Have we passed peak Cheltenham? Why festival may be losing its shine

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Ticket sales, a lack of competitiveness and thinning fields are the worries troubling racing’s big week of the year

There have been rain-soaked festivals and freezing festivals since National Hunt’s showpiece meeting started to emerge from the winter season to tower over the racing landscape. There was no festival at all in 2001, due to the foot-and-mouth crisis, and another behind closed doors during the third Covid lockdown in 2021. Throughout that time, all the way back to the mid-1980s, the key indicators – including the number of races, prize money, attendance and betting turnover – have always been trending up.

The notion of “peak Cheltenham”, if it was ever considered at all, was off in the middle distance, perhaps when the track managed to sell out all four days. So the jumping fraternity will head to the West Country on Tuesday in a somewhat uncertain frame of mind, with Britain’s stables facing their now annual battering from the Irish and the possibility, at least, that peak Cheltenham has been and gone.

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Written by Greg Wood
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2024/mar/11/cheltenham-festival-horse-racing under the title “Have we passed peak Cheltenham? Why festival may be losing its shine”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.