Fixing the Cheltenham Festival - but is minor surgery or a major overhaul required?

Chris Cook talks to leading industry figures about the hot topics to have arisen since last week's big meeting

author image
Chris CookRacing Writer of the Year
Absurde (Paul Townend) winning the County Hurdle at the 2024 Cheltenham Festival
Absurde returns in front of a packed crowd on Cheltenham Gold Cup dayCredit: Patrick McCann

Whither the Cheltenham Festival? There's a question we never used to ask, in the good old days when one of the few things we could take for granted was the huge annual success of jump racing's marquee meeting.

There have always been arguments about this or that detail but there was no particular heat to those discussions for as long as people kept turning up and tuning in to enjoy the party, as they did when the post-Covid festival of 2022 was absolutely jam-packed with 280,627 racegoers over four days.

Just two years later, though, we're down to 229,999, with Wednesday's crowd dipping below 50,000. Suddenly, the festival is being dragged into the bath of self-doubt in which horseracing has always wallowed for the other 11 months of the year. Its critics are emboldened. It would take a long time to list all the quick fixes that have been suggested.

Read the full story

Read award-winning journalism from the best writers in racing, with exclusive news, interviews, columns, investigations, stable tours and subscriber-only emails.

Subscribe to unlock
  • Racing Post digital newspaper (worth over £100 per month)
  • Award-winning journalism from the best writers in racing
  • Expert tips from the likes of Tom Segal and Paul Kealy
  • Replays and results analysis from all UK and Irish racecourses
  • Form study tools including the Pro Card and Horse Tracker
  • Extensive archive of statistics covering horses, trainers, jockeys, owners, pedigree and sales data

Already a subscriber?Log in

Published on 23 March 2024inThe Big Read

Last updated 18:00, 23 March 2024