Old Pros Chutney Dave and Rory Delargy’s thoughts on how to survive the Cheltenham Festival
1. Write the address (and postcode) of your abode on a card/slip of paper/betting docket so the taxi driver knows where to dump you, should you be the type of twit to get hammered to the point of being unable to talk.
2. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and plenty of pubs do a decent breakfast allied to a bus service to the track. I’d recommend The Beehive and The Fiery Angel, but there are plenty more, which will save you hassle – getting a cab in Festival week can be a trying process.
3. When/if walking back to town, don’t dive into the first pub you find unless you’re desperate – most of those you’ll encounter quickly are ropey at the best of times, and will be full of t***s when you get there.
Again. The likes of the Hive and Fiery Angel will arrange minibuses for regulars to and from the track, which will be better, as will walking a bit further down the High Street.
4. Of the High Street Pubs, the more comtemporary places are at the South Eastern end (ie turn left if walking from the track) but the rough charm of the likes of The Shamrock or The Irish Oak up the other end may be your thing. The Queens Hotel is popular for no good reason – it smells suspiciously (VG Tips would like to point out these are the views of the authors of this survival guide), and the chances are you’ll get turned away. The 21 Club is a place to see jockeys on the Friday night, but unless your a starf****r, it’s a truly ghastly experience. The Montpellier area of town has plenty of decent pubs and restaurants, and would be my idea of the best area to head to, but it’s also worth checking out what’s local to where you’re staying, and popping in sober at the start of the week to make friendly conversation. This tends to ensure you get good service throughout the week. A pint’s a pint, after all.
5. The best night of the week is Monday – everyone has money in their pockets, and hope in their hearts, thereby making a glassing less likely. I love the Beehive, as the whole place will be embroiled in one massive singsong of favourites like Rhinestone Cowboy (geddit) and Sweet Caroline. It’s great. If you’re down for 4 nights, for the love of God, make one of them a very quiet one (Tuesday or Wednesday, ideally), or you’ll be in pieces.
6. You’re hungry, and the JLT Chase has only just finished. You think about something to eat. You see one of the courses many burger vans. STOP RIGHT THERE! Have you not seen the news lately? No, not the Pope, idiot. (Although rumour has it he’s at a loose end and might turn up on the Friday. He was spotted buying plum cords at Dolce Vita so it might be true.)
No, I speak of burgers. Especially from vans. If you’re going to risk life and limb by having one, make sure you’ve the number to Cheltenham A & E handy. (By the way, I had one at the Showcase meeting. Had rusty water coming out my arse for days after. Your choice, pal.)
7. If you’re there all week, and you’re looking for a cheap pair of binoculars, hang on until Thursday lunchtime if you can. By that point, the Cheltenham branch of Cash Converters should have a good 20-30 pairs in stock for you to choose from, brought in by desperate punters who crashed on Hurricane Fly only to see it finish fourth (it will) and then plough into Cue Card without Sprinter Sacre, only to see Joe Tizzard mistake the Champion Chase for the Wokingham and set off at a million miles an hour, and are looking to reload ready for Reve de Sivola.
8. Always consider backing more than one in a race if you fancy them. Cheltenham is one of those rare occasions when you get to back quality horses at good prices. You’ll need more than one on your side in those massive handicaps. And if you are backing a few outsiders, or playing forecasts, don’t ignore the Tote – it’s one of the rare occasions it stands up strongly against SP. That’s assuming Betfred haven’t decided to increase their take of the pot in the coming couple of weeks. Again.
9. If you really want a good pub guide you could do a lot worse than have a look here – http://www.jpfestival.com/p/cheltenham-festival-pub-guide.html – Jonathan knows his stuff and, by the look of it, knows where to get pissed too!
10. Don’t go to The Blue Rooms. It’s closed, as well as a bit sad. Naked ladies do not enhance a week of punting.
11. Tune in to Cheltenham Radio. You know it makes sense![symple_heading type=”h2″ title=”And, above all else, be lucky!” margin_top=”5px;” margin_bottom=”5px” text_align=”left”]