Your guide to Cheltenham Festival… everything you need to know 🐎

If I’m brutally honest, I totally fell out of love with this blog…

Why has this blog been launched so late?

So I asked you on my Instagram page whether I should launch this blog at all, or leave the preview for this year. The majority of votes said I should publish a blog explaining why I didn’t want to go ahead, as opposed to publishing this blog itself.

This blog almost hasn’t gone live at all, but a last minute decision changed my mind. As you will all probably already be aware, I am a member of Cheltenham Racecourse and unfortunately I had an issue with my membership badge, so I called on their customer services team for help. Sadly, I was met by the most rude and sarcastic man imaginable, where everything was too much hassle and he couldn’t have cared less. I wonder why these people work in customer facing roles if they hate the customer so much? For me, as a premium venue, I was disgusted to be treated and spoken to in such an appalling manor.

I work full time. My blog is my hobby, my passion, and it is meant to be my fun, my little piece of pride and joy. But blogging, and blogging well, is really hard work, it takes up hours and hours of my time, and I refuse to spend my time on a hobby that makes me unhappy. This blog, following such a disgusting encounter with Cheltenham Racecourse, made me utterly miserable. I was SO angry with my experience, I just wanted to delete this blog all together. Despite almost not going ahead, here is the Cheltenham Preview, sadly with a heavy heart and little less life and soul than normal, but that is to be expected I think!

What is Cheltenham Festival and what can I expect?

Cheltenham Festival is one of the greatest meets in the National Hunt racing calendar, held at Cheltenham Racecourse in beautiful Gloucestershire. Running from Tuesday 10th to Friday 13th March, crowds of hundreds of thousands will visit the event. Considered one of the pinnacle events in horse racing, Cheltenham boasts a total of 28 races during the four days. The Cheltenham Gold Cup first ran in 1819, but there were no jumps involved. The first Gold Cup with jumps was introduced in 1924.

Travelling to Cheltenham is quite simple. The Cheltenham Spa Railway Station is located nearby, and a bus service runs between the station and the racecourse. This bus service also picks up in the town centre. There is also parking available in advance and on the day at the course, do be careful though as you will be stung up to about £25 for parking for the day.

You can still buy tickets to the event. Best Mate enclosure tickets start at £42, Tattersalls from £56 and Club Enclosure from £90.

‘The Park’ is new for 2020, based in the Club and Tattersalls enclosure, and is free to members, or from £15 for non members. This includes a Live Music, food, bars, a Ferris wheel and Carousel and DJ sets.

If you are not able to attend this year, all of the main races will be shown on ITV1. Racing TV will broadcast all races. The Opening Show will air on ITV4 daily for the duration of the festival, running 9.30am to 10.30am.

Tuesday 10th March – Champions Day

In the parade ring, ahead of the racing, there will be a parade of the Retraining of Racehorses, including Annacotty, Cue Card and Monbeg Dude. The highlight of the day is the Unibet Champion Hurdle at 3.30pm, where favourites include Epatante, Honeysuckle and Penlands Hill, who will be my bet for the race.

Race Schedule:

1.30pm – Sky Bet Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

2.10pm – Racing Post Arkle Novices’ Chase

2.50pm – Ultima Handicap Chase

3.30pm – Unibet Champion Hurdle

4.10pm – Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle

4.50pm – Northern Trust Company Novices’ Handicap Chase

5.30pm – National Hunt Chase (Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase)

Wednesday 11th March – Ladies Day

Ladies day always brings colour and elegance to the course by the way of some fabulous outfits. The highlight of the day will arguably be the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase. Here Altior and Defi Du Seuil look to come face to face!

Race Schedule:

1.30pm – Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle

2.10pm – RSA Insurance Novices’ Chase

2.50pm – Coral Cup Handicap Hurdle

3.30pm – Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase

4.10pm – Glenfarclas Cross Country Chase

4.50pm – Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle

5.30pm – Weatherbys Champion Bumper

Thursday 12th March – St Patrick’s Thursday

Definitely the party feel day, Thursday of Cheltenham Festival welcomes St Patrick’s Thursday. Two top races today will be hoping for the luck of the Irish- the Ryanair Chase and the Paddy Power Stayers Hurdle Race. There will be classic folk music playing between races! Frodon would be my tip for the Ryanair Chase, I absolutely adore this horse having followed him and Bryony for so long! Other favourable horses in this race are of course Min and A Plus Tard.

