Raucous crowd flocks to Cheltenham but Festival is at a crossroads | Barry Glendenning

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The sound of ardent turf enthusiasts voicing their disquiet may yet jolt Jockey Club into some kind of decisive action

Having been catapulted into racing superstardom at the only Cheltenham Festival to be staged behind closed doors in the event’s 164‑year history, Rachael Blackmore knows how it feels to walk into the winners’ enclosure to the sound of spooky silence punctuated only by the hoofbeat of an exhausted horse.

However, despite all the doom‑mongering over potentially low attendances at this year’s Festival, the popular Irish jockey returned to a more suitably raucous heroine’s welcome after booting Slade Steel home in front of his 10 rivals in this year’s opener, the Supreme Novice Hurdle. Despite understandable concerns, it seems rumours of Cheltenham’s demise have, for now at least, been greatly exaggerated. While the crowd of more than 60,000 on Tuesday was slightly down on last year they were no less enthusiastic and there were no discernible gaps in the thronged grandstand, betting ring or Guinness Village, where the stout was both overpriced and in full flow.

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Written by Barry Glendenning at Cheltenham
This news first appeared on https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2024/mar/12/raucous-cheltenham-festival-crowds-meeting-is-at-crossroads-horse-racing under the title “Raucous crowd flocks to Cheltenham but Festival is at a crossroads | Barry Glendenning”. Bolchha Nepal is not responsible or affiliated towards the opinion expressed in this news article.