18 Mar 2022

The Cheltenham Festival

The four-day Cheltenham festival 2022, from 15–18 March, is an eagerly awaited event on the National Hunt horse-racing calendar, attracting crowds of around 250,000 over the four-day period, with total prize money of £6.12 million. It features a total of 28 races, with over 500 horses participating, and includesh 14 Grade One competitions.

Cheltenham Festival 2022 opened on 15 March with the headline Unibet Champion Hurdle. The second day of the Festival is traditionally known as Ladies’ Day, with awards for the Best Dressed Lady, Best Accessories and Best Hat, and features the Betway Queen Mother Champion Chase.

Thursday is St Patrick’s Day, an excuse to celebrate all things Irish, especially amongst the very large numbers of Irish owners, trainers, jockeys and punters that flock to Cheltenham each year. The Ryanair Chase and Paddy Power Stayers’ Hurdle are the headline races.

The Festival culminates on Friday with the Boodles Cheltenham Gold Cup, the highlight of the Jump season, and the title that is universally coveted by jockeys and trainers alike.

Dress Codes

There is no strict dress code at Cheltenham. Since it attracts the smart country set, and takes place in March when the weather is unpredictable, it is recommended to ensure that you are warm and comfortable, and that you wear shoes or boots that can cope with boggy ground and mud.

Ladies: Choose a cosy tweed coat and hat and chic accessories, such as a warm cashmere scarf or wrap and matching bag.  You can team your coat with an elegant tweed skirt and country boots, or even a smart pair of jeans. Remember that you run the risk of getting bogged down in waterlogged ground, so opt for low or chunky heels, or classic flats.

Layer your outfit with warm merino or cashmere knitwear. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you will look more glamorous in scanty summery clothes – you will be freezing cold and shivering and goose bumps are never a good look.

Stylish fedoras, trilbies, berets or faux fur hats are all good choices, and some striking feathers in the headband will add a touch of interest and glamour. However, hats are not de rigueur.

Men: The key item is the coat – choose a well-tailored tweed coat or traditional covert coat, with a warm wool or cashmere scarf. Alternatively, you can opt for a tweed suit in country shades of brown, khaki or green, and layer up with a cosy fine knit or cashmere sweater. Choose smart country boots or brogues, and top off your outfit with a tweed flat cap or Baker Boy hat.

Follow Racecourse Etiquette

Cheltenham is a very relaxed occasion, but there are a limited number of recommendations that you should be aware of before attending the Festival. You are not allowed to smoke or vape on the public balconies of the grandstand. Don’t bring your dog to the racecourse – only guide dogs are allowed. Be aware that you are not allowed to bring your own food into some enclosures, for example the Club and Tatts enclosure – you can eat at the many restaurants and food outlets provided.


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