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Champions Day at Cheltenham Festival offers a unique atmosphere that perhaps can only be rivalled by that of the Grand National. The day hosts the world famous Cheltenham Gold Cup, featuring the elite horses, jockeys, and trainers, who descend upon the Cotswold region of England to compete in arguably the biggest race of the calendar.
Sizing John is aiming to make history in 2018 when the bay gelding competes in the meet. The seven-year-old was a surprise package last season when he triumphed, defeating the favourite Djakadam and Cue Card among a talented field. Jessica Harrington’s charge will aim to become the first horse since Best Mate won the race three times on the bounce from 2002 to 2004 to claim back-to-back victories in the Gold Cup. Only six horses in the history of the race have won in successive years. Therefore, it will be truly a remarkable achievement if Sizing John is able to notch the victory, with the horse considered the favourite amongst Oddschecker’s leading bookies to secure the win.
It will certainly be worth a visit to Cheltenham to watch the race – even if you’re not a racing enthusiast. History is made so few times at the meet, although normally the atmosphere in the stands can match that of an intense Premier League contest anyway with punters roaring on their charges. Tickets for the event are slightly more expensive due to the prestigious nature of the event. The cheapest available is £50 but can you put a price on viewing history? Walking around the Festival is an experience in itself, with numerous activities available inside the concourse. Few sporting events call for the spectators to be dressed to the nines; especially on Champions Day, the dress code will require you to be suited and booted or in suitable dress attire.
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If you’re not shy of an alcoholic beverage or two, there are facilities that cater to almost every tipple. Over 265,000 pints of Guinness and 120,000 bottles of wine were consumed at the event in 2015, while 20,000 bottles of champagne were also sold. It’s a relaxed atmosphere at the stadium and a perfect excuse to knock back a couple of drinks during the afternoon hours, which is just one of the many reasons to love the UK.
March in the south of England does not promise the warmest of climates but the excitement of the race action promises to get the blood pumping. Even if you’re not an avid follower of the sport, punting on the meet can get the price of your ticket back and pay for a night out in Cheltenham town at the end of the day.
There are ample bars and restaurants in the town for a night out after the race. Given the popularity of the Festival, it will be worth booking a hotel early as the average attendance for a single day reached 62,000 in 2015. The Cotwolds also offer the perfect remedy to clear the head after a day on the drink with the air of the countryside available within a short commute. The Festival is slowly becoming a tradition in England and should be experienced at least once by the experienced traveller.