of the week’s winners.

 

The streets ofCheltenham, normally quite genteel, throng with racing fans who are determined to make this the biggest party of the year. Hotels and pubs for miles around are booked out from one year to the next and Guinness consumption rises astronomically. But it’s the racing everybody comes to see. The Queen Mother used to be a regular visitor and owned many good jumpers that raced at the Festival.

 

This year the Irish horses had a thin time, although Synchronised, the winner of the Gold Cup, was owned by JP McManus, trained by Jonjo O’Neill near Cheltenhamand ridden by AP McCoy, all of them Irish. The favourite, previous winner Long Run, finished third and another previous winner and sentimental favourite Kauto Star was pulled up and has since been retired from racing. On a personal note my mother who lives in Cheltenham put a pound each way on The Giant Bolster which came in second at 50/1, so her knack of picking place getters at long odds is still intact a week after her 93rd birthday!

 

I haven’t been to the Cheltenham Festival for over 40 years, but I went to a day’s racing there about 10 years ago on a winter’s day when the fog lifted just in time for the start. It still retained its magic for me and I am completely biased against any claims that there is better racing anywhere else in the world.

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2 Responses to “Cheltenham Festival the best week’s horseracing”

  1. Nootropic Says:

    I appreciate your wonderful article. excellent work. I hope you release more. I will continue subscribing

    • Allan Barber Says:

      Thanks for your comment – I used to be the horse racing correspondent for my unversity newspaper in England!

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