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The Cheltenham Festival (14th – 17th March) will soon be upon us. Four days of the most breath-taking racing action, featuring the best national hunt horses and jockeys from the UK and Ireland. It is righty celebrated as one of the highlights of the sporting calendar.
But, what are the numbers and vital statistics that have helped make this festival what it is today?
Thousands of racegoers to provide big boost to local economy
Cheltenham Racecourse will welcome around 62,000 racegoers each day of the Festival. It is estimated that the event provides around £100,000,000 to the Gloucestershire economy. Those lucky enough to get tickets are expected to knock back over 250,000 pints of Guinness, highlighting the Irish links to the event. In fact, Ryanair will put on 30 extra flights to meet demand from the Irish wishing to attend the races. Those who are not too fond of the Black Stuff need not worry – around 20,000 bottles of champagne are normally downed too. Drinking on an empty stomach is always a bad move, luckily the Racecourse will have over 350 chefs and over 3,000 catering staff on site to feed the happy revellers.
Over a century of brilliant horse racing
The Festival originated in 1860 and has been held at the current location since 1911. From humble beginnings with the National Hunt Chase, there are now 28 races held across the four days. 13 of the races are Grade 1, meaning they only feature the very best jumps horses. The marquee race, the Cheltenham Gold Cup, has a prize fund of just under £600,000. One horse, Golden Miller, managed to win it an incredible five times. Just for good measure, he added the 1934 Grand National to his resume too. Not to be outdone, Quevega managed to win the Mares’ Hurdle a stunning six times in a row (2009-2014).
Ruby Walsh is the most successful jockey at the Cheltenham Festival, having ridden 39 winners down the years. Nicky Henderson is the most successful trainer with 55 winners. They are both predicted to add to those totals at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Fancy making millions in an accumulator?
If you think that you know your horses, trainers and riders, you could perhaps try to predict all seven race winners in a single bet. In 2016, a £1 accumulator on the day’s winners would have returned £563,062.50 on Champion Hurdle Day and £1,516,320.00 on Ladies’ Day. On St Patrick’s Thursday 2016, a day that saw plenty of favourites winning, the accumulator would have returned a ‘paltry’ £48,450.00. A Gold Cup Day prophet would have bagged themselves a whopping £2,204,389.69. You can check out Cheltenham past results to see last year’s winners and more at William Hill now.
Speaking of bookmakers, back in 2015 they had an incredible stroke of fortune on Champion Hurdle Day. A fall by Annie Power in the Mares’ Hurdle ended hopes of a four-timer that was expected to cost UK bookies £100,000,000.
What will 2017 bring?
Year after year, the Cheltenham Festival always seems to outdo itself in something that cannot be quantified – pure drama. 2017 will surely be no different. 28 magnificent races, featuring the best talent that Ireland and the UK can offer. The fences, the falls, the wins, the losses, the betting, the champers, the tears; it is going to be a vintage year.