Jump racing was a pastime for enthusiastic gentlemen which would not be even attempted on today’s date. It is also known as the sport of Kings. This March, you will get to witness the most atmospheric occasion in the racing year. But it has not always been like that. We will take a brief look into the significance and history of the Cheltenham Racecourse.
The first-ever races were on Cleeve Hill in August of 1818. Although, the first flat race meeting was held on Nottinghill in 1815. And as time passed by the popularity of the sport just skyrocketed. Thousands gathered to watch this incredible spectacle. Back then, it was an adrenaline-pumping 3-mile horse race.
Although there were some initial obstacles that this sport had to face. Reverend Francis Close, Cheltenham’s Parish Priest, evoked such strong feelings amongst his congregation against the sport and deemed it “Evil”. The grandstands were burnt to the ground, disrupting the events of 1830. The event rose from its ashes in 1831 and was moved to Prestbury Park and has been there ever since.
In the modern era, alongside major sporting events like Wimbledon, the British Grand Prix, the British Open or the FA Cup Final; the Cheltenham horse races are widely recognised as one of the United Kingdom’s premier sporting events. Over the years, new events and features have been added, but the spirit remains the same. The international outreach of the races has expanded over the years. Participants from Germany, France and eastern Europe are common and have been quite successful in the sport. Yet, there is one nation whose involvement has dominated; it is the Irish. With countless victors in the game and famous runners, this ordeal would not be the same without their involvement.
A sporting event is nothing without an element that binds the hundred thousand live spectators and the galloping horses. As per this Betway video, in this sport, that notable element is the voice of ITV racing commentator Richard Hoiles. He has been involved in the sport since 1992. An accountant by profession now turned into a world-renowned commentator was not initially interested in racing. In a 2020 interview with Racing TV, he said he has always felt extremely comfortable with numbers and the experiences he had watching racing with his father got him interested in the sport. Recently he also engaged four football superstars from West Ham and getting them ready for this 2021’s Cheltenham. He played a couple of games with Mark Noble, Jesse Lingard, Michail Antonio and Darren Randolph in a gameshow rendering of the Prestbury Cup.
Cheltenham can be considered as the Olympics for the horses, which start on Tuesday, March 16 and come to an end on Friday, March 19. But this year the stands will be empty as the world still fights against the pandemic. Now there are some big names in the sport to look out for since betting is a significant part of this sport. Epatante’s fierce battle with his fellow mare the unbeaten Honeysuckle in the Unibet Champion Hurdle. Also, the return of Goshen after the unfortunate stumble in last year’s race. Also, some of the quickest hurdlers Abacadabras, Aspire Tower, Silver Streak and Sharjah are back in the two-mile contest. 14 Grade 1 races, 70 miles of track, 489 runners, 28 races in total and a whopping 3,497,500 euros in prize money, what more could the audience ask for?