For horseracing fans, the one event on the UK calendar that holds the most significance is definitely the Cheltenham Festival. The 4 day event that will be held from the 15th to 18th of March this year is the highlight of the Jump Racing season and will once again see the best horses converge on the Cotswolds to race for prestige as much as prizes.
If you’re thinking about attending the festival yourself – be prepared. Although you don’t need to model yourself in the image of the quintessential country gentleman that is so firmly rooted in the Cheltenham tradition, there are several rules that you need to follow to act the part, fit in, and have a great time at the festival.
Arrive early and with time to spare
Assuming you want to get there in time for the first race on the first day (the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – always full of surprises), be sure to arrive early and with plenty of time to spare. By being one of the early birds you won’t need to deal with the crowds that will build up over the course of the day, and you can take a casual stroll over to the course rather than having to rely on the bus from the train station that takes forever even at the best of times.
Dress for the occasion – but comfortably
As mentioned previously, you don’t need to look the part of the country gentleman bedecked in tweed, a brogue and a silk tie – but you should dress the part. Officially there is no dress code, but you should make an attempt to be presentable and while at the same time opting for something comfortable. Considering the event spans most of the day and the weather can be unpredictable a sturdy 3 piece suit and a pair of comfortable shoes might be a good idea.
Have a hearty breakfast
One of the mistakes first-timers often make when attending the festival is they’re in such a rush to get there that they skip breakfast. Considering it is a long day that often ends up taking its toll – and while there is food available at the festival it can be a bit expensive and may not be to your liking. By having a hearty breakfast, you’ll be well-fueled and ready to enjoy everything the festival has to offer.
Pace your pints and wagers
While both betting and drinking are vital parts of the Cheltenham tradition – you should be sure to pace yourself when it comes to both. Try to limit the number of pre-festival drinks that you indulge in, as you don’t want to end up getting pissed and thrown out of the venue. On top of that it could also affect your judgment when you place wagers, and that could be damaging in its own way – especially considering you’ll want to stretch your bankroll to last the entirety of the 4 day event.
The rest should be fairly self-evident – and above all else: Have an absolute blast. Attending the Cheltenham festival and experiencing is storied traditions, electrifying atmosphere and close-fought races is definitely going to get the blood racing in any horseracing fan.
At some point or other you should definitely stand up front by the rails for at least one race. As the thunder of hoofs approach and the exhilaration builds, you’ll experience the true sublime beauty wonder of the festival, and be swept up by the roar of the crowd as they cheer the horses they’re backing all the way to the finish.