Once a year, people from here, there and everywhere, descend upon Cheltenham for race week: Four days of horseracing, studying the form, betting, winning, losing, cheering, eating, drinking and partying.
Being based in Cheltenham, The Festival is talked about a lot in our house, so I thought I’d share some of my tips for a great (and hopefully lucky) day at the races.
First of all, when it comes to attire, Cheltenham is all about comfort, warmth and practicalities. It’s March, and no matter how mild the weather, you’re going to get cold being outside all day, so opt for heavier fabrics such as tweed, corduroy and fleece, and don’t be afraid to layer up. Think country wear rather than formal. You can pull out the trilby or flat cap to keep your head warm and make sure you’ve got comfortable shoes on; where horseracing is concerned, there’s always quite a bit of walking to do. Of course, comfort doesn’t mean you can’t dress it up a little bit. A neck tie or one of my leather bowties would fit right in at the races.
On the morning, make sure you fill up on a good brekky. Either cook something up at home or book a table at one of the many eateries in and around Cheltenham. There’s plenty of choice, so you won’t go hungry.
Get up to the course in plenty of time so you can check out the form, put your bets on and get a drink before the first race. With such big crowds, everything can take a while at the racecourse, even just getting from one place to another, so leave more time than you think you might need.
Be sure to visit the Guinness Village, the Golden Miller Champagne Bar, put a bet on with the bookies and visit the parade ring before a couple of the races. But most of all, don’t get so swept up in the atmosphere that you forget to watch some of the races from the grandstand; it’s all too easy to get a drink in your hand and just watch it on the television in a warm bar. Whatever you do and wherever you go, enjoy!
As the racing comes to a finish and the crowds flock into town, stay behind for just a little while and join in with the singing and dancing at The Centaur. That way, you extend your day of racing, get into the party atmosphere and you don’t get swept up in the huge throng of people.
If you are heading into town for a few drinks, don’t forget to stop somewhere for a bite to eat. Cheltenham has a number of brilliant restaurants, bars and takeaways, so either book somewhere in advance or just grab something on the hoof (see what I did there?).
Have a great night and keep safe.