As the year quickly speeds ahead, so too does the countdown to one of the most exciting festivals in the horse racing calendar.
The Festival 10th – 13th March 2015.
A fine selection of the best horses, jockeys and trainers offer spectators a fantastic variety of excitement, skill and socialising. Whilst festivals may appear to be a more modern day occurrence, horse racing at Cheltenham has an extremely rich and varied history.
The first organised Flat race meeting in Cheltenham took place in 1815 on Nottingham Hill, with the first races on Cleeve Hill in August 1818. Racing’s popularity soared over the next decade with crowds of 30,000 visiting the racecourse for its annual two day July meeting featuring the Gold Cup, a 3m flat race.
The racecourse has a scenic location in a natural amphitheatre just below the escarpment of the Cotswold Hills, at Cleeve Hill, with a capacity of 67,500 spectators.
The racecourse also has its own steam railway station, although this no longer connects to the national rail network but is rather the southern terminus of the preserved Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway.
Races can be viewed from several enclosures. The Best Mate Enclosure gives racegoers a great view of the racing, a Harry Ramsden restaurant, betting shop and bars.
Tattersalls enclosure and Club are, on every day except The Open Saturday and The Festival, combined to form one enclosure. This allows viewers to use all the areas including the members’ lawn, viewing steps, paddock and, subject to weather, the centre of the course by the jumps.
When Cheltenham Racecourse is not hosting horse racing, it serves as a venue for music festivals, such as Wychwood Music Festival, or Greenbelt Festival, and its top of the range auditorium, The Centaur, is used for concerts, exhibitions, fairs and shows.
Also Cheltenham have unveiled plans for a new £45million refit. Construction should start after the Festival this March with the project set to be completed two months ahead of the 2016 Festival.
The 1,500 spectators now housed in the New Stand, who will be offered their own dedicated facility in the new build, will be found temporary facilities during construction but racing will not be interrupted.Then they will accommodate approximately 6,500 people (5,000 more than the New Stand) and that will make a difference, particularly on Gold Cup day which puts huge pressure on facilities.