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Top 10: Reasons why the Cheltenham Festival is the greatest race meeting in the calendar

Just why does everyone swarm to Gloucestershire in the middle of March every year?



Horses running at Cheltenham Racecourse in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, England
Attended the Cheltenham Festival? Then you’ll be able to relate.

Never attended the Cheltenham Festival? Here’s why you really need to.

1. We all know where the party is at…

With an average attendance of 66,713 across the Festival, Cheltenham’s showpiece is the highest attended racing festival per day in the country. This compares to 58,543 for Royal Ascot and 46,512 for the Grand National Festival. Surely, that’s thanks to the Guinness Village?

2. The Craic

An estimated 20,000 Irish grace Gloucestershire across the four-day spectacle in March. There are an additional 30 flights required on the Dublin to Birmingham route during Festival week to ensure that the race-mad Paddy’s join their British counterparts at the Home of Jumps Racing.

3. Familiar faces

There’s no age restrictions here. You don’t have one experience in a Gold Cup or a Champion Hurdle, like you do a Derby or St Leger…That enables horses to return to Prestbury Park year-in, year-out to defend their respective crowns. Al Boum Photo wouldn’t be able to win two Cheltenham Gold Cup’s in a row if he was a three-year-old on the flat…

4. Helping pay the bills

With the University of Gloucestershire on the racecourse doorstep, there are many great employment opportunities during the week. Around 500 students from 14 local colleges work at the Festival across its quartet of days!

5. Eat your heart out, Lord Of The Rings…

The backdrop of the course is the most beautiful sight in all of English sport, encapsulating one of the finest theatres in the country with its magnificent presence. York or Goodwood can’t boast about Cleeve Hill, can they?

6. The GOAT

Cheltenham Racecourse was voted the greatest racecourse by the Racing Post in 2019. Need we say more?

7. This is the pinnacle

50% of the 28 contests at the Cheltenham Festival are Grade One’s. At the Festival, the best really do take on the best.

8. One of a kind

The Cross-Country Steeple Chase Course at Cheltenham is the only of its type in the UK. Only found elsewhere in Pau and Punchestown, it is not duplicated by any other course in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, and features the Glenfarclas Cross County Chase on day two of the Festival.

9. Holiday to Dubai over the Fes? Nah, you’re alright…

Do you know any other time of the year when people actively book time off work to watch a horse racing event from the comforts of their living room? Me neither.

10. The Thrills and Spills

The unpredictability of the Festival is what makes it so intriguing. Is a horse off a winnable handicap mark? Will an unknown sort manage to get ‘up the hill’? How big a part will course-and-distance form play? With its many questions and inevitable answers, there is nothing quite like the Cheltenham Festival.

Dominic Chapman is senior content writer at Low6 with a passion for horse racing. He provides a NAP and NB every day throughout the week on selected National Hunt and Flat cards in both Britain and Ireland. Additionally, he hosts the Paddock Picks Podcast with former Welsh Grand National-winning pilot, Charlie Poste - the pair interviewing and discussing current racing topics with a special guest every week.