Cheltenham must rethink Festival or face losing even more race fans | Barry Glendenning

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Dwindling crowds, pricey tickets and hotel rooms plus uncompetitive racing are making the meeting a tricky sell

The smell of countryside, money and anticipation hung over the parade ring before the Gold Cup, almost certainly like it had when it was first run 100 years ago. A race with a roll of honour boasting champions such as Arkle, Golden Miller, Best Mate, Kauto Star and Desert Orchid marked its centenary with a more-than-worthy winner in Galopin Des Champs. Trained by the sport’s pre-eminent whisperer, Willie Mullins, the red-hot favourite made short work of pulling off back-to-back successes in steeplechasing’s toughest test.

Approaching the finishing line, Paul Townend’s only source of concern was a loose horse that had unshipped its rider and was now galloping freely upsides him, threatening to veer into the winning partnership’s way. With the first home well backed and the sun finally warming all present after days spent under thick clouds, the air around the racecourse was one of celebration following the blue riband event of a Festival, whose health is not quite as rude as the post-race scenes would have you believe.

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Written by Barry Glendenning at Cheltenham
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2024/mar/15/cheltenham-must-rethink-festival-or-face-losing-even-more-racefans-horse-racing under the title “Cheltenham must rethink Festival or face losing even more race fans | Barry Glendenning”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.