6 Typical Cheltenham Festival Goers
Hundreds of thousands of people will descend on Gloucestershire in March for what is considered the biggest event in the horse racing calendar. The Cheltenham Festival attracts all sorts of different people from every walk of life but there are specific groups that will certainly be in attendence. So whether you're a Cheltenham veteran who may be familiar with a few of these or a novice who wants to know what to expect, FREEbets.org.uk looks at six different types of people who are sure to be seen at the festival.
The Horsey Types
For all the pints consumed and bets placed, it's actually worth remembering that there is some very serious horse racing action taking place. Therefore Cheltenham is always going to attract the big-wigs from the racing world and also those just interested in all-things equine related. The horsey types will more likely than not know at least one person that is either a trainer or owner and will be taking the whole week very seriously indeed. They are experienced hands of the festival and will be hanging around the paddocks prior to the races to marvel at the beauty of the horses more than anything else.
They are a very recognisable group for the attire, which can almost resemeble a uniform at times. Tweed features prominently, be it long jackets or flat caps and it is often teamed with a pair of brightly coloured corduroy trousers. Throw in a Barbour jacket and a pair of Hunter wellies for good measure and you've got pretty much the stereotypical outfit. Good rugged, country style clothing which adheres to the elements. You won't see any of the Horsey Types getting caught out by wearing uncomfortable heels that's for sure!
Being in the know and self interests ensures that they will also be dabbling in betting on the day. Insider knowledge means they can often end the festival quids in but to them Cheltenham is the very pinnacle of their sport.
First time visitors to Cheltenham will be absolutely astounded by the number of Irish accents they will hear over the course of the festival. At times it's hard to believe you are in Gloucestershire and not County Cork given just how many men and women flock across the Irish sea for the week in March. It's estimated that racing fans from Ireland spent around 22 million euros at the 2016 festival and accounted for 30% of the total ticket sales.
The Irish influence is massive with a number of the big-name trainers hailing from the Emerald Isle and in 2016, 15 of the 28 races were won by Irish-trained horses. With the festival often taking place around St. Patricks day, the Irish festival goers are often in the party mood and that may go some way to explaining the astonishing amount of Guinness drank over the four days. In 2015 around 265,000 pints of the black stuff were consumed and eight bars at the course for the duration of the festival are Guinness-only. Ryanair put an 30 extra flights on their Dublin-Birmingham route to cater for the Irish market
Be it leprechaun-clad groups who have had one too many Guinness's or some VERY serious racing fans, you can be guaranteed you'll come across an Irish contingent over the course of the week.
The First Timers
The Novices. The Newbies. The Cheltenham Virgins. For a first timer, Cheltenham can be a daunting experience given the sheer volume of people, especially if you've never been to a major horse racing meet before. Those that are not well-adversed to the festival can often be quite easily spotted with some tale-tale signs. When it's their turn at the front of the bookmaker queue, the stage fright kicks in and they panic. Their delay in picking their selection will be greeted with all sorts of moans and groans from seasoned punters behind, so make sure this is not you!
Of course the sheer amount of booze on offer at the festival can also catch the newbies out. Some will have started their day with a few cans on the 9:18 from Birmingham New Street and well oiled by the time of the day's first race. Being unaware that the whole day is a marathon not a sprint, they will be the ones that have peaked too early and by the time the racing hits the late afternoon, they will be collapsed in a heap. With the alcohol came bad judgement as they desperately staked more than they should've in the pursuit of winning back the money they lost earlier in the day.
Not all of the first timers suffer from nerves or get overly drunk however. The festival is a truly incredible experience and so long as you bet and drink responsibly, first timers will be in for a fantastic time!
The Glamorous Girls
Whilst not quite on the scale of Royal Ascot, there is still an abundance of very well turned out women in attendance. The prestige of the festival ensures a certain level of glitz and glamour is prominent and that is clearly apparent on Ladies Day. The racing that day is put slightly on the back foot as an obsession over fashion and what people are wearing takes over.
Flamboyant hats, dazzling dresses and huge heels feature extensively in the style wars and the paps will be out in full force to capture to stylish outfits on show. Whilst some tabloid papers will try to demonise the small minority that over-indulge, the vast majority are simply there to get all dressed up and enjoy themselves. The competition is not limited to the on track action however with actual prizes on offer for the best dressed attendees.
The #ColourMeMarch Awards pits the Irish Ladies against the British Ladies with a prize pot worth over £10,000, making it another lucrative feature of the festival!
The Serious Punters
For these guys the Cheltenham Festival is like Christmas. Four days of top class National Hunt race action and with betting opportunities coming out of their ears, it's the highlight of a punter's year. They will arrive at Prestbury Park to enjoy themselves with a few drinks but primarily, they will be there to do battle with the bookies. These are proper horse-racing afficionados who will be armed with an abundance of stats and trends that they are convinced will guide them to a profitable festival.
The event is planned with military-style efficiency as they hunt down the very best odds and can reel off exactly what they want to put their money on with consummate ease. These are the guys that will you seriously cheese off if you hesitate for even a second at the front of the bookmaker queue. For them, there is nothing worse than somebody dithering when the serious matter of betting is at stake. It's easy for them as they have already done their homework, they know precisely who they are going to back and how much they're putting having extensively trawled the Racing Post in the 12 months since the last festival.
If you want to be in the know before the festival, then make sure you have a look at our detailed pages dedicated to all things Cheltenham related.
The Famous Faces
It's not only the general public that flock to the festival in their droves. Cheltenham is such a high profile spectacle that it also attracts a number of famous faces every year so as you make your way around the enclosure, you are bound to spot a familiar face or two. The Queen's granddaughter Zara Phillips is a regular alongside her mother Princess Anne and is well renowned for her love of horses given her equestrian background.
As well as actual royalty, there have been a number of visitors over the years who can be considered sporting royalty. Legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is very fond of racing and has been snapped in attendance over the years as have the likes of Harry and Jamie Redknapp, Diane Lewis and John Parrott. The world of TV and entertainment is also heavily represented with everyone from Jeremy Kyle to Dermot O'Leary and Ant & Dec being snapped at the course.
So if you are indeed heading off to Cheltenham this year, keep your eyes peeled as you may just be able to spot yourself a star!