A Cheltenham Festival Raceday
It’s the highlight of many jumps racing fan’s season, but what does a day at the Cheltenham Festival entail and what should you expect?
How to get there
By train: Cheltenham itself is well connected for racegoers from all over the country to attend. Direct trains from London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Nottingham, among others, run into Cheltenham Spa railway station.
From the train station, shuttle buses are laid on to take racing fans out to Prestbury Park and back again when all the battles have been fought. Alternatively, many racing fans opt for the two mile walk through Cheltenham town centre, perhaps stopping for drinks or something to eat and to soak up the atmosphere ahead of racing.
By road: Like the rail connections, the road connections into Cheltenham are good as well. Not too far from the M5 motorway, access to the town and course specifically is easy.
Just bear in mind that if you are intending to drive to the Cheltenham Festival, traffic in town will be particularly bad, and it’s likely to be an ordeal exiting one of the four car parks on course after the last race.
Cheltenham Festival Tickets
Tickets for the next Cheltenham Festival go on sale as soon as the preceding one has finished. Although only some enclosure will sell out, buying early often means cheaper Cheltenham Festival tickets.
Prices rise at gradual increments in the months leading up to the event leave tickets on the day costing anything between £50 and £100.
When choosing your tickets you can decide between the following enclosures:
Best Mate – Though you don’t have access to the Parade Ring or views of the preliminaries, the Best Mate Enclosure provides a decent view of proceedings from opposite the main grandstand. What’s more, on the Thursday and Friday, the New Course is closer to the Best Mate Enclosure than to the Tattersalls or Club Enclosures.
Tattersalls – Marketed as the perfect middle ground between the Best Mate and Club Enclosures, Tattersalls gives you a great view of the racing up the famous Cheltenham hill. Access is afforded to much of the grandstand, the parade and pre-parade ring as well as facilities such as the Guinness Village.
Club – The best ticket in the house without splashing the cash on hospitality, the Club Enclosure gets racing fans as close to the finishing post as possible. Access to all the areas available to Tattersalls ticket holders, as well as the prime position in the main grandstand, is included.
What to wear
There are similarities and differences between the dress code at Cheltenham and its flat equivalent of Royal Ascot.
Racegoers at both meetings undoubtedly want to make an effort and to look their best. But the way they go about that varies between the two codes of racing.
Whereas top hats and fascinators might be Royal Ascot’s game, the undoubted fashion winner at the Cheltenham Festival is tweed.
The tweed is adorned by bother male and female racegoers in abundance although it is not a necessity.
Many will dress to impress and go for a smarter look than they would for other meetings throughout the year, others will opt for something more on the comfortable scale.
The one fashion rule that is a must is to dress for the weather. Though we might have started to bid farewell to the winter, with a stern wind blowing off Cleeve Hill, it can get chilly in the Cheltenham grandstands.
No strict rules (other than no football shirts) means that what you should wear to the Cheltenham Festival is entirely up to you. But like your bets, just make sure you take into account all the variables.
Around the course
As well as top quality racing there is a plethora of sights, sounds, food and drink to indulge in during Cheltenham Festival week.
You can find Tote stands around the course to make sure you’ve got a runner in every race to cheer home, or to put on that all-important Placepot before the first race.
The Guinness Village has become a mainstay of the Cheltenham Festival in recent years. Located behind the Princess Royal Stand, the area is where tens of thousands of pints of the black stuff are enjoyed by racegoers every year.
Aside from the beverages on offer, the Guinness Village is where racegoers can enjoy live music in between races or soak up the atmosphere and watch the on-course action on the in-Village big screen.
Retail therapy isn’t omitted from the Cheltenham Festival either. The Shopping Village is where Festival-goers can browse some of the top raceday attire, accessories and racing artwork.
Our best advice is try and sample as much of the Festival and all that it offers as possible during your day at Prestbury Park.
But most of all, enjoy your day at the Cheltenham Festival. It really is a racing experience like no other.