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My experience at the Cheltenham Festival

Photo by: Thomas Lyster

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most famous Racing festivals in the Horse Racing and arguably the biggest in Britain and Ireland. A capacity of 70,000 attended the festival each day a figure comparable to attendance at a big Rugby and Football match. Cheltenham is a National Hunt festival meaning that it is jump racing which is where horses jump over fences and hurdles as obstacles. It is a winter sport that runs from October until April. Flat Racing is its summer counterpart where horses don’t negotiate obstacles.

I was at two days of the Cheltenham Festival and there was a capacity crowd of 70,000 there both days. I arrived at the track at 10:45 both days and even at that time it was very busy and there was lots of atmosphere. It was always noisy and very busy with people and it was a memorable week for the Irish horses and Rachel Blackmore who both the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup the two biggest races of the meeting. The last jockey to achieve this was AP McCoy back in 1997.

The heavy rain played havoc on the Wednesday with horses withdrawn due to ground concerns. It was getting very difficult to keep dry by the early afternoon as everywhere inside was packed and I had to get my race card replaced because it disintegrated due to the inclement weather. I got replaced for free which I most pleasantly surprised about.

To explain the video above it was not shot in the best quality but with the bad weather it was understandable. What makes up for it was that I was very close to the action and had a very good view of the track and you can hear me passionately shout “go on the Shunter” in the video. The Shunter was the name of a horse who I backed but unfortunately it did not win. It was some buzz to be amongst the crowds and watching the horses gallop up the Cheltenham hill. The noise was very loud. People my have been soaked but it certainly did not dampen the spirits.

Photo by: Thomas Lyster

Everyone has said that you can’t beat the Cheltenham festival for drama and excitement and having experienced it for the first time they are right there is nothing like it. I hope to be back next year.

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