As capacity crowds of 55,000 each day have made their way to Cheltenham for the four day Horse Racing Festival this week, it is difficult to know whether or not the country is in a recession and time of economic gloom.
It is estimated that £600m will be spent over the four days as a consequence of the Festival. A massive amount of that will fall into the bookies hands, who as I type this have had two very successful days so far with favourites such as Hurricane Fly being upstaged by outsiders.
They say that it is the Sport of Kings and certainly ownership of these fine animals is definitely only available to those with healthy bank balances, but it is a sport that is enjoyed by every class of individual. The Grand National used to be the main attraction but many would now argue that the Gold Cup is matching it’s popularity.
The Nation who perhaps 20 years ago could name maybe one or at most two jockeys are, now with the advances in TV coverage and Betting facilities, able to have a discussion about whether Kauto Star will beat Long Run in the Gold Cup this Friday. Willie Carson and Lester Piggott have been replaced by A P McCoy and Ruby Walsh.
It is not cheap to follow the racing by the time you factor in your ticket, travel expenses, food and alcohol for the afternoon and amount that you are prepared to give away to the bookies, but the excitement and atmosphere of the Festival is second to none.
Many punters like myself will get the paper out in the morning and read the expert’s tips and go up and down the list of runners and riders looking for the stand out name or colour that takes our fancy and then kiss the money goodbye as we dream about the horse coming in at 100-1.
I have no tips or wisdom to pass on for Friday’s Gold Cup, but sit happy in the knowledge that my winnings from Rock on Ruby (picked due to it being my daughters name!) on Tuesday are covering the losses for yesterday.