Cheltenham Festival Provides Huge Boost To Gloucestershire Economy Each Year

By rotide
Created 03/01/2017 - 12:14
Cheltenham race course 1.jpg

Image is Champion Hurdle [1]" (CC BY-SA 2.0 [2]) by Carine06 [3]

The Cheltenham Festival happens at the end of the season and is the biggest week of the year in national hunt horse racing. The week-long meeting is what all the trainers in the sport build up towards with the talented horses in their yards.

Horse racing at Cheltenham dates back to 1815 and the course today is considered as the home of the national hunt racing. There are six meetings a year at Prestbury Park but it is the Festival in March which attracts the big numbers, as 260,579 people attended the four days at the 2016 meeting with a crowd of 70,242 turning out on Gold Cup day [4].

The prize money at the Festival is increasing with each year and it was recently announced that there will be over £4 million on offer for the first time at the 2017 meeting. There will be £575,000 available in the Gold Cup, which was won in 2016 by Don Cossack for trainer Gordon Elliott.

Thistlecrack is the 5/4 favourite for the 2017 Gold Cup with William Hill, who offer online betting on all live sports competitions [5]. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the second biggest race of the season when it comes to turnover for the bookmakers in the sport, with only the Grand National ahead of it. In 2016 it was estimated that £100 million was bet on the Gold Cup in the UK.
The challenge organisers have during the Cheltenham Festival is to ensure the course is ready when gates open each morning during the week. You can click here for more on the upcoming Cheltenham [6] Festival. Due to large crowds, there is a huge cleaning operation which takes place once racing finishes each day. All the rubbish which has been dropped on the course has to be cleaned, the bars need to be restocked and if there is a threat of cold weather overnight, the clerk of the course will lay frost covers on the track to protect it.

The local economy in Gloucestershire benefits hugely from the Festival each year with the meeting estimated to be worth £100 million to the region. Racing fans flock to the region every March in their numbers, booking into hotels, drinking at pubs and bars in the area and eating in a number of different restaurants. At the 2015 Festival, 20,000 bottles of wine were consumed at the track during the week. Sadly in 2001 the meeting was abandoned  due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease and the impact on the economy was huge as many businesses were reliant on the Festival for income in what is their busiest week of the year.

The Jockey Club, which run Cheltenham, have spent £80 million on the facilities at the course to make sure it can handle and give those in attendance the best experience possible for their visit.

The planning for the 2017 Cheltenham Festival is already well underway from the organisers as they are preparing for a record number of people in attendance. This should help the economy in Gloucestershire have its best week of the year once again as local businesses are set to benefit from one of the biggest sporting events on the calendar in the UK. Truly a great investment for the region.


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