Race Schedule:

1.30pm – MARSH Novices’ Chase

2.10pm – Pertemps Network Final (Handicap Hurdle)

2.50pm – Ryanair Chase

3.30pm – Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle

4.10pm – Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate

4.50pm – Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle

5.30pm – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase

Friday 13th March – Gold Cup Day

The last day of the Festival, and of course the pinnacle race of the event, the Gold Cup. The distance of the Gold Cup race is one mile less than the Grand National. Sadly Native River, who won in 2018, has been ruled out with a tendon injury. If last years winner, Al Borum Photo wins again, he will be the first horse since Best Mate to win consecutive Gold Cups.

Race Schedule:

1.30pm – JCB Triumph Hurdle

2.10pm – Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle

2.50pm – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

3.30pm – Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup

4.10pm – St James’s Place Foxhunter Chase

4.50pm – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Handicap Chase

5.30pm – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle

What to wear?

Cheltenham Festival is in March, therefore dressing for the weather is vital- it is never gong to be a heatwave, so dressing warm, and appropriately is key to an enjoyable day. There is no set dress code set out by the venue, so you are able to wear what you feel comfortable in, and can dress up or down as much as you like! It can feel like a lot of pressure finding the perfect racing outfit, however, piecing together a great outfit really is easier than you think. I’ve had hundreds of messages through my social media channels asking for help on this subject, but everyone will already have something suitable in their wardrobes!

Here are a couple of ideas about what to wear, offering both affordable fashion and a luxury option.

Jackets 🧥

I would also pick a jacket that you are able to layer underneath. If you’re opting for a blazer, if you can pick one that you can layer up comfortable underneath, you will be far warmer! I nearly always opt for a tweed jacket when it comes to the races, and I love longer jackets- warmer and they usually offer a flattering look. A jacket doesn’t have to be expensive, there are lots of high street options alongside luxury brands.

Left- Primark, Right- Welligogs. Left photo credit – www.primark.co.uk

Dresses, Tops and shirts 👚

Commonly opted for on Ladies Day, however a great choice for all other days racing. There are no strict guidelines set out for what to wear, so you can come as formal as you like. It is usually quite cold at the course, so do think if you have a jacket that works over the top of your outfit.

I generally go for a rollneck jumper with my racing outfits. This will hide several layers underneath, which works really well, I also find it easier to keep warm with something up round my neck, instead of just a crew neck jumper. Again, roll necks don’t have to be expensive – and you probably already have one in your wardrobe.

Left- Rydale, Right- Holland Cooper Clothing

Skirts or trousers 👖

Anything goes here! I’ve worn everything from bright pink trousers, to tweed skirts. Again, it is important to this about warmth, even wearing thermal leggings under your trousers can be a good idea. If I wear a skirt, I will generally wear fleece lined tights which will keep you cosy. These can be picked up from high street stores such a Primark.

Skirts- Left- Primark and Right- Teddy Edward

Footwear 👢

Comfortable footwear is key at Cheltenham. It is a long day and you’ll probably be stood up most of the day. The car parks are also predominantly grass. For me, I pick Fairfax and Favor boots every time. I love the style, quality and comfort of these boots, and they are my go to in pretty much every situation. Despite being suede, I ensure all my boots are protected against weather damage (using Liquiproof- please see previous blog post on this).

Boots- Left- Booboo, Right- Fairfax and Favor. Left photo credit www.boohoo.com

Accessories 👒

The perfect accessories can finish off an outfit. I would highly recommend a hat or hairband, this will help to keep your fair in place, particularly if it’s windy. I generally will pick a fascinator for Ladies Day or Gold Cup Day.

Left- Hairband- Joules, Right- Hat/Pin- High Bird Designs. Left photo Credit- www.joules.com

Bags 👜

There are lots of different bag options for Cheltenham. I personally prefer a clutch bag, but you can take a normal handbag. It is worth noting Cheltenham so have a bag policy which is worth checking out on their website first. You can pick up bags from all price ranges, so whether you’re looking for a really special piece, or a high street steal, you’ll be able to find something that works with your price point.

Left- Salthouse England, Right- Grays 1922

There has already been some outfit inspiration featured over on my Instagram page (@countryclassiclucinda).

Despite my recent bad luck with Cheltenham Racecourse, Cheltenham Festival is without doubt a Racing Fanatics highlight. For me, the Festival is always so special, and will always be an event of a lifetime for me. Let’s hope the staff at the event are more polite and willing than those based in their offices!

That’s all for now my darlings, keep an eye out for new blogs coming soon.

Lots of love, Lucinda xo

‘Sometimes we just expect more from others’

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