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15th March 2021 - By: Sam Wright

Cheltenham Festival is back!

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally here, Cheltenham Festival is back! And while this is going to be the first festival with no live spectators (which, believe me, cuts deep, as I’ve been in there on Gold Cup Day for the last six years) we’re not going to let it dampen our spirits here at Nifty, and neither should you!

I’m not going to sit here and say that I won’t miss it because I’d be lying, it really is one of the best days of the year, however, having said that, it’s still a fantastic sporting occasion and should be enjoyed the same as if we were there.

28 races over four days, featuring some of the most iconic and famous names in horse racing, what more could you want?!

Nothing quite beats waking up on race day, logging in to your betting app (please bet responsibly) and putting a couple of quid on a seven-fold which in your (uneducated) expert opinion is a dead cert – only for your first horse to then fall at the very first fence, setting the tone for the rest of day.

And, just to rub salt into the wounds, being the great friend you are, you’ve sent this bet to your mate and told them to get on it as you really can’t see anything but a massive winner – and you now wait anxiously for a barrage of abuse to come through Whatsapp from said pal, who has based their whole day of betting on your tips. But regardless of all that, you wouldn’t change a thing (apart from your losses).

There has been so many iconic moments at the racecourse in recent years, from Bryony Frost becoming the first women to ride a grade one winner in 2019, making light work of odds-on favourite, Paisley Park, to Sprinter Sacre winning the Queen Mother Champion Chase in 2016, fighting back from an irregular heartbeat which almost ended his career to defy all the odds.

And how can we forget 2015, when Ruby Walsh was way out in front aboard Annie Power in the Mares’ Hurdle, only to fall at the very last fence, breaking hearts all over the betting world. This particular fall is estimated to have saved the bookies £50million, making it the most expensive fall in a horse race EVER. Makes you think back to that old saying eh? ‘The only real winner is the bookies’.

Regardless of the dough being up for grabs during the week, for me, and many other people, money only makes up part of the experience. There’s so much else that goes into a day at Cheltenham Festival, like the blokes choosing their suit, making sure they’re going to look dapper on the day. The ladies picking out their hats and getting themselves dolled up. I also love how everyone meets up at the crack of dawn to have a few drinks before hopping on the coach or train.

However, all of that together does not beat the main attraction for me. Three words, BEST MATE ENCLOSURE. It’s an atmosphere like no other, if you’ve been, you’ll understand, if you haven’t, you need to. Come 2pm you’ll find yourself dancing around the tent with your pals whilst the band belt out their very own rendition of some absolute classics, which everyone feels the need to bellow out. Personal favourites of mine every year are Sweet Caroline, Angels and Wonderwall, they always go down an absolute storm and that’s when I know – I’m at the festival.

I’m going to have to draw this blog to a close because I’m getting a little emotional at the thought of not going this year, but I’ve promised myself I’m going to make an effort to enjoy it anyway and I urge you all to do the same.

I bid you all happy betting, and more importantly, ENJOY IT!