The Cheltenham ‘weekender’

It’s always great if you can think of a different way to spend a weekend away with your mates and have a focus beyond just all getting together at the same time in the same place. A racing festival is a perfect choice as you have the spectacle of watching the horse racing, great entertainment and catering facilities and the added dimension of being able to have a few bets on the races as well. You never know, if luck is on your side, you could end up in pocket even after a few big nights out.

One of the biggest racing festivals in the UK is the Cheltenham Festival which takes place every March and it’s a great one to get booked in early, so that you’ve got it to look forward to after Christmas and New Year are over and you’ve got nothing but the tail end of the winter stretching out before you. It’s not always proper spring time by the time Cheltenham comes around, but it can be great weather for the Festival week. Also as Cheltenham is a mid-week festival, if you get everyone organised now, they’ll be able to book the time off work.

Cheltenham is a four day festival and the biggest event in the National Hunt calendar with a feature Champion’s race on each day. On Tuesday, there’s the Champion Hurdle; on Wednesday, the Queen Mother Champion Chase; on Thursday, the World Hurdle and on Friday, the Gold Cup. The Gold Cup is the race that everyone has heard of, even if they don’t follow racing, and you can already get Cheltenham Festival Bets for 2015 at sites like Betfair.

The current favourite for the Gold Cup is Bobsworth, priced at around 10/1 on most bookmaking sites. You might want to study the form of the favourites and get an early punt on now, and then just see what happens to the odds as the race day draws closer. Your horse may be withdrawn before the race; you can never be certain when placing a bet so far in advance, but the chances are that it won’t and that the odds will shorten considerably over the coming weeks. Last year’s Gold Cup winner, Lord Windermere, is up among the favourites, currently priced at around 16/1.

Of course, it’s not just the horses you can bet on. The jockey who wins the highest number of races during the four day Festival is named top Festival jockey and Ruby Walsh has won eight times at Cheltenham since 2004. But AP McCoy, 19 times Champion Jockey, hasn’t been Festival jockey at Cheltenham since 1998. Check out the odds and see which jockey you might be backing for this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Although the Grand National is the biggest UK National Hunt prize, the four Cheltenham feature races are the next in line in terms of prize amounts. This makes Cheltenham as a racing festival the most prestigious jump racing fixture in the National Hunt Calendar. It’s always a great event and during each Festival more than 220,000 pints of Guinness and 20,000 bottles of Champagne are consumed, so you can guarantee that there are going to be a lot of happy people at the race course, regardless of where their horses come in.

Cheltenham’s a good town to get to from anywhere in the country, and there are plenty of places to stay. The race course is within comfortable walking distance of the city centre, so you don’t have to worry about transport there and back. Just double check the location of the hotel you book in relation to the course.
Give Cheltenham 2015 a try; you might start a new trend among you and your friends for ‘weekenders’ with a difference.