Despite the likes of the Grand National and Royal Ascot often gaining the headlines, it’s the Cheltenham Festival that truly heralds the start of the horse racing year.
The festival takes place from 15 to 18 March and offers a great way for any racing newbies to get acquainted with the iconic sport without the mayhem of the Grand National and without the snobbery of Royal Ascot.
From websites that feature the latest racing odds on the Cheltenham Festival betting, to a range of luxurious hotels that surround the racecourse, the festival offers four days of racing fun that make it relatively simple for anyone to experience the thrill of the race, whilst checking out the pretty sights of the nearby spa town.
Despite there being less than two months to the main event, tickets are already selling out fast. However, the Cheltenham Festival website still has a range of ticket options that vary from the cheap and cheerful Best Mate Enclosure at £35, to the luxurious Guinness View package at a slightly more extravagant £190.
In terms of the horse racing, each of the four days holds numerous top-class races from the highly-anticipated Gold Cup, to the amateur Foxhunter Chase that this year is expected to feature Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton.
But, what’s a horse race without some betting? Thankfully, Coral has a comprehensive guide to all of the races, so that you can check the odds and even try a lucky dip – just remember that Coneygree won last year’s Gold Cup despite being the first novice to do so!
However, the events off the track at the Cheltenham Festival often prove to be just as entertaining as the main races. This is especially so on St Patrick’s Thursday that sees the racecourse overrun by thousands of Irish horse-racing enthusiasts eager to celebrate their betting wins with an extra pint of Guinness.
And the celebrated Ladies Day on 16 March encourages all to wear their finest and often attracts a wide range of celebrities ranging from royalty to reality TV stars – just don’t forget to pack your fascinator!
But of course, you’ll need to time to relax after a hard day at the races which is why the Strozzi Palace boutique hotel in the heart of Cheltenham can provide a suitably glamorous way to unwind with a bottle of bubbly and your race-day winnings!