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Five things we’ll miss the most at this year’s Cheltenham Festival

The 2021 Cheltenham Festival is just one more sleep away – but it’s going to be eerily different this year.

Normally there are signs that the big meeting is on the horizon as horse racing fans descend on the Gloucestershire town in their tens of thousands.

Last year’s festival – which attracted crowds of around 250,000 across the four days – was the last major racing event to go ahead before the coronavirus pandemic swept across Britain.

It means that this year, Cheltenham Racecourse will be deserted and the royals, reality TV stars, footballers and those who like to bet will have to watch from afar.

But despite racing fans not being able to get their tweeds on this year, the races will still be able to be seen from the comfort of homes across the country.

Here, we take a look at the five things we’ll miss the most at this year’s festival…

Cheltenham organisers confirmed this year’s meet will be held behind closed doors and spectators will not be allowed in

Five things we’ll miss this year

Synonymous with the Cheltenham Festival is the roar . Likened to a jumbo jet overhead, the roar is a cry made by the thousands of racing fans on course when the starter raises the tape for the first race.

However, despite the grandstands being deserted this year, the roar will still be heard on Tuesday. ITV Racing, who are broadcasting six live races each day, are expected to play crowd noise as a soundtrack to their coverage.

It’s a welcome addition, but it’s not the same though, is it?

The Cheltenham crowd are famed for their roar as the starter raises the tape for the first race

Amateur riders will be sorely missed at this year’s festival, including ten-time Cheltenham Festival-winning jockey Jamie Codd.

A ruling was made in January that amateurs would be temporarily prevented from competing under Rules because of an ongoing rise in COVID-19 infections in Britain.

The move was made by the racing industry’s coronavirus steering group, which constantly reviews protocols to determine how racing can continue to strengthen its approach.

Jockey Jamie Codd celebrates winning the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase on Cause Of Causes
Ten-time Cheltenham Festival-winning rider Jamie Codd will have to watch from home

Never mind the Guinness Village, there is only one drink to be seen with at Cheltenham – and this year we won’t see it.

Despite needing to back a winner or two to be able to afford to drink any, fancy bottles of Moet – complete with a gold slipper – are very popular with racegoers.

And with thousands usually expected at day two at the racecourse on Ladies Day, those bottles on the usual display will have to be stored for another year.

A racegoer drinks from a bottle of Moet during Ladies Day of the 2016 Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse
Racegoers will not be able to drink from the iconic Moet bottles this year

Like all festivals, being able to tell people in future years “I was there” when a horse makes history is another thing we’ll have to do without.

And with Al Boum Photo looking to become the first horse since Best Mate in 2004 to complete a hat-trick of Gold Cups, that piece of history will be a sight that can only be seen on TV.

Al Boum Photo is bidding to emulate Best Mate, the last horse to win three straight Gold Cups

Above all, the atmosphere at Cheltenham is one-of-a-kind.

Getting up close and personal to the equine jumping stars, with whom we’ve been obsessed from the moment the last Festival ended 12 months ago is something we’ll have to wait for.

But what will we miss the most?

The moment you walk out of the gates after the last race of the day on Friday and realise that it’s all over for another year…




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