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2018 Cheltenham Festival: The Notable Changes

2018 Cheltenham Festival: The Notable Changes

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most hotly anticipated race meets of the year but it’s not just about the races but all about the excitement. Aside from being one of the most popular horse racing events, it has actually become one of the most essential fixtures in the British sporting calendar.

The Festival back then

Let’s go back in time to 1983 when Michael Dickinson brought home the first five horses: Bregawn, Captain John, Wayward Lad, Silver Buck and Ashley House. It was considered to be one of the festival’s greatest moments. During that time, there were around 24,000 spectators each day (the festival only lasted for 3 days back then) and these numbers aren’t significant.

More viewers, wider coverage

Fast-forward to 2018, the festival now has four days of top class racing and the expected attendance each day is now a whopping 60,000. It has gotten a much wider media coverage via television and radio including social media where more enthusiasts are now hooked. Technology has now made it more engaging and easier to be a part of these kinds of sporting events.

Weather conditions

The regency spa town and borough of Cheltenham has endured unrelenting weather conditions thanks to the Beast from the East and Storm Emma dumping tonnes of snow around the fences and obstacles. Such conditions have caused the racing surface to be soft, something that the festival hasn’t experienced since 1993 and this is definitely going to be more challenging for the horses.

Ireland’s leading National-Hunt trainers

Gordon Elliott won the last year’s festival for the first time having 6 victories for his home country while Willie Mullins is a dominant force in Irish National Hunt racing. These two trainers have 15 out of the 19 Irish-trained favourites for this year’s event and their presence definitely can be strongly felt. And while Elliott and Mullins are ruling the Irish assault, we have also Nicky Henderson who is based in Berkshire and also has a stable of horses in the tracks that could steal the spotlight. He has held the record of winning the most festival races with 58 victories.

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