Most horse racing fans would usually be scrambling for tickets to the Cheltenham Festival around this time of year. Unfortunately, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that this year’s Festival will be staged behind closed doors, and so there will be no famous ‘Cheltenham roar’ greeting the horses as they pound up the home straight, and no flinging of betting slips by those who failed to pick the winner in the Cheltenham betting odds.
Nonetheless, the show must go on, and while the atmosphere will be lacking come March 16th, there is still plenty of high-quality racing action to look forward to, with a full programme of races on each of the Festival’s four days. With that in mind, there is no reason to be glum about Cheltenham this year. In fact, we’ve come up with a few ways you can make this year’s Festival just as enjoyable – all from the comfort of your own home!
Savor the TV coverage
With no fans allowed inside the Prestbury Park stands, racing fans this year will have to make do with television coverage alone. Fortunately, the Festival is being covered in its entirely on free-to-air television, and there is always a huge amount to choose from in terms of how the Festival is presented on TV.
With plenty of interviews, expert opinions, tips and more, this year’s Cheltenham can still be an immersive experience, even if you’re forced to glue yourself to the sofa rather than being at the races yourself!
Pick your winners
Of course, for many, one of the best things about the Cheltenham Festival is picking who you think is going to win the various races, and having a flutter if you’re feeling positive. This can be a great social experience at the Festival itself, but there are still plenty of online options for you to choose from while watching the action unfold on TV.
You could even run sweepstake competitions with your friends for added excitement, or try and outsmart them by going against their predictions!
Consider the outsiders
The Cheltenham Festival winners’ enclosure is usually dominated by horses from the yards of Willie Mullins, Gordon Elliott, Nicky Henderson, and other top trainers. But one of the most fun aspects of watching Cheltenham can be analysing the outsiders ahead of different races, and trying to predict unlikely winners.
Each year, there are at least a couple of races where horses seem to come from obscurity to win against the odds. Those occasions are even more entertaining when you’ve analysed the Cheltenham tips and picked the winner from the start!
Nail your colors to the mast
One of the best ways to enjoy the Festival at home is to simply pick a trainer or jockey to support, and cheer them on throughout the four days. Whether it’s one of the top trainers like Mullins or Elliott, or someone slightly more obscure, following different trainers or different owners’ silks can be a great way to make things more engrossing.
Depending on where you’re from, you could even support horses from either Great Britain or Ireland, to see which wins the famous Prestbury Park Cup!