Cheltenham is a town sitting on The River Chelt on the edge of the Cotswolds, itself an area of natural beauty. The population of the town and borough is approaching 120k. Following the discovery of mineral springs in 1716, Cheltenham became a Spa town and remains such today.
Cheltenham is noted primarily for Horse Racing, particularly the Cheltenham Festival every March and also as being the site of GCHQ, the headquarters of British Government Communications.
There are also a number of well known schools in the area and Cheltenham also hosts a number of cultural festivals each year.
If visiting Cheltenham for any length of time, there are a number of interesting things to do:
There is plenty of watering holes, eateries and places to rest your head in town. But you should be aware that for the Cheltenham Festival, accommodation books up quickly and is very expensive in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire generally.
Cheltenham Racecourse stages only National Hunt Racing on turf.
Cheltenham is a left-handed, galloping and undulating track. The fences are stiff and demand accurate and sound jumping. The final four furlongs are uphill but the lead does not change hands as frequently as one might expect. Horses racing prominently tend to fare well on the chase course. On the New Course, the hurdles course has only two flights in the final six furlongs thereby putting a stronger emphasis on stamina. The old course has a circuit of a mile and a half. The new course is half a furlong longer.
Clerk of the course: Simon Claisse
Course telephone number: 01242 513014
Full address: The Racecourse, Prestbury Park, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 4SH.
Cheltenham is 110 miles from Central London, 51 miles from Birmingham, 69 miles from Cardiff, 130 miles from Manchester and 336 miles from Edinburgh.
The course itself is in Prestbury which is about a mile and a half north of the town on A 435. The nearest motorway junctions are M5 Junctions 10 and 11.
The course post code is GL50 4SH.
Course parking is free.
The best railway station is Cheltenham Spa from which a fee-paying (£5.50 return) shuttle bus operates.
A word to the wise though. On the Tuesday, we travelled out from Birmingham by train from New Street and even as early as 09:00, there was a queuing system in operation. It’s well organised though if you are aiming for a specific train, then I would advise getting there a good hour before the scheduled depart time. In general, I would say earliest is best regardless of where you are coming from.
Personally, I was very happy with the Pizza van which operated near the parade ring.
For those interested, there is a shopping area located further down the course from the Parade Ring and didn’t actually look too bad if that’s your thing.
I’m not sure how much of all this operates at non-festival meetings but will make a point of going pretty soon.
I attended on both Tuesday and Thursday and thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere at both. I enjoyed seeing both Bryony Frost and Rachel Blackmore striking for the ladies in Grade One races with Lizzie Kelly also chipping in. The future for lady jockeys looks promising, it really does.
There were very impressive performance from many horses but I am going to highlight Klassical Dream (Supreme Novices Hurdle) and Envoi Allen (Festival Bumper) as two I think will have huge futures. Everyone else will have their own opinions too of course as there were many excellent performances over the four days.
I had far too many bets to go into any detail here but can report I made a profit on the first three days and a small loss on the fourth. I had eight winners and a few places in total.
What I would say is that given the prices available on most races at the Festival and more particularly the availability of ‘extra’ places on many races, it is quite realistic to back more than one horse in many races. If your bookmaker isn’t offering extra places on any race, then have a look at Betfair Exchange who were offering prices for up to six places on many races.