Cheltenham Festival

'Racing at its best' - Ed Chamberlin lauds historic Cheltenham Festival week as 1.7m watch Gold Cup on ITV

Honeysuckle returned to memorable scenes at Cheltenham on Tuesday
Emotional and joyful scenes in the Cheltenham winner's enclosure on Tuesday following Honeysuckle's victory in the Mares' HurdleCredit: Patrick McCann

ITV Racing's lead presenter Ed Chamberlin hailed a spectacular Cheltenham Festival that showcased the sport in the "best possible light" after 1.7 million people tuned in to watch an epic Gold Cup in a week of positive TV viewing figures at racing's biggest meeting.

On Friday, the peak audience who tuned in to watch Galopin Des Champs' impressive Gold Cup victory was up 40,000 on last year. The audience share across the week remained at 17 per cent, equalling last year's record high, but peak viewership was down, said to be reflective of a wider trend of declining TV viewing figures.

The average viewing figure across the 14 hours of live afternoon coverage was 941,000 and Chamberlin described it as a positive week for the sport. None of British racing's wider concerns that threatened to overshadow the meeting, such as the whip, poor field sizes and uncompetitive racing, came to be realised, although the attendance was sharply down on 2022 with Cheltenham's boss Ian Renton blaming teacher and train strikes.

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James StevensWest Country correspondent
Published on 18 March 2023Last updated 18:22, 18 March 2